Connections: Would Your Child Benefit?
By Charlie Hardee, MBA, MPH, and Ronald S. Kent, MD
As a parent of school-age children, I am constantly focused on their progress, growth and development in and outside of the classroom. As most parents do, I often worry about very minor things that are completely normal and resolve themselves over time. If I notice issues or behaviors that linger longer than my definition of “appropriate,” I often head to the internet or seek counsel from other parents.
I am blessed to work at Connections and Psychology & Counseling here at Hattiesburg Clinic, where I have endless resources of medical providers, counselors and psychologists that diagnose, treat and offer research-based methods for effectively guiding the successful development of a child. You will often find me seeking counsel from one of the providers in our office – more so for reassurance – for the best way to approach and understand what may currently be an unfamiliar or new action, habit or behavior in our home.
Dr. Ronnie Kent started Connections, due in large part to assist parents, guardians and educators with issues and behaviors in children that warrant the need for special attention. Dr. Kent and his providers spend their time helping parents and guardians care for children with behavioral needs that may require additional resources. As is the case with most doctor visits, Dr. Kent spends a large majority of his time listening, answering questions and offering research-based advice.
In an effort to help parents and guardians, Dr. Kent has taken time to answer some general questions that may help a parent and/or guardian better assist a child that may be struggling with something that requires the attention of a medical provider.
- At Connections, what ages of children do you treat? We actually start dealing with children at 2 to 3 years of age.
- If it is determined that a child has a behavioral issue, what resources are available at Connections to help with treatment options, etc.? Behavioral issues can be caused by multiple problems. We hope that a child has been followed closely by their primary care provider to make sure there are no physical problems. We also check for any physical problems that might contribute to behavior problems, which include taking a history and doing a physical exam. An evaluation for reading problems is done by one of our speech pathologists and a complete psychological evaluation is also done by one of our psychologists. Hearing and vision is checked, if that has not been done recently. We also do a computer-based evaluation on most patients, which objectively looks at how the child can focus compared to their peers.
- How can a parent or guardian distinguish between a discipline issue and a more serious issue? That can be difﬁcult for a parent to do sometimes because they are too close to the situation and are not objective in their thinking. That is why the student needs a thorough evaluation. Many times a discipline issue is caused by a more serious condition.
- If my child struggled with test anxiety, are there options to help them cope? Test anxiety can usually be helped signiﬁcantly with counseling.
- If my child made average grades but was possibly being reprimanded for bad behavior in the classroom, what are some ways that Connections can help? According to the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics, any child who struggles either academically or behaviorally in school should be evaluated. Counseling can also be beneﬁcial to address other issues that can cause behavior problems both in the classroom and at home.
- How do I know if my child has comprehension issues when reading? They seem to do better when someone is reading to them than when the child reads silently. Early on, children who appear to be good readers may just be “good word callers” but not really understand what they are reading. That is why we screen all students for reading problems during their evaluation at Connections.
This time of year, many students and parents are breathing a sigh of relief that another school year has ended. However, this past school year may have been difficult for a number of reasons. Addressing areas of concern during the summer months allows adequate time for proactive resolutions before school resumes in the fall.
If you have any behavior concerns, whether big or small, please call Connections at (601) 261-5159 so that we can assist in treatment options.
At Connections, we serve as a regional resource center providing medical, educational, and speech/language evaluation services for children and teenagers. Following diagnosis, we work with you and your child to determine the best course of treatment and therapy for them.
Information on this page should be utilized as a guide, not medical advice. If you feel you need to speak with someone regarding behavioral therapy or counseling, please contact Connections to make an appointment.