Horovitz presents Research on Working Memory in ADHD and ASD

Max Horovitz, Ph.D., presented a guided poster tour of his research regarding working memory in children who have been diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or both ADHD and ASD as part of the 6th World Congress on ADHD hosted by the World Federation ADHA, April 20-23, 2017, in Vancouver, Canada.

 Working memory is the thinking skill that focuses on memory-in-action, which is the ability to remember and use relevant information while in the middle of an activity. For example, a child is using working memory as the child recalls the steps of a recipe while cooking a favorite meal.

Children who have trouble with their working memory skills will often have difficulty remembering instructions, recalling rules or completing tasks 

Children who have trouble with their working memory skills will often have difficulty remembering their teachers’ instructions, recalling the rules to a game, or completing other tasks that involve actively calling up important information. There are two types of working memory: auditory memory and visual-spatial memory. Auditory memory records what you’re hearing while visual-spatial memory captures what you’re seeing. Weak working memory skills can affect learning in many different subject areas including reading and math.

 For Keystone, Dr. Max serves as a clinical child psychologist, director of Keystone’s Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Clinic. Keystone’s Anxiety & Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) Clinic is a specialty clinic designed to provide evaluation, intervention and medication management for children and adolescents who experience anxiety. The Anxiety & OCD Clinic offers comprehensive assessments to accurately diagnose anxiety disorders. Common diagnoses include separation anxiety, phobias, social anxiety, generalized anxiety disorder, OCD, and selective mutism.

Dr. Max has experience working with individuals diagnosed with intellectual and developmental disabilities, particularly autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in various capacities across development. He additionally has experience working with children with a wider range of emotional and behavioral needs, including oppositional and defiant behaviors, anxiety, depression, toileting issues, and sleep difficulties.  He currently provides a range of services including developmental, psychoeducational, and diagnostic assessments; individual therapy; parent training and school consultation. Dr. Max also has extensive research experience in the areas of ASD and intellectual disability. Dr. Max received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Florida. He subsequently obtained master’s and doctoral degrees in clinical psychology from Louisiana State University. Dr. Max completed an APA-accredited, predoctoral internship at the Devereux Foundation in Pennsylvania, where he provided clinical services at a residential center for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Following his internship, he completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Keystone Behavioral Pediatrics and then joined the staff at Keystone as a licensed clinical child psychologist. Dr. Max is a qualified supervisor in the state of Florida for mental health counseling interns.

June is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Month

By Jessica Hamblen, PhD and Erin Barnett, PhD, for PTSD: National Center for PTSD

Children and Adolescents Experience PTSD, Too

What events cause PTSD in children?

Any life threatening event or event that threatens physical harm can cause PTSD. These events may include:

  • Sexual abuse or violence (does not require threat of harm)
  • Physical abuse
  • Natural or manmade disasters, such as fires, hurricanes, or floods
  • Violent crimes such as kidnapping or school shootings
  • Motor vehicle accidents such as automobile and plane crashes

PTSD can also occur after witnessing violence. These events may include exposure to:

  • Community violence
  • Domestic violence
  • War

Finally, in some cases learning about these events happening to someone close to you can cause PTSD.

What are the risk factors for PTSD?

Both the type of event and the intensity of exposure impact the degree to which an event results in PTSD. For example, in one study of a fatal sniper attack that occurred at an elementary school proximity to the shooting was directly related to the percentage of children who developed PTSD. Of those children who directly witnessed the shooting on the playground, 77% had moderate to severe PTSD symptoms, whereas 67% of those in the school building at the time and only 26% of the children who had gone home for the day had moderate or severe symptoms (6).

In addition to exposure variables, other risk factors include:

  • Female gender
  • Previous trauma exposure
  • Preexisting psychiatric disorders
  • Parental psychopathology
  • Low social support

Parents have been shown to have protective factors (practice parameters). Both parental support and lower levels of parental PTSD have been found to predict lower levels of PTSD in children.

There is less clarity in the findings connecting PTSD with ethnicity and age. While some studies find that minorities report higher levels of PTSD symptoms, researchers have shown that this is due to other factors such as differences in levels of exposure. It is not clear how a child’s age at the time of exposure to a traumatic event affects the occurrence or severity of PTSD. While some studies find a relationship, others do not. Differences that do occur may be due to differences in the way PTSD is expressed in children and adolescents of different ages or developmental levels.

