Learning Disability & ADHD Management

For parents seeking help for your child who may be struggling with learning and/or attention issues, we guide you through the process to work in partnership with schools and other professionals to support your child.

Early Identification & Intervention

Indications that children are struggling with learning, attention, or behavioural issues may be noticed by families and others during your child’s early years, when children are 3-5 years old.

Research indicates that early identification and intervention can make a big difference in learning and behavioural outcomes, particularly for a child who may have more severe learning, attention, or behaviour issues.

The trick is to determine if the characteristics you are observing are typical for a child at that developmental age or if they are behind their peers in certain milestones, and how severe that delay may be.

The first thing to do is to share your observations with your family doctor or pediatrician.

Management of Learning Disability


Screening: Check to see if your school district has a screening process in place to identify students during their kindergarten year who may be behind their age peers in developmental milestones.

CBE Early Years Assessment Pamphlet: The Early Years Assessment – Teacher Assessment (EYE-TA)

Information from this Early Years Assessment is often used to identify children who may be having difficulty and who may need further support or evaluation. It is used in the Calgary Board of Education schools to assess kindergarten students’ development in the following areas:

  • Awareness of Self and Environment: A Child’s understanding of the world and his or her ability to make connections with home and community experiences.
  • Social Skills: a child’s ability to interact positively with peers and follow classroom rules.
  • Approaches to Learning: a child’s attentiveness during classroom activities.
  • Cognitive Skills: a child’s basic math and pre-reading skills and his/her ability to solve problems.
  • Language & Communication: a child’s understanding of spoken language and his or her ability to express thoughts and feelings.
  • Physical Development:
    • Fine Motor Skills: a child’s ability to perform small movements that require hand-eye coordination.
    • Gross Motor Skills: a child’s ability to perform large movements that involve arms, legs, and body.

Here is some information about Early Childhood Services provided by the Alberta Government, school districts, and community agencies in Calgary.

Alberta Health Services (AHS) – Speech and Language

If you are concerned about speech or language issues, you can access a free language assessment through Alberta Health Services.

Alberta Government: Family Support for Children with Disabilities (FSCD)

The FSCD program works with eligible families to provide support and services based on each child and family’s needs.

Alberta Government: Early Childhood Services

Calgary Board of Education (CBE)’s Early Childhood Services (ECS)

CBE offers Early Development Centres. A child would require an AHS assessment to access the program.

Calgary Catholic School District’s Early Childhood Services (ECS) and Early Childhood Special Education

The Calgary Catholic School District is committed to the planning and delivery of high quality special education supports and services that will allow individual children with special education needs to maximize their learning and achievement within an optimal learning environment. In this context special education refers to the education of children with mild, moderate, or severe disabilities/delays and/or those who are gifted and talented as determined by Alberta Education’s Special Education Coding Criteria.

Struggling at School

If you think your child is struggling with learning and/or attention issues, what should you do?

Here are some signs you may notice at home:

  • Struggles to complete homework assignments independently
  • Avoids school work at home and/or at school
  • Is easily upset when school or certain subjects are discussed
  • Uses negative self-talk, (i.e. “I’m stupid”, “Everyone is smarter than me”)
  • Worries about going to school
  • Is often sad on school nights
  • Has regular stomachaches and/or headaches

LD & ADHD Potential Indicators Chart

The LD & ADHD Potential Indicators Chart provides information about Potential Indicators, or Red Flags, at different grade levels, for both LD & ADHD. You and your child’s teacher may be noticing these red flags in different settings and tasks. These difficulties may be reflected in the classroom, work and homework assignments, assessments, and report card marks and comments.

Talk to your pediatrician or family physician to rule out any underlying health issues. Explain your observations and the teacher’s observations and ask them to rule out any medical conditions that may be affecting your child’s learning. Ask about:

  • vision
  • hearing
  • poor sleep
  • food allergies, etc.

Build a connection with your child’s teacher from the start of every school year. When you have a concern, phone or email the teacher and ask for a meeting.

What could you ask at the meeting?

Some questions for the meeting with the child’s teacher:

  • My child appears to be struggling with _______.  Is this age/grade appropriate?
  • How can you support them to get better at this?
  • How can I support them to get better at this?
  • How and when will we know that our support is working?
  • What resources do you have in class to support my child?
  • What resources do you have in the school to support my child?
  • What can I do at home to support my child?
  • Who else can we involve in this conversation if needed?
  • How often should we communicate?  Do you prefer email or phone calls?

Following the Meeting:

Send a ‘thank you’ note email after the meeting listing the concerns you discussed and outlining your understanding of the steps you and the teacher have agreed on. Teachers and administrative staff can change over the course of a school year, so this will provide a record of all your communication.

Here is a word doc version; Questions to Ask Your Child’s Teacher, that you can adapt, print, and bring with you when you meet with school staff.

Once you have shared your observations and issues that may be impacting your child’s learning, then together with the school identify the current challenges and make a plan to address them. Schedule specific review dates to check on progress every few weeks.

If a child struggles in an academic area, expect him or her to need support on an ongoing basis to catch up and maintain progress.

If progress does not occur as expected after a reasonable period of time, the next step is to meet with the school team to investigate the reasons why the child continues to struggle. This is the time to decide on the next steps to support your child.

School Supports and Diagnosis.Flow Chart gives you a visual of the process to get supports for your child in school.

You may want to supplement classroom support with  services in the community. Go to Find Help Children to get suggestions for how to find appropriate support services for your child or teen.

If you have a young adult you are concerned about, you may also want to go to Find Help Adults for suggestions.

If your child continues to have significant learning and/or attention issues after he has received targeted support and intervention, then a psycho-educational assessment may be an important next step in understanding your child’s learning profile.

Ask your school how they can support you if your child needs a psycho-educational assessment by a registered psychologist. If your school is unable to provide a timely psycho-educational assessment, you may want to pursue this independently.

The Psychological Association of Alberta (PAA) lists psychologists. Be sure to find a psychologist with expertise in doing a psycho-educational assessment. For more in-depth information about assessments and how to find a psychologist, go to About LDs & ADHD

Once the assessment is complete, be sure to meet with the assessment psychologist so that they can help you understand the results of the assessment. These assessments are in depth and contain a great deal of information. The information in a psycho-educational assessment usually provides strategies that can be followed at the school.

Make an appointment with your child’s teacher to go over the results of the assessment. This might be a good time to ask for the school administration to sit in on the meeting, as they often have access to further support.

Special Education Coding

Understanding the Diagnosis

If the assessment identifies a diagnosis, then it is important that you understand the diagnosis. The first step is to review the assessment report with the professional who assessed your child.

If your child is diagnosed with a Learning Disability, your first step is to review the psycho-educational assessment report closely with the educational psychologist and then the school. The report explains the diagnosis and any related challenges or conditions. It provides a detailed description of your child’s learning profile, including strengths and weaknesses. The recommendations in the report describe strategies to support your child at school and home, which is helpful information for both teachers and parents. Be sure to ask questions if you are unclear about anything in the report.

Physicians are often involved in diagnosing ADHD because it is considered a medical condition that can be treated with medication prescribed by physicians.

ADHD in children may also be diagnosed within the context of a psycho-educational assessment. People may decide to have a psycho-educational assessment to get a full learning profile and to determine if there are other learning difficulties that occur along with ADHD. It is common for individuals to have both a Learning Disability and ADHD.

If you choose to have a medical assessment by a physician and a psycho-educational assessment by an educational psychologists, then you will want to review the report with both professionals.

When a Student is Assigned a Code

Once parents have shared a child’s diagnosis with the school, the school district is required to inform Alberta Education of that diagnosis. Alberta Education sets regulations that school districts must follow to support diverse learners, including students with Learning Disabilities and ADHD. In order to access these supports, a code is assigned to your child based on the diagnosis.

Alberta Education – Special Education Coding: Children with a Learning Disability or ADHD may receive a Special Education Code 54, 58 or 59. This means that the child is eligible for an Individual Program Plan or a Learning Support Plan. These plans are a collaborative effort between a child’s teachers and parents, and are designed to target a child’s specific learning needs at school.

