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What to Expect After Neuropsychological Testing

The process of going through a neuropsychological evaluation can be tiring and time consuming.  This process is long-starting fromWhat to expect from neuropsychological testing concerns brought up by the teacher, sharing the information with the pediatrician, getting a referral, meeting with the neuropsychologist, having the child participate in the comprehensive evaluation, and meeting at the end for feedback.  This process may take weeks or months to fully complete.

It is important to understand that the neuropsychological evaluation is really the start of the process.

The focus of the evaluation is to provide information and diagnostic clarification about what is going on with a child’s behavior or learning.  Once the evaluation is completed, the entire process of help and change begins. Read more

Debunking Dyslexia Myths

Dyslexia is a word that often stirs up fear and misunderstanding. In addition, it is awash in myths. Often, people think of adyslexia person with Dyslexia as an individual who confuses b’s and d’s or reads backwards. Others may think of a troubled reader who is confused by basic letters.  This simplistic and incorrect understanding of Dyslexia often causes people, especially parents, to feel a series of negative emotions when their child has trouble reading and a Dyslexia diagnosis is given. In reality, as many as 1 in 5 children are diagnosed with Dyslexia, which is defined a deficit in the phonological processing component of language that results in trouble reading and decoding words. Read on for the truth about Dyslexia.

Dyslexia myths and the truths behind them:

  • Myth: “Dyslexia means readers see letters and words backwards.”
  • Fact: Letter reversals are a symptom of Dyslexia; however, this is not the condition itself. Dyslexia is a much more complex phonological processing disorder in which the reader has difficulty associating the letters and the resulting sounds. Read more

The Social-Emotional Side of Children with Learning Disorders

It is well known that kids with learning disabilities face academic challenges.  Academics are often the focus of interventions with these children, but it is important to also pay attention to the impact on their social-emotional development.  Read on for ways to make sure this critical aspect of your child’s development is not overlooked. Read more

5 Major Differences between an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and 504 Plan

Your child has been identified to be falling behind in school in some way. Perhaps they are scoring below expected levels on iep and 504achievement tests or maybe they are exhibiting symptoms of inattention or become easily distracted. These symptoms may be keeping them from learning up to their potential. In another case, they may have an identified medical or emotional disorder that impacts them academically. Children can have a number of challenges that may impact them in the school environment. What can be done about these challenges? There are two formal plans that can be implemented: Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or 504 Plan. Below are five differences between the two plans:

IEP versus 504 Plan:

  1. An IEP is for children who qualify for special education services. To qualify, your child must have a documented learning disability, developmental delay, speech impairment or significant behavioral disturbance. Special education is education that offers an individualized learning format (e.g., small group, pull out, one-on-one). In contrast, a 504 Plan does not include special education services. Instead, a 504 Plan involves classroom accommodations, such as behavioral modification and environmental supports.
  2. An IEP requires a formal evaluation process as well as a multi-person team meeting to construct. A 504 Plan is less formal and usually involves a meeting with the parents and teacher(s). Both plans are documented and recorded.
  3. An IEP outlines specific, measurable goals for each child. These goals are monitored to ensure appropriate gains. A 504 Plan does not contain explicit goals.
  4. An IEP requires more regularly occurring reviews of progress, approximately every 3 months. A 504 Plan is usually reviewed at the beginning of each school year.
  5. A 504 Plan does not cost the school or district any additional money to provide. On the other hand, an IEP requires school funds to construct and execute.

To watch a webinar called: Getting the Most out of an I.E.P, click here.

 

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Identification of Asperger’s Syndrome in Preschool

Asperger’s Syndrome is characterized as a condition in which a child exhibits qualitative impairment in social interaction with lonely childaccompanying restrictive repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interest and activities (American Psychiatric Association, 2005). These children demonstrate significant concerns with their ability to interact with peers and engage in age-appropriate play. These children are often high-functioning and are often described as being ‘precocious’ when they are younger. Many parents and teachers are first able to identify Asperger’s Syndrome when the child is in preschool.

Preschool is the time when many children have to attend a structured and lengthy environment in which they are forced to interact with other peers on a regular basis.

