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Center for Children with Special Needs


Tufts Medicine is here to lend a hand in supporting your little ones as they grow and if they face developmental, behavioral and emotional challenges. Our team of specialists all have one goal in mind: to provide you and your child with the tools and knowledge you both need to overcome any obstacles and flourish.

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This page is for our littlest patients.

Grown-ups can access all our services and treatments to maintain their health.

Flourish + thrive with support

Is your child having a hard time sitting up on their own? Or does your little one seem to be struggling with talking? Maybe your teenager's behavior is impacting their home or school life. Whatever the case may be, here at Tufts Medicine, we're here to help your child thrive and live in harmony with their physical, developmental, behavioral and sensory needs. We provide a complete evaluation and diagnosis and work alongside your family to find the best treatment options. We partner with your child's doctor to create the best plan for their unique needs.

When your child is referred to us for evaluation, you will partner with a team of caring child development experts who share a mission to make sense of your child's developmental challenges. We will provide you with appropriate community resources and help you and your child understand their difficulties. Our goal is to support you in becoming confident advocates in your school and community settings.

 Center for Children with Special Needs (CCSN) clinician Eric von Hahn, MD stacking wooden blocks with patient during an appointment at Tufts Medical Center.
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We take the guesswork out of these conditions because we have one of the largest programs in the region. We work closely with you to identify and support personal growth if your child has a condition such as:

Academic/Learning Challenges
Fine Motor Delays
Reading delays
Social issues
Speech and language delays

We also want to know about your and your family’s medical and mental health history and what’s happening in your life, at school or in the neighborhood. 



We know it’s not always easy to know where to start and we can help get just the right diagnosis. We get a complete picture of your child by evaluating their:

  • General development
  • Speech and language skills
  • Motor skills
  • Feeding and eating
  • Sleeping
  • Cognitive and thinking skills
  • Social skills
Developmental-behavioral pediatrics evaluation

Our developmental-behavioral specialists take a broad view of your child during this evaluation. The evaluation usually takes around 2 to 3 visits, with each visit taking about 2 1/2 to 3 hours and includes:

  • A review of all documentation that you provide, such as intake materials that you complete prior to the visit, testing done by other specialties, testing done by early intervention or school, Individualized Education Program (IEP) and whatever else you think will be useful for us to consider.
  • An interview with you (the grown-up) to learn about your child’s developmental skills and needs.
  • A physical and neurological examination of your child plus a developmental assessment.

We'll meet with you to share the results of our assessment and discuss treatment options. We'll also give you a written report with recommendations for your child's medical, developmental and behavioral needs. Sometimes, we might suggest medication. You can share this report with your child's doctors, school and other caregivers.

Speech-language evaluation

We can assess if your child’s language skills are at age level. A speech language pathologist can recommend improving your child’s language skills when they are not at age level. This evaluation takes about 3 hours to complete and looks at some or all of the following:

  • A review of your child’s evaluations completed elsewhere
  • A review of your child’s IEP
  • An evaluation of your child’s understanding and ability to use language (vocabulary, grammar and social skills) compared to same-age peers. The evaluation may also include assessing your child's speech production, voice or fluency skills.

A written report that describes your child’s language performance will be provided. It recommends how other healthcare professionals and school teams can help improve your child’s speech and language skills.

The speech language pathologist who conducts this testing only provides recommendations and a report. If your child will benefit from speech therapy, we can help you establish care with someone convenient for you. Sometimes, retesting can be useful to monitor progress and update recommendations, which can happen annually or every couple of years.

diverse children

The Survey of Well-being of Young Children

Doctors can use a tool called the Survey of Well-being of Young Children (SWYC) to check on kids under 5. It's free and easy to use. The SWYC is made to be simple, short and easy to read. It only takes 15 minutes or less to complete and score. MassHealth approves of it for following the Children's Behavioral Health Initiative screening guidelines.



