Educational Issues

Children and teens with spina bifida face various medical, cognitive, and psychosocial challenges as they advance through school. How severe these challenges depend on the type of lesion the child has and how the lesion affects the anatomy of their brain and cognitive structures. Learning disabilities are most commonly seen in children who also have an Arnold-Chiari malformation and hydrocephalus.

Many of these children experience difficulty in the following areas:

  • Auditory processing
  • Distractibility and inattentiveness
  • Handwriting
  • Language usage (inappropriate language)
  • Math, especially math reasoning
  • Organization
  • Sensory integration
  • Visual perception

Many children with spina bifida have educational handicaps that require special education programs. Even though children with spina bifida often perform within the normal range of intelligence, most exhibit major learning problems that affect their academic achievement.

These learning problems may be because of physical and neurological complications and prolonged and/or multiple hospitalizations. Children with chronic illnesses have fewer opportunities to develop adequate perception and sensory integration. Other right-hemisphere learning disorders may include:

  • Attention deficit disorder without hyperactivity (daydreaming, disorganization, problems with direction and time)
  • Dysgraphia (handwriting disorder)
  • Hyperlexia (verbal IQ higher than performance IQ)
  • Hyperverbal behavior
  • Spelling disorders
  • Social-emotional learning disabilities

For more information about learning disabilities for children and teens with spina bifida, please contact us.

Educational resources