 

Keystone recognizes June as PTSD month in support of the children we serve who work to manage PTSD.

As in adults, PTSD in children and adolescence requires the presence of re-experiencing, avoidance and numbing, and arousal symptoms. However, researchers and clinicians are beginning to recognize that PTSD may not present itself in children the same way it does in adults.

 What does PTSD look like in children?

Criteria for PTSD include age-specific features for some symptoms.

Elementary school-aged children

Clinical reports suggest that elementary school-aged children may not experience visual flashbacks or amnesia for aspects of the trauma. However, they do experience “time skew” and “omen formation,” which are not typically seen in adults.

Time skew refers to a child mis-sequencing trauma-related events when recalling the memory. Omen formation is a belief that there is a belief that there were warning signs that predicted the trauma. As a result, children often believe that if they are alert enough, they will recognize warning signs and avoid future traumas.

School-aged children also reportedly exhibit post-traumatic play or reenactment of the trauma in play, drawings, or verbalizations. Post-traumatic play is different from reenactment in that post-traumatic play is a literal representation of the trauma, involves compulsively repeating some aspect of the trauma, and does not tend to relieve anxiety.

An example of post-traumatic play is an increase in shooting games after exposure to a school shooting. Post-traumatic reenactment, on the other hand, is more flexible and involves behaviorally recreating aspects of the trauma (e.g., carrying a weapon after exposure to violence).

Adolescents and Teens

PTSD in adolescents may begin to more closely resemble PTSD in adults. However, there are a few features that have been shown to differ. As discussed above, children may engage in traumatic play following a trauma. Adolescents are more likely to engage in traumatic reenactment, in which they incorporate aspects of the trauma into their daily lives. In addition, adolescents are more likely than younger children or adults to exhibit impulsive and aggressive behaviors.

Besides PTSD, what are the other effects of trauma on children?

Besides PTSD, children and adolescents who have experienced traumatic events often exhibit other types of problems. Perhaps the best information available on the effects of traumas on children comes from a review of the literature on the effects of child sexual abuse.

In this review, it was shown that sexually abused children often have problems with fear, anxiety, depression, anger and hostility, aggression, sexually inappropriate behavior, self-destructive behavior, feelings of isolation and stigma, poor self-esteem, difficulty in trusting others, substance abuse, and sexual maladjustment.

These problems are often seen in children and adolescents who have experienced other types of traumas as well. Children who have experienced traumas also often have relationship problems with peers and family members, problems with acting out, and problems with school performance.

Along with associated symptoms, there are a number of psychiatric disorders that are commonly found in children and adolescents who have been traumatized. One commonly co-occurring disorder is major depression. Other disorders include substance abuse; anxiety disorders such as separation anxiety, panic disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder; and externalizing disorders such as attention-deficit/hyperactivitiy disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, and conduct disorder.

How is PTSD treated in children and adolescents?

Although some children show a natural remission in PTSD symptoms over a period of a few months, a significant number of children continue to exhibit symptoms for years if untreated. Trauma Focused psychotherapies have the most empirical support for children and adolescents.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Research studies show that CBT is the most effective approach for treating children. The treatment with the best empirical evidence is Trauma-Focused CBT (TF-CBT). TF-CBT generally includes the child directly discussing the traumatic event (exposure), anxiety management techniques such as relaxation and assertiveness training, and correction of inaccurate or distorted trauma related thoughts.

Although there is some controversy regarding exposing children to the events that scare them, exposure-based treatments seem to be most relevant when memories or reminders of the trauma distress the child. Children can be exposed gradually and taught relaxation so that they can learn to relax while recalling their experiences. Through this procedure, they learn that they do not have to be afraid of their memories.

CBT also involves challenging children’s false beliefs such as, “the world is totally unsafe.” The majority of studies have found that it is safe and effective to use CBT for children with PTSD.

CBT is often accompanied by psycho-education and parental involvement. Psycho-education is education about PTSD symptoms and their effects. It is as important for parents and caregivers to understand the effects of PTSD as it is for children. Research shows that the better parents cope with the trauma, and the more they support their children, the better their children will function. Therefore, it is important for parents to seek treatment for themselves in order to develop the necessary coping skills that will help their children.

