On the Horizon – 03/20/13

Welcome to "On the Horizon"

Issue 217:
Let’s Set the Record Straight – Part 1
Reflections from Internship

On the Horizon is an award winning weekly ezine for parents of children with developmental disabilities who want simple, effective strategies to reduce stress, support their child’s development, and improve quality of life for the whole family.

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  • A Note from Dr. Beurkens
  • Feature Article:
    Let’s Set the Record Straight – Part 1
    Reflections from Internship
  • Ask the Horizons Team
  • Upcoming Events
  • Recommended Resources

Hi Everyone!

We are gearing up for a fun photo shoot at the clinic tomorrow with many of our families! Looking forward to getting tons of great photos of the individuals, families, and staff members who make Horizons what it is. Stay tuned for some sneak peeks on Facebook later this week. Haven’t "liked" us yet on Facebook? What are you waiting for? Click here and do it now.

This week’s feature article by Courtney starts a new series from her about experiences she had during her doctoral internship. Today she spotlights some of the common misconceptions she encountered related to the role of the child psychologist. The Q&A this week is an important question about ADHD evaluations and treatments. Too often kids are diagnosed and placed on medication without an appropriate thorough evaluation. This is an extremely poor standard of care, and all parents should be aware of the options regarding evaluation and treatment.

Make it a great week!

Looking to the horizon,
Nicole

Let’s Set the Record Straight – Part 1
Reflections from Internship

By Courtney Kowalczyk, M.Ed.

iStock_000015142970XSmallFour years ago this past September, I decided to undertake one of the largest projects in my life. I went back to school to work toward a doctorate in clinical psychology, which has definitely been rewarding and challenging at the same time. After completing my coursework 18 months ago, I began a new chapter in this journey: my doctoral internship at our local children’s hospital. This experience was enriching and eye opening for me in many ways, both as a professional and as a parent. Now that I have closed this chapter in my journey as well, I feel it is important to share some of the observations I have made over the course of my internship experience. I realized very early on that families seem to have many misconceptions when they arrive at a psychologist’s office for help or testing. I hope that by sharing my experiences it will be easier for parents and professionals alike to understand psychology and the assessment process.

Click here to read the rest of this article…

Question:

I have a question about evaluations and diagnoses. My 9-year-old son has been having some difficulties with attention and focus in school this year. His teacher has brought up the issue a couple of times since school started, and asked us to have him evaluated for ADHD. My husband and I were surprised to find out he was having these issues, since it hasn’t really been a problem in previous school years. I took my son to the pediatrician who had us fill out a questionnaire. He said he would give him a diagnosis of ADHD and a prescription for medication if we want to use it. However, I feel really uncomfortable with this whole thing. Is this the right kind of evaluation for ADHD and is medication really our only choice? Any input you can provide is appreciated!

Sincerely,
Jill in Michigan

Answer:

Hi Jill,

You are right to be concerned about what has happened with your son. Unfortunately this kind of thing happens far too frequently. What the pediatrician did is merely a screening for ADHD, not a thorough evaluation. Attention problems can be a symptom of many different underlying issues, not just ADHD. Assuming that a child’s attention problems in the classroom mean he has ADHD is a very poor standard of care. A thorough evaluation should be done by a psychologist skilled in evaluation of children, and includes an extensive clinical and developmental interview, parent and teacher input, observations, and formal assessment.

As for treatment options, medication is far from the only choice. Depending on the underlying issues causing the inattention a medication may be appropriate, but there are likely other treatments required as well. Counseling, cognitive skills training, diet changes, sensory integration treatment, neurofeedback, parent consultation, and other interventions may also be appropriate either instead of or in addition to medication. My recommendation is that you find a competent child psychologist in your area who can perform a comprehensive evaluation to determine if attention issues are truly a problem, what the underlying issues are, any appropriate diagnoses, and recommend appropriate treatments.

Best Wishes.
Dr. Beurkens

 

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Upcoming Events

Hear Dr. Beurkens Speak

Upcoming dates and locations where Nicole Beurkens, PhD will be speaking:

Autism and Other Neurodevelopmental Disorders: Practical Strategies to Improve Processing

April 10, 2013 in Tarrytown, NY

April 11, 2013 in Plainview, NY

April 12, 2013 in Manhattan, NY

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