The Problem: Mary was experiencing behavior and learning problems at school. She refused to do written work, she was stubborn and her teacher found her difficult to work with. She engaged in a range of concerning behaviors including a tendency to hide under tables when asked to do academic work. Her mother was worried and upset. She also reported that her daughter was experiencing social problems and often complained that she didn't have any friends.
The Assessment: The Psychological Assessment revealed that a number of concerns were factors in Mary's learning and behavior problems, including a Learning Disability that interfered with her ability to learn to read and write. The learning stress and anxiety she experienced, as a result, contributed to considerable emotional distress, as well as behavior problems. She also presented with symptoms of both anxiety and depression. Furthermore, one of Mary’s parents also suffered from Major Depressive Disorder and an anxiety disorder, which increased the risk that she would develop one or both of these disorders.
Solutions and Outcomes: So how did we help Mary? A consultation took place with her teachers and parents around the assessment findings, and her learning, behavioral and emotional needs. She was diagnosed with a Learning Disability, Its nature and extent were discussed with both teachers and parents.
Intervention strategies were then developed to address Mary's problems with learning. Mary's parents were provided with information about depression and anxiety. This included information about how environmental stressors, like learning stress, can trigger this genetic vulnerability, and why children of anxious or depressed parents are at increased risk for developing these disorders. A plan was also implemented to help Mary's parents reduce these risks for Mary by modeling and teaching her more appropriate coping behaviors.
With the right program in place, Mary began to experience success at school. Her learning stress decreased. She relaxed, seemed happier and more socially engaged and confident. She stopped hiding under tables and engaging in other avoidance behaviors. She was less anxious and no longer appeared depressed.
There are numerous causes of Learning Problems in children. Frequently the Psychological Assessment will show that the child has a Learning Disability. Emotional problems like anxiety and depression can also contribute to learning problems, or be a consequence of them.
"Understanding the problem is the key to solving it." Dr. O'Connor offers Psychological
Assessments and School Neuropsychological Evaluations to help "get to the root of child problems" , and find evidence based interventions to address them.
Find out where things are going well and how you can help?
Dr. O'Connor runs her practice, in Toronto (Yonge & St.Clair.)
She can be reached at 416-592-0838.
You can also contact Dr. O'Connor by email.
Dr. O'Connor is the author of I Can Be Me-A Helping Book for Children of Alcoholic Parents.