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Mar 01, 2016
Parents often bring their children for neuropsychological testing to relieve some of the head-scratching that often comes along with having a child with weak Executive Function skills. They hope that their confusion will transform into some specific guidance as to how to best support their child. So, it can be quite a surprise when more questions arise after the testing is completed. The question that is on the minds of most parents searching for that next step is “How do I ensure that the support I choose for my child will address the issues uncovered during testing?” Parents want to know that the time and effort invested in a thorough evaluation process will bear some fruit; someone will be able to pick up where the evaluator left off and lead the child to success. The process could be said to be similar to entrusting a real estate agent to find you that perfect house; you’ve envisioned exactly what you want, but you need an expert who knows the field to deliver results. Executive Function coaches are often that someone when it comes to dovetailing the work of a neuropsychologist.
There are several reasons why a neuropsychological report may be useful to your child’s coach.
As a coach who reads these reports often, the first details I look for are student strengths and interests. Knowing where a student is strong can help a coach reinforce and build on strengths while also addressing areas of weakness. For example, if a student tested strongest in verbal abilities, but lowest in processing speeds, I can tailor my approach to make sure that I’m allowing sufficient time for processing of information, or I could make certain to accompany written text with a verbal explanation or preview. The recommendations typically supplied by the neuropsychologist at the end of the report are always extremely helpful as well. They sometimes will include specific strategies, interventions, or technology that a coach can follow up on during weekly one-to-one coaching sessions.
Though the most useful section of a report is the one entitled “Summary and Recommendations”, each section sheds some unique light on the child as an individual. Whether reporting on the minutia of testing results, educational or geographic background, family history, or general emotions and attitude towards being tested, the neuropsychological report often gives coaches a glimpse into the many facets that make up your child. For instance, if the evaluator notes that a child tended to be risk averse when tackling challenging material, that gives me the heads up to be prepared with strategies to manage frustration or to enhance goal-directed persistence and problem-solving with that particular student. While Executive Function coaches are extremely sensitive to the privacy of families, if you are concerned about protecting your child’s confidentiality, you may choose to share only portions of the testing.
While coaches are most focused on building and strengthening students’ self-management skill sets, they often possess other areas of expertise or knowledge they could share with the child with whom they work. Some of our coaches are also experts in writing or in content areas such as chemistry or history. It is best to conference directly with your coach to see what supports s/he could provide in response to a report’s recommendations, and for which a teacher or other personnel could provide further support or collaboration.
For students who have a more complex learning profile, neuropsychological evaluations can be an invaluable resource in that they can often inform a coach’s direction or approach with a student. However, they are not essential components or fixtures in the coaching process. Many of our students are coached successfully without ever having formal testing to determine their learning profile. A neuropsychological evaluation is simply one of the many aspects coaches consider when helping students to build and strengthen Executive Functioning skills.
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Laura is a senior level Executive Function coach, Supervisor, Intake Coordinator, and member of the Beyond BookSmart Professional Development team for our Boston branch. In her role, she supports students, families, and coaches in their collective efforts to help students experience success. She holds a Master's degree in Educational Leadership from Bank Street College of Education, and a Bachelor's degree in Special Education and Elementary Education from Salve Regina University. Her experience teaching in various classroom settings in the states of New York, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts has proven to her that above all, students crave the tools that will help them to navigate both the world of school and the world around them. Through years of being an Executive Function coach, she has found (and strongly believes) that what truly counts when it comes to giving children a quality education is the explicit teaching of tools and strategies that enhance Executive Functioning, leading to true and lasting independence, self-advocacy and empowerment in children and teens.
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