We want to empower you and your child. Once we reach the right diagnosis, you can be assured that we partner with you to get the best services, therapy, programs and support to help meet and overcome any barriers your child may face at home or in school. Your child may be recommended a variety of services, including:

  • Behavioral management therapy
  • Cognitive behavior therapy
  • Medication
  • Speech evaluations
  • Special education

We may also refer them to additional services to support their growth and development including:


Get started

If you are worried about your child's development, behavior, or learning, you can take the first step in addressing your concerns by filling out the intake packet that corresponds to your child's age. Don't hesitate to call us at 617.636.7242 if you need any assistance with starting the process.

Start here if your child is under the age of 5

Start here if your child is 5 years old or older

Submitting the forms

All forms can be downloaded and completed on a computer. Once completed, please save a copy of these documents for your records and then send them to us at Please note that we do not accept photos of the forms.

We prefer you submit the form over email, but we also accept paper copies. They can be mailed to 800 Washington St #334 Boston, MA 02111.

What happens next?

We'll be in touch when your information has been received and reviewed. We'll let you know if we need more information or if you forgot to include something. In the meantime, continue with the medical care your child needs. 

Resources we recommend

Books we recommend about ADHD

Putting on the Breaks
Patricia Quinn, MD and Judith Stern, MA
A simple explanation and overview of ADHD for children ages 8-12. Putting on the Breaks explores the feelings and emotions of children with ADHD and offers strategies for overcoming obstacles associated with the disorder. Ages 8-12.

The Putting on the Breaks Activity Book
Patricia Quinn, MD and Judith Stern, MA
An activity book to accompany Putting on the Breaks. Ages 8-13.

Learning to Slow Down and Pay Attention, 3rd Edition
Kathleen Nadeau and Ellen Dixon
A book that explains ADHD to children ages 6-12. Learning to Slow Down and Pay Attention provides checklists and activities for children with ADHD.

The Adventures of Phoebe Flower Books
Barbara Roberts
A collection of stories about Phoebe, a young girl with ADHD and her adventures. Children gain self-esteem through Phoebe’s interactions with her peers and her success in dealing with her ADHD and explaining her disorder to others. Ages 4-8.

Books we recommend about learning differences

The Survival Guide for Kids with LD: Learning Differences
Gary Fisher, PhD, and Rhoda Cummings, EdD
Tips for children 8+ for overcoming the challenges of their learning differences. This book affirms the intelligence and ability of children with LD to learn while providing helpful strategies for success. Ages 8+.

The Don’t-Give-Up Kid and Learning Differences
Jeanne Gehret, MA
It is the story of a child overcoming the obstacles of his learning differences. This uplifting book speaks compassionately to elementary school children, boosting their egos and sending the message that success is possible. Age: elementary school.

Many Ways to Learn: Young People’s Guide to Learning Disabilities
Judith Stern, MA and Uzi Ben-Ami, PhD
This book provides descriptions of different Learning Disabilities and strategies for coping including how to succeed in school and how to do well on tests. First-person accounts reassure children that others are dealing with the same challenges as theirs. Ages 8-13.

All Kinds of Minds: A Young Student’s Book about Learning Abilities and Learning Disorders
Dr. Mel Levine
Using the stories of 5 different children, this book helps Elementary School kids to understand their learning differences. Children gain self-esteem as they learn that there are other children like them. Ages: elementary school.

Eagle Eyes: A Child’s Guide to Paying Attention
Jeanne Gehret, MA
This story of a young boy illustrates the natural gifts of children with learning differences and ADHD, demonstrating strategies for coping with the obstacles that these children might encounter. Ages: elementary school.

Color Me Successful
The Lab School of Washington
Sally L. Smith, Founder/Director
A unique coloring book with each page focusing on a different well-known role model that has had great success despite a learning difference. All ages.

Keeping A Head in School: A Student's Book about Learning Abilities and Learning Disorders
Dr. Mel Levine
This book is useful for middle school students, teachers and parents. It teaches strategies for success in school for children with learning disorders.

I’m Somebody Too
Jeanne Gehret, MA
Geared toward the siblings of children with learning differences, this is the story of a young girl overcoming the challenges of having a brother with a learning difference. Her initial worry, guilt and jealousy disappear when she learns to cope with and help her brother. Ages: 4-8.

