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Saturday, October 26, 2013

Down Syndrome Cognitive Test

When you enter the land of IEPs you'll find your child having to go through a number of tests and evaluations. These are to determine which one of the 13 categories the child falls in to be eligible for special education services. In some states and school districts you can opt out of the actual IQ part of the test and just rely on other assessments to evaluate, but in other schools its not as easy to opt out.

These standardized tests really don't seem to truly show a child's abilities; they don't seem show an accurate picture of your child either.

A few years ago neuroscientists at the University of Arizona developed a battery of tests to aid in the assessment of cognitive abilities of people with Down syndrome. What's different about these tests is they are a series of computer exercises that are not language dependent.

Down syndrome affects 3 major parts of the brain: the prefrontal cortex, hippocampus and cerebellum. The tasks that are on these tests hone in on particular functions of the brain regions.

"The hope is that the test battery is a way to figure out, for any given child, where they fit developmentally within each of these particular domains. The battery will give us a handle on understanding that profile so you might be able to target an intervention in a specific way for a given person."

Right now these tests are useful for clinicians and researchers to use as a before-and-after tool for assessing interventions and figuring out which therapies might work best. Drugs are being developed and tested in phase 1 clinical trials for cognition intervention and the use of assessment tools like this will help with research studies.

I'm not sure how wide-spread the use of these tests are yet; the articles I found were from 2010, but if these tests seem to more accurately show the cognitive abilities of people with Down syndrome, because in large part of not being dependent on language demands, I wonder if there is anything in the works to use this test in a school setting for educational testing. It seems like schools would get a lot of value from this battery of tests and that the results would be more reflective of the individual student's abilities.

You can read the full report of the Development and Validation of the Arizona Cognitive Test Battery for Down syndrome in the Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders.

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1 comment:

krlr said...

Perfect timing - we have evals coming up. I don't think they'll ask for an IQ test this year but I need to remember if they will, eventually. (I need to ask them about grading too... Did you ever get satisfaction on that?)