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Minerva Pediatrica 2007 June;59(3):281-7


language: Italian

Specific learning disabilities and psychopathological aspects: the importance of early diagnosis

Chiappedi M., Zoppello M., Rossi R., Scarabello E. M., Piazza F.

1 Fondazione don Carlo Gnocchi ONLUS Servizio di Neuropsichiatria e Riabilitazione per l’Età Evolutiva Centro Medico “Santa Maria alle Fonti”di Salice Terme, Pavia 2 Dipartimento di Scienze Neurologiche e Psichiatriche dell’Età Evolutiva IRCCS “C. Mondino”, Pavia


The case of a couple of monozygotic twins, for whom the diagnosis of Specific Learning Disabilities was made when they were 14.5 years old, even if reading and writing difficulties had been present since the beginning of primary school, is described. The consultation had been required due to difficulties in relating with same age boys, with social withdrawal and depressive traits, leaving in second place school difficulties; clinical suspect has led to extend the evaluation to include the neuropsychological aspects and so to reach the diagnosis. The differences in terms of adaptive modalities facing the discomfort, probably based on temperament differences, and neuropsychological disorder (low grade dyslexia for one twin, disorthography and low-to-medium grade dyslexia for the other one) are discussed. The acquired awareness of being intelligent has permitted the boys to look back in a new way to the school failures they had collected through years; namely, understanding that their difficulties reflected a specific neuropsychological deficit has permitted to reconsider their own past history with a consequent modification of the “beliefs” about their abilities. This all has led as a consequence to an increase of life quality (with an improved school and relational adaptation), without cancelling but instead supporting the research of on individuality based on temperament differences. This was possible in spite of the evident delay in reaching the diagnosis and the consequent accumulation of frustration and inadequacy experiences for many years; it’s therefore demonstrated the importance of a global evaluation of patients with anamnesis of difficulties in learning to read and write, also in order to treat the possible psychopathological aspects of the clinical picture, which can be the result of a sense of helplessness.

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