Parent Resource: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs PTSD: National Center for PTSD

Psychiatrist Joins Keystone to Provide Medication Management

Beginning April 4, psychiatrist Chadd K. Eaglin, M.D., joins Keystone Behavioral Pediatrics as our new medical director in charge of medication management. He will work with our team of providers to develop a comprehensive plan for your child to assist your family and primary care physicians.

Chadd Eaglin, M.D., psychiatrist, becomes Keystone’s medical director, with appointments beginning on April 4.

Depending on the specific concerns and/or diagnoses that a child may have, such as ADHD, autism, anxiety, depression or other behavioral issues, a course of medication in combination with other therapy techniques may be helpful. Keystone’s team works collaboratively in diagnosing, monitoring and treating any issues or concerns that parents may have about their child, consulting to determine whether medication may be helpful. If medication is determined to be helpful, Dr. Eaglin will prescribe and closely monitor the effects.

It is important for a child to have regular medical checkups to monitor how well the medication is working and check for possible side effects. Most side effects can be relieved by changing the medication dosage, adjusting the schedule of medication or using a different stimulant or trying a non-stimulant.

Staying in close contact with Dr. Eaglin will ensure that Keystone therapists and parents find the best medication and dose for their children. After that, periodic monitoring by Dr. Eaglin is important to maintain the best effects.

Dr. Eaglin comes to Keystone with 11 years of education and experience in medicine and psychiatry. He received an M.D. from the University of Missouri at Kansas City School of Medicine and completed his psychiatry residency training program at the University of Hawaii. He is certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology with specialty training in NeuroStar Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) therapy. He focuses on diagnosis, treatment and management of patients from school-aged children to geriatrics who have mood disorders, anxiety disorders, impulse control orders, autism and complex behavioral challenges.

For now, Dr. Eaglin will be available by appointment each Tuesday morning, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. The goal is to build his caseload to a full time practice with Keystone. To set an appointment, call 904.619.6071 or fill out the online Appointments form.

Keystone offers ABA services on Florida’s Emerald Coast

Keystone recently announced that ABA services are available to the Emerald Coast. The mission of Keystone Behavioral Pediatrics – Emerald Coast is to provide Okaloosa and neighboring counties with the same standard of excellence which has been established by KPB in the Jacksonville area. 

Presently, behavior therapists are offering ABA services in Emerald Coast homes, with the eventual goal of offering therapy in a variety of settings including a clinic, community settings and schools, in addition to in-home. Therapy is individualized to each child based on an initial assessment (ABLLS-R, VB-MAPP, AFLS, essentials for living, functional assessments of problem behaviors, etc.) and continually modified based on the child’s progress.

Laura Mathisen, M.S., BCBA, leads the team of ABA therapists for Keystone Behavioral Pediatrics – Emerald Coast.

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy is a systematic teaching approach based on B.F. Skinner’s analysis of behavior and the subsequent contributions of other behavior analysts. ABA focuses on changing behavior in socially significant ways to improve the lives of the children and families who seek ABA services.

Keystone’s Emerald Coast team is led by Laura Mathisen, M.S., BCBA, who serves as senior clinical supervisor. She has experience providing behavior analytic services for children and adults with developmental disabilities, genetic disorders and traumatic brain injuries. Mathisen specializes in early intervention services, problem behavior reduction and supervision of BCBA candidates. She worked at Keystone Behavioral Pediatrics for three years and eventually served as director of behavior analysis. After her military husband was transferred to Destin in 2013, she continued to work for Keystone as a senior clinical supervisor and board certified behavior analyst (BCBA), while also working as a BCBA clinical supervisor for a private ABA clinic in the Florida Panhandle, where her caseload primarily focused on problem behavior reduction and early intervention cases.

For questions and to make an appointment with the team at Keystone Behavioral Pediatrics – Emerald Coast, complete the Appointments or Contact form at www.keystonebehavioral.com or call 904.619.6071.

