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What Is Pediatric Neuropsychology?

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Pediatric neuropsychology is a medical specialty focusing on the connection between a person’s brain and behavior, specifically looking at childhood neurological and emotional development. Requirements for practice in this specialty vary, depending on where someone plans to work. Most people have completed training through the postdoctorate level, learning about brain anatomy, psychology, cognitive and intellectual disabilities, and a variety of related topics. Professional organizations provide certification and continuing education opportunities.

A doctor may recommend sending a patient to a pediatric neuropsychologist if the child appears to have learning disabilities, behavioral problems, or psychological distress. Evaluation by a trained professional can provide more insight into the situation and may offer a wider range of treatment options. This can include medications, surgery, occupational therapy, psychoanalysis, and other measures to address the issue and help the child live a well-adjusted life.

A common reason to see a specialist in pediatric neuropsychology is behavioral changes after an accident involving the brain, such as a traumatic brain injury. The doctor can request medical imaging studies to look for changes in brain structure and function, and will interview the patient, as well as parents and friends to collect information about the child’s behavior. Patients who have trouble learning, communicating, or engaging in other activities may also benefit from pediatric neuropsychology. The doctor can diagnose children with developmental disorders, as well as provide more insight into congenital conditions like Down syndrome.

Developing brains go through a number of changes, and working with a practitioner who is familiar with the neurological development of children can provide a child with a better quality of care. People who practice pediatric neuropsychology can perform comprehensive patient evaluations, and develop treatment plans, including educational programs to help the child do better in school. They can also work with pediatric patients who have mental health problems like early onset schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

A number of colleges and universities around the world offer pediatric neuropsychology training, and people can pursue clinical experience at teaching hospitals and clinics. The work requires continuing education, as neurology is always developing and people need to keep track of new advancements in the field. Professional qualifications like board certification, training at prestigious institutions, and years of experience are all beneficial for people seeking work in this field. Patient skills are also very important, as working with children, particularly children with cognitive and psychological conditions, can be challenging.

Posted In: Neuropsychology