Learning Disabilities refer to disorders which may affect how people take in information, organize information, remember information, and how they understand information.

Different types of Learning Disabilities in kids include:

  • Oral language (e.g., listening, speaking, understanding);
  • Reading (e.g. decoding, phonetic knowledge, word recognition, comprehension);
  • Written language (e.g., spelling, written expression);
  • Mathematics (e.g., computation, problem solving).

Children with ADHD may be identified in this category because ADHD is a medical condition.

Students who have more than one diagnosis would qualify for this code. For example, if a student has both an LD and ADHD they may be identified in this category.

This code is for a more severe diagnosis that impacts a student’s learning to a greater degree. Some examples might be: Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or a severe behaviour condition such as Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) or Conduct Disorder (CD)

Alberta Education Documents

Listed below are links to Alberta Education documents that you may want to review if you have a children with a Learning Disability and qualifies for individual program planning.

Alberta Education supports students, parents, teachers, and administrators from Early Childhood Services (ECS) through Grade 12.

Alberta Government – Standards for Special Education. The Standards for Special Education help ensure the education system meets the needs of all learners and that all learners have access to high quality education. Special Education requirements apply to Grades 1 to 12 in all public and separate school boards, excluding charter schools.

Unlocking Potential: Key Components of Programming for Students with Learning Disabilities

Why Share the Diagnosis with Your Child?

“Stupid, “lazy”, “dumb”. 

Those are labels, too and harmful to your child.  If your child hasn’t already heard these words from their peers (repeatedly), your child has likely thought of themselves in these negative ways.

As a parent, you should not worry that when your child learns they have a Learning Disability or ADHD, that they will feel different, less able, or less smart than their peers.  

Your child already feels different and less able and less smart because they are trying hard and not succeeding.  They are watching other children learn easily what seems difficult for them. 

So, having their Learning Disability or ADHD explained, will likely be a relief.

When a child (and a person of any age!) has an opportunity to understand how their unique brain processes information, learns, and remembers, it is like a mystery hidden deep within that is finally revealed to them.

When a child learns that there is a scientific reason for why some areas of ‘learning’ and ‘doing’ are challenging for them, they feel huge relief to discover that they are not ‘dumb’ or ‘just not trying hard enough’. They can separate the Learning Disability or ADHD from themselves and stop blaming themselves.

A psycho-eductional assessment also reveals where their natural strengths and aptitudes are. This can give them the confidence to adapt their approach to learning and to explore new areas of interest.

Psychologists make recommendations to families and school staff about specific strategies they can use to remediate or compensate for the student’s learning difficulties and also strategies that can be used to capitalize on their strengths. School staff, families, and students can use this information to develop an Individual Program Plan (Learner Support Plan). All of this information empowers the learner to take control of their own learning and be more likely to meet their potential.

Words used to discuss a Learning Disability with a younger student will be different than those used with an adolescent. Be sure to use words the student can understand and pronounce and have the student repeat it back to ensure understanding. Only give as much information as you believe the student can handle.

It does not all have to be discussed in one sitting but rather may come up spontaneously in response to situations that occur at home or at school. It will be a process for the child to understand his or her unique learning profile. For children who may struggle to accept their difficulties, professional counselling may need to be accessed.

Demystify the diagnosis by clarifying and correcting any misinformation (i.e., that they are “stupid”).

Emphasize strengths so that the weaknesses or challenges do not become the prime focus. Be sure to let the child know that they can learn, but may learn differently in some areas. When discussing strengths, give concrete examples and avoid false praise. When discussing weaknesses, provide a specific number to prevent the child from feeling overwhelmed.

Make it clear that everyone has strengths and weaknesses. It can be comforting for the child if parents and others discuss their own personal challenges and how they approached the challenges in a constructive way.

Provide this information in a positive and open way. Be sure your child knows that they have a support system available to help them succeed, and that they can ask questions about the diagnosis without fear of judgment.

After assisting your child to understand their disability, then your eventual goal is to help them advocate for themselves. This will be an ongoing process that will evolve as they mature and develop greater self-awareness. This is an important developmental process as once your child turns 18 and is considered an adult, they will be advocating for themselves at post-secondary and eventually with their employer. Here are a few suggestions for developing self-advocacy skills in your child or young adult.

Practice communication skills. This includes teaching about providing appropriate eye contact when speaking, how to ask for help, and how to be properly assertive in making a request.

No matter the age of the student, it is important that they can describe their disability in easy-to-understand language. For example, “I have slower processing speed, so I need more time to complete assignments, but I will get it done.”

Involve students in meetings with teachers and parents regarding the development of the students’ Individual Program Plan (Learner Support Plans), as well as for transition planning.

Parents and teachers should discuss with the student the strategies and accommodations that can be put into place for them and the reason for each. For example, “You can use the assistive technology, Text-To Speech, to help you read your social studies textbook.” Over time, students will have a good sense what strategies and accommodations work well for them and advocate for themselves.

For older students attending post-secondary education institutions, prepare them for meeting with the Disability/Accessibility Resource Centre. More information can be found at Adult Learning.

It is important not to downplay the fact that they will still likely experience frustration in their school or work environment from time to time. Reinforce to them that if they are feeling anxious, distressed or overwhelmed, to ask for help.

Help may be in the form of greater academic support, through the school or outside tutoring. Emotional support, such as counseling, may be needed at different times in their lives. If they develop the tools to cope with stressful situations, they will become more resilient. Resiliency means the ability to cope with challenges and stressful situations in one’s life.

Individual Program Plans (IPP)

After the Alberta Education has assigned a code to a student with a specific diagnosis, based on a psycho-educational assessment, then the school team will create an intervention document that supports that student’s specific learning needs. The interventions will be based on the recommendations in the assessment, the parents’ and teachers’ knowledge of the child, and the school’s available resources.

Three terms can be used to describe the intervention document at school but they all mean the same thing:

IPP – Individual Program Plan

IEP – Individual Education Plan

LSP – Learner Support Plan

  • Alberta Education uses IPP
  • Calgary Board of Education (CBE) uses IPP
  • Calgary Catholic School District (CCSD) uses LSP
  • Rocky View School District uses IPP
  • Other school districts may use IEP

On this website, we will use the term ‘IPP’

An IPP is an intervention document the school develops which provides a plan for the supports available for a student.

An IPP document communicates:

  • The student’s current skill level.  This can be both academic and behavioural skills.
  • The intervention(s) planned to help the student improve that skill level.
  • The support planned to compensate while a skill level is developing.
  • The tools and a schedule for assessing whether the intervention is effective.

The Individualized Program Planning document by Alberta Education

  • Involve your child (depending on the their age). When students participate in creating their own goals, they are more likely to remain engaged. This develops self-advocacy skills and provides a sense of empowerment.
  • Goals need to be achievable and measurable.  Unrealistic goals lead to frustration and disappointment.
  • Parents are essential members of a student’s learning team. Parent suggestions and observations should inform the IPP.
  • The school will hold regular IPP reviews during the course of the year. However, any time you have questions about your child’s progress, you can schedule a meeting with the teacher.
  • Informed consent is a process in which the parents confirm that they understand and agree to an activity that is directly related to addressing a student’s special education needs.  Be sure you understand what the IPP is offering your child.
  • If you have concerns about an intervention, but you are willing for your child to give it a try, add your concerns with your signature and request a date for review. However, do not sign something you cannot agree with.
  • If something needs to be changed, discuss it with the teacher. If you cannot come to a reasonable agreement about the IPP, ask to have the school administration involved.
  • Occasionally, disagreements cannot be resolved in the school setting. In such a situation, go to your area or district supervisor for advice and support. If you remain concerned, you may have to contact Alberta Education. The process for this is described on page 14 of the Alberta Education document, Standards for Special Education.

As the IPP is being implemented throughout the year, you are working together with the school to support your child.

In Alberta the overarching approach in public schools is to support diverse learners within an ‘inclusive setting’. As well as this umbrella term, you will hear about various classroom approaches, strategies, accommodations, and interventions that might be used to support your child. We have provided descriptions of these approaches in School Support for Diverse Learners.