Keystone Behavioral Pediatrics, based in Jacksonville, Fla., offers consultation and integrated healthcare to children who may have one or more behavioral, developmental, socio-emotional or learning issues, for example, autism spectrum disorders (ASD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), intellectual delays, aggression, self-injury, tantrums, anxiety, compliance, self-help skills, toileting, speech/language or cognitive, physical, sensory, and motor skills. Keystone’s comprehensive and highly skilled team of providers – child psychologists, board certified behavior analysts, licensed mental health counselor, occupational therapists, speech/language pathologists, feeding therapists, registered behavioral technicians and clinical assistants – work together to develop a plan of action to provide success for each child through change. Medication management is also available, if medication is recommended as part of a child’s plan.

Aggression, Tantrums and Refusal—Annoying and Frustrating but Treatable

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Dr. Scherbarth works with a child and his parent to help them understand and relate to each other better by building reasonable and enforceable limits.

The trifecta of terrible problem behavior in children is physical or verbal aggression, with tantrums and refusal to follow instructions. These symptoms are often consistent with the diagnosis of Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). It is very annoying and frustrating for parents and peers—to say the least. Parents often try their best to manage it—including seeking out anger management for their child—but nothing they try seems to work. That said, ODD is entirely treatable by a clinician skilled in one of several Behavioral Parent Training programs.

ODD is a pattern of behavior for over six months that has three parts: a child or teen being argumentative in general or defiant when given instructions; the child being very angry and irritable most of the time; and at times the child may be vindictive and deliberately trying to make others angry. It can seem from the outside that the child is totally fine one minute and blows up the next minute. This appearance has led many people down the wrong path to think it’s bipolar disorder—especially when the tantrums last 45-90 minutes or when they are very destructive at home or school. However, bipolar disorder is a very different diagnosis.

ODD not only causes frustration in the moment for the parent and child, it also spreads throughout the family’s entire social life at all levels.

Parents of kids with ODD often do not want to go to stores or restaurants anymore for fear that something will set their child off. Parents may hear that other parents don’t want to set up play dates anymore. Schools may send these children home early because of the disruption they cause, or they may totally refuse to enroll these kids altogether. Kids with ODD often have little or no friends, and the friendships they do develop may be very conflicted. Clearly, it takes a serious toll on everyone and this toll creates resentment in the family towards the child and from the child back towards the family.

ODD typically emerges in younger childhood (before age 5). Without treatment, up to 2
5 percent of kids may lose ODD traits on their own; however it persists for many years in half of all kids, whereas the other 25 percent have behavior that starts to become downright cruel or even criminal in nature. With a total of 75 percent of kids with ODD having years of difficult or even criminal behavior ahead of them, it’s clearly to everyone’s advantage to seek treatment by a qualified therapist who goes beyond individual anger management counseling to also include some form of behavioral parent training.

There are a number of risk factors related to development of ODD (Barkley, 2013). Individual factors from the child include having ADHD, a mood/anxiety disorder or just an irritable temperament from birth. Parent factors include if they have ADHD themselves, irritable temperament, high stress due to a number of reasons and/or being young parents. Family social environmental factors include living in an area with a high crime rate, being influenced by delinquent peers, or having conflicted marriages or a conflictual extended family. How parents raise their children is one of the most important factors. Inconsistent parenting, highly negative parenting (or by contrast, low negative but also low discipline parenting), inappropriate expectations, as well as lack of monitoring of the child, and/or low positivity in parenting are all  risk factors.

At least one parent and the child engage in the Coercive Family Cycle (Patterson, 1982). A parent gives an instruction (possibly a harsh instruction or nearly impossible instruction), then the child reacts with negativity and both continue with negativity (yelling, harsh tone, possibly escalation to destruction) until one or the other gives up. It’s not healthy for the child, even if it “works” in the moment. Worst case scenario, the child gets away without having to do what they’re told and the negative behavior reinforced. In the “best case scenario,” the adult is able to force compliance BUT then the child learns the social lesson that to be respected in the family and society, that is that a child has to be big, loud, angry and bad. That’s not a very good outcome.

By contrast, Behavioral Parent Training (BPT) aims to make an impact by changing the parenting factors. It’s NOT about finding better ways to punish children more harshly. Rather, it has two aims—to improve warmth between parents and kids, as well as to build reasonable and enforceable limits. Warmth can be provided by making sure that there’s always positive interaction time and that when the child follows the instructions, good things happen—like acknowledgement and normal daily privileges. Limits include expectations that school work must be completed school work, children are expected to clean up after themselves to whatever extent that they can in relation to their age, destructiveness leads to consequences and rude or obnoxious behavior doesn’t pay off. The consequences for destruction shouldn’t be harsh, just consistent and providing for everyone’s safety.

