Q: Please give me your opinion about using any of these services:
1) Neuropsychological Testing through the school system
3) Neurodevelopment Training
1. Testing through the school system — This is an “okay” option, but the testing is not neuropsychological testing. Testing is usually performed by a school psychologist, who has much less training than a neuropsychologist. Our school system’s testing, and many other school systems’ testing, is severely lacking in thoroughness and quality. The school systems generally administer a few tests and pronounce their results in a very short report.. less than two pages, with nothing significant as far as guiding information for a parent to use in providing a solid educational program for her child.
We had private neuropsychological testing done by two different neuropsychologists (a year and a half apart) — one gave a decent diagnosis and some brief info on how our child learned with a few teaching suggestions. The second gave a 39-page report with detailed instructions on what our child needed, how he learns, ways he’d learn best, what kinds of deficits he has and how these affect his learning. The second report was like receiving a book on “How to teach YOUR Child”. Thus, having private neuropsychological testing is THE option I’d choose (personal opinion). Even though our insurance didn’t cover it and it was expensive (and we are NOT rich–it was painful to pay for), but the neuropsychological testing was worth every single penny 😉
That said, I’d recommend diligence in finding a highly qualified neuropsychologist to evaluate your child. Find out from the provider whether he or she administers the tests himself, or whether an assistant does all of the neuropsychological testing and whether the neuropsychologist just “interprets” the evaluation results. I believe it is imperative for the neuropsychologist to personally work with the child in order to observe any idiosyncrasies in the child’s approaches to problems solving or learning.
2. Pediatrician — Most pediatricians know relatively little about learning disabilities or developmental disabilities. While pediatricians can give us referrals, they don’t have in depth training in regard to diagnosing or remediating learning disabilities. Your pediatrician may be able to give you a referral to a decent neuropsychologist, but often the pediatrician’s are not highly focused on the usefulness of the evaluation report to a parent. If you get a referral from your pediatrician, you will want to ask specific questions of the evaluator prior to making an appointment.
3. Neurodevelopment Training — These programs take a child through the basic development stages, rolling, creeping, crawling, etc. in daily exercises for the benefit of brain development.
Our neuropsychologist did say that cross-body patterning (using both> hemispheres of the brain to coordinate moves on alternating sides of the body) is shown to improve neurological functioning. It was recommended that we enroll our child in Karate, Tennis, Swimming, or Gymnastics and keep him enrolled in one or more of these — and it HAS helped!! It is a way to fulfill this need without subjecting an older child to the creeping/crawling programs that can be either boring, little-kiddish, or demeaning to the child’s self-esteem. No 9, 10, 11 year-old or older child wants to spend hours practicing crawling for the sake of neurological development.
Please note, it takes a LONG, LONG time to see significant improvement with neurodevelopmental cross-body patterning. For my son, it was about 5 years (and we have enrolled in each of the above sports at one time or another) before we saw significant changes kick in. Over time, most everyone was surprised by the improvement my son demonstrated in his physical abilities, including achieving at high levels in swimming and sprint kayaking. The great outcomes came after several years of difficulty with coordination though, so don’t expect an easy road. I do, however, recommend you keep your child involved in physical activities/sports that require cross-body patterning (side-to-side) activity because it does help the neurological development of your child’s brain.
So, having been around the block a few times–If I were starting on the journey for the first time TODAY– I would:
1) Get thorough neuropsychological testing from a highly recommended neuropsychologist right off the bat (I wouldn’t waste my child’s precious time trying to get testing done ‘cheaply’ –as the results just weren’t thorough enough to be viable–least of all the results from the public school.) Here, the old adage “you get what you pay for” often applies.
2) I would enroll my child in SWIMMING from the beginning as it is a CONSTANT cross-body patterning exercise– The others (we did them all first) have some degree of cross-body alternating, but the action is not constant. It wasn’t until my son reluctantly agreed to join the neighborhood swim team that we began seeing improvements at a steady pace. Now my child LOVES swimming although he was terrified of it in the beginning, and he is an excellent swimmer. He even made it to the swimming championships with over 6,000 swimmers and he finished 1oth in one event in his division. YOUR child may enjoy other cross-body patterning exercises MUCH more, so chose an activity your child likes and will willingly do each day.
That’s my two cents for what it’s worth!