If a kid is struggling, the school should provide extra support. If they fail to respond, they should qualify for special education services. The purpose is to get kids the help they need sooner and not make it so they fall so far behind that they can't catch up.
William Joseph Barbaresi, MD, associate chief, Division of Developmental Medicine, Boston Children's Hospital
All parents want the best for their kids, and may go through a range of emotions—including shock, disbelief, confusion and frustration—when it is suspected that their child may have a learning disorder. But many parents also experience relief once the diagnosis is made—it’s empowering to know what the issues are, and there are lots of resources in place to help your child reach his goals and plenty of sources of support along the way.
The current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) recognizes four types of learning disorders:
- reading disorders
- mathematics disorders
- disorders of written expression
learning disorders not otherwise specified (LD NOS)
Most children with learning disorders have normal intelligence, and they all have strengths and weaknesses, just like everyone else. Treatment consists of modifying your child’s immediate educational environment so that it plays to his strengths and helps compensate for his challenges.
How Children’s Hospital Boston approaches learning disorders
Children with known or suspected learning disorders may be seen in our Learning Disabilities Program or Developmental Medicine Center (DMC). In each of these programs, our unique interdisciplinary approach brings together experts from different fields to provide an integrated understanding of the "whole child." Depending on the program in which your child is seen (along with his particular situation), his evaluation may include meetings with experts in:
- psychology and psychiatry
- speech and language pathology
- written language (reading and writing)
- developmental pediatrics
- education advocacy
We care for children and families who are seeking diagnosis, looking for a second opinion or have been diagnosed and are looking for intervention strategies. We answer questions including:
- What is the nature of the child's problem?
- Is there a medical basis for the child's problems?
- Are emotional or social factors impeding the child’s learning progress?
- Is the learning problem causing emotional or social problems?
- What are the best ways to address learning and development in terms of programs and specific interventions?
All of our clinicians benefit from our latest in-house research, targeted at gaining a better understanding of early signs of learning disorders, advanced diagnostic techniques and specific protocols around various genetic syndromes.
Learning Disabilities Program
Children’s Learning Disabilities Program offers comprehensive evaluations to give parents, teachers and physicians a well-rounded understanding of school-aged (7-15) children who face challenges in cognitive, academic and social development in the absence of intellectual disability or significant motor or sensory impairments.
Developmental Medicine Center
The Developmental Medicine Center at Children’s offers evaluation and treatment services for infants, children and adolescents with developmental, behavioral and learning difficulties. We treat children with a wide variety of conditions, from learning disorders, ADHD and autism to more specific issues, like bedwetting and school refusal. Our specialists also have expertise in evaluating and caring for complex neurodevelopmental conditions including Down syndrome, Williams syndrome and Fragile X.