Psychologist, Candidate of Psychological Sciences Irina A. Salnikova tells when a child needs to be shown to a neuropsychologist and how it will help.
What does neuropsychology do and who is a neuropsychologist?
Neuropsychology is a science at the intersection of psychology (higher mental functions) and medicine (physiological processes and diseases in the human body). It studies how the brain works and functions and how it affects the human psyche (and children) and their behavior.
In other words, neuropsychology studies which areas and processes in the brain are responsible for higher mental functions: perception, memory, attention, thinking, speech.
A neuropsychologist is a clinical psychologist who can evaluate these functions and help them develop better or recover.
Who turns to a neuropsychologist for help? What help can it provide?
Any adult or child over 3 years of age can become a client of a neuropsychologist. The brain of each person develops individually and has both strong (resource) and weak (deficit) sides, which do not always lead to pathological changes in higher mental functions, but can affect the productivity of activities.
The main task of a neuropsychologist is to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the brain and bring them to balance. For example, a child does not learn enough educational material, and the psychologist finds out that he has a well-developed visual memory. Then the child can use visual cues to do better in school.
How is neuropsychological diagnosis performed?
Always in a quiet, well-ventilated area, so that nothing distracts, with sufficient lighting, at the table. The psychologist uses special tools.
Diagnostics consists of tasks that reveal the features of attention, memory, perception, thinking, speech, spatial perception, interhemispheric interaction, hand-eye coordination, the level of control and self-regulation of the subject.
Many tasks can be evaluated quantitatively (by how many points the child’s skill is developed). This is necessary not to compare children with each other, but to monitor the development of the child himself (how many points were a year ago, how many are now). For example, to study memory and attention, we use the task “Remember 10 words”.
What problems do you need to see a neuropsychologist with?
Neuropsychology was developed for the rehabilitation of people with local brain damage (after stroke, traumatic brain injuries). Now neuropsychologists work a lot with children, because the child’s brain is more plastic — if there are difficulties, they can be quickly overcome, the brain adapts quickly.
The help of a neuropsychologist is necessary when the child:
“doesn’t hear” adults;
can’t control himself, is impulsive;
hyperactive or excessively slow;
confuses the right and left hands (6 years and older);
writes “mirror” (confuses which way the letters ” b ” — “d”, “z” — “e”);
he has been studying with a speech therapist for more than a year, and the result is minimal;
doesn’t highlight essential features of the item (color, shape, size, purpose);
has learning difficulties;
inattentiveness, slight distraction, and inability to concentrate;
difficulties in mastering writing, reading, and counting;
difficulties in completing academic and homework assignments independently.
What is the treatment in neuropsychology?
Treatment in neuropsychology is called neurocorrection. Neurocorrection consists of two parts: motor (similar to physical therapy) and cognitive (similar to a session with a speech therapist or speech pathologist). Neurocorrection is complete without medication.
Including motor and cognitive (mental) exercises in the neurocorrection program, we work with all the skills at once. Exercises “rebuild” the brain so that the child becomes more diligent and attentive, makes fewer mistakes when reading or writing, improves his memory and motor skills. Immature areas of the brain are developing, and functions that did not exist at all often appear-it is only necessary for a neuropsychologist to choose the right task.
For example, I had a 7-year-old boy. His parents worried about his hyperactivity, restlessness, and poor behavior and school performance. After the course of neurocorrection, the child became more calm, could control and restrain himself, and arbitrary attention appeared, which significantly affected his success in school.
And how long does the course of neurocorrection last?
This depends on the results of the diagnosis: what violations the psychologist has identified in the child and how strong they are. The specialist develops the training program individually, as the course goes from simple exercises to complex ones, and each child has their own “simple” and “complex” exercises, depending on their weaknesses and strengths.
On average, to” start ” the processes in the brain in the right direction, you need to work out at least six months 2 times a week and with regular home workouts. I do not recommend quitting classes before reaching the end — then the “perestroika” that you started will remain incomplete, and problems may return and even become more serious.
During neurocorrection, parents should be prepared for the fact that development does not always occur only in the direction of progress, and temporary deterioration may also occur. This is normal, the brain gets tired, resists changes. The main thing is not to give up classes at this crisis stage, to be patient and tune in to the result.
At what age is it better to bring a child to a neuropsychologist?
Neuropsychological classes are most productive for children from 5 to 12 years old. At this age, the brain is already sufficiently formed for the child to master and develop skills, but at the same time it is still plastic enough to easily rebuild.