Rebecca Resnik, PsyD  
Bethesda, MD

Specialties: ADHD, dyslexia, developmental delays

Interests: Developmental Disabilities
Rebecca Resnik & Associates PC
Bethesda Office
Bethesda, MD
All Journal Entries Journals
Sort By:  

Blogging for Mental Health Day, May 18th

May 18, 2011 - 3 comments



Mental Health



<img src="http://www.yourmindyourbody.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/APA_BlogDayBADGE_2011.jpg"

Its mental health awareness month everyone! Check out the American Psychological Associations 'Blogging for Mental Health" event at http://www.yourmindyourbody.org/mental-health-month-blog-day-may-18/
Bloggers from all over the world are posting about psychology, psychotherapy and the experience of coping with mental health problems. The goal is to help get the word out that we need to seek treatment for our mental health problems the same as we do for our physical ones--without shame or stigma!

Did you know that mental health problems are among the most expensive problems the world faces? Depression alone costs more in terms of diminished worker productivity than most diseases like heart problems or diabetes. Mental health related problems like substance abuse, juvenile behavior problems, and non-adherence to medical treatment plans (like not changing your diet if you have diabetes!) not only cause a lot suffering, they have a significant economic impact.

The good news is that the fields of psychology and psychiatry have developed effective treatments for these and other mental health problems. These problems are treatable, but so many people out there are afraid to get psychological or psychiatric care. So take a moment today to think about if someone you love needs a little encouragement to go get some help.

Best Wishes
Dr. Rebecca Resnik

Psychological Testing for Accommodations: What Parents and Student Need to Know to get Ready for the SAT and other Standardized Tests

May 04, 2011 - 0 comments

accommodation psychological testing testing psychological standardized tests disabilities Adult ADHD ADHD Childhood ADHD IEP 504 plan parents

Accommodations for Standardized Tests--What You Need to Know about Psychological Testing to Document a Disability

So many parents have questions about applying for accommodations during “high stakes” tests such as the SAT, ACT, AP and Achievement tests. Accommodations can make a huge difference for students with ADHD, LD or anxiety. Unfortunately, many parents (and even some psychologists) are not familiar with the process. A small mistake by the psychologist can disqualify your child from getting accommodations--so you have just one chance to get this right!

Your child may qualify for accommodations if he has a disability that interferes with his ability to perform a  "major life task" (such as learning, reading, speaking, working). The law that guides who gets accommodations under what circumstances is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 504. This section of the law protects individuals with disabilities from discrimination.  A student with a documented disability has the right to reasonable accommodations. How do you document your child's need for accommodations? Through high quality psychological testing.

So how do parents and students go about getting accommodations? The first thing to do is to PLAN AHEAD. Make sure that your child has a DOCUMENTED record of receiving, using, and benefiting from accommodations in the educational setting well before the test. Its a good idea to speak with a psychologist as soon as you realize your child may need extra help.

Parents sometimes make the mistake of calling to schedule a psychological evaluation a few weeks before the test date. Waiting until the last minute can be a disaster. Make sure to consult a psychologist early, and schedule your testing at least 3 months before the test.

Finally, make sure you get the right psychologist. Find someone with very high ethical standards (a person who is known for 'fudging' their reports will hurt, not help, your child's case). Find someone who has extensive experience testing for high-stakes test accommodations, with a good track record of success. Finally, find a psychologist who does her testing personally (without passing your child off to a tech or grad student)--this is too important a task for a trainee! Remember, you have one chance to get this right.

To learn more about ADA and IDEA, please check these websites:
The National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities  www.nichy.org  
The Council for Exceptional Children   www.cec.sped.org
and of course, check the website of the publisher of any standardized test you plan to take

Good luck on your tests!
Dr. Rebecca Resnik
Licensed Clinical Psychologist

New Screening Measure Detects Signs of Autism at 12 month Well Child Visit

May 02, 2011 - 10 comments



psychological testing


child development


developmental delays


well baby visit


well child visit


speech delay


Behavior Problems


early identification


autism spectrum

New Screening Measure for Doctors Detects Signs of Autism at 12 Month Well Baby Visit--Good News!

There is some wonderful news for all of us parents of young children! The Journal of Pediatrics has published a new tool for screening one-year-olds for early signs of developmental delays--including symptoms and behaviors consistent with Autism. Autism is a developmental delay that impacts children's language, social functioning, play, learning, and behaviors. Since Autism varies so much in severity, clinicians refer to it as a 'spectrum disorder' (you may hear the term Autism and Autistic Spectrum Disorder used interchangeably in news stories). This is excellent news for parents and children, because early identification is crucial.