Keep in mind: Each child’s learning profile is unique and will evolve over time. During the course of his/her school career and in different classrooms and settings, the kinds of support and strategies used may be different.

In your role as your child’s advocate you will want to maintain a constructive partnership with your child’s teachers and schools. As your child matures, they will have greater awareness of the learning strategies that work best for them and will participate more actively during IPP meetings.

School Support for Diverse Learners

There are different kinds of support provided to neuro-diverse learners in the classroom. The type of supports may vary depending on the needs of the students, classroom approaches utilized by schools, school districts, and private schools – and also the age/grade levels of students. Described here are the approaches and strategies your children are most likely to receive in an Alberta classroom.

Inclusive Education

Inclusive setting/inclusion means your child will remain in their regular classroom but be supported by specially designed instruction and support.

“To support children and students in attaining the goals as stated in the Ministerial Order on Student Learning, school authorities must ensure that all children and students, regardless of race, religious belief, colour, gender, general identify, gender expression, physical disability, mental disability, family status or sexual orientation, or any other factor(s), have access to meaningful and relevant learning experiences that include appropriate instructional supports.”

For more information about Alberta’s Education’s policy on Inclusive Education, go to : https://www.alberta.ca/inclusive-education

Universal supports – incorporated in the environment for all learners, such as flexible learning resources and technologies, differentiated instruction and positive behavior supports.

Targeted strategies or interventions – for learners who need more specialized learning opportunities or access to more specialized expertise

Specialized/Individualized supports – that directly relate to individuals’ learning needs.

  • Instruction and support in a grade-level classroom
  • Individualized instruction in smaller groups
  • A specialized classroom or setting
  • One-on-one instruction
  • A combination of all of the above

Response to Intervention

Tier 3

Students lag 1 or more years behind peers and require intensive individualized intervention. 1-5% of students.

Tier 2

Students lag well behind their peers and require some form of additional intervention. Strategic intervention with smaller group of students is needed. 5-15% of students.

Tier 1

Students learn at roughly grade level or above. Classroom instruction is based on research-based strategies. 80-90% of students.

Tier 3

Tier 2

Tier 1

Response to Intervention

Provided are descriptions of some of the approaches that schools may use to support diverse learners in the classroom.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is based on three main principles:
1. Give learners different ways to learn information through multiple means of representation
2. Give learners different ways to demonstrate learning through multiple means of expression
3. Tap into learners’ motivation and interests through multiple means of engagement.”

Accommodations and supports are provided throughout the instruction so that all students are able to access learning through a variety of ways, and individuals with specific learning needs are not highlighted as the supports are available to all students.

Alberta Ed Resource:Alberta Education – Inclusive Education – Conversation Guide for the Video; Making Sense of Universal Design for Learning

Differentiated Instruction can enhance teachers’ abilities to provide instruction that meets the different learning needs of all students in their classrooms.

A differentiated Instruction approach builds on teaching practices such as:

  • Knowing who students are as learners
  • Choosing multiple instruction strategies
  • Offering students multiple options at each stage of the learning process
  • Organizing flexible groupings
  • Using ongoing classroom assessment to inform instruction

Alberta Ed Resource: Using Differentiated Instruction to Support ALL Learners

“Response to intervention (RtI) uses a 3-tiered pyramid to identify strategies, supports and intervention that address students’ academic and social-emotional needs.”

Alberta schools are using RTI in flexible ways. For example, RTI pyramids may show how many students might require interventions at each level of intensity, how intense the support is at each level or where the support at each level might originate.”
2020:  Note that you may also hear the term, Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS).

Alberta Ed Resource: Response to Intervention

As described in the Response to Intervention section, for those students who have demonstrated the need through ongoing assessment and are on an IPP, schools may provide more targeted strategies and comprensive instruction to students to improve the skills they are struggling with. The terms you may hear to describe this targeted instruction is  Remediation or Intervention.

It is very important that assessment informs the strategies and targeted intervention utilized, and that the instruction is provided using an evidenced-based program and qualified staff.

Families; for information about instruction your child may receive in specific subject areas, go to Academic Subjects.

Educators; for information about providing Remediation/Intervention, go to the Educators section.

An accommodation is a change or alteration to the regular way a student is expected to learn, complete assignments or participate in the classroom.

There are three types of accommodations:

1. Environmental accommodations: may be related to the resources and materials the student uses or to the layout and use of classroom space.

Examples: alternative seating, assistive technology and other adaptive devices, allowing use of manipulatives, using carrels or tables for students who need a quiet spot free from distractions.”

2. Instructional accommodations: are changes to the way information and concepts are presented or practiced to ensure that each student has the opportunities and support he or she needs to learn.  This may involve modifying teaching strategies or learning activities in a variety of ways. Examples: providing copies of notes, alternative reading materials, varying the amount of materials to be learned or practiced, breaking instruction into steps, demonstrating or modelling a sample of the required task.

3. Assessment accommodations: Some students require accommodations that allow classroom assessments to measure and communicate student growth and achievement clearly and realistically. Examples:  extra time, oral tests, reducing the number of questions, providing a reader or a scribe, administering the test in a separate room free from distractions.

Assistive Technology for Learning (ATL), known commonly as Assistive Technology (AT), supports a student’s learning. It does not create an advantage for the student, but simply allows the student to access learning equitably like any other student.

Alberta Education provides the following definition of Assistive Technology for Learning (ATL):

‘Assistive Technology for Learning (ATL) is a subset of a broad range of technologies that enhance students’ learning. ATL is defined as the devices, media and services used by students to actively engage in learning and to achieve their individual learning goals.

Like other technologies, ATL ranges from simple tools to complex systems. It could be as simple as providing a pencil grip for writing or as complex as a computer with software for reading and learning. In practice, all technology can be described as assistive technology—it assists everyone in doing something better, easier or faster.’

Alberta Education oversees a range of supports and services for students with Learning Disabilities, ADHD, and other diagnoses in the Public, Separate, Charter and Independent K-12 education systems.

The Alberta Government (Alberta Education) acknowledges the importance of local autonomy, flexibility and choice in meeting the diverse learning needs of students. That means there might be some variability in how school districts deliver those supports to diverse learners.

There are 3 public school districts within Calgary and the surrounding area and they are all required to provide a continuum of support to students with Learning Disabilities and ADHD.

When you are considering the most appropriate school and classroom setting for your child, you may also consider one of the private schools that specifically serve students with Learning Disabilities and ADHD.

Public School Districts in Calgary Region

Calgary Board of Education
CBE has 240 schools across Calgary. Your child is designated to a school based on their home address. The school may be in your community or in another community, depending on space and the program your child is enrolled in. CBE provides appropriate programming for students with exceptional and special needs in all of their community schools. They also provide programming at various sites across CBE to meet specialized needs of some  students.

Calgary Catholic School District
CCSD is the largest Catholic school district in Alberta, serving more than 58,000 students in 116 schools located in Calgary, Airdrie, Cochrane, Chestermere, and Rocky View County. Students with diverse learning needs should register at their local school. Through a referral process, a student’s diverse learning needs are identified and discussed in order to help determine how best to support that student. The child, once assessed, may then be assigned to another appropriate school.

Rocky View School District
Rocky View Schools serves residents to the west, north and east of the City of Calgary. The areas include: Airdrie, Chestermere & Area, Cochrane & Area, Crossfield & Area, and Springbank & Area. The jurisdiction provides educational services to over 25,000 public students in Kindergarten to Grade 12 through 51 schools.

There is a range of private school options for students with disabilities; some specifically serve only students with Learning Disabilities.

These Designated Special Education Private Schools (DSEPS) are independent schools that have been given special approval and funding by the Minister of Education, where the sole purpose of the school is to serve students who are identified with a mild, moderate or severe disability. The funding provided by the province is added to by the private tuition paid by parents.

DSEPS in Calgary that target their support for students with Learning Disabilities are Foothills Academy, Calgary Academy, and Rundle Academy.

