Learning Disabilities and Attention Disorders - General Information
What difficulties are included in the category of learning disabilities?
- Deficiencies in the verbal domain – reading and writing
- Deficiencies in the field of mathematics
- Deficiencies in the visual-spatial field
- Difficulties in self-organization and management
- Attention and concentration disorders
Is the cause of learning disabilities known?
The disability is usually congenital and resulting from problems in the nervous system, or the structure of the brain or brain chemical function. Differences in the brain lead to a different input, reception, processing and linking of the information.
How do I know if I have learning disability and/or attention deficit disorder?
Evaluation is required in order to test the existence of learning disability or attention deficit disorder. The unit for evaluation and support for students with learning disabilities provides the option to undergo all evaluations required to diagnose learning disability or attention deficit disorder. The evaluation is conducted by a computerized system (MATAL). The evaluation system is nationally accepted and its results are valid for psychometric entrance test and all the universities and academic institutions in Israel. Depending on the results of the evaluation, if necessary, adjustments for examinations and referral to support services will be considered.
MATAL evaluation process - information for the applicant
Eligibility for MATAL evaluation:
Hebrew is not my native language. Is MATAL still suitable for me?
For applicants whose native tongue is not Hebrew the eligibility for TAMAL evaluation is examined individually. If Hebrew is not your mother tongue, you should consult with a specialist in the evaluation center regarding your eligibility for MATAL. You may be offered complete the registration process, so the question of eligibility may be thoroughly examined. The decision regarding eligibility for TAMAL evaluation in general and the testing in Hebrew in particular depends on your specific language background and on the purpose of the evaluation. If you are a veteran immigrant and need the evaluation for the purpose of adjustments and assistance in an institution of higher education, there is usually no prevention for MATAL evaluation. However, if you wish to apply for adjustments in the psychometric entrance test, you may have to also present the results of evaluation in your language. On this subject too, you should consult with a specialist in the evaluation center regarding your eligibility for MATAL.
I have a medical disability. Is MATAL still suitable for me?
Each application is reviewed individually. You should consult with a specialist in the evaluation center regarding your eligibility for MATAL. You may be offered complete the registration process, so the question of eligibility may be thoroughly examined. It is recommended to present a letter from the attending physician, explaining how your health status and/or the medications you are taking may affect your computerized evaluation and academic studies.
I have a mental problem. Is MATAL still suitable for me?
Each application is reviewed individually. You should consult with a specialist in the evaluation center regarding your eligibility for MATAL. You may be offered complete the registration process, so the question of eligibility may be thoroughly examined. It is recommended to present a letter from the psychologist of psychiatrist, explaining how your mental state and/or the medications you are taking may affect your computerized evaluation and academic studies.
Considerations in the decision to apply for evaluation with MATAL
My problem is difficulty in the exams. I find it difficult to obtain grades that reflect my knowledge. Should I undergo evaluation with MATAL?
Many students have difficulties related to examinations: difficulties in studying for the test, stress and anxiety during an exam, difficulty to answer the questions in the allotted time frame, and so on. These students feel that they know the material but struggle to express their knowledge at the exam. If this is your main difficulty, and you have no other learning problems or diagnosed ADD, there seems to be no point in MATAL evaluation. MATAL is intended for diagnosis of learning disabilities and attention deficit disorder. It does not allow to diagnose it problems associated with inefficient preparation for the exam, test anxiety, or difficulties in time management. Please note that most academic institutions do not provide extra time in exams because of these problems, but you can ask for assistance in addressing them (at the office of Dean of students).
Can I use MATAL to get adjustments in the matriculation exams?
MATAL evaluation is considered to be a didactic evaluation suitable to receive adjustments in matriculation examinations due to learning disabilities. Didactic evaluation is required to determine eligibility for the incidence adjustments (level 1 and 2 adjustments), such as extra time. If you have a severe learning disability, you may be eligible for a level 3 adjustment (such as an oral examination or an adjusted questionnaire). In the educational system, entitlement to level 3 adjustments is conditional on the completion of a psychological diagnosis and sometimes also on assignments that are not included in the MATAL test (such as writing assignments in English and Hebrew). These assignments may be completed in several MATAL diagnostic institutes (with a separate fee) or with qualified psychologists. Please note: If you were previously recognized as eligible for adjustments in the matriculation exams, you are entitled to use them until the age of 25, without having to present up-to-date evaluation result (see sections 3.7-3.8 in the Field Supervisor’s circular). However, the applicant is responsible for determining the validity of evaluation results from institutions that are not part of higher education system in Israel.
To which institute should I apply for MALA evaluation?
In most cases, it is recommended to choose the diagnostic institute from the list of institutes published on the National Institute for Testing and Evaluation website, based on its proximity to your place of residence. However, if you require additional services (such as completion of a psychological diagnosis, Hebrew-Russian integrated diagnostics, opinion for institution abroad), you may prefer to contact an institute which provides these services.
Application for MATAL evaluation
I have severe writing difficulties. Should I dictate to another person the answers to the application questionnaire?
