• Dr. Ghilain

Time to Act or Wait and See? Support for Intervening Early

Updated: Apr 10, 2020

We often get calls from frustrated parents at their wits end. Their child is struggling, and has been struggling, with peers, at school, or at home. Consistently, once parents have their child evaluated, they verbalize their "wish that they had done this evaluation sooner." In today's blog post, Dr. Ghilain discusses the importance of early intervention, and the benefits of nipping small difficulties in the bud before larger issues arise.

As discussed in prior blog posts, a child's full-time job is to learn. For some children, learning comes easily- they are naturally inquisitive, they find learning fun and rewarding, and they pick up on new concepts quickly. For others, some tasks may be easy, while others may be more challenging. As adults, we can choose to focus on those areas that are strengths for us, or perhaps have found ways to compensate for our difficulties (e.g., using the GPS for those who may identify as more directionally-challenged, setting phone alarms to remind us to pick up the kids or be on-time for workout sessions).

Adults have had the luxury of time, experience and repetition in determining our strengths and weaknesses. We all have them- but we can cope with the tasks that come along in our day to day environment much easier when knowing where our strengths lie. We also often have the luxury of avoiding tasks we find challenging, and have the freedom (in many instances) to choose whether or not to engage in said challenging task in the first place. Nonetheless, for those unavoidable, less-than-appealing tasks that must be done, we have likely learned strategies over time to help us get through it.

Children have not had the opportunity to determine their strengths and weaknesses with as much clarity as adults. They quickly learn that avoiding things is much better than engaging in them when the task is hard, boring, or unpleasant (e.g., feeding the dog broccoli under the dinner table allows them to avoid eating the little trees altogether). However, when it comes to school, this avoidance strategy is not available to them. So what can be done when a child spends 3-hours doing their math worksheet, or has a meltdown when it is time to read their chapter book?

Seeking out a comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation at the earliest signs of trouble allows for a proactive, rather than reactive, approach. Put simply, we know that academic challenges impact school performance, but over time they also impact self-esteem and take a toll on emotional functioning. If left unaddressed, these negative feelings quickly impact all members of a family unit, and can sometimes intensify seemingly overnight. Intervening before significant academic or emotional compromise stops the downward spiral, and rights the path back towards success. During the evaluation, your child will show us what he or she excels in, and we will dive deeply into understanding their strengths and difficulties. Unlike other types of doctors, we spend the full day with you and your child. We sincerely value this time. We know that parents are the true experts when it comes to their children, and we appreciate their willingness to share their current struggles and their openness to gaining support. In return, we provide a customized roadmap detailing (1) how and when to intervene, (2) specific strategies to use, and (3) evidence-based interventions to implement at home, school, and in the community. It is a win-win situation for all!

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