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Learning Disabilities

With an accurate diagnosis and the right support, children with learning disabilities can reach their full potential and flourish in school and beyond. At the University Eye Center, we take a holistic approach to diagnosing and treating visual-related learning disabilities. Our doctors and practitioners diagnose vision issues and our psychologists address learning problems in order to make a complete and accurate assessment.

The Learning Disabilities Unit at the UEC
The Learning Disabilities Unit was established in 1974 as an interprofessional program designed to provide diagnostic and therapeutic services to children and adults with learning problems. A dedicated team of optometrists, psychologists and licensed learning disabilities specialists share the goal of enabling people who struggle with learning problems to reach their full potential. By discovering the root of the learning disability, children can cope more effectively with their social and emotional development. The reports written by our psychologists provide parents and patients with appropriate diagnoses and specific recommendations for academic programs and services that address each child’s individual educational needs. While the majority of patients are children, the Learning Disabilities Unit offers the same comprehensive evaluations and services to adults as well.

Psychoeducational Evaluations
A thorough psychoeducational evaluation (also called a neuropsychological evaluation) is the key to understanding a child’s learning problems. It comprises a series of tests that are administered by a psychologist who is trained in the diagnosis of learning disabilities.

At the University Eye Center, the process begins with a comprehensive vision evaluation by an optometrist with expertise in the relationship between vision and learning to determine if the child’s problems are vision based. Then, parents or guardians meet with one of our psychologists who takes a detailed developmental history of the child. Additional information might come from schools, agencies and medical records. Based on this information, a decision is made about what further testing or services might be required.

Further testing typically takes several hours and is spread out over two to four appointments. These tests assess intellectual processing, speech and language development, academic achievement, attention skills and personality dynamics. A perceptual evaluation assesses overall perceptual functioning, perceptual deficits and cognitive processing.

What skills are tested in a typical evaluation?

  • Intelligence
  • Academic skills (reading, writing, mathematics)
  • Language skills (vocabulary, listening comprehension, verbal expression)
  • Memory
  • Attention
  • Psychological functioning

What disabilities related to learning can be diagnosed in an evaluation?

  • Dyslexia (language and reading comprehension)
  • Dyscalculia (mathematical and problem-solving skills)
  • ADHD (attention issues)
  • Dysgraphia (writing skills)
  • Auditory and Visual Processing Disorders (difficulty understanding language despite good hearing and vision)
  • Nonverbal Learning Disabilities (motor, visual-spatial and social skills)

After all evaluations are conducted and interpreted, a learning specialist meets with the child’s parents or guardians to discuss the test results. During the reporting conference, the child’s diagnosis is explained and recommendations for treatment are discussed. Also provided is a comprehensive written report that can be used by parents to obtain educational services in school to help their children succeed.

Treatment and Vision Therapy
Based on the results of the evaluations, families will be able to make informed decisions as to the best options to support their children as they learn to manage their learning disability. The reports written by our psychologists provide parents and patients with appropriate diagnoses and specific recommendations.

If vision therapy is required, an individualized program will be created to improve visual, perceptual and cognitive skills. Vision therapy addresses fixation and eye movement abilities, accommodation (eye focusing), convergence (eye aiming), binocularity (eye teeming), eye-hand coordination, visual perception and visual-motor integration.

All children need a thorough learning evaluation, but not all of them require the same amount of testing. The Learning Disabilities Unit is unique in that we offer a range of services and fees depending on the quantity of testing required. Sometimes an accurate assessment of a child’s needs can be made after an initial consultation. For more detailed information about fees, please contact our clinic manager.

Some insurance plans, including Medicaid, cover all or a portion of the charge for these services. However, individuals are strongly encouraged to consult their insurance carriers to determine specific limits and requirements. Detailed referrals from primary care physicians are needed for those individuals belonging to managed care companies (HMOs) Payment for procedures is requested at the time the services are provided.

Scheduling an Appointment
To schedule an initial consultation with one of our psychologists and begin the testing process, call (212) 938-4001 or click here. Appointments for testing services are available Monday through Friday.