Foothills Academy
Foothills Academy School welcomes students with identified Learning Disabilities in grades 3 to 12 who are struggling to succeed in the regular school system.  Each class has 12-14 students with a teacher and Educational Assistant, and follows the Alberta Education curriculum. We understand the difficulties and challenges facing students with LD, both academic and social-emotional. Wrap-around supports are available for our students, including literacy and numeracy skills programs; mental health counselling; occupational therapy; speech-language therapy; and a wide-variety of student clubs and activities.

Foothills Academy school was built around the belief that with the right supports and remedial intervention students with LD can achieve success in school, post-secondary, and the workplace. Our philosophical approach is to support their journey to Find Understanding; Build Confidence; and Maximize Potential.

Foothills Academy also offers also offers support beyond our School! We provide programs and services for the larger LD/ADHD community through Estelle Siebens Community Services, including:

  • Psychological Services and Programs: psycho-educational assessments; mental health counselling; and groups programs
  • Read/Write & Math:  one-to-one remedial instruction in literacy and numeracy
  • Amicus Camps and Recreation: social-skills based summer camps; year-round recreation programs; as well as programming for teens and young adults
  • Community Education: workshops; webinars; and online courses for families
  • Professional Development: workshops and online courses for educators and other professionals

Calgary Academy

Calgary Academy Stream
Grades 2-12

Students in the Academy program have been diagnosed with one or more learning disorders and/or ADHD.  The primary focus of the Academy program is to remediate learning difficulties.  The classroom ratio is smaller, so students receive the personalized supports they need to capitalize on their strengths while targeting areas of difficulty in reading, writing and/or mathematics.  Every student receives daily remedial instruction to support their area of need.   The school has a Learning Supports Team that provides the following services:  Speech and Language, Occupational Therapy and Literacy and Numeracy specialists who work with students that are performing well below grade level to close the learning gap as quickly as possible.

Using the Alberta curriculum, students develop an understanding of their own unique way of learning and transferable tools and strategies that empower them as learners.  When students become more independent and outgrow the intensive supports in the Academy program, they can transition into the Collegiate program.

Collegiate Stream

The Collegiate program pushes students to collaborate, to challenge themselves and others, and to engage richly in the world around them. With a focus on preparing for post-secondary, students leave with the mindset and skills to continually take on new challenges. Students share in the creation and direction of their learning, while supporting and challenging their peers. Teachers move seamlessly among their different roles as mentors, instructors, guides and facilitators as they encourage students to drive their own learning.  Students learn creativity, collaboration, critical thinking and communication skills, empowering them to embrace an increasing level of independence in their learning for future success in post-secondary and beyond.  The ratios average 1:12 in Elementary and 1:18 from grades 7-12.

Blended +
Starting September of 2021 for grades 9 and 10, Blended+ is a third program at Calgary Academy that combines the best parts of in person, online, and off-site learning. It will expand each year to grade 12 by 2023.  Blended+ is designed as a flexible and highly supported learning experience to meet the needs, strengths, and interests of students—including students with learning disabilities and learning challenges who are at grade level. Rich off-site experiential learning and access to CA extra-curricular activities continue to be the plus in Blended+ and a differentiator for this program.
For more information about Blended +, go to:



Calgary Academy offers a full day, play based kindergarten program which features three themes: exploration, connection, and motivation. Their Kindergarten program provides students with a strong foundation in literacy and numeracy and a head start on the skills, knowledge, and strategies they require to enjoy school and engage successfully in Grade 1.

Rundle Academy
Rundle Academy is part of Rundle College Society and provides a premier educational experience for students in grades 4-12 with diagnosed Learning Disabilities and/or ADHD. Their individualized approach to teaching and learning supports students to achieve their full potential in all aspects of their education. Their small class sizes, exceptional teachers, strong sense of community, and focus on character development set this program apart.

At Rundle Academy, students have access to the strategies and accommodations that allow them to be successful at the post-secondary level. Graduates of Rundle Academy attend a variety of post-secondary institutions and take with them the curricular understanding, self-advocacy skills, and executive function competencies needed to succeed wherever they choose to go.

Rundle Studio
In the fall of 2021, Rundle Studio will be “opening our doors” online to a new way of learning for grade 7 & 8 students with learning disabilities, ADHD and/or ASD who live in Alberta. We are building on the success of our Academy program and bringing that to an interactive, online environment. Rundle Studio provides a dynamic, interactive online learning environment for students with diagnosed learning disabilities designed to meet their personal learning styles, regardless of geographic location.

How To Support Your Children With ADHD & LD at Home

Your partnership with the school in supporting your child, through the IPP, is an important component. However, there will be other ways your child (and you!) might need to be supported and encouraged outside of those school doors.

They are:

  • Homework support
  • Home routines such as healthy eating and sleeping habits
  • Supporting your child’s emotional/mental health needs
  • Social Skills
  • Recreation: Provide opportunities for the child to have a break from the stress of school and have fun
  • Family Time
  • Parenting Support

Other Challenges & Conditions:
Kids with learning disabilities may also be struggling with other challenges, such as weak executive function skills, anxiety, depression, or social skills challenges.

In the website’s About LD & About ADHD; Related Challenges sections you can learn more about them.

You are not alone in supporting a family member with a Learning Disability and/or ADHD. Start by exploring our website, where you will find helpful information to guide you on your journey:

Parent Support Groups: Remember, one of your best resources will be other parents like yourselves. It is amazing what parents can do to support each other.

Supporting the needs of someone who has been diagnosed with a Learning Disability, ADHD, or another condition can be overwhelming. As a family it can be helpful to make your own Action Plan to support your child or family member in specific areas. This action plan should be developed and put into action together.

Remember that Learning Disabilities and ADHD do not disappear when a child transitions to adulthood, but the impact may look different. Your goal is to help your child or young adult to develop strategies to manage their challenges and build upon their strengths, and to learn to advocate for themselves. This will be a long journey, so have realistic expectations and set reasonable goals.


Identify the Need
Identify a specific area where your family member would like to develop strategies, skills, or get support.

Set a Goal
What are 1 or 2 current and realistic goals and objectives?

Find Help
Identify resources, organizations, and/or service providers that can provide information or support.

Start the Action Plan
Implement strategies & timelines for achieving progress.

Assess Progress
Set regular dates to evaluate how the plan is working.

Change or adapt the plan when needed.

Celebrate Successes! 
Celebrate all the little and big successes together!

Words of Advice from Other Parents:
Make your action plan realistic– you are not a superhuman!
Action Plans are meant to be guideposts – Don’t’ stay up at night worrying about them.
Celebrate Small Successes
Don’t burn yourself out!

Learning Disability Management

Children with Learning Disabilities, ADHD, and/or co-existing conditions receive support and accommodations in schools through their Individual Program Plans. Families may choose to access further support services for their child in the greater community.

Students who have not been formally assessed but are struggling with learning, attention, behavioural, emotional, or social skills challenges can also benefit by accessing services in the community to support them. These services may be provided by public, not-for-profit, or private organizations and professionals.

When you are starting your search, you need to consider:
  • What type of service you are looking for and why
  • What qualifications the service provider offers based on the type of service you need
  • Whether specific expertise is required in the field of Learning Disabilities, ADHD, and/or a co-existing condition or disorder

This is a Screening Checklist with questions to help you find qualified service providers. We have also provided categories of Support Services you may want to access, with further guidance in your quest for support.

Choosing a Service Provider

When you are looking for a service provider to specifically help you with undiagnosed or diagnosed Learning Disabilities and/or ADHD, or related challenges, ask targeted questions to ensure that the service provider has the expertise you are seeking.

When choosing a service provider, go to trusted sources when choosing a psychologist to best fit your needs. You may already be working with your child’s school, your family doctor or a counsellor. All of these may be able to refer you to psychologists with specific types of expertise. The final choice is always up to you!

School Referrals

If your child needs an assessment, ask their school for a list of psychologists they recommend whose reports they have found especially helpful in programming to meet a child’s educational needs. Ensure that recommendations are included for how parents can support their child at home.

