Profile of children with learning disabilities

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Increasing numbers of children are being brought to pediatricians or family physicians because of underachievement and behavior problems in school. The physician must try to differentiate between neurologic dysfunction and disorders of emotional origin, so that these children may receive appropriate treatment. It has been emphasized repeatedly that early detection of learning disabilities is mandatory if treatment is to be successful.1, 2 Learning disabilites in children of elementary school age have been estimated to range from 2% to 15%.2–4 Learning disability is defined as underachievement in school when performance is lower than would be expected considering the intellectual abilities of the student.

This report describes the experience in evaluating 69 cases in the Learning Disability Program at the Cleveland Clinic. The children were referred because of underachievement in school or school-related behavior problems.


The 69 cases reported in this paper include all children in whom evaluation was completed and who had been referred to the Cleveland Clinic for school problems during the 12-month period preceding October 1972. They were almost exclusively from middle or upper socioeconomic class families, and they ranged in age from 5 to 12 years.

The evaluation team consisted of a pediatrician, a child psychologist, speech pathologist, and a pediatric ophthalmologist. The evaluation consisted of a medical history including development, social, and psychological aspects, complete physical examination, psychological evaluation including an interview, Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test,5 Bender Visual Motor Gestalt Test,6 Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children,7 Draw-a-Person Test,8 Word Recognition Test,2 and a Werry-Weiss-Peters Activity. . .



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