We offer a summer cognitive remediation services from the end of May through July. This program helps preadolescents and young adolescents, ages 9 to 15, who have neurological and medical diagnoses and will be transitioning to adult medical care in the near future. Sessions are led by Kathleen O’Toole, Ph.D., ABPP/CN.
The focus of the program is to help patients and their parents learn the skills needed for increased independence in important areas of executive and adaptive functioning.
What is cognitive remediation?
Cognitive remediation is a new form of rehabilitation therapy used to treat children ages 9 through 15 who have sustained neurological trauma. This trauma may include a variety of neurological diagnoses, such as:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Brain tumors
- Genetic disorders
- Cerebrovascular disorders (stroke)
- Degenerative disease
- Developmental disorders
- Chronic central nervous system infections
What is the goal of cognitive remediation?
Cognitive remediation provides a unique, personalized program that brings change by helping caregivers gain a better understanding of each child’s abilities. This approach focuses on your child’s or adolescent’s strengths to make up for his acquired weaknesses. It also focuses on rehabilitating known weaknesses through retraining and using a variety of techniques for learning.
Cognitive remediation improves the skills required for impulse control and memory improvement. It also relies on a strategy substitution model – a careful analysis of what strategies are currently not working – to determine more efficient approaches for your child. Finally, the staff evaluate and control environmental factors that may be making your child’s problem worse.
This program specifically targets:
- Attention deficits
- Poor memory
- Learning difficulty
- Poor social skills
The goal in remediating cognitive deficits is to provide the greatest benefit to children or adolescents so that they can use new skills in a variety of other situations. Specific suggestions for making modifications at school and home are also made. This program also emphasizes the skills necessary for your child to build positive peer relationships and to make better decisions about independence and responsible behavior.
Will this program work for my child?
The Cognitive Remediation program at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta primarily benefits children ages 9 through 15. An experienced team of neuropsychologists, school psychologists, clinical psychologists, neuropsychometrists and therapists works together to give the most appropriate care to your child.
A neuropsychologist assesses each child to determine if he would benefit from this program. The program provides a link to the Children’s patients who need outpatient support and education, and provides continuity in treatment following an acute inpatient hospitalization or treatment at the Day Rehabilitation program.
The program is also successful in helping children with late effects from chemotherapy and even mild head trauma. The cognitive remediation team helps promote follow-up care to facilitate adjustment at home and school.
How long can my child receive these services?
Each candidate for the program receives 9 one-hour sessions. First, your child has a pre-screening assessment, for information about his basic learning style and current level of functioning. During this one-hour assessment, our staff assesses:
- Behavioral adjustment
- Signs of depression/anxiety
- Auditory and visual memory
- Attention and concentration
- Desired learning styles
- Social skills
Parents can complete many areas of the assessment at home before the evaluation. After neuropsychological testing, the team uses information from the parents and the neuropsychologist to tailor a personalized treatment program for your child’s outpatient sessions. The team evaluates your child at the end of the program to measure his progress.
What techniques are used to help my child?
The team’s therapists show your child how to perform each strategy for learning and ask him to perform and practice these tasks between sessions. The team emphasizes strategies that highlight different aspects of learning (for example, visual-spatial and auditory-verbal strategies). By using examples that relate to everyday activities and practicing the techniques, your child learns to transfer this information to home and school.