Of course, BPT has limits. It only addresses the parenting factors. At times, the child’s individual factors (irritability, impulsivity) have to be addressed as well, possibly in conjunction with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or anger management. However, anger management alone is insufficient. A course of treatment may take 3-6 months or even longer, depending on how longstanding the issues are and other factors. Therapy may require a lot of effort and be difficult at times, but it can’t be any more difficult than having these behaviors affecting the family for years or decades.

Behavioral Parent Training can allow the parents to enjoy their kids again, and kids to enjoy their parents. Contact Keystone Behavioral Pediatrics to learn more about how BPT can help.

Resources for Parents/Caregivers:

Centers for Disease Control

Mayo Institute

Child Development Institute

National Institute of Mental Health—DMDD

National Institute of Mental Health—Treatment of children with mental health issues in general

 

November is National Epilepsy Awareness Month

national-epilepsy-monthKeystone Behavioral Pediatrics’ Neuropsychological Assessment Clinic, led by co-directors Rea Anne A. Romero, Ph.D., licensed psychologist, and Rebecca J. Penna, Ph.D., NCSP, neuropsychologist and clinical psychologist, provides comprehensive evaluation of brain functions and processes. The neuropsychological approach is particularly useful for individuals who have experienced a brain injury or other medical conditions that impact the central nervous system, such as epilepsy, as well as other complex clinical conditions that impact the way a person thinks and learns. Following the assessment, a profile of the individual’s processing strengths and needs is developed, which guides treatment, rehabilitation and educational planning.

Parents of children with seizures have a special role.

The national Epilepsy Foundation acknowledges the following critical roles that parents of children with seizures play in their children’s lives:

  1. You are parents and the primary caregivers of your young children. You are the one giving information to the health care team and the primary one working with schools, camps, or other community groups. You are staying up at night worrying, or caring for your child during and after seizures. You want them to stay safe, but may have to balance this with how to let them be kids, and develop independence.
  2. You are a manager. You need to manage your young child’s epilepsy. As your child grows, you need to teach him or her how to manage his epilepsy. If your adult child can’t manage their epilepsy on their own, you may need to continue in the manager role or find someone else or an agency (for example a group home or agency overseeing your child’s care) to manage their care.
  3. You are an advocate. You may have to advocate for your child to get the care they need, to get an appropriate education and any necessary accommodations, and to have their rights respected.
  4. You are an educator. You have to educate so many people (as well as yourself) about epilepsy and how to treat and respond to your child. You want your child to be treated just like anyone else, but this may take work over the years.
  5. You are also a “patient.” Epilepsy affects the whole family – the person with seizures, parents, siblings, grandparents, and more. How it affects you will be different than how it affects the child, other children in the family, or your parents. But it will affect you. As a patient, you’ll have needs too and would benefit from information and support to help you.

Epilepsy and seizures are tough for children and families to bear. It might feel like more than you can handle on your own. Luckily, you don’t have to. Keystone can assess and evaluate your child to provide an individualized treatment and education planning.

Cognitive behavioral therapy has become a successful way to help people through a variety of problems. It has been shown to reduce depression, anxiety, or anger (or more than one of these) in some people with epilepsy. Cognitive behavioral therapy is grounded in the belief that your thoughts guide your feelings and actions. To help your child manage feelings and change actions, we help your child first focus on changing thinking patterns. When your child learns how to focus on her own thoughts instead of outside events or other people, she can have more control over her progress and a greater chance of improving her life.

In many cases, epilepsy co-occurs with other developmental and behavioral issues, for example, autism. We can also provide specific recommendations that relate to educational placement and instructional strategies that can be shared with your child or adolescent’s school. This can include recommendations for testing accommodations (e.g., SAT) if indicated.

Keystone CEO Recognized for Integrated Healthcare

Keystone CEO Katherine Falwell, Ph.D. and clinical psychologist, was recognized in a recent issue of the Ponte Vedra Recorder for her efforts to help children with integrated healthcare that focuses on all areas of behavioral, developmental, socio-emotional and learning services provided by Keystone Behavioral Pediatrics, which Dr. Falwell founded in 2008.

