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Child Neuropsychology

A blog by Dr Jonathan Reed

  • I have just developed a new concept combining my knowledge of neuropsychology with computer games. It is called Neurogames and the games are available for purchase on my new website neurogames.co.uk. At present I have developed four games helping children to develop maths and numeracy. The games are based on the science of the development of reading and numeracy drawing on some of the work from the contributors writing in our book Child Neuropsychology as well as some of the research studies highlighted in this blog. The games take a developmental course mirroring the normal developmental sequence of reading and maths acquisition. The games also draw on my clinical expertise in terms of what helps children with neurodevelopmental difficulties. This includes errorless learning, frequent extrinsic rewards, visual based learning with bright attractive graphics and short game sequences with clear indicators to help children with short attention span. Computer games are also not critical and therefore the social pressure on learning is eliminated. Finally games are fun and Neurogames provides a new fun way of learning. I hope that the games will be helpful for children who find learning difficult whether it be because of a specific difficulty such as dyslexia or dyscalculia or because of a general difficulty such as ADHD, learning disability or brain injury. The games are easily to download and can be purchsed direct from the site. I also hope over the next year to develop more games to help with language and memory development. Let me know what you think.

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  • Technology is developing very fast and I think there are increasing applications for children and young people with neurological or neurodevelopmental difficulties. Recently I have recommended the Apple system for several of my clients. I am fairly new to Apple but I am very impressed by its applicability in rehabilitation. Theses are some of the areas where it can benefit:

    Executive function- Individuals with executive difficulties have difficulties with planning and organisation, working memory, self monitoring, flexibility etc. This typically occurs after a brain injury but is also seen in ADHD and other neurodevelopmental disorders. What I like about the Apple imac and Apple iphone is that it doesn’t rely on planning. It is very visual and intuitive. The menus open out across the page so you can see where you are and where to go rather than as in Windows having to work out where to find what you are looking for and remembering where it is. It is very visually icon based. The calendar feature allows parents, support worker and young people to produce colour coded structured timetables which help with planning, initiation, flexibility issues etc. It is also possible to set reminders of tasks to do.

    Memory difficulties- As well as the calendar which can be on both the imac and the iphone ,the mobile me feature allows you automatically synch timetables, diaries and to do lists. If the iphone is lost there is an automatic back up. You don’t need to remember to back up. The reminders feature gives prompts regarding what to do next. I also like the photo albums on the iphone. These can be used as a memory prompts when set up right. The Google maps feature is useful when lost!

    Social difficulties- I have found the photo albums very helpful for individuals who are unsure what to say in social situations (either because of social difficulties or memory difficulties). Showing someone what you have been doing (through photos) is a good way to start a conversation. There is also the possibility of using social network sights such as Facebook and Bebo which is great for individuals with disability. The photos can also be used for children with communication problems and children who rely on visual based learning and organisation.

    Finally there are an increasing number of applications for learning and fun which can be downloaded quickly. I think that the potential benefits of these systems and technology in general for rehabilitation are great and I will be reviewing this over time.

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  • How much do you know about the brain and how it works? I have found an interesting website from the Society of Neuroscience that presents the core concepts that everyone should know about the brain and the nervous system. It is particularly aimed at teachers and links with the curriculum in the US. The website provides a good guide to several aspects of neuroscience and is worth a look for parents and professionals.
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