No. Even if you have severe difficulties with writing, it is important that you complete the questionnaire by yourself (except the parts designed to be completed by parents). If the evaluator will not be able to decipher your answers, he/she will contact you for clarifications.
The computer registers only the test results and not the way of solution. What if my difficulties will be expressed enough within computerized diagnostics? How will the diagnostician know about them?
During the diagnostic session you will be accompanied by an examiner, and one of his/her tasks will be to observe and document various aspects of your performance that are not recorded by the computer. Furthermore you can tell in detail about yourself and your difficulties in the personal questionnaire and during the meeting with the diagnostician.
How will I know if I have writing problems, if the tests are computerized?
MATAL includes a specialized test which examines different aspects of writing. If necessary, additional data will be collected by the diagnostician to learn more about your writing problems.
Is it possible to undergo partial evaluation, only for adjustments in English?
No. The MATAL evaluation is based on the results of array of tests that are evaluated on the whole. Either way, in order to determine the eligibility for English exams adjustments, data of native language (Hebrew) performance are required too.
What happens if I cannot find the documents that have to be appended to the application?
Special efforts should be made to find the documents: contact the school, the institute where you were diagnosed in the past, and so on. You can also ask for a letter describing your difficulties from remedial education specialist. If you cannot find the documents, the diagnostician may ask your permission to contact people who are very familiar with you, such as parents and teachers, to help restore your developmental and academic history. Lack of documentation may make it difficult for the diagnostician to formulate an unequivocal diagnosis. In addition, after the completion of the evaluation, the institutions that are authorized to approve or reject the recommendations of the diagnostician regarding adjustments may reject their recommendations due to the lack of objective documents documenting the functioning and difficulties in childhood.
What is the meaning of the diagnosis which appears automatically at the end of the results sheet? Why does the diagnostician not always agree with it? Which of the two evaluations is definitive?
The diagnostic report presents all evaluation results in great detail. They are followed by a table with “TAMAL test results summary”. This table shows the supposed diagnosis that the computer automatically generates. This diagnosis is intended to assist the diagnostician, but it is not definitive for the following reasons: The diagnosis generated by the computer is based solely on the results of the computerized tests and does not include other important data that must be taken into account when formulating the diagnosis; The process of evaluation is complex, requiring professional expertise, knowledge and experience. The computer cannot do this adequately. Therefore, the final and definitive diagnosis is the clinical evaluation formulated by the diagnostician.
Adjustments in academic examinations
If I have received adjustments in the past, does that guarantee I will get them later too?
No. Each institution has its own criteria for approval of adjustments. The criteria for adjustments in higher education (in the psychometric entrance test and in institutions of higher education) are not the same which apply to matriculation exams. Moreover, each system has its own list of adjustments. For example, oral exams and adjusted test questionnaire are common in the matriculation exams but are not practiced in higher education.
Can I be sure that the diagnostician will recommend adjustments in examinations?
No. The diagnostician is committed to a professional level of the evaluation and his/her recommendations are derived from the evaluation findings. In MATAL, the recommendations for adjustments in academic tests are based on clear criteria that determine the conditions of eligibility for each of the adjustments practiced in institutions of higher education.
Is it possible to ensure that the institution will adopt the recommendations of the diagnostician?
No. These are only recommendations. Each institution has the right to determine the adjustments according to its considerations and policy. The final decision regarding the provision of adjustments is made by the professional committee of each institution. However, in the event that the recommendations of the diagnostician will be rejected by the institution, it is advisable to check with the institution what was the reason for rejection. After that, you can discuss with the diagnostician the option to appeal the decision.
Application for adjustments in the psychometric entrance test
Does the diagnostic institute handle the application?
No. The application is submitted by you.
How long before the psychometric entrance test should I apply for evaluation?
The registration for adjusted examinations ends about one and a half months prior to the examination date, and it is recommended to submit the application for adjusted exam about a month and a half prior to that date - a total of three months prior to the examination date. The evaluation process itself usually takes between four to six weeks. It is worth to take into account that towards the end of registration there is a great load of applications in the diagnostic institutes, and sometimes it is not possible to handle all the applicants. Therefore, it is recommended to apply at least five months before the exam. When contacting the diagnostic institute, it is important to note that the evaluation is necessary for the psychometric entrance test, to ensure that it can completed on time. It is your responsibility to establish the timetables.
Should I complete the questionnaire of the Unit for adjusted exams?
No. After you have completed the applicant’s questionnaire for MATAL, it is recommended to send its copy instead of the questionnaire of the Unit for adjusted exams. On the last page of the applicant’s questionnaire, add the following lines: I hereby authorize the Unit for adjusted exams to call my evaluating professional in case of need to obtain additional information. I hereby confirm that all information in the questionnaire is correct. Signature: ______________________
Should I ask from the TAMAL diagnostician to complete the “diagnostician questionnaire” of the Unit for adjusted exams?
No. There is no need to do that. All data required for “diagnostician questionnaire” already appear in the evaluation report. According to the guidelines of the Unit for adjusted exams, if the evaluation was already performed and the data required for the questionnaire appears in the report in a clear and organized manner, there is no need to return to the diagnostician for the completion of the questionnaire.