The article chronicled the path that led Dr. Falwell to open Keystone, starting with her postdoctoral residency at the University of Florida, where Dr. Falwell became part of the faculty at University of Florida in the Department of Behavior Analysis. She became aware that Northeast Florida needed more comprehensive pediatric services than it had available at the time to meet the growing numbers of children with unique needs and took the opportunity to open Keystone Behavioral Pediatrics in 2008 to further her idea of collaborative, integrated healthcare.

Keystone provides Integrated Healthcare that Focuses on All Areas of Behavioral, Developmental, Socio-Emotional and Learning Services

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Katie Falwell (far right), in addition to her passion for helping children become successful, is also devoted to her family and northeast Florida beaches community.

Next, Dr. Falwell opened Keystone Child Development Center in 2013, because she believes passionately in research that supports the importance of providing individualized instruction and support as early as possible in a young child’s life. She designed KCDC to focus on all aspects of a child – mind, body and soul – to offer children the best opportunity for success in elementary school and throughout life.

In response to the paper’s question about her focus on early intervention, Dr. Falwell notes, “All children learn and grow at different rates. These first five years of a child’s life are filled with major developmental milestones that prepare them for lifelong learning.” She refers to research which shows that 90 percent of a child’s brain is developed by age 5.

Research also confirms that getting help early can lead to the best outcomes for kids. Developmental, learning, behavioral and social-emotional issues are estimated to affect one in every six children. Because these issues are often very subtle in young children, only 20 to 30 percent are identified as needing help before kindergarten.

The article described Keystone’s new Right from the Start Clinic designed to help parents know whether their baby would benefit from early intervention to solve or alleviate any issues before they become problematic. The Right from the Start clinic is a free screening clinic for children between the ages of one month and 5-1/2 years old. Parents can complete a free questionnaire online by clicking on the ASQ logo on our website. The questionnaire gives Keystone therapists an idea of areas of a child’s development that are of concern to the child’s parents. A client care coordinator contacts the parents after the clinic receives their completed survey and invites them to visit Keystone for a free multidisciplinary screening evaluation to assess their child’s developmental progress. Parents will meet with clinicians from Keystone’s psychology, occupational therapy and speech language departments, as well as a pediatrician. At the end of the visit, they will receive information on how their child is doing developmentally, with suggestions to target any areas of need that have been identified.

Keystone Behavioral Pediatrics, located in Jacksonville, Duval County, northeast Florida, offers integrated healthcare by a collaborative, interdisciplinary team of 130 child psychologists, mental health counselors, social workers, behavior analysts and technicians, speech and language pathologists, occupational therapists, teachers, and pediatrician working in 17 specialized clinics. The focus is on early intervention regarding health and wellness, the whole child and all issues that affect a child’s potential for success including physical, developmental, learning, behavioral and social-emotional issues.

Keystone works with children from one month old to 22 years old on all types of behavioral, developmental, socio-emotional, physical and learning issues in four types of clinics: assessment clinics (Neuropsychological, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Health and Wellness and Educational and Learning), developmental clinics (Autism and Developmental, Right from the Start, Early Intervention and Day Treatment); Rehabilitative Clinics (Feeding, Occupational Therapy and Speech and Language); and Treatment Clinics (Parent-Child Interaction Therapy, Anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive Disorders (OCD), Disruptive Behavior and Mood).

Keystone Child Development Center offers safe, nurturing and stimulating preschool and early intervention services from infancy through kindergarten. We have a minimum of two teachers in each classroom and a child development team that works with the teachers to focus on intellectual, social and behavioral success for each child. With maximum class sizes of 12, KCDC is able to create individualized learning plans.

Neuropsychological Clinic Assesses Brain Injuries

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Keystone’s Neuropsychological Assessment Clinic is co-directed by Regilda (Rea) Anne A. Romero, Ph.D., licensed psychologist, and Rebecca J. Penna, Ph.D., NCSP, neuropsychologist and clinical psychologist.

Keystone Behavioral Pediatrics’ Neuropsychological Assessment Clinic can provide a comprehensive evaluation of brain functions and processes that is particularly useful for children who have experienced a brain injury. The assessment includes a profile of a child’s processing strengths and needs so that treatment, rehabilitation and educational plans can be developed. Clinic Co-Directors Regilda (Rea) Anne A. Romero, Ph.D., licensed psychologist, and Rebecca J. Penna, Ph.D., NCSP, neuropsychologist and clinical psychologist, can help with making “return to play” decisions.

