Neurodevelopmental difficulties as a comprehensive category of learning disabilities in children with developmental delay: a systematic review

  • Eva María Taboada Ares Dpto. de Psicología Evolutiva y de la Educación. Universidad de Santiago de Compostela
  • Patricia María Iglesias Souto 1Department of Developmental and Educational Psychology. . University of Santiago de Compostela-Spain
  • Santiago López Gómez 1Department of Developmental and Educational Psychology. University of Santiago de Compostela-Spain.
  • Rosa María Rivas Torres 1Department of Developmental and Educational Psychology. University of Santiago de Compostela-Spain.
Keywords: developmental delay, learning disabilities, neurodevelopmental difficulties, neurodevelopmental disabilities, academic achievement


A considerable number of students have learning difficulties and low academic performance, yet their evaluation does not always lead to a concrete diagnosis. They are categorized as immature, but neither the nature nor the characteristics of their difficulties are determined. The aim of this study was to identify the developmental domains which are affected in children with developmental delay (DD) in order to assess the concept of neurodevelopmental difficulties as a comprehensive category and profile of generalized learning difficulties. To this end, a systematic review was carried out on the electronic databases Medline, PsycINFO, WOS, Eric, Dialnet and CSIC and, after applying the inclusion criteria, 18 articles were selected. The results confirm that DD is used as a diagnostic label to characterize children with significant delays in one or more developmental domains, but there is no definition of consensus nor specific criteria for its diagnosis, and it would only be applicable to young children. The affected domains coincide with neurodevelopmental functions, and biological and environmental risk factors stand out in their aetiology. Neurodevelopmental difficulties would encompass a wide spectrum of deficits with different levels of severity that, on interacting with each other, give rise to a variety of profiles.


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How to Cite
Taboada Ares, E. M., Iglesias Souto, P. M., López Gómez, S., & Rivas Torres, R. M. (2020). Neurodevelopmental difficulties as a comprehensive category of learning disabilities in children with developmental delay: a systematic review. Anales De Psicología / Annals of Psychology, 36(2), 271-282.
Developmental and Educational Psychology