Why doesn't the MATAL evaluation report include recommendations for adjustments in the psychometric entrance test? Will it impair my chances to receive adjustments?
A special expertise is needed in order to determine the adjustments for psychometric entrance test and their influence on the skills measured. Professionals in Examinations Unit make the decisions regarding the required adjustments based on information in the evaluation report and additional information provided with the application. The fact that the evaluation report does not include recommendations for adjustments in the psychometric entrance test, has no effect on the approved adjustments or chances to get them.
What happens if I have a learning disability which was revealed in the evaluation, but my application for adjustments in the psychometric test was rejected?
Rejection of the application does not necessarily stem from the rejection of the evaluation conclusions. It is possible that the adjustments were not approved for other reason - for example, since the diagnosed disability is not expected to substantially interfere with your performance in the psychometric entrance test or since it is not possible to bypass your disability since this function should be measured in the test. In the letter you received from the Unit for adjusted exams of the National Institute for Testing and Evaluation you will see the detailed reasons why your request was rejected. If you believe that the decision of the Unit for adjusted exams is inconsistent with the conclusions of the diagnostician, you can contact the Institute where you were diagnosed with the rejection letter. There you can discuss your options with the diagnostician.
Are the evaluation data confidential?
The application to the evaluation by itself is not confidential. Your details (name and ID number) are retained in the Internet registry accessible to all evaluation institutes of MATAL. However, the evaluation results are confidential and delivered to you only. The results may be used for research, without all identifying information and completely anonymously.
How long is the evaluation valid?
In most institutions the evaluation is valid for five years.
Is the evaluation valid for adjustments in universities abroad?
The clarification regarding the validity of MATAL abroad is under your responsibility, and you should do it with the relevant institution. Sometimes additions to the evaluation are required or adjustment of the evaluation report for the requirements of the institution. It is important to coordinate this in advance with the Institute where the evaluation is performed. After the evaluation in MATAL you will have to translate the report to English. You should return the translated report to diagnosis to the institute. The diagnostician will sign it to confirm the correctness of the translation. This procedure involves an additional fee. Another option, usually more expensive, is to obtain a notary approval of the translation.
Learning disabilities in Hebrew University
If I have a learning disability, will it affect my chances to be accepted to the university?
At the stage of registration to the University the applicant is not to require to declare the learning disability. Information regarding the disability is discreet and is not transferred to any party, except for the Secretariat responsible for adjustments.
Which evaluations are valid in Hebrew University?
A valid evaluation is an evaluation which was performed within the last five years at a recognized institute according to the provisions of the law. I.e., the evaluation was performed by a diagnostician with MA in the field of learning disabilities from a recognized academic institution, or by an expert psychologist trained to diagnose learning disabilities. Regarding ADD - a valid evaluation is one that was performed by a psychiatrist and/or neurologist who is an expert in ADD, but recommendations on adjustments are given only after comprehensive didactic evaluation. ADD evaluations performed by medical specialists do not apply for adjustments. Diagnosis of dysgraphia should be supported by reports of occupational therapists, who specialize in adult writing diagnosis, and the reference to writing evaluation is done solely by the unit and by its recommendation after consulting session.
Is the evaluation from high school period valid?
The date of evaluation should be up to five years, therefore evaluation performed during the high school period may be valid within these five years.
Will the approval by the Ministry of Education be accepted by the university?
The approval by the Ministry of Education is not enough in itself. The student must submit a valid evaluation report, by one of the professionals listed the section E.
What should I do to obtain an approval for adjustments in examinations?
In order to obtain approval for adjustments in examinations (such as extra time, ignoring spelling errors etc.) the student should contact his Faculty’s Teaching Committee with his evaluation results.
How adjustments are determined for the Hebrew University exams?
The adjustments are based on the type of learning disability, its severity, the subject taught in the Faculty and the applicability of the adjustment within the University. It is important to emphasize that the University reserves the right not to accept the recommendations of the evaluation report, in their entirety or in part, or to demand additional evaluation from the student.
How long the “Approval for adjustments in examinations” provided by the Faculty is valid.
The approval by the Teaching Committee is valid for three years.
Do I need to notify the University that I have learning disabilities?
No, you do not have to report to the University that you have learning disabilities. However, the Unit for evaluation and support for students with learning disabilities recommends contacting your unit in order to obtain an explanation of the services provided, as well as appropriate assistance. It is important to note that the support provided by the Unit for evaluation and support for students with learning disabilities is kept confidential, as common in therapeutic professions. This means that no information is disclosed to any party, unless the student specifically requested or explicitly agreed for it.
Where the assistance for students with learning disabilities is provided (which campuses)?
The Unit for evaluation and support for students with learning disabilities is located on three campuses: Mount Scopus campus, Edmond J. Safra campus and Faculty of agriculture campus in Rehovot. To contact us click here.
What assistance can I get in the University, besides adjusted examinations?
You can get assistance in improvement of learning skills, individually and in workshops, as well as guidance regarding assistive technologies. In addition, you may get assistance from student tutor (Perach - Leshem tutoring project). For the list of services offered by the unit click here.