SUMMER 2017 OPPORTUNITIES FOR CHILDREN AND THEIR FAMILIES
The Children’s Learning Clinic (CLC) is a research-practice clinic located in the clinical suite of the Psychology Building on the University of Central Florida’s main Orlando campus. The CLC provides pro bono (no cost) comprehensive diagnostic, intellectual, educational achievement, and neurocognitive assessment evaluation services for families of children between 8 and 12 years of age (a) who are suspected of or already diagnosed as having attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and (b) who are typically developing children without any known clinical disorder and not of gifted intelligence. Children must also be ‘right-handed’ because of the fNIRS neuroimaging described below.
We send out a packet of standardized parent and teacher rating scales to be completed and use this information to determine whether a child is eligible to receive our comprehensive evaluation. Children who are suspected on having ADHD and children who are not suspected of having any clinical disorder (we refer to them as ‘typically developing children’) are eligible to participate. We also provide a pre-screening to estimate intelligence because children with ‘gifted’ level intelligence are ineligible to participate.
For children meeting the aforementioned criteria, we begin our evaluations by completing a structured interview with the child parent(s) which includes detailed developmental, medical, educational, social, and psychiatric histories, and a comprehensive clinical interview that reviews the myriad clinical disorders of childhood. We complete these regardless of whether a child is a ‘typically developing child’ without any previously diagnosed clinical disorder or learning disability or has received a clinical diagnosis from another professional.
Children meeting our initial screening criteria based on the developmental history and clinical interview described above (i.e., either ADHD or typically developing) are scheduled for a series of sessions (usually 1-week apart) at the CLC during which time they are administer a standardized, full-scale intellectual (WISC-IV) and educational achievement (KTEA) battery (note: parents are normally charged approximately $1200 or more for this battery alone). Children also complete a computerized neurocognitive battery that assesses attention span, behavioral inhibition (to assess impulsivity), reading speed (to assess verbal fluency/processing), reaction time (to assess motor speed), phonological and visuospatial working memory (WM) tasks (we assess 4 different set sizes to determine their WM span and ability to hold and use the information over time), and WM span measures to identify the presence of any problems related to the ‘holding,’ ‘rehearsal’ or ‘processing’ components of WM. We also assess children’s activity level using sophisticated actigraphs that measure movement 16 times per second throughout the evaluation (children are informed that these are special watches that help them play the games).
Our comprehensive neurocognitive assessment involves a functional near infra-red spectroscopy (fNIRS) system, which is a non-invasive neuroimaging device that enables us to localize and quantify brain-based activity associated with particular executive functions such as working memory. Children complete a total of 6 executive function tasks while wearing a mesh, lightweight cap. Multiple light emitters and detectors are connected to the cap, which are used to detect changes in blood flow in the prefrontal/frontal cortex while children complete the different executive function tasks. Children cannot see or feel the emitted light–it is very similar to the light you would see if you hold a laser pen to your finger. There are multiple advantages associated with the fNIRS neuroimaging system—it can accommodate children’s movement while completing cognitive tasks, it is non-intrusive, painless, and highly accurate in localizing brain-based activity associated with different cognitive functions. This system will allow us to better understand the neurocircuitry underlying important executive functions in children—particularly children with deficits in these areas—and hopefully enable us to design new cognitive training exercises to strengthen these areas.
All of the tasks/tests described above are presented in a ‘game-like’ fashion and presented on a computer, and we schedule multiple breaks (snack, inside basketball, racing hand controlled cars outside) with the children, which is why the multi-week evaluations require approximately 3 hours each week (parents do not have to stay at UCF at these times as long as we have a cell phone and know how much time to allow you to return to campus).
Finally, Dr. Rapport debriefs all families approximately three weeks following the conclusion of the child’s participation, and parents are provided a full, comprehensive written report of all results and recommendations at no cost.
Some basic information about the Director of the Children’s Learning Clinic. Dr. Rapport received his masters degree in school psychology from the University of South Florida, was licensed and worked as a school psychologist for the ensuring three years for the Pinellas County School System in St. Petersburg, Florida. His teacher consultations involving children with ADHD spurred him to return to school and he was accepted for graduate study in the School Psychology Doctoral Program at Florida State University (FSU). After completing the school psychology program, he applied to, enrolled in, and completed the Clinical Doctoral Training program at FSU including a full year clinical practicum at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Afterwards, Dr. Rapport joined the University of Rhode Island as an Assistant Professor, opened the Children’s Learning Clinic-I as specialty clinic for children with ADHD and their families, and was promoted to Associate Professor a few years later. After 5 years, Dr. Rapport was recruited to join the faculty in the Department of Psychiatry at SUNY Stony Brook Medical School in NY to direct the child inpatient unit, during which time he diagnosed and treated children with severe forms of psychopathology. He also served as the director of the Children’s Learning Clinic-II outpatient clinic during this time. Several years later, Dr. Rapport was recruited to join the clinical faculty in the Department of Psychology at the University of Hawaii as an associate professor, and was later promoted and served as a Full Professor of Clinical Psychology. He opened and directed the Children’s Learning Clinic-III and served as the chair of graduate studies during the ensuing 10 years. Dr. Rapport and his clinical practicum training team at UH also worked extensively with the Department of Education and Special Services to provide intensive interventions and wrap-around services for children with severe psychopathology as well as children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Intellectual Disability over this time span. Dr. Rapport returned to his native state of Florida in 2000 when he was recruited to serve as the Director of Clinical Training for the doctoral program in clinical psychology at the University of Central Florida (UCF). He joined the faculty as a full professor, and opened and directed the Children’s Learning Clinic-IV shortly thereafter.
Dr. Rapport currently serves on four editorial boards for journals that specialize in child/adolescent psychopathology, and as a reviewer for eight other national and international journals. He has published over 100 research papers and book chapters during his career, and 15 of his former doctoral students hold academic appointments throughout the country (and one abroad) currently. In addition, over 30 of his past undergraduate research assistants at the Children’s Learning Clinic have gained entrance to graduate level training programs (see CLC Alumni listing).
Dr. Rapport’s primary research interests involve understanding the underlying executive functioning deficits and related cognitive mechanisms and processes that contribute to the learning and academic achievement difficulties experienced by a majority of children with ADHD. His hope is that increased understanding of these difficulties will help inform the design of effective cognitive training programs for children with ADHD.
Please contact the CLC (407/823-5773) or Dr. Rapport (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you would like any additional information about our comprehensive assessment program and our on-going services and studies. You can also read about the Children’s Learning Clinic, its past findings and services, and a brief autobiography about Dr. Rapport by logging on to our website (www.childrenslearningclinic.com).