Helpful websites for caregivers
  • LD Online: A recommended web site on learning disabilities for parents, teachers, and other professionals, including links to helpful articles for kids.
  • Partners in Education: It is essential that parents understand the special education system. The Partners in Education course is a 3-hour online self-study course for parents of children with disabilities, designed to teach the skills parents need to advocate for their children.
  • National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY): Information on developmental and learning problems such as Learning and Reading Disabilities.
  • Federation for Children with Special Needs: A center for parents and parent organizations working together on behalf of children with special needs and their families. Parent information and workshops include basic rights, and IEP and other special education issues throughout Massachusetts.
  • Put Reading First: Helping Your Child Learn to Read (PDF): A National Institute of Child Health and Human Development publication for parents that recommends and describes methods and activities for early literacy.
  • National Center for Learning Disabilities: A website for parents of children with learning disabilities. This site provides helpful links and information regarding early literacy and literacy assessment including literacy games for children and resources for parents through the website.
  • WETA Learning Media Yellow Pages: A directory of resources for children with LD including schools, centers, professionals and products.
Helpful websites for families
  • Learning Disabilities Worldwide (LDW): A website with resources for both parents and children providing LD information, publications, videos and organization and study strategies to foster academic success. This site is also an excellent local resource for high school and college students
  • Reading Rockets: A website for families on reading and learning that includes strategies for children learning to read, and tips for helping children learn to read. Reading Rockets is a website that works with PBS literacy television programs.
  • All Kinds of Minds: This website highlights work by Dr. Mel Levine and has information on various neurodevelopmental and educational issues with specific, targeted recommendations for parents and teachers.
  • Schwab Learning: Schwab Learning is dedicated to helping kids with learning differences be successful in learning and life.
    • For caregivers: – “A Parent’s Guide to Helping Kids with Learning Difficulties”
    • For kids: – A Schwab Learning site just for kids with educational games and activities.


Are these services covered by insurance?

Some are, and some aren't. We have found:

Developmental-behavioral pediatric evaluation

The developmental behavioral pediatrics services are considered medical services and are covered by almost all insurance plans.

Educational evaluation

An educational evaluation is not covered by insurance plans because it is not considered a medical benefit. You can pay for an educational evaluation out-of-pocket or ask your child’s school team to pay for part or all of the educational evaluation through the Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE) process.

Neuropsychological evaluation

A neuropsychological evaluation is covered by many health insurance plans but only based on medical necessity. An intake interview with a physician or a neuropsychologist can determine medical necessity. The physician or neuropsychologist can then request payment authorized by your child’s insurance plan.

Sometimes, you can ask your child’s school team to pay for part or all of the neuropsychological evaluation through the IEP process. You can also pay for an out-of-pocket neuropsychological evaluation. This payment route is appropriate if the questions to be answered are primarily related to your child’s educational needs at school.

Speech-language evaluation

Most insurance plans cover the costs of a speech-language evaluation. Sometimes, you can ask your child’s school district to cover part or all of the speech-language evaluation costs.

Occupational and physical therapy evaluation

Most insurance plans cover the cost of an occupational and physical therapy evaluation. In some situations, you can ask your child’s school team to cover part or all of the costs of the occupational therapy evaluation. You can also pay for this evaluation out-of-pocket.

We also have financial counselors available to help identify resources that are available to you.

Are independent evaluations paid by the school system?

The Center for Children with Special Needs is in an acute hospital setting. As such, our rates are negotiated by the Division of Health Care, Finance and Policy for Hospital Outpatient Services.

We must either have a contract for services (stating exactly what types of evaluations will be approved) signed and dated by the school system, or we need a letter from the school system stating what types of evaluations will be approved using our rate-setting fee.

To get information regarding our rate-setting fee, please call our office or email Our administrative coordinator will happily provide you with our current rate-setting fee and a contract for the services you wish to approve.

What can I share with our school system about the Center for Children with Special Needs?

The Center for Children with Special Needs is in an acute hospital setting. As such, our rates are negotiated by the Division of Health Care, Finance and Policy for Hospital Outpatient Services.

To get started, we must have a contract for services (stating exactly what types of evaluations will be approved) signed and dated by the school system, or we need a letter from the school system stating what types of evaluations will be approved using our rate-setting fee.

For more information about our rate-setting fee and to get a contract started, please call our office or email

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