Ask friends or family members who have been in similar situations to share referrals to any psychologists with the right type of expertise (cognitive, academic, processing, social, emotional, behavioral, etc.).

Family Doctor Referrals

If you have a family physician or pediatrician who you trust, ask them to share referrals.

The Psychologists Association of Alberta (PAA)

The PAA website allows psychologists to pay an annual fee so that they can list their services and describe their areas of expertise. Be careful in paying attention to what they do and don’t provide. The referral service does not, by itself, tell you the depth or breadth of the psychologist’s background or experience. See below for questions to ask and consideration to keep in mind.

Interview Process

Be as clear as you can be about what you are hoping for from the assessment and the professional relationship.

  • Is it merely a diagnosis you need? Or are you looking for someone to explain everything to you in-depth?
  • Are you going to be the main ‘consumer’ of the report or are you asking the psychologist to write a report for the school or your physician or your employer?
  • If the main audience isn’t you, are you clear on exactly what the school (or other stakeholders) needs? If not, clarify with them before deciding who to work with.

As with other services, it makes sense to shop around for something as important as a psychological assessment. Be prepared to talk to two or three psychologists to get a sense of their process, costs and fit for your needs before making your selection.

You need to be comfortable in asking questions of any psychologist with whom you plan to work. Start right at the beginning with their professional interaction.

  • Do they set you at ease?
  • Are they prepared to answer whatever questions you put to them?
  • If you want to ask questions before booking an appointment, will they chat with you?
  • If you want an in-person consult, can it be arranged?
  • Are they able to communicate with you in your preferred method: phone, text, email, virtual meeting, etc.?
  • Can they potentially accommodate your schedule, if necessary?
  • Are you comfortable with them?

Create a list of questions for which you would like answers. Then aim to find people with the most expertise in answering those questions. Not all psychologists have the same assessment background and training.

Examples of Screening Questions:

  • Please describe the services you provide?
  • Who is your Target Audience? (who are you providing the service to/for?)
  • Are the services directly or indirectly supporting needs of people with LD & ADHD/learning & attention challenges? If so, how?
  • What is the staff knowledge of LD/ADHD/Related Conditions?  Provide details.
  • What are the qualifications of managers or individuals overseeing the service?
  • What are the qualifications of individuals providing the service?
  • What ongoing training and support is provided to front-line staff?
  • Explain how the type of service provided is based on evidence-based research. This means you can provide evidence that your treatment/intervention approach has been proven to be effective, backed up by studies.
  • What role does the family have in this program?
  • Explain how you deliver the services: Location, duration, etc.
  • What is the cost? Can I claim the service on a health benefits program or through my taxes?
  • What is your availability: How soon can we start? Is there a waitlist? What are your hours?

Sample Interview Questions

What is the most recent professional learning you have had in this topic?
More newly qualified candidates can explain their up-to-date degrees and what they’ve been doing since being registered. Those with more experience will be able to share conferences, workshops, or even books and journals they’ve read recently or written.

What portion of your practice do you estimate is devoted to this type of assessment?
There is no right answer but you can ask follow-up questions to get a sense of the degree to which they truly are experts in this field.

Was your initial training in counselling or assessment, or both?
If the answer isn’t ‘assessment,’ you can ask follow-up questions to find out if they have switched into doing more assessment or if they do assessments occasionally as a side part of their practice.

Few and far between though they may be, you do need to watch out for a practitioner who thinks they can do a bit of assessment now and again because they did take that one course ‘back in the day.’

Why would you be a good person to assess myself or my child?
How the psychologist comes across to you when asked what they are good at may tell you a great amount. They can explain their excellent communication skills,  report writing, or the ability to work with school personnel employers, or explain things in a meaningful way to you.

If this is for a child, they can tell you about how they go about making sure students are comfortable and ready to give their best effort in an assessment situation.

What are some examples of the types of recommendations or suggestions that you might make depending o the assessment results?
It’s important to ask them to provide you with the evidence that supports the recommendations that they make. For example, if a psychologist is assessing a student with reading difficulties, there is an extensive body of scientific knowledge about how children learn to read and what instruction struggling readers require. Are the psychologist’s recommendations based on that body of knowledge? If they can’t provide you with some up to date references, you may wish to go to the next name on your list.

What are your administration procedures?
Finally, is the psychologist clear with you about all obligations you will have to each other? Are they reasonable and clear about their billing policies, booking, and cancellations, payment terms, etc.? This will be a professional relationship, and you can expect all financial and record-keeping aspects to be handled accordingly.

We’ve provided a word doc of the Screening Checklist that you can adapt and take with you when you are interviewing service providers. Good luck!

Service Providers Screening Checklist

When researching additional learning/academic support in the community you will need to consider what your child’s needs are first and then interview educational agencies and specialists to determine if they are a good fit. When you are interviewing service providers, use the Screening Checklist – Service Providers as a guide.

Accessing Academic Instruction Privately – What to Look For

Education/Academic Intervention?
If your children with Learning Disability, such as a Reading Disability, then your child will be receiving academic support in a school setting.  Small group academic intervention is generally more available during elementary grades one to three or four. For more information about School Support, go to: School Support for Diverse Learners

Some parents choose to augment the support at school with private academic intervention as well. If this is the case, it is important that the specialist delivering the intervention has the required expertise, is using an evidenced-based program, and adheres to the principles of explicitly, systematically and cumulatively teaching the targeted skills.

Skill improvement will take time, even with combined efforts of school and private support. There is no ‘quick fix’.  You can expect that any kind of educational intervention for someone with a Learning Disability will require a significant commitment. Academic intervention, particularly for older students, is most effective when it is intensive and extensive.

Is an evidence-based approach to academic instruction utilized? What is it?

The agency or specialist should be able to give you specifics, including:

  • The programs and materials they are using
  • An explanation and justification for utilizing those programs including scientific evidence of effectiveness of the programs
  • Details about its proven effectiveness with their clients and their expertise in delivering the programs

Review Academic Subjects for more information on evidence-based approaches

For example, review Effective Literacy Instruction to determine if literacy instruction is based upon the most current research on the Science of Reading and follows a Structured Literacy approach, which is proven to be most effective.

Look at the programs and materials being used and ask them to answer the following questions:

  • What skills and outcomes do the programs and materials address? How?
  • How current are the materials? Ask for current information about effectiveness of the program.
  • Are the programs and materials comprehensive and complete?
  • Are there enough resources available for the instructors?
  • What are the targeted skill levels and age levels of the students who will be using these resources? Are they appropriate for your child?

What are the qualifications of the instructors?

If your child has complex learning and academic needs, then a qualified and experienced educator in the subject area, with in-depth understanding of Learning Disabilities and appropriate interventions will be a key component for success. The qualifications and expertise of the instructors may differ at different agencies, so be sure to ask.

Educational Agencies:
Managers: Expect managers to be experienced teachers or psychologists who oversee the program and train and supervise their instructors.
Instructors: Ask what the minimum credentials are required for instructors and to describe the training provided.

Private Educational Specialists:
Credentials: Seek out experienced teachers or psychologists with proven expertise delivering learning and academic instruction/ intervention to individuals and small groups. Ask what have been their past roles and in what settings? (ie. Learning Specialist, Literacy Specialist)
Training/Professional Development: Ask them what training (PD) they have undertaken in the specific area of intervention.
LD/ADHD Expertise: Ask details about their expertise in LD/ADHD.

What ongoing professional development/training is provided to the educators/teachers?

Get specifics on what professional development the instructors have completed as a requirement to teach the students and the ongoing training that is provided.

Research has indicated that educational intervention, particularly with literacy intervention, should adhere to the following principles:

  • Diagnostic: Pre-assessment to determine needs and progress monitoring is built into the lessons
  • Prescriptive: How are the assessments guiding the instruction?
  • Explicit
  • Multi-Sensory
  • Sequential
  • Systematic
  • Cumulative

Book by Sally Shaywitz: Overcoming Dyslexia. 2nd edition; 2020.
This is an excellent resource for parents to learn about the Science of Reading and effective literacy instruction. Both the 2003 and 2020 editions are excellent.

Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities Website: Finding A Reading Specialist.

What is Educational Therapy: What You Need to Know  https://www.understood.org/en/articles/what-you-need-to-know-about-educational-therapy

Educational/Academic Support Services in Calgary

There are some educational agencies and independent learning specialists in Calgary that provide academic instruction and remediation for students struggling in an academic area, particularly in reading/literacy. These agencies may specialize in supporting students with diagnosed or suspected Learning Disabilities and/or ADHD. Some of the agencies also offer psycho-educational assessments or academic assessments as part of their service.

There are other tutoring agencies and independent tutors that also provide academic support, but may not be as specialized in working with individuals who have more complex learning needs, such as Learning Disabilities or ADHD, and may or may not deliver evidence-based instruction.

You will have to educate yourself and do your homework when selecting learning/academic support in the community.

If you have a children with Learning Disabilities and has been struggling academically, you might decide not to wait to get the assessment through your school district. You may consider the option to access a psycho-educational assessment privately, with the understanding that you will have to pay for the assessment.

Ask the psychologist specific questions to ensure that they have the expertise in Learning Disabilities and psycho-educational assessments.

Note: Some not-for-profit agencies in your community may offer bursaries or a sliding scale for their psychological services. Examples in Calgary; Foothills Academy, CanLearn Society, University of Calgary’s Integrated Services in Education (ISE)

PAA: Psychologist Association of Alberta

The PAA website has a referral search section to help you locate a psychologist.
Within the filters for specific problems you can click on criteria such as academic, learning disabilities, ADHD, literacy, children – emotional or physical, etc.

For more information about the assessment and diagnosis process for Learning Disabilities, go to About LD, Assessments & Diagnosis

Listed below are a few of the educational agencies available in Calgary that provide academic instruction/intervention.

Foothills Academy Community Services – Read/Write Program

Individualized, one-to-one instruction for struggling learners, drawing from evidence-based programs.
Clients: age 6 years and older through adulthood.
All of the instructors are university-educated professionals who receive training in specific intervention methods.
Sessions are offered after school, on Saturdays, school year or summer intensive program, and booster program. Programs: Read/Write
Financial assistance available to children of qualifying families.
745 37 St. NW, Calgary

The Reading Foundation

Trained clinicians deliver instruction in specialized programs designed to strengthen the student’s fundamental learning skills when they experience difficulties in reading, comprehension, writing, and math.
Sessions offered after school hours, part time during school hours, or through intensive programs.
Email: office@readingfoundation.com
#401, 320-23 Ave SW, Calgary

U of C – Integrated Service Education: Reading Intervention Program

Clinic based reading intervention program for students in grades 2-4 who struggle to sound out words or read fluently.
Weekly small group instruction for 19 weeks, approximately 75 minutes long
Email: ise@ucalgary.ca
Integrated Services in Education, Education Tower, Rm 408
University of Calgary

CanLearn Society – Literacy Programs

CanLearn Society has a variety of literacy programs for children and adults.
Programs for Children: Reading Pilots, Share the Magic, Word Play
Programs for Parents and Adults: Learning Starts at Home, Reading Connections
Reading Pilots: For elementary aged students. Once a week, in a one-on-one setting, trained instructors teach intensive, intentional reading strategies. Program runs for 10 weeks.
Learning Starts at Home: A trained facilitator visits the family with children ages 3 to 7 in their home once a week to help families build strong literacy skills.
Email: info@canlearnsociety.ca
403-686-9300 ext.100
#100, 1117 Macleod Tr. SE, Calgary

SRCF Learning Centre

SRCF Learning Centres assist dyslexic children with specialized tutoring based on the evidence based Orton-Gillingham methodology. This tutoring is provided at no cost to the family.
103, 2915-21st ST. NE, Calgary

Calgary Academy Summer Programs

Calgary Academy is offering summer school for level 30 courses.
1677 – 93 Street SW Calgary

Kaizen Education Services

Academic coaches are experienced, certified Alberta teachers, supporting students with executive skill deficits. They focus on the process of learning and transferable skills that can be applied to any subject or course. They also provide assessments, study skills coaching, high school and post -secondary planning and coaching, and parent coaching.
#400, 119 – 14 St. NW, Calgary

Family Psychology Place

North and South locations
Licensed teachers offer one-on-one tutoring. They have experience working with learning disabilities and ADHD.
They can support your child with reading, writing, math, study skills, LD strategies, etc.
587-316-9173 for the North location at #226, 1829 Ranchlands Blvd NW
587-355-2238 for the South location at #5, 10333 Southport Rd SW

Dyslexia YYC

Creating awareness of dyslexia/learning disabilities in Calgary; sharing of information, research, and anything and everything related to dyslexia.

Decoding Dyslexia Alberta

A grassroots organization driven by Alberta families and educators who recognize the need for conversations with our school districts and policy makers regarding dyslexia.

Parents may want to augment school support for their kids with Learning Disabilities or ADHD with services found in the community. These support services may include:

  1. Assessment to determine diagnosis of ADHD and/or related issues
  2. Treatment; including medication management and counselling
  3. Skill Instruction to develop strategies
  4. Parenting courses and parent support groups

Doctors (physicians):
Medical doctors assess and diagnose ADHD, as it is a neurobiological condition that can be treated with medication. Doctors prescribe and oversee ADHD medication.

CanREACH: https://wp.hmhc.ca/canreach

To find a doctor or pediatrician with expertise in assessing and treating ADHD in children and youth, an excellent resource is CanREACH.  CanReach trains physicians in various mental health diagnosis and treatment, including ADHD. They provide a list of CanREACH trained providers across most of Canada, including specific cities and regions in Alberta.

Psychologists with a specialization in ADHD and Learning Disabilities can be a great source of support for individuals with ADHD.  Psychologists can help people with:

  • Assessments: Educational Psychologists can assess and diagnose ADHD. They may incorporate an ADHD assessment within a more thorough psycho-educational assessment to determine a full learning profile and potentially other challenges, such as a Learning Disability.
  • Develop strategies to improve ADHD symptoms and behaviours.
  • Counseling to help with related emotional, mental health, and social skills challenges.
  • Career counseling and supporting an individual through transitions in life, such as starting post-secondary education or transitioning from post-secondary to the workplace

How to Find Psychologists:

PAA: Psychologist Association of Alberta

The PAA website has a referral search section to help you locate a psychologist. Within the filters for specific problems you can click on criteria such as ADHD, academic, Learning Disabilities, literacy, children – emotional or physical, etc,


CADDAC lists clinics by provinces that provide assessments and interventions for ADHD. Ask the psychologist specific questions to ensure that they have the expertise in ADHD that you are looking for.

Financial Support: Some not-for-profit agencies in your community may offer bursaries or a sliding scale for their psychological services. Examples in Calgary: Foothills Academy, CanLearn Society, University of Calgary’s Integrated Services in Education (ISE)

An ADHD coach is a life coach trained specifically to help adults and youth with ADHD to better manage their lives.

An ADHD Coach can help with goal setting, planning and organizational skills, time management, motivation, and healthier self-esteem and relationships.

Coaching sessions can take place in person or by telephone or internet so coaches do not necessarily need to be located in your area.

Currently Canada has no regulations regarding qualifications of coaches. We suggest that you ask individual coaches for their training qualifications and request that they supply you with testimonials from past clients.

Although not required in Canada, many ADHD coaches in Canada are now getting certified through well-known institutions, mainly in the U.S., that offer training and accreditation to become a certified ADHD coach.

CADDAC provides a list of ADHD coaches in each region/province.
CADDAC: Centre for ADHD Awareness; ADHD Coaches.  https://caddac.ca/adhd/document/adhd-coaches

Read the ADDitude Magazine article below to learn about ADHD training and certification, as well as questions to ask when looking for a coach. https://www.additudemag.com/shopping-for-a-coach/

There are some agencies that have expertise in supporting individuals struggling with attention and executive functioning issues. We strongly suggest that you do some research to ensure that the service providers you choose have the necessary qualifications and expertise in ADHD. Also, investigate that the recommended treatment is based on good scientific research that is peer-reviewed by other medical experts in the field of ADHD.

