Neurodevelopmental Assessment Helps Students Play to their Strengths By Lynn Ayres, M.Ed.
Everyone has a unique learning profile of strengths and weaknesses which impacts his/her success and performance in school and beyond. Some learning profiles are labeled negatively while others are highly regarded. Students with challenging learning profiles can spend a lot of time blaming themselves for being lazy or stupid, or somehow responsible for what is really nothing more than a variation in brain wiring.
Once a person understands what their learning profile is, they can make conscious choices that will let them learn effectively. Imagine trying to run across a boulder strewn field blindfolded. You might make it to the other side, but it's going to entail a lot of pain. Now imagine taking the blindfold off. The boulders are still there, but when you can see them, you can avoid them.
The Tarnow Center Neurodevelopmental Assessment is a six-hour evaluation for students aged three to eighteen. It is a way for students to take the blindfold off and find out what their strengths and weaknesses are in learning situations.
The Neurodevelopmental Assessment includes an evaluation of cognitive skills, processing skills, neurodevelopmental systems, and achievement. Each of the brain functions that can affect a student's learning and performance are evaluated. This includes memory, language, attention, and the ability to organize information. The evaluation also assesses neuromotor functions (fine and gross-motor skills), as well as social cognition and higher order cognition (problem solving, thinking critically, and reasoning skills).
The neurodevelopmental profile of strengths, weaknesses, and interests are linked to a student's academic skills and performance.
Through learning how his/her brain is wired, a student is given helpful strategies and methods so he/she can become a more productive learner. Suggestions for accommodations are made, as well as activities designed to strengthen an area of weakness as well as strength.
Perhaps most important is that the Neurodevelopmental Assessment makes visible what was once hidden, and when students can understand where the obstacles to success are, it is much easier to compensate and manage them. This is a much more productive strategy than taking on the label of dumb, lazy or stubborn.
The Neurodevelopmental Assessment is based on the ground-breaking work of Dr. Mel Levine. For over 30 years, Dr. Levine, a developmental pediatrician, author, and professor has pioneered programs for the evaluation of children and young adults with learning, developmental, and/or behavioral problems. He has been instrumental in developing an innovative and dynamic assessment model that helps students and families understand why they are struggling, and provides tools to help them succeed in school and ultimately, in life.