Below are steps that we often see parents go through when there may be concerns in relation to a child’s social functioning:

  1. It is recommended that there be constant and open communication between parents and preschool teachers. It is imperative that teachers notify parents on an immediate basis when they suspect that a child may be struggling with their social interactions. Teachers should be wary of children who are playing by themselves and/or do not seem to be interested in interacting with peers. Teachers should not sugarcoat their concerns or wait for behaviors to get better. Document the information and learn the facts.
  2. Parents must not be offended when a teacher brings up a concern. The teacher has a concern for the child and only wants to ensure that the child is able to perform to his or her potential within the school and in a social setting.
  3. After a parent receives the information, it is strongly recommended that they discuss the information with the pediatrician. The pediatrician will likely be able to work through the concerns and help to identify what avenues may be needed. Many times, the pediatrician will want further information and may refer to the parents and the child to a neuropsychologist for complete a comprehensive evaluation.
  4. The purpose of the evaluation is to help identify if the child meets clinical criteria for a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome as well as help to determine what interventions would be warranted.
  5. There may be some form of intervention created in which focuses on improving the child’s social regulation. This may consist of some combination of behavioral therapy, social work, speech/language therapy and occupational therapy. It is strongly recommended that the various therapists be in contact with the child’s preschool teacher in order to ensure that the child can receive accommodations within the school setting in order to help address his or her social needs.

Preschool serves as a time when many children attend structured environments in which they are required to engage in social interactions with other children on a regular basis. This time frame is often the first time when a child may exhibit significant social concerns. As such, it is imperative that parents take any concerns that are brought up by the preschool teacher and help to identify what is needed to ensure that the child is able to find social success.




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Executive Functioning Activities At Home

Many kids have difficulty mastering skills such as problem-solving, organization, sequencing, initiation, memory, attention, and breaking downgirl with homework books tasks.  These skills (and many more) fall under the category of executive functioning.  As children get older and begin middle school, these skills are expected to advance quickly.  It is usually in about 5th grade where teachers and parents start to notice their child may be having more difficulty than her peers in executive functioning skills. Academic specialists, occupational therapists, and neuropsychologists are just a few of the professionals who address challenges in these areas, but there are also a variety of activities that can be done at home that are both fun and target the development of certain executive functioning skills.

Here is a list of activities that build certain aspects of executive functioning and are fairly easy to orchestrate in the home:

  • Using Playdoh, blocks, or Tinkertoys, build a figurine and have your child build an exact replica in size and color.  This works on multiple skills, including initiation, breaking down tasks, sequencing, organization, and attention.  If you are unable to build an example, or if you have an older child who enjoys playing independently, there are often pictures of structures to build that come along with block sets or images online that can be printed.
  • Have your child go through a magazine and make a list of all the toys/items wanted. Then, have her organize the list in some sort of order (most wanted at the top, alphabetical, price, etc.).  For older kids, you could also have them write a description of the item, cut the pictures out, and type up a list with descriptions and pasted pictures, or even plan a presentation.
  • There are many board games that target executive functioning skill development.  A few of the games used in the therapeutic setting that would be easy and fun options for home use include: Rush Hour (a problem-solving and sequencing game involving getting a specific car out of a traffic jam when the other vehicles can only move in straight lines), Mastermind (trying to determine what the secret code is by process of elimination), and Connect 4 Stackers (a game of attention, organization, and planning to be the first to get four in a row, like the original, but this game involves different dimensions).
  • There are many resources that can be printed from the internet. Logic puzzles come in many different levels of difficulty and involve taking given clues, making inferences from those clues, and eventually solving some sort of problem through the use of the clues. There are often charts that accompany these puzzles and require attention, organization, sequencing and problem-solving.
  • Have your child choose a recipe from a magazine. After verifying that it is a realistic recipe that can be made in your home, have her write a grocery list containing everything needed to prepare that dish, create a list of the necessary cooking supplies, and for older children, have them look up the price of each item at the store and create an estimated budget. If possible, let them be part of the entire process, and take them with you to the grocery store. Again, with older children, you could even put them in charge of pushing the cart and finding the items in the store. For older kids, they may also act as the “head chef” and be responsible for completing most of the cooking. For younger kids, if there are safety concerns, assign specific tasks as their job in the cooking process.

One of the most important aspects of doing therapeutic activities at home is that your child is having fun. These are just a few of the many activities that can be done at home to develop executive functioning skills and are also engaging and enjoyable for school age kids.




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