Listed are a few agencies in Calgary that may support students with ADHD:

Foothills Academy – Community Services (Psychological Services & Programs): www.foothillsacademy.org

CanLearn Society: www.canlearnsociety.ca  

Eckert Centre: https://eckertcentre.com/pages/academic-coaching/

Family Psychology Place provides ADHD assessment and support for children and adults. https://familypsychologyplace.com/assessment/adhd/

Kaizen Educational Services: https://kaizeneduc.com/

CADDAC provides a list of Support Groups in provinces across Canada.

One helpful way to understand how to support your child, teen, or young adult who is trying to manage ADHD symptoms is to take a workshop or course. In our Calendar we list learning opportunities of interest on topics such as ADHD.
Provided here are some of the organizations that provide regular learning opportunities for families and educators:

Foothills Academy Community Services:  https://www.foothillsacademy.org

  • Inside ADHD for Families. Foothills Academy online course
  • Foothills Academy – Parent & Community Webinars
    Parent & Community workshops are held regularly at Foothills Academy, from 6:30-8:30 pm. Admission is $10. Register online for the workshops.

Community Education Service (CES); Alberta Health Services http://www.community.hmhc.ca/

CES regularly offers free workshops on topics of interest related to ADHD, Learning Disabilities, literacy, etc. Some workshops are available online if there is demand.

University of Calgary – Werklund School of Education https://werklund.ucalgary.ca

Regularly presents workshops for parents and teachers. Look under ‘Upcoming Events’.

Owerko Centre: https://research4kids.ucalgary.ca/owerko

The Owerko Centre at the Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute is dedicated to studying neurodevelopmental disorders (such as ADHD) and child mental health. Their annual conference in June is very well attended by health care professionals, psychologists, educators, and the general public. Check out their events section for other presentations during the year.

Go to Research to learn about research conducted in Calgary, Canada, and elsewhere on the topic of ADHD. Listed below are a few of the ongoing research groups in Calgary that you may want to learn about or participate in.

University of Calgary – Strengths in ADHD Research Group https://www.ucalgary.ca/adhdkids/adhdkids@ucalgary.ca

Dr. Emma Climie and her team take a strengths-based approach to working with children with ADHD and their families. They incorporate primary research and practical intervention into their work so as to support children with exceptional needs. Check out the ‘Current Projects’ tab to find more information about their research projects, and how you may participate.

Owerko Centre https://cumming.ucalgary.ca/owerko/

The Owerko Centre at the Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute is dedicated to studying neurodevelopmental disorders (including ADHD) and child mental health. The Centre draws its support from a large group of multi-disciplinary researchers across the University of Calgary. The Owerko Centre supports the training of students at all levels and also provides summer student workshops.

Check in regularly to find updated information about accessing support services for individuals with ADHD. Go to the following sections of the Network’s website to find more information about ADHD:

Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities website: Article – ADHD Coaching: Can it Work for your Child?  https://www.smartkidswithld.org/getting-help/adhd/adhd-coaching-can-it-work-for-your-child/

Social Skills Services

Research has indicated that having ‘social competence’, the social skills and behaviours needed to be socially acceptable, is a primary determinant of future success and happiness. Social skills are not inherently acquired – they must be learned. Children, youth, and young adults who have Learning Disabilities and/or ADHD may need even more guidance than others to develop appropriate social skills.

Effective Social Skills Programs

Research has identified these features of effective social skills programs:

If you are looking for counselling services from a psychologist in Alberta to help develop social skills, go to the Psychologists’ Association of Alberta (PAA) to find a psychologist with the specialization you are looking for

Some community agencies have social skills and recreation programs that specifically support individuals with LD/ADHD. Other agencies have services and programs to assist with social skills development for a broader audience. Individuals with LD/ADHD might also benefit by attending these programs.

Foothills Academy – Community Services 
Amicus Recreation Programs: Recreational programs for children and youth 8 – 16 with LD & ADHD. All programs have a social skills component. Programs are offered during the evening and on Saturdays. New sessions begin fall, winter and spring. Financial assistance available for qualified families.
Camp Amicus: During the summer, Camp Amicus offers overnight, day camps and teen leadership programs for children and youth (8 – 18) with LD and ADHD. Programs focus on developing social skills, self-confidence and self-esteem. Some programs eligible for FSCD funding and some families eligible for financial assistance through Foothills Academy.
Psychological Groups:
Small group programs for children and youth facilitated by registered provisional psychologists.

CanLearn Society
Calm Kids Happy Families: This program is designed for parents and can help any child experiencing social problems, behavioral challenges, anxiety, depression, as well as those with attention deficit disorders or who are on the autism spectrum. Helping families manage their social and emotional well-being is an important part of what we do.

Family Psychology Place
Provides Social Skills therapy for children and adults through individualized Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or a Social Skills Group.

Cherrington Sawers
Social Skills Groups
Children in group will get the chance to practice and, more importantly, be successful with a variety of activities they may struggle with in larger groups settings (Birthday parties, Classrooms, Sports activities.) Their Social Skills groups are offered in Ten-week blocks, three times per year, once or twice per week (twice recommended).

Moroz Child Psychology Group
Social Skills Groups

The underlying philosophy of the approach at Moroz Child Psychology is to teach children intellectually what comes intuitively to their peers in the social sense. Their social skills training programs groups are comprised of only four to six children of similar age, personality, and areas in need of support.

Skills to Learn
Skills To Learn Inc. offers programs for children who are 6-13 years old who require support in improving their social cognition. They offer weekly, small group programs, with similarly aged peers. Their programs offer a parent education component to help with the generalization of skills outside of the classroom.
Their program curriculum uses elements of the Social Thinking Curriculum by Michelle Garcia Winner, The Zones Of Regulation by Leah Kuypers, R.O.P.E.S by Patricia Schetter and Unstuck and On Target by Lynn Cannon, Katie Alexander, Monica Adler Werner and Laura Anthony. We are approved as a Developmental-Behavioral Aide Service Provider and can direct bill to FSCD for those families approved for funding.

Positive Kids
Positive Kids specializes in helping children acquire social and emotional skills. Their children span from every day kids to children who may have special needs. Regardless of the challenge, their Child counsellors and Child therapists are trained to offer both individual and group counselling to help children understand and Label their Emotions, regulate their Emotions, and Manage their Emotions.
Parents benefit by working with counsellors to establish treatment goals, execute strategies approved by the Child counsellor or Child therapist, and gain insight through session notes and various parent workshops offered throughout the year.

LEARN MORE provides guidance in helping your child to develop appropriate socials skills. About LD & ADHD Social Skills Challenges provides more information about social skills challenges associated with Learning Disabilities and ADHD

Website:  Social Thinking 

Article: Social Skills Programs: Can They Be Effective? Written by Melanie Reader, Manager of Psychological Services & Programs at Foothills Academy. https://www.foothillsacademy.org/community/articles#tag-social-skills

Article: How ADHD May Be Impacting Your Child’s Social Skills and What You Can Do to Help. Written by Psychology Team at Foothills Academy.

Many children, youth, and adults struggle with mental health issues at some point during their lifetime. This can be especially true for individuals who have the added challenge of trying to manage Learning Disabilities and/or ADHD.

To learn about mental health issues that may co-exist with LDs and ADHD, such as anxiety and depression, go to: About LD/ADHD: Mental Health

What to Do if Your Child is Struggling with Mental Health Issues? 

First, discuss your concerns with your family doctor and connect with mental health supports in your region.

Urgent Mental Health Needs

If you feel that your child’s mental health concerns are urgent and you need to speak to a professional without booking an appointment, you and/or your child/teen can contact:

Face to face Professional crisis counsellors provide free counselling for individuals and families at Distress Centre Calgary. Evening and emergency appointments available.

A program of the Distress Centre, ConnecTeen is a confidential peer support service for youth.

Your child or teenager can reach professional counsellors 24/7 by calling 1-800-668-6868, texting 686868, or using their FaceBook messenger.

