Learning Disorders (Pediatric)

Make an appointment. Call (212) 305-6001.

What are learning disorders?

Learning disorders affect a child’s ability to speak or understand written language, perform mathematical calculations, coordinate movements, and concentrate on a particular task.

They occur in very young children but usually aren’t apparent until the child has to deal with the challenges of school.

As many as 10 percent of American children under the age of 18 are estimated to have some type of learning disorder.

What are the symptoms of learning disorders?

Children with learning disorders display a set of characteristics that persist throughout childhood if unaddressed. Some of the more common ones are:

  • inattention
  • poor recall and memory
  • inability to follow directions
  • disorganized thinking
  • poor reading and/or writing ability
  • difficulties with sequencing
  • difficulty in discriminating between/among letters, numerals, or sounds
  • trouble with hand-eye coordination problems

How are learning disorders diagnosed and treated?

Learning disorders are usually spotted at first by teachers who perform their own evaluations. Yet a comprehensive medical examination, including a family history and a neurological exam, is needed to identify or rule out other causes, including emotional disorders, intellectual and developmental disabilities, and brain conditions.

A child may suffer from several overlapping learning disorders, and it is important to identify them all through the most advanced neuropsychological testing.

Our expert psychiatrists and psychologists begin treatment with a comprehensive diagnostic assessment, which then guides the treatment. Family members and caregivers are integral in all stages of treatment recovery.

Our team of multidisciplinary specialists, including a child and adolescent psychiatrist, behavioral psychologist, a neurologist, special education experts, and a speech-language pathologist will tailor a treatment to the needs of your child. Our approach may include:

  • medications to help your child concentrate
  • behavioral approaches
  • educational training, emphasizing the child’s abilities and strengths
  • special training in speech and language
  • psychological support
  • ongoing support and guidance for parents to help them understand their children’s needs
  • advocacy to be sure that recommended services are provided in schools

Our Special Learning Disorders Program

The PROMISE program at Columbia is the most comprehensive program in New York City helping at-risk children with learning disorders get the support they need to learn and live productive lives. For families already burdened, a one-stop program can mean the difference between getting lost and getting help.

PROMISE is the only program of its kind, providing comprehensive services that enable children to reach their full potential—all in one place. In addition to learning issues, we address the emotional and behavioral consequences of learning disabilities. We understand that these issues can have the most devastating effects on family and school life.

With world-renowned research facilities and an innovative team dedicated to understanding learning disorders, PROMISE helps advance the way learning disabilities are treated and understood in the future.