Kids’ Concussions Cause for Concern

ABC News reported in September on an alarming new statistic: Kids only report one out of every 10 concussions. The danger in not reporting concussions is the possibility of post-concussion syndrome, a complex disorder that, according to Mayo Clinic’s website, can last for weeks and sometimes months after the injury that caused the concussion.

What makes the disorder even harder to diagnose is that a child who has suffered a blow to the head doesn’t necessarily lose consciousness. In fact, the injury may not even have seemed that severe.

The ABC News story reported on 15-year-old Willie Baun who was hit on the field during a game. His father, Whitey Baun, said, “It was absolutely a normal hit, nothing that made me go, ‘Oh! That was a real hit!”

But, in fact, they learned later that it was his second concussion in just six weeks. And, it resulted in Willie losing his memory. It took eight months and help from doctors for Willie’s memory to return.

According to Mayo Clinic, post-concussion symptoms include headaches, dizziness, fatigue, irritability, anxiety, insomnia, loss of concentration and memory and noise and light sensitivity. Parents should seek help if their child experiences a head injury severe enough to cause confusion or amnesia, even if their child hasn’t lost consciousness.

Coaches play an important role in preventing post-concussion syndrome as well. They should not allow a player who has suffered a head injury to return to the game. ABC News refers to the HeadMinder test as one way to test cognitive ability. After a hit, the player is asked a series of questions by the coach or parents. The score is tested against a baseline number to see whether there’s been an injury and whether the play is ready to go back on the field.

However, none of the diagnostic studies are completely objective and should never be used as the sole means of assessment or in deciding when to return an athlete to play.

The November/December 2011 issue of Practical Neurology reports that “the best way to assess an athlete or any individual who has sustained a concussion is still a comprehensive neurological history and detailed neurological examination performed by a properly trained physician.”

Keystone’s Neuropsychological Assessment Clinic also diagnoses other medical conditions that impact the central nervous system and complex clinical conditions that impact the way a child thinks and learns, for example, epilepsy/seizure disorders; neurodevelopmental disorders such as ADHD, learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorder and/or language delays; and various medical issues and illnesses that can impact the integrity of the brain, such as cancer and cancer treatment late-effects, viruses and infections, congenital or genetic disorders and stroke or Sickle-cell “silent strokes.”

Keystone child psychologists are eager to share information on neurological assessment with urgent care centers, school counselors, coaches, community and faith groups, pediatricians and other health care providers, as appropriate. To arrange an in-service training or presentation, contact Karen Rieley, director of marketing and communications for Keystone, 904.333.1151. If you are a parent who is concerned that your child may have suffered a brain injury or other medical condition that is having an impact on your child’s ability to think clearly and learn, contact Keystone, 904.619.6071, to set up an appointment with the Neuropsychological Assessment Clinic.

Free developmental screenings target birth to five years

Keystone Behavioral Pediatrics will open a new Right from the Start Clinic beginning Aug. 2. The clinic is offering community infants and toddlers from birth to age 5 free comprehensive screenings to help parents identify as early as possible any physical or developmental issues that children may have. Study after study has shown that the earlier a delay is recognized and intervention is begun, the better chance a child has to substantially improve. Developmental screening is one of the best things you can do to ensure a child’s success in school and life.

Parents are invited to contact Keystone for a login code to complete a FREE online screening tool, part of the Ages and Stages Assessment and Toolkit. The screening involves answering a series of simple questions regarding their kid’s abilities (for example, “Does your child climb on an object such as a chair to reach something he wants?” or “When your child wants something does she tell you by pointing to it?”).

Keystone Behavioral Pediatrics' Right from the Start Clinic identifies early developmental and behavioral delays.
Keystone founder and CEO Katie Falwell, Ph.D., works with young children to identify developmental delays and issues as early as possible to correct them before children start school.

