Case study

Xavier and learning disabilities


Specific learning difficulties affect many children followed in CSP. Linked to neurological deficits, they belong to a larger group of neurodevelopmental disorders that includes ADHD, autistic spectrum disorder, communication disorders, intellectual deficiencies and motor deficits. They also appear as comorbidities alongside other problems. While often diagnosed late, they can in fact be detected relatively early by screening for identifiable signs early in development.

Dr. Julien illustrates these points with the story of 7-year-old Xavier, who has just been diagnosed with autism. In order to understand the child’s situation, Dr. Julien reviews the circumstances of his birth and first hours of life, his medical history, and factors like previous losses (grief), food preferences and sensory hypersensitivity. He considers assessments by the occupational therapist, speech language pathologist and neuropsychologist. During their meeting, Dr. Julien observes that Xavier makes good eye contact, which contradicts the diagnosis of autism, has good concentration, can socialize with others, wants to communicate, and has difficulties with verbal comprehension. After observing Xavier in activities at the CSPC, the team decides that a systematic “de-construction” of hypothesis is needed. Dr. Julien believes that Xavier suffers from a severe language disorder, learning disabilities and a sensory disorder.

Taking into consideration the child’s life situation, and through observation and standing back in order to better assess all aspects of the situation, CSP is able to help identify and support children with learning disabilities. It can closely follow their development thanks to regular visits, monitor their academic progress, and work in partnership with daycares and schools. This exchange of information is essential for it enables the latter to provide the child with learning experiences adapted to their needs.

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