I mentioned a little while ago that BC was taking part in a study that is looking at cognitive testing of children with CP. The study is not about the cognitive ability of children with CP, but how best to assess them.
A little research of my own drew up this study - “Cognitive profile in young Icelandic children with cerebral palsy”. I only read the abstract. The last sentence of which states: “Thus, cognitive skills can be masked by limitations of movement and motor control in children with CP.“
There’s no real surprise there. Especially now that I know a little more about the nature of the testing that is used.
The Icelandic study used the same testing that is often used by schools in Australia – the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence (WPPSI) – designed to be used for children between the ages of 2 and 7. The wikipedia entry gives the most detailed information about the sub-tests that I could find in a quick google search.
The research that we are involved in is also using this test.
The one criteria required for BC to be part of the test was an ability to point, which he can.
He was asked to complete a series of different tasks (point to something, show the odd one out, matching things etc etc).
There were other sections that required him to speak (eg What animal says ‘quack’? etc). They were obviously more difficult to assess, given his limited speech.
We did the research over 2 sessions. And we still didn’t finish all parts of the test. For one very simple reason. He got tired after about 45 minutes and totally lost interest.
At the end of the first session, he began a task and could not give a single accurate answer. So, if we were ‘seriously’ doing this testing, he would have scored a zero on this task.
However, when we returned a few weeks later (last Saturday), and this task was the FIRST task, he did brilliantly. The examiner added up his score for that section and said that he’d done better than most children his age for that sub-test.
We then began a different test (one which I would have expected him to probably do well in as it involved puzzles, which he loves) and again, he was tired and disinterested and couldn’t get one right.
Both days we tried taking a break (and the promise of hot chips for lunch), but the fun was over for BC and he wanted to go home. So we did.
I already knew this about BC – when he’s interested in something, and focused, he will give it 100% concentration. But as soon as his concentration is used up, it’s game over.
The examiner suggested we COULD come in for a third session to finish off the tasks. Not sure if we will. We might if we have a day free over the next school hols. Just out of curiosity really about what the other parts of the test involve.
We’re going to be sent a report about the sessions that we had, but the results themselves aren’t really that important to me – I was more interested in the ‘how’ of the testing rather than the results.
Although, I will definitely admit that the way things panned out did make me feel quietly confident that we’ve made the right choice to plan for 2 years of kindergarten before going to school. Otherwise, I can envisage me picking him up at recess most days when he’d had enough of being a big kid and instead was just staring out the window…
And my report, which may or may not be useful to others who take this testing for school funding or some other reason, is this – if you have a child with similar concentration issues and the examiner won’t let them do the test over a few different days, then it’s not really worth doing.
I am not sure how the more ‘official’ testing usually is done (I will find out this time next year when we’re preparing for school entry), but I do know that when we do it, as soon as I see that glazed look of disinterest pass over BC’s eyes, I will be suggesting that we might need to finish the testing on another day. And then insisting if I’m told that’s not possible.
But next year is a long way away. A lot will happen between now and then. Who knows how his attention levels will improve. And his speech.
I am glad we’ve taken part in the study. BC enjoyed it (until he got bored) and I found a first hand look at the testing process very interesting. I really hope they come up with some good recommendations and that they are then put in place. It would be even better if that happens before we’re due to do the testing for real next year.