Dr. Light uses a variety of diagnostic tests to determine where the specific challenges are to best serve your child’s individual needs. These comprehensive evaluations are designed to get to the root of problems that often lead to poor motor skill development, speech-language delays, learning disabilities, Auditory Processing Disorder, ADD/ADHD, anxiety disorders, and a host of behavioral issues.
Upon meeting with parents to discuss these findings, Dr. Light will create the most effective intervention approach based upon your child’s current developmental level rather than their chronological age or grade level. The brain develops in a step-like manner from the bottom to the top. Therefore, it makes more sense to build upward and not skip steps or there will be a developmental price to pay later.
Primary Reflex Assessments (PRA)
Based on your child’s developmental history, Dr. Light will determine which test battery is the most appropriate one to use. Given Dr. Light’s initial background in Audiology, or hearing science, each child undergoes a quick hearing screening to rule out any undiagnosed hearing problems that may be contributing to other issues, as is often the case. Primary Reflex Assessments are performed to examine the lower levels of the brain where children may have a “traffic jam” that is keeping sensory information from reaching higher levels of processing that are important for emotional development, communication, academic learning, and problem-solving skills. This is because Primary Reflexes are the basic building blocks for neurological development and form the foundation for sensorimotor integration. Like a building, a strong foundation is necessary for building a strong and intelligent brain that can handle all types of learning challenges.
What causes these reflexes to persist beyond the first year of life? The possibilities are many, including prematurity, brain injury, trauma, genetic factors, chronic middle ear disease, illness, lack of tummy time, etc. The important thing to recognize is that when a cluster of retained primary reflexes persists beyond the first year of life, a developmental delay results which can affect many aspects of higher brain development. The good news is that Primary Reflexes can be addressed and retrained at any age. Dr. Light is a Certified Core Specialist in the Masgutova Method (MNRI), and she teaches parents and other professionals (through the Svetlana Masgutova Educational Institute) how to integrate retained primary reflexes and improve overall brain functioning. Impressive results can be seen within only a few weeks of starting the reflex integration training.
Hearing testing can be performed on individuals of all ages, even newborns! Dr. Light uses specialized tests such as tympanometry to rule out any middle ear fluid or other sound-blocking issues with the ears. Distortion Product Otoacoustic Emissions (DPOAEs) are performed to examine if special receptors in the cochlea are picking up sound energy so it can be transmitted to the brain for interpretation and understanding. These tests are quick and require no responses from the person being tested, making them ideal for little ones and those who are unable to communicate well.
Behavioral hearing testing is performed as Dr. Light charts an audiogram or graph showing the softest level a person hears at various pitches. Through speakers or headphones, Dr. Light determines if a true hearing loss is present and needs special attention, such as the use of hearing aids. Parents will be guided on how to proceed with intervention and education from here.
Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Evaluation
We actually “hear with our brain,” and it is our ears that transmit this information to the brain. An Auditory Processing Disorder is what happens when the brain does not hear correctly. People with Auditory Processing Disorder often ask “what?” “huh?” even though they can pass a basic hearing test. They may hear the wrong information, forget what they heard, and have trouble hearing in noisy places. These types of problems also affect reading skills and other academic areas. The auditory processing test battery allows Dr. Light to better understand particular areas of the brain where sound and speech information may be slowing down or getting stuck. Several tests are administered to see how well the brain can hear in different types of challenging listening conditions. After determining the type of auditory processing issues a person has, Dr. Light tailors a program to specifically address the problem areas.