Learning Disabilities Program | Your Visit

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Contact the Learning Disabilities Program

Our comprehensive evaluation allows the child and parent to see experts from all relevant specialties in one efficiently organized visit. Not only is the child seen by the specialists, but the specialists share information and work together to develop one integrated diagnostic summary and intervention plan.

Because the evaluation is comprehensive, it can investigate potential medical or neurological bases for the child's problems, as well as provide basic neuropsychological testing and assess mental health and of course academic functioning. Importantly, the evaluators can determine how problems in one area of development may be affecting other areas of development and vice versa. Or they can provide information about which of several possible causes of problems are the most important. They can also forecast potential difficulties in areas that may not currently be affected to provide for prevention before problems become more concerning. The evaluation also helps parents and schools to set priorities since children often have needs in multiple areas

Who is best served?

Children between the ages of 7 and 15 or between 1st and 9th grade who have problems with school performance and adaptation, language, attention, and/or social skills are well served by the evaluation. The evaluation can also be appropriate for children with medical and/or neurological conditions that may be impacting their development and school functioning. The program is not well suited for children with intellectual disability or significant motor or sensory impairments.

Evaluation day

The evaluation takes a little more than half a day. While the child visits each specialist on the Boston Children's team, parents meet with program staff to review the child's history and discuss current concerns. The specific evaluations are as follows:

  • The Neurology specialist will evaluate strength, reflexes, coordination, fine and gross motor skills. This information is used to determine whether there are neurodevelopmental signs of a learning disorder or possibly signs suggesting neurological impairment. Children will also be evaluated for ADHD.
  • The Neuropsychologist will administer a selection of cognitive tests and interpret them in order to characterize the child's overall learning profile.
  • The Oral and Written Language specialist will assess understanding and use of language, reading and writing achievement, and important relationships between oral and written language.
  • The Mathematics specialist will assess performance on an array of arithmetic, geometric and logical tasks to assess the level of mathematics achievement as well as the child's mathematics learning style.
  • The Psychologist interviews both parent(s) and child to screen for the presence of emotional issues both past and present that may affect or be affected by academic and social performance.

In the afternoon, after families leave, the team meets to develop an integrated picture of the child and an appropriate intervention plan. One member of the evaluation team, the Case Coordinator, leads the team meeting and will write a report summarizing the discussion and recommendations. This report is additional to the individual specialist reports.

Our evaluators 

Deborah Waber, PhD

Associate Director
Ellen Boiselle, MA, PhD

Catherine Chapman, MD
Carrie Peek, MD
Pamela Rogers, RN-NP
David K. Urion, MD

Gail Grodzinsky, PhD
Ferne Pinard, PhD

Oral and Written Language
Kristin Canavan, MS
Joanna A. Christodoulou, MA, EdD
Margaret Pierce, EdD
Jennifer Porter, MS
Rebecca Givens Rolland
Kristine Strand

Beth Kirn, MS
Maria Marolda, MA
Amy Sullivan, M.A.T.

We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

Boston Children's Hospital
300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115
For Patients: 617-355-6000 | 800-355-7944