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Cognitive Deficits (cont.)

Questions to Ask the Doctor about Cognitive Deficits

  • Is my child's condition inherited? What is the risk that if I have another child, he or she will have the same condition?
  • How can my child achieve his or her greatest potential?
  • Where can I go to get my child started with early intervention services?
  • Where can I go for additional information and assistance?

Exams and Tests for Cognitive Deficits

A psychologist is able to diagnose a cognitive deficit by conducting series of tests that assess the cognitive development of the child.

  • IQ (intelligence quotient) test: IQ tests typically include an assessment of memory, language development, problem solving, spatial ability, visual-motor skills, and mathematic reasoning. A test of intelligence does not produce a stable result until a child is six to eight years of age; cognitive tests can be administered prior to this time, but the scores should be interpreted with caution as the scores may change with age.
  • Bayley Scales of Infant Development: This test might be used to assess development in infants.
  • Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale or the revised Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence (WPPSI-R): These tests may be used to assess cognitive ability in preschoolers.
  • Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC-IV): This intelligence test is most commonly used to assess cognitive development in school-aged children.

In addition to cognitive testing, an assessment of adaptive function is necessary. The Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales measure a child's level of independent functioning, providing a percentile score that compares the child to other children of similar age.

In addition to cognitive and adaptive function tests, a doctor might recommend a medical evaluation. This may include hearing and vision tests and lab tests, such as a blood lead level test, a screening for thyroid function, a high-resolution chromosome analysis, a DNA probe for fragile X syndrome, or all of the above. An MRI of the brain may be necessary to look for differences in the brain that might help explain a cognitive deficit. Sometimes, a consultation with a geneticist might be helpful to determine if the child has a genetic syndrome and, if so, to help in family planning.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/9/2015
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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Cognitive Deficits »

Cognitive deficits in children range from profound mental retardation with minimal functioning to mild impairment in specific operations.

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