The new screening questionnaire called the Communication and Symbolic Behavior Scales Developmental Profile for Infants and Toddlers (abbreviated CSBS DP IT) is specifically designed to be used by pediatricians during the 12 month well baby visit. So why is this such a big deal? Most children who have Autism and other developmental delays do not get referred for a proper diagnosis until around 5 and a half years of age. This means that most families lose two or three years that would be the very best time to get their child early intervention services. Research has shown that early intervention services (including speech language therapy, special education, applied behavior analysis and psychotherapy) are the gold standard of care in treating children with Autism. Not only is this the time when the child's brain is the most adaptable, but professionals can intervene early to prevent undesirable behaviors from taking root. Young children with Autism desperately need to learn skills that unfold naturally for most children, and there is no time to be lost in getting them the help they need.

Lets consider a fairly typical course for a child with Autism. I'll ask you to imagine the case of a child named Aiden Doe (not his real name). Aiden was an incredibly easy baby. He was beautiful and healthy. He did not cry much, but liked to be left in his crib to stare at his mobile. Since he was their first baby, his parents did not notice that he babbled and smiled less than most babies. During his doctor's visits, he was growing and gaining weight. The physician did not note anything amiss. Aiden did begin speaking at 18 months, so that was a relief. What his mom did not realize for a while was that he was not speaking like most children, but repeating things other people or TV characters said. Over time, Aiden became more and more different from his peers. He developed sensory hypersensitivities to noise and textures, and started having temper tantrums. His mother took him to the doctor, but during his visit he played happily with the otoscope and sang songs, so the physician did not get to see anything unusual. The next couple of visits he had ear infections and strep throat, so he just clung to his mother like all children do when they are sick. So again,the pediatrician could not see anything of concern.

“He's just a boy,” or “He'll grow out of it” said Aiden's relatives. Aiden's parents tried him in the best preschool they could afford. Preschool was a nightmare for Aiden. He became so stressed he withdrew to the train corner and screamed when anyone touched him. He was soon expelled for hitting other children who tried to touch 'his' trains. Mrs. Doe quit her job to stay home with Aiden. Mr. and Mrs. Doe were facing increasing behavior problems at home. Aiden began banging his head on the wall when they tried to stop him from playing with his trains or watching his favorite video. He would spend hours pacing and talking to himself. When he was upset, he rubbed the skin on his lips until it was raw. They could no longer go out to eat or to visit friends without fearing Aiden's meltdowns. “How on earth is he going to be ready for Kindergarten next year?” they began to ask. “Are we just bad parents?” they worried.

Now lets imagine that Dr. Jones gave Mrs. Doe the CSBS to complete before Aiden's 12 month visit. It would have taken Mrs. Doe about 5 minutes to complete the 24 item questionnaire. The CSBS could have picked up on early signs such as less eye contact, delayed communication skills (both language use and gestures), and unusual motor and social behaviors. All of us parents know that a well baby visit lasts about 15 minutes. This is barely enough time for the physician to conduct a physical exam, never mind learn much about the child's development (and lets face it, doctor's visits are hardly the time when your child presents his best self). Unless your child is demonstrating obvious differences during those precious 15 minutes, even a terrific physician can miss important signs of developmental delays.

In this scenario, Dr. Jones would have had data to indicate that there was something unusual about Aiden's development. Dr. Jones could then have referred the Does to a psychologist, speech language pathologist, developmental pediatrician or the public school system's Infants and Toddler's Program. Any of these professionals could have given Aiden a thorough evaluation to determine if he had a significant developmental delay. Each of those professionals would have been able to create an individualized treatment plan just for Aiden. The Does' could have accessed the services they needed to help their son. Aiden could have spent the next four years learning the skills he would need to cope with the world. His parents could have learned how to manage his behavior and soothe him.  When it was time for Kindergarten, the family would have had a team of professionals in the public school system (or private, as appropriate) who were designated to meet Aiden's needs so that he could make progress. Best of all, the Does could have escaped the misery of not knowing how to help their little one.

Since 2007, the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended that physicians screen for Autism and other developmental delays at 18 and 24 months. With this new tool, physicians can gather information that may identify up to 75% of children with developmental delays at 12 months. It is not the standard of care anymore for a pediatrician to simply 'eye-ball' a child and ask a few questions--particularly when there are such high quality, easy to use screening tools. I encourage all of the parents who read this to ask your pediatrician to use objective screening devices. Children with disabilities need to be identified as early as possible! The CSBS can be downloaded for free from this website:
http://www.brookespublishing.com/store/books/wetherby-csbsdp/checklist.htm. If your doctor does not already use it, you can bring it in yourself.

