My child is intelligent and used to get good grades. Why is he suddenly struggling with reading?

There are various reasons why children may be experiencing challenges in school. A Learning Disorder, such as dyslexia, may be one of them. A comprehensive psycho-educational or neuropsychological evaluation may provide insights to the nature of the problem and how to remediate it. Sometime, around the 3rd grade or so, children’s reading skills plateau due to increased emphasis on comprehension. This may be when dyslexia begins to impede academic progress. Attention problems sometimes play a role in comprehension problems, as well.

My child’s teacher complains about daydreaming for my child. She is not paying attention, writing down her homework or finishing her tests on time. What is wrong?

This is characteristic of attention problems overlooked often in girls as her problems are not disruptive. She appears to have symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), rather than the more known Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) which is detected more often due to its ‘hyperactive-impulsive’ component. A complete evaluation will not only clarify the diagnosis, learning problems but also indicate the best educational setting so she can learn in the most optimal way. Medication, educational accommodations and therapy including behavior modification are usually very effective, in conjunction.

I am having difficulties at work. I can’t seem to be on time, meet deadlines and am having difficulties with organization and managing stress. My boss is angry at me all the time. I may lose my job! What can I do?

A comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation with focus on attention, memory and coping skills will help in determining whether your difficulties are due to phases of life or a disability. It will also help provide documentation of the need for workplace accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act, if your workplace poses a bias to your disability.

College is proving to be hard! The task of completing work on my own terms and the decrease in structure has been challenging for me. I’m having difficulties in areas that I never had before.   High school was much easier!

Some people thrive on structured environment whereas some enjoy the freedom to complete tasks on their own terms. The environment and curriculum in high school is drastically different than that of a college education. A psycho-educational evaluation can provide insight into the nature of your difficulties whether it be academic-related or behavior specific. A comprehensive evaluation can help you determine the educational supports needed for you to successfully obtain a college degree. Classroom and Testing accommodations, educational assistance and/or access to supports as well as assistive technology may be what you need.

Colleges and universities may not have IEP’s or special education programs but are legally required to provide certain accommodations such as extra time, separate testing locations, waivers or alternate courses due to disability and use of calculator, spell check, large font, alternate test formats, readers/scribes, labs, etc.

I have always been a poor test taker. I have taken the SAT/GRE/MCAT/GMAT/LSAT/ Licensing and Medical board examinations several times and have not received the score I need or want. Maybe it’s just not meant to be.

A comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation may help determine if you have an undiagnosed learning disability interfering with your test-taking. A report helps to provide documentation for testing accommodations, such as extended time, to determine your eligibility.

What is an IEP or 504 plan?

An IEP stands for Individualized Education Plan. This plan helps to accommodate your child’s learning disabilities, ADHD, or behavior problems. As a parent, you may request an IEP meeting so that your child’s school can discuss your child and determine if he or she is eligible for an IEP. If a learning disability, ADHD, or some other issue is found through a formal evaluation, an IEP may be recommended in order to help your child succeed in school an IEP is meant to help you r child learn and function within the school setting and is not intended  or to be used as a punishment. An IEP does not mean that your child is not entitled to a regular classroom setting.  The specific type of accommodations your child receives through his or her IEP should be individualized based on your child’s specific needs. If you r child does not require an IEP but does need in-class accommodations (such as extended time on tests) based on some learning difference, a 504 plan may be implemented. Neither an IEP nor a 504 plan is shared with  your child’s transcripts for college applications.

What is a reward system?

A reward system is a strategy frequently used to encourage good behavior. A child learns to earn rewards (both intrinsic (praises) and extrinsic (money, candy, privileges) rewards) in exchange for good performance, completion of obligations and responsibility or good behavior. It is meant to provide incentive for the child to exhibit certain desirable behaviors until the child learns to do so on his/her own. It is not “bribery” if your child earns the reward through the desired behavior. Bribery occurs when you give your child a reward if they promise to do something at a later time. Bribery is ineffective as your child has already earned the reward before having to demonstrate the specific behavior or task that was requested. We all inherently work for rewards. This is why you continue to go to work, because you enjoy what you do (intrinsic reward) or you want a pay check (extrinsic reward).  And there are very few of us who, even if we enjoy what we do, would continue to go to work every day if they stopped paying us! Conversely, our employers do not pay us a month in advance, as we have not yet demonstrated good work. Using a reward system is modeled after what we all are already driven to do, which is to be rewarded, intrinsically or extrinsically, for hard work and effort. Reward systems are only one component of helping to increase positive behavior and the specifics should be closely developed with your child’s therapist. Over time, as your child masters a particular behavior or skill, the reward is shifted from less extrinsic to more intrinsic (such as continuing to praise your child for effort or motivation).