Educational & Learning Clinic Identifies Challenges, Reduces Stress

Dr. Max Horovitz, co-director of Keystone’s Educational & Learning Clinic along with Dr. Rea Romero, works with a student to assess his learning challenges and identify targeted interventions and strategies that will help him manage the challenges.

At Keystone, our providers are skilled in assessing and working with a wide range of student needs that include learning challenges, such as learning disabilities, dyslexia and other contributing issues, and giftedness, which can result in children struggling socially and/or emotionally

Common diagnoses include:

  • Learning Challenges: If your child is struggling academically, a learning disability (LD) may be suspected. Individually administered assessments allow us to determine the presence of an LD, as well as the nature of the underlying problem (e.g., dyslexia). Additional testing can also determine if other issues are contributing to challenges in the classroom (e.g., ADHD, anxiety, ASD). By providing an accurate picture of your child’s needs, we can recommend targeted interventions and strategies for remediation.
  • Giftedness: Gifted children often excel in creative, project-based learning or specific subject areas. They can become bored or unmotivated if they lack stimulation in their educational setting. Testing for giftedness helps ensure your child is provided with an appropriate curriculum based upon ability level. Gifted children may also be “twice-exceptional,” both gifted and having a learning disability in an area such as written expression. They might also have diagnoses of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder or Asperger’s Disorder, which may be accurate in some cases but misinterpreted in other cases. Keystone can provide a comprehensive evaluation with recommendations to address the exceptional strengths as well as areas of need.

Evaluation: Educational and Learning Assessment begins with an initial interview that includes a detailed history. Your child will then be scheduled for standardized testing, which will include assessments of intellectual functioning and academic achievement, as well as parent and teacher behavior rating scales as appropriate. Additional cognitive processing and/or neuropsychological assessments may also be administered to provide a comprehensive profile of learning abilities. The testing itself can range from one hour to several hours, depending upon the skills being assessed. After the tests have been scored, interpreted and written up as a customized report, a psychologist will meet with you to explain the results and make specific recommendations for your child.

Therapy: Students with learning disabilities can experience stress and frustration related to their difficulties at school. They may struggle to connect with peers or they may act out behaviorally. On the other hand, gifted children benefit from being challenged academically to develop their creativity and cognitive talents. However, gifted children can also struggle socially and/or emotionally, dealing with stress related to achievement. They can have difficulty fitting in or finding a similar peer group. They can also experience anxiety, depression or low self-esteem. The providers at Keystone understand the unique needs of children who are gifted or who are experiencing learning challenges. Keystone can provide therapeutic services to support and promote resiliency in your child, regardless of their needs. Clinicians are also available to provide school consultation to address psychological and/or behavioral health needs in the classroom.

Additional Resources:

National Center for Learning Disabilities – works to improve the lives of children with learning and attention issues by empowering parents, transforming school and advocating for equal rights and opportunities

U.S. Department of Education – promoting educational excellence for all Americans

LD online – The educators’ guide to learning disabilities and ADHD

Florida Association for the Gifted – connects and empowers educators and parents who promote and support educationally sound programs for gifted students through awareness, advocacy and action

National Association for Gifted Children – supports and develops policies and practices that encourage and respond to the diverse expressions of gifts and talents in children and youth from all cultures, racial and ethnic backgrounds, and socioeconomic groups

Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted – resources, community and understanding for meeting the social-emotional needs of giftedness


Success Story:

John’s parents brought him to Keystone Behavioral Pediatric when he was 10 years old, because he was having trouble focusing and concentrating at home and at school. He was struggling with grades at school, and his teacher was sending home frequent reports of behavioral difficulties.  Completing homework was a nightmare; he would only complete it if his mother sat with him throughout and continuously redirected him back to the homework. John’s ability to stay on-task was less than 50% during the afternoon. He also had a lot of problems going to sleep at night. It often took him one to two hours to fall asleep after his mother first sent him to bed, leading to sleepiness in the morning and during the day. John also had daytime toileting accidents, often multiple times per day.

We gave John a comprehensive psychoeducational assessment, which confirmed a diagnosis of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Combined Presentation. John and his mother attended weekly individual therapy sessions over the course of six months. Sessions focused on establishing homework routines and bedtime routines, teaching John self-monitoring strategies and his mother strategies for managing off-task behaviors, and developing a toileting protocol for John. The therapist also helped John get academic supports in the form of a 504 Plan at school.

As John began to improve, we set new goals of focusing on broadening improvements to additional areas and increasing John’s independence. As John began to achieve his treatment goals, we reduced the number of sessions to every other week and then once a month.

By the time he was discharged from our services, John’s grades had significantly improved, with no more reports being sent home of behavioral difficulties. Homework was no longer the nightmare it once was; John’s mother could be in the other room cooking dinner and doing other things, only checking in with John periodically. John’s ability to stay on-task was well over 80 percent. John no longer had problems falling asleep, often falling asleep within 15 minutes of being sent to bed. And, only one toileting accident had been reported over the previous three months.