Neuropsychology is one of the most popular areas at present in the work with children. When does a child need the help of a neuropsychologist? How does a specialist work with children? What methods of neuropsychology have proven to be the most effective?
Child’s psyche and neuropsychology
Child neuropsychology is also one of the branches of clinical psychology, which deals with the study of cerebral features and their connection with child behavior. Experts have proven that the child’s psyche and its processes are closely related to the features of the child’s cognitive system – memory, imagination, attention, thinking, speech, perception, emotions. Neuropsychologists study a child’s behavior through detailed analysis of his brain features. Experts in this field believe that the maturation of parts of the brain has a direct impact on the behavior of children and their mental development.
Why do parents who are worried about their child’s behavior increasingly seek help from a pediatric neuropsychologist? Experts have proven that a child’s behavioral disorders , such as restlessness, hyperactivity, low academic performance with good intellectual performance, are closely related to maturation and the characteristics of the brain. In the practice of neuropsychologists, a child changes behavior for the better, and he makes progress when a specialist in this field applies special methods of work to him.
The child’s brain and psyche are plastic. For this reason, children, when they need psychological help and support, respond to them much faster than adults when they need to cope with psychological trauma. For the same reason, the child is recovering much faster. A neuropsychologist studies mental processes with the defeat of cerebral dysfunctions and determines the area of damage that is associated with one or another type of mental activity. This allows the specialist to quickly identify the violation, draw up an algorithm of actions and help the child.
When does a child need a neuropsychologist?
A neuropsychologist is necessary for children in the following cases:
- diagnosis of early lesions of the parts of the brain;
- poor coordination of movements;
- a weak level of fine motor skills – the child cannot cope with such tasks as modeling, writing, working with natural materials, manipulating objects;
- low school performance – the student has difficulty counting, doing homework, reading, retelling, listening;
- low level of development of memory, thinking, attention, imagination;
- violation in the development of muscle tone – the child feels weak, or vice versa, excitability;
- attention deficit hyperactivity disorder;
- speech disorders;
- difficulty sleeping;
- problem behavior, difficulty in making contacts.
Often, a child is sent to a neuropsychologist on the recommendation of a neurologist. He recommends a specialist in cases where dysfunctions of subcortical and stem formations are found in children. Disorders of gross and fine motor skills are also indicators of working with a neuropsychologist. Any disharmonious development of the psyche, speech, muscle departments, cognitive sphere is an indicator for obtaining specialist advice, diagnostics and further correctional work.
Work of a specialist with children
In neuropsychology, there are several stages of work with children.
- The first stage is diagnostic. The psychologist determines the nature and characteristics of the interaction of the brain with deep structures, reveals the work of the child’s cognitive processes. At this stage, also, the causes of behavioral disturbances, which are caused by mental and organic pathologies, are found. The specialist identifies the visible and possible causes of developmental and behavioral disorders.
- Second phase. There is a selection of treatment methods that should meet the identified violations. These include psychotherapeutic methods as well as medication. The plan of work with each child is developed individually, taking into account his individual, age, psychophysiological characteristics.
- At the third stage, corrective and restorative work takes place directly. Neuropsychologists believe that the healthy psyche of a child depends on the state of his motor skills, perception and sensory system. Therefore, in order to directly influence children’s behavior and work efficiency, diagnostics and restoration of these functions are necessary. Games – active and psychotherapeutic – and medications allow you to achieve a good result and have a positive effect on the psychophysiological system of the child’s body. The dose of medicines intended for a child is determined individually and in most cases is minimal.
How does a child’s behavior change after effective work with a neuropsychologist?
- children become less impulsive, self-control and self-regulation increase;
- behavioral processes become controlled by the parents or by the child himself;
- hyperactivity decreases, performance reaches an average level, replacing sluggishness;
- the child’s actions become coordinated;
- the ability to orientate in space and in relation to one’s body improves;
- children begin to write, read better, the level of memory and attention improves;
- spatial, abstract thinking develops;
- the child increasingly begins to use logic and objective perception of information from the outside world and his reactions;
- the level of personal independence and responsibility rises;
- energy and internal resources, until this time blocked, come to the fore: the child acquires educational and cognitive motivation, uses his curiosity, which at an early and preschool age is the engine of psychophysiological development;
- the general concentration increases not only on the activity that arouses interest, but also on the one that needs to be done, observing the curriculum;
- children learn to work according to the instructions of adults – teachers, parents – and easily follow the given algorithm.
Tips for parents
- The help of a neuropsychologist may be required when a child is experiencing an age crisis, an adaptation period during admission to an educational institution, moving to a new place of residence, or changing living conditions.
- The prevention of referral to a specialist is the ability not to overload the child with additional education at an early age.
- Tutoring and severe punishment will not lead to the desired result, but can only worsen the psychophysiological state of the child.
- The earlier the parents visit a child neuropsychologist with their child, the more effective the result will be in the form of normalization of behavior and individual structures of the brain. Thus, the little patient gets the opportunity to fully restore mental activity and the cognitive sphere.