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Learning Disorders

Learning Disorders (LD) are specific neurological dysfunctions that result in a lack of ability for one or more learning areas in children with normal intelligence.

Many children have difficulties learning at school. One of the most common causes of these difficulties are learning disorders (LD), which require precise and early diagnosis in order to apply the appropriate treatment in each case. They affect between 5% and 15% of the population and are one of the most common causes of school failure.

Children with learning disorders who are not diagnosed and not properly treated often enter into a spiral of low academic performance, discouragement, demotivation, low self-esteem and secondary affective and anxiety disorders.

There are certain situations that may lead us to suspect a learning disorder:

  • Poor school results
  • Difficulty in a specific area of learning
  • Demotivation for school learning
  • School refusal
  • Behavioural or relationship disorders

In the School Learning Disorders Unit (UTAE) at SJD Barcelona Children’s Hospital, ​​diagnostic and therapeutic care is provided in Spanish, Catalan, English and French.

What do we offer at SJD Barcelona Children’s Hospital?


Clinical Psychology
Speech therapy


Individual/group re-education
Advice to the family and the school
Advice to the support teachers
Cognitive behavioural treatment
Social skills workshops
Parent workshops
Drug therapy

Progress monitoring

Follow-up visits depending on the needs identified

Frequently asked questions about learning disorders

What is the difference between a LD and slow development?

Learning Disorders are persistent and have an impact on learning throughout the school years. Despite being persistent, the effects change over the years.

Slow development is a temporary difficulty at the start of the learning process. This type of difficulty is overcome and has no impact on school life.

What are the most common cognitive and behavioural disorders that affect learning?
  • Dyslexia
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Dyscalculia
  • Specific Language Impairment (SLI or dysphasia)
  • Nonverbal Learning Disabilities (NVLD)
  • Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD)
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
How does a LD progress during school years?

The difficulties of children with LD do not disappear, but the characteristics do change over time depending on their development and the requirements at each stage of schooling.

Monitoring the progress of students with a LD is very important to be able to modify the assistance and adaptations at school and adjust them for each stage.

Adequate intervention and family and academic support are crucial in allowing the children to offset their difficulties as much as possible.

What is the diagnostic process in the UTAE?

After the first neurological assessment visit, a neuropsychological examination is usually performed, divided into three sessions. In such way, the cognitive and behavioural functions that constitute the basis for learning are evaluated: general intelligence, memory, language, attention, executive functions, etc. There is also an assessment of different areas of learning.

The assessment is completed with an evaluation of school results from primary school onwards, with questionnaires for family and teachers.

Once the assessment process has been completed, a full report is prepared including the results and interpretation of the different tests given and the diagnostic conclusion, with personalised recommendations for treatment and follow-up. A proposal of educational measures and adaptations to implement at school is attached to the report.

What the school’s role be after diagnosis?

The school has the most important role in the progress of a student with an LD. Therefore, the professionals of SJD Barcelona Children’s Hospital UTAE are always in contact with the teachers  to exchange views and offer the necessary help at any time of the child or adolescent’s school life.