Learning Disorders and Disabilities in Children

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Contact the Learning Disabilities Program

The terms “learning disorder” (used by the medical community) and “specific learning disability” (used by the schools) refer to a neurodevelopmental problem in which a child of normal intellectual potential (that is, a child does not have an Intellectual Disability) is encountering unusual difficulty with their academic functioning that cannot be explained by inadequate educational opportunity or emotional or sensory disabilities. These problems can become apparent at any point in a child’s development and may have different symptoms at different ages.

Although most people think about learning disabilities in terms of deficits in specific academic skills (reading, mathematics), children with these learning problems often experience difficulties in a variety of aspects of their functioning (language, communication, social-emotional, behavior) and these will vary from child to child and depend on many factors. They may also affect different aspects of an academic skill. For example, some children may have difficulty learning to decode words, whereas others may be able to decode words but have difficulty understanding what they read. Developing a good treatment plan, therefore, requires a detailed appreciation of each child’s individual needs.

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 617-355-6000 | 800-355-7944

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