If you are concerned that your child is in immediate crisis, go to the Emergency Department at the nearest hospital.

Children’s Hospital/Foothills Hospital:
Child and Adolescence Mental Health Inpatient (4-17 yrs.) Inpatient mental health assessment and treatment for children & their families. Mental Health assessment & treatment for children with serious emotional, behavioral, and/or psychiatric problems that can’t be treated in the community, day patient, or outpatient settings. Treatment includes the child’s family. Admissions determined by an emergency department and a consultation with psychiatry and mental health staff.

Public and Community Agencies:
Provided are some of the public and community service providers in the Calgary Region that provide mental health support.

Alberta Health Services and their partners provide mental health supports for children, youth, and adults.

help4me.ca (AHS partnership)
To help young people recognize and understand early signs and symptoms of addiction and mental health problems that they, or someone they know may be facing. Help4me.ca also has important information on addiction and mental health supports and services.

Primary Care Networks (PCN); Calgary Zone
If you are looking for a doctor in the Calgary Region, you may want to start your search with the Primary Care Networks.
Primary Care Networks also provide wrap-around services. A Primary Care Network (PCN) is a network of doctors and other health providers such as nurses, psychologists, social workers, dietitians and pharmacists, working together to provide excellent health care. Each PCN designs programs and services to best meet local needs, which may vary from area to area.  They provide free counselling services for children, youth and adults (dependent on region) for concerns such as Learning Disabilities and ADHD.

Family & Community Resource Centre (FCRC)
at Alberta Children’s Hospital.
FCRC Services & Programs aim to create a comfortable and friendly place at the Alberta Children’s Hospital for families, healthcare professionals and community members to access credible health information, community resources and individualized support.

The Alex Community Health Centre
The Alex Youth Health Centre is a safe and supportive place for youth ages 12-24 to come and get health and social care from a trustworthy and caring team of doctors, nurses and support workers.

Children’s Hospital/Foothills Hospital:
Child Adolescent Addiction Mental Health and Psychiatry Program Community Clinics:
psychosocial assessment & treatment (5-18 yrs.), moderate-serious Mental Health and their families. Individual, family, and group therapy in a community clinic setting.
Physicians can refer to other professionals.  Referral required or parent can call Health Link 811.

Calgary Counselling Centre
Their counsellors work with people of all ages to help them cope with a variety of concerns.

Foothills Academy
Community Services: Psychological Services & Programs. Qualified psychologists provide Individual & Family Counselling to children, adolescents, adults, and families affected by Learning Disabilities and associated disorders, such as ADHD.

Hull Services
Hull Services provides leading edge mental health services for children, youth, and families. There are self-referred programs, managed referral programs, and Hull Services offer education, training and resources.  They have a Mental Health and Additions Navigator which is someone who helps families navigate the resources and supports available in Calgary.

Wood’s Homes
Wood’s Homes is a children’s mental health centre that provides treatment and support for children, youth and families with mental health needs. Their staff provide 40+ programs and services in Calgary, Lethbridge, Strathmore and Fort McMurray.

Carya Calgary

  • Youth Engagement: youth programs focus on two things: building a stable and responsive support network for youth and developing social and emotional skills that are critical to being a good friend, family member, and contributor to the community.
  • Family Support: Carya is here to support you and your family in all of the ever-changing phases of parenthood, through counseling, programs, and support groups. If you need support, call our intake line at 403-205-5244.

Psychologists’ Association of Alberta (PAA)
If you are looking for a psychologist to provide counseling services to help with mental health/emotional issues, go to the PAA website.

Alberta COVID-19 Youth Mental Health Resource Hub
The Government of Alberta, Jack.org, and Kids Help Phone have partnered to bring you all the information needed in one easy-to-access hub for youth mental health.

Anxiety Canada
Is a central resource where children/families, youth and adults can learn about anxiety, including how to manage it. Under Find Help, the online directory provides listings for anxiety services and programs across Canada that are free or offer sliding scale pricing.

Child Mind Institute
Is a an American national nonprofit that provides extensive information about many child- related topics, including mental health concerns and learning disorders.

offers advice about Mental and Behavioural Health

Teen Mental Health 
A Calgary agency providing information, resources and tools specifically for and about teens.

Bell Let’s Talk 
Dedicated to moving mental health forward in Canada, Bell Let’s Talk promotes awareness and action with a strategy built on 4 key pillars: Fighting the stigma, improving access to care, supporting world-class research and leading by example.

Here to Help
Find the information you need to manage mental health and substance use problems, and learn how you can support a loved one.

Learning Disabilities and/or ADHD can co-exist with other conditions, which can be very challenging for individuals and their families.

Psychological Association of Alberta (PAA)
The psychological Association of Alberta website provides a referral search where you can input specifics to narrow your search for a psychologist, including the region of Alberta and 2 problems you’d like help with.

Alberta Health Services (AHS)  Connections Services

Child and Youth Mental Health Services

Child and Adolescence Mental Health Inpatient: Children’s Hospital/Foothills (4-17 yrs)
Inpatient mental health assessment and treatment for children & their families.
MH assessment & treatment for children with serious emotional, behavioral, and/or psychiatric problems that can’t be treated in the community, day patient, or outpatient settings. Treatment includes the child’s family. Psychiatric assessment, short-term psychiatric stabilization
Admissions determined by emergency depart and consult with psychiatry/mental health staff

Child and Adolescence Addictions and Mental Health Community Clinics:
Psychosocial assessment & treatment (5-18 yrs.), moderate-serious MH and their families. Individual, family, and group therapy in a community clinic setting.
Physicians can refer to other professionals. Referral required or parent can call Health Link 811

Child and Adolescence Addiction and Mental Health – Outpatient Services (4-17 yrs.):
Intensive outpatient for children transitioning from MH inpatient back to community, as well as those who need mental health community-based care.
Family, individual & group therapy, Case management, referrals to addiction & MH supports. Limited access to other health consultation services including psychiatry.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) – Alberta OCD Foundation
Provides support education and information to people who live with OCD, members, family, friends, and professionals throughout Alberta.

Parent Support Association of Calgary Facebook Group
Helping parents with youth conflict 10-24 years through peer support groups and parent coaching.


Public and separate school districts and some private schools support students with diverse learning needs, including emotional & behavioural disabilities and LD, ADHD.

Calgary Board of Education (CBE) – Emotional or Behavioural Disabilities

“The unique needs of students with emotional or behavioral disabilities can usually be successfully met in their community schools.

For students who require more comprehensive support, we provide short-term and long-term classes as well as intensive treatment-based classes and schools. Specialized classes are provided to students in K-12. These programs provide students who have mental health issues, Autism Spectrum Disorder, severe disabilities or developmental delays, or other emotional or behavioral difficulties with the supports and resources they need to attend school and be successful learners. All programs emphasize the development of academic, social and life skills.

These specialized classes have a low student-to-staff ratio. Curriculum modifications and instructional accommodations are implemented based on the individual needs of each student. Many of our specialized programs for students with emotional or behavioral disabilities will offer counselling, therapists, and other supports, as needed, to support the student’s learning.

Locations: Classes for students with emotional or behavior disabilities are located throughout Calgary.

Calgary Catholic School District

Diverse Learning Needs: Emotional/Behavioural Disabilities
For students identified with emotional/behavioural disabilities, the district provides a variety of programs to meet the emotional and behavioural challenges facing students.

Private School Options

If a child’s primary diagnosis is an emotional or behavioural disability, you will need to discuss how the school can support the child’s needs.

Our Kids
Our Kids – provides a list of private schools in Canada that support children with behavioural and emotional issues.

Third Academy
Third Academy’s program serves students 5-19 years of age who fit the Alberta Education criterion of special needs. Specifically, students have been assessed as having mild, moderate, or severe disabilities or disorders. These could be learning disabilities, socio-emotional difficulties, or both.

They may be diagnosed with or exhibit characteristics associated with learning disabilities such as Tourette’s Syndrome, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Asperger’s Syndrome, Attention Deficit Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Autism, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Depression, Anxieties, and others.