Attention and Learning Problems

2Attention and learning problems can create challenges for children, teens, and their families.

At the University Center for the Child and Family (UCCF), we understand the importance of early diagnosis and treatment. Undiagnosed attention and learning problems can lead to academic underachievement, frustration, anxiety/depression, and other negative consequences. Our evaluation and consultation services are designed to help children and teens get back on track at school and in other important parts of their lives.

If you are concerned that your child may have an attention or learning problem, we encourage you to call and make an appointment for a comprehensive assessment.

Our psycho-educational testing service offers comprehensive evaluations of a child’s pattern of cognitive and academic strengths and weaknesses. Our evaluations are also designed to detect underlying attention, learning, or emotional/behavioral concerns that could be interfering with a child’s success at home or school.

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When Should I Consider a Psycho-Educational Evaluation?

If your child:
  • Struggles in school or learns at a slower rate than peers.
  • Takes hours to complete homework every night.
  • Has uneven abilities across subjects, for example, reads at grade level but struggles with math or spelling.
  • Seems to be experiencing development delays.
  • Struggles to pay attention, follow directions, or complete school work.

Once you know the facts, your child can get on the path to tailored learning and you can start effectively addressing and advocating for their needs.

Evaluation Process

The first step in our psycho-educational testing process involves an initial interview with parents. Your clinician will review your concerns as well as your child’s developmental, medical, and educational history.

Testing usually takes place during 1-2 subsequent appointments and may last 4-8 hours, depending on the age of the child. Young children may be able to complete testing in a single day, whereas older children and teens usually complete their assessment over two days.

When bringing children in for an assessment, we recommend that you explain to your child that they are going to see someone to help them understand how they think and learn.  This information will help them to be more successful at school. They will play some games and figure out puzzles, answer questions, and will have an opportunity to show what they have learned so far in school.

Feedback Session

When the evaluation is completed, parents are invited to a face-to-face feedback session with the clinician to discuss the child’s pattern of strengths and weaknesses and recommendations for the future. Parents will also receive a comprehensive written report.
Our educational specialist is available to assist parents with consultation regarding school placement, educational planning, and advocacy.

A comprehensive psycho-educational evaluation is the first step toward creating a healthy, productive environment for an individual with an attention or learning problem. The information provided by our testing service gives clients, families, and clinicians the information they need to develop home, school, and community supports that build success for children with learning challenges.

Treatment Options

Individual and family therapy is available for children with attention, learning, or behavioral challenges. Treatments are individualized and culturally sensitive. For treatment of adult attention disorder, visit our Psychological Clinic treatment page.

Clinicians at UCCF use a best-practices approach known as Parent Behavior Management Training. This approach is strongly supported by research as an effective treatment for young people struggling with attention, learning, or behavioral regulation problems (such as ADHD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, or Disruptive Behavior Disorders). Behavior Management Training gives parents the tools to help children succeed by teaching them to modify their home environment to provide more structure and support for their child.

Parent Management Training approaches also include education for parents about appropriate expectations for your child, how to establish strong working relationships and communication between home and school, and how to maintain a strong and loving relationship with your child, despite the challenges that attention, behavior, and learning problems can create.

Treatment provides concrete parenting strategies to help:

  • Better handle a child’s behaviors.
  • Use natural consequences.
  • Use praise and reward systems.
  • Set up discrete study and play areas at home.
  • Establish household routines.
  • Give directions that children are more likely to follow.