Parents’ answers to the screening go directly to Keystone for therapists to identify any possible concerns. Then, parents are scheduled to bring their child in for a 1-hour session that includes free screenings by a licensed child psychologist, pediatric occupational therapist, pediatric speech/language therapist and pediatrician trained in developmental growth. Each of these four disciplines will give parents a “report card” with green, yellow or red light results. A green light means that the child is on track with peers, yellow means that there are slight indications of a developmental or behavioral delay compared to peers that parents will be advised to watch closely, and red means that a definite delay has been identified and should be addressed by professional therapy immediately so that the child is prepared for elementary school.

For children who receive a green light, the screening reassures their parents. Parents of a child who receives a red light report will be given recommendations of next steps that they may want to take on how to get the intervention services they need. All parents who participate will have access to a number of free resources about developmental stages to anticipate and ways to help their child.

To further encourage parents to get their infant a developmental check-up as early as possible, Keystone is offering FREE on-site first birthday screenings (by appointment on Tuesdays beginning Aug. 2, 2016). These screenings look for physical, developmental and behavioral delays, beyond what pediatricians typically monitor at a child’s 1-year well visit. Local pediatric health providers and daycare providers may contact 904.619.6071 or info@keystonebehavioral.com to request free Happy First Birthday postcards to give to their parents with 1-year-old children.

Parents of children from birth to age 5 should call Keystone Behavioral Pediatrics, 904.619.6071, to receive a log-in code to complete the Ages & Stages Questionnaire, which will be accessed on Keystone’s website, www.keystonebehavioral.com.

Background

Keystone Behavioral Pediatrics offers integrated healthcare by a team of highly educated child psychologists, behavior therapists, occupational therapists, speech/language therapists, feeding therapists and a medical director who lead the 120-person staff in collaborating to bring the best resources for addressing behavioral, developmental and physical issues in children. It offers one stop services to parents plus collaboration is the most effective way to address interactive issues that children often have. The organization is led by Katie Falwell, Ph.D. and a Florida licensed psychologist who specializes in child development. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that all infants and young children be screened for delays as a regular part of their ongoing health care. Research shows that addressing these issues in children before they start elementary school can produce significant gains in language and mental abilities, improve their social communication and correct any physical delays or impairments before they become disabling. Because these issues are subtle in young children, most children who would benefit from early intervention are not identified until after they start school. 

As the National Academy of Sciences stated in From Neurons to Neighborhoods, “Compensating for missed opportunities, such as the failure to detect early difficulties or the lack of exposure to environments rich in language, often requires extensive intervention, if not heroic efforts, later in life.” 

Developmental delays, learning disorders and behavioral and social-emotional problems are estimated to affect 1 in every 6 children, yet only 20-30 percent of these children are identified as needing help before school begins. Identifying these issues prior to children starting kindergarten has huge academic, social and economic benefits. Studies have proven that children who receive early treatment for developmental delays are more likely to graduate from high school, hold jobs, live independently and avoid teen pregnancy, delinquency and violent crime which results in saving to society of about $30,000 to $100,000 per child. Plus, getting help with these issues as early in a child’s life as possible improves quality of life and reduces stress for the whole family.

Jacksonville gifted children with special needs benefit from Keystone services

Though not often recognized as “special needs” students, gifted children require just as much attention and educational resources to thrive in school as do other students whose physical, behavioral, emotional or learning needs require special accommodations. They may benefit from mental health services and child behavior therapy.

Keystone Behavioral Pediatrics’ process for giftedness testing involves an initial consultation with a child psychologist that includes a detailed history. Gifted testing itself can range from an hour to several hours, but it typically completed in one visit. After the tests have been scored, interpreted and written up as a customized report, a psychologist will meet with parents/caregivers to explain the results and make specific recommendations for their child.

Gifted children face risks that many other groups do not face.

They may have difficulties in relating to both themselves and others. The self-esteem of exceptionally gifted students tends to be significantly lower than the self-esteem of average students, especially when they don’t have access to other gifted children.

As a group, gifted children show more perfectionist behaviors than other groups, and this creates potential difficulties. A significant number have moderate to severe levels of depression.

Gifted children may by “’twice-exceptional,” being both gifted and having a learning disability in an area such as written expression. Most frequently, gifted children may receive diagnoses of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Asperger’s Disorder, which may be accurate in some cases but misconstrued or misinterpreted in other cases.

Keystone Behavioral Pediatrics, located on the Southside in Jacksonville, Fla., offers a number of services that can help a gifted child grow in a positive manner and embrace success through change. Make an appointment to learn more.