Having the services of a specialist in child neuropsychology can help to identify difficulties with cognitive functioning such as, for example, detect problems attention, language, reading and writing disorders, as well as sensory, motor and executive disorders.
Thanks to modern brain study techniques, it has been possible to know the neuropsychological processes that underlie the different actions and learning, such as reading, and how it is modifies the brain facing this challenge.
In functional brain images, you can see how they are produced changes in a brain when a task is started cognitive, when you are already an expert, as well as when you present dysfunction.
The tools of neuropsychology
Child neuropsychology specializes in neurodevelopmental disorders. Through various techniques or diagnostic evaluation tools (neuropsychological tests), the difficulties that a child presents from an early age are evaluated. Many of them arise in school stage being detected through the direct observation of the teachers and relatives themselves. These tests allow us to generate that link between the difficulty presented and their brain development.
Before reaching a consultation with a child neuropsychologist, an interview is usually carried out first with the pediatrician who follows the child’s development process from birth. Many times, it is this professional who performs the early detection of neuropsychological difficulties and is the one that leads to evaluation.
The neuropsychological evaluation Childhood requires some meetings with the child’s family where questionnaires or developmental scales are carried out and then with the child, where neuropsychological evaluation tests are administered.
The tests are standardized by reference score and by chronological age and have population mean measures that serve for the professional to perform a neuropsychological profile of strengths and weaknesses of neuropsychological functions that are compromised or not. What does this mean? That also knowing the strengths we will be able to help that child to enhance their learning from what he handles best. We do not always look at the deficit but what the best support can mean to get ahead.
What kinds of disorders or difficulties can a child neuropsychologist detect?
The great contribution of the neuropsychologist will be to have the ability to relate the scores obtained with the characteristics that the child presents in real, family and school life. Neuropsychological evaluation is like “A flight simulator”, since it highlights a cognitive demand which will be a challenge proposed by a specific task. For example: in order to understand how the brain of a child who presents significant attention difficulties in class processes, he is put to the test with sustained attention exercises, where he needs to regulate aspects associated with inhibitory control and adequate reaction in a rhythm or speed of performance according to your reaction times.
The flaws that he presents in that simulator game are representative of what actually happens in his 45-minute class, where he had to listen to an explanation from the teacher, while through the window he listened to the group that started, dispersed looking at a classmate The one who dropped the pencil and, when he resumed the activity, realized that the instruction was lost and the teacher already erased the blackboard …
In this test, which when digital tends to show the results more effectively, we will see in scores, in numbers, the performance that the boy has in front of distractors and the time of sustained work on a task.
Neuropsychology is functional, therefore the skill of the neuropsychologist must be twofold:
- Break down and study each neurpsychological function and then perform an associative analysis of the scores obtained in the profile to address the appropriate diagnosis. For example: attention, reading, executive, calculation and language disorders, among others.
- Addressing a diagnosis: a treatment is proposed that allows generating spaces for cognitive stimulation and reinforcement of strategies to improve performance.
On some occasions, it is necessary to perform a Neuropaediatric consultation to check aspects of functional biological functioning and rule out deeper pathologies such as epilepsy.
The profile of the neuropsychologist
Specialists in neuropsychology must be professionals who have a very specific training, which is generally obtained from a postgraduate degree (psychology, psychopedagogy, psychomotor skills, speech therapy, among others). The training requires master’s or doctorate studies, therefore, before making the consultation for your child you must verify that the specialist is certificate.
Having the support of a neuropsychologist when a difficulty arises in school and / or functional performance in the daily life of a child can be the key in the early detection of a neurodevelopmental disorder, which it will be possible to stimulate and improve greatly longer, since we have a very significant stage of neural plasticity and malleability of the brain, because it is a developing brain. The structures and cognitive action schemes, being still immature, can be “modeled” with stimulation techniques adequate and achieve very successful results.
Mariela B. Caputo, psychopedagogue, Master in Clinical Neuropsychology and PhD at the Faculty of Medicine of the UBA.