Krista Scott isn’t just mom when she is at home with her daughter Ashley. She also is her teacher. Ashley was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis Type 1 when she was 4 years old. For years, Ashley had the physical characteristics of the condition, such as a kind of freckle called café au lait spots, but her attention and brain functioning were the same as any other child. When Ashley was 8 years old, Krista began to notice a change in her favorite student during their lessons. “She wasn’t retaining things like she used to. I would read her a story, and she would have trouble remembering the plot.”
Then one day while at the mall, Krista noticed Ashley was having trouble walking. After calling Ashley’s primary care doctor, she took her to the Children’s at Scottish Rite Emergency Department.
“We came into the Emergency Department on a Saturday. Dr. Han Phan found an empty MRI suite and called a technician for us. That’s when we found out Ashley had a lesion,” Krista said. Neurofibromatosis Type 1 causes fibrous sheetlike tumors on muscle and nerve tissue. The magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan helped determine that the lesion was on Ashley’s brain stem.
After a neuropsychological evaluation, Ashley’s IQ was high for her age, but her doctors were concerned about her not being able to pay attention. For a child like Ashley, a task like sorting the laundry would be difficult. When one of Ashley’s doctors told Krista about the Cognitive Remediation Program, which is a part of the Children’s Neuropsychology Department, she knew it would be a good fit.
“They taught her all kinds of techniques. It was so cool because everything they taught her was designed just for kids,” Krista said. One of the program’s counselors Charlotte Anderson, a neuropsychology extern, taught Ashley shortcuts. Tricks, such as taking a minute to warm up her brain or giving herself a clue word, helped remind her of a task. Krista also learned things she could do in the house to help Ashley. “Children with attention issues need structure like a calendar, day planner or even a timer to let them know when they should move on to the next task.”
Now, Ashley helps out more around the house, and Krista couldn’t be happier with the results. “Ashley will definitely be participating in the program next year,” Krista said. “Everyone in the program was so helpful. We’re just lucky to have found it.”
If you know someone with attention issues, call 404-785-2849 for information about the Cognitive Remediation Program.