Your Child’s IQ Score: How to Prepare for Your Child’s Intelligence Test

Sep 22, 2009 - 8 comments






Your Child’s IQ Score: How to Prepare for Your Child’s Intelligence Test

There are many reasons parents seek an evaluation of their child’s intellectual functioning, which we commonly call ‘IQ’ testing. Aside from an evaluation to diagnose learning problems, parents seek IQ testing for school admission or entry into a ‘gifted and talented’ program. No matter what the reason, having an IQ test done can be anxiety provoking for both parent and child. It is easy to lose perspective on what the IQ test actually does, and what the scores actually mean.

Across the world, people have broad interpretations of what it means to be intelligent. Many people interpret having a higher IQ with all sorts of positive outcomes, such as high achievement in school, prestigious careers, or upward mobility in society. Psychologists use IQ tests as tools to measure an abstract concept known as ‘G’, which may be broadly defined as the ability to solve problems. IQ tests typically assess abilities including: abstract reasoning, language functioning, processing speed, visual-spatial reasoning and a person’s knowledge base. How well a child does on various types of tasks shows a pattern of strengths and weaknesses that can be extremely useful in helping him succeed. It is important to note that an IQ test does not measure qualities such as talent, determination, or creativity. These latter qualities tend to be every bit as important in determining a person’s quality of life as his intelligence. Keep in mind that getting a number score from an IQ test does not change who he is or what he can do well.

There has been a recent surge in companies who sell IQ test ‘preparation’ to anxious parents. People sell materials taken from IQ tests, or sell ‘tutoring’ that they promise will raise children’s scores. These individuals exploit parent’s natural desire to do what is best for their children. What many parents do not know is that individuals are providing and illegal and unethical services. They are teaching children to cheat. IQ tests are kept highly confidential because they are critical tools in making diagnoses. Psychologists and Neuropsychologists need them to make important diagnoses such as learning disabilities, traumatic brain injury, or to measure the impact of degenerative illnesses. That is why all IQ tests are copyrighted, making it illegal to expose the content.  Licensed psychologists are bound by an ethical code, as well as copyright laws, to protect the content of the tests. A psychologist who offers to ‘help’ your child score higher or share test materials should be reported to the state licensing board. Anyone who would act unethically or illegally is not someone you want interacting with your child. Unfortunately, there are unlicensed people who have access to IQ tests, so it is important to check credentials. Aside from the fact that these people are acting illegally, the services they provide are not likely to raise scores as their advertisements claim.

It may seem strange that IQ preparation would not be a good thing, since we encourage our children to study for tests all the time. IQ tests are different. They are designed to present people with unfamiliar types of problems to see how well they adapt. Consequently, even if a child has been exposed to the test materials or taught to practice similar types of problems, there is usually not a significant increase in the child’s scores. Even if a test preparations program did raise the scores a bit, the resulting IQ test data would be contaminated and useless. Some parents may feel it is worth a bit of cheating to get a child into a special school or program. They may believe that this will give their child the best opportunity. However, there are negative consequences of inflating a child’s scores. Placing a child in an academic program that is not a good match for him is not kindness. It makes no more sense than putting him in a super competitive soccer team if he did not have the ability to make the team on his own. If there is not a good match between the child and the program, the child is likely to be overwhelmed, and to feel bad about himself because he can to keep up with his friends.

So how should you help your child get ready for an IQ test? You should start during infancy by talking to him and playing with him. As he grows, consider each day a chance to learn something new. The sorts of activities that will truly prepare a child for IQ testing include: puzzles, reading, building blocks, solving riddles, going to museums, and enrichment classes (anything from art and computer classes to music lessons). Most products that promise to improve your child’s IQ are only entertainment. This includes baby videos that promise to make your little one smarter, ‘learning’ toys, television programs, and computer software. Research has shown that these are no substitute for the kinds of real-life activities that will foster your child’s problem solving abilities.

Finally, when you are ready to schedule the testing, prepare your child by lowering his stress level. Find a licensed psychologist who has a good reputation for ethical practice. Find someone who specializes in children, who can help your child feel comfortable during testing. Have the child tested on a weekday morning, when he is at his most alert. Do not be tempted to make an appointment in the afternoon, evening, or on the weekend. These are times when your child has less energy. Avoid offering your child a reward or prize for earning a certain score. If a child is worrying about not getting a prize or disappointing you, he can not concentrate on the test. A good night sleep and a healthy breakfast have a big impact on test performance. Finally, relax. If you are worried about the test, you will only make your child nervous. Praise his effort (IQ tests are tiring!) and take him out to lunch afterward for a job well done.