Dr. Scuddy F. Fontenelle, III
A Professional Psychology Corporation

Frequently Asked Questions

1. My child is having learning problems and struggles in school. At a teacher conference the teacher says that my child needs to be evaluated. What does this mean?

A Psycho-Educational Evaluation is required to assess learning skills, cognitive ability and educational achievement. These tests include both psychological and education assessment. The tests are administered by qualified assessment specialists with specialized training. Testing is provided to assess evidence of learning disability, Dyslexia, Dysgraphia or Dyscalcula. Aspects of the evaluation process provide information regarding behavior or social components which could negatively impact learning and school success. Specific recommendations are provided based upon skill levels and specific student needs for academic support and accommodation. Recommendations are provided for tutorial services, 504 plan or IEP Development based on demonstrated levels of performance. Parents are met to review assessment findings, a comprehensive report is prepared and forwarded to the school.

2. What is the difference between ADD and ADHD?

Approximately 10% of the general population demonstrate symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder-Hyperactive Type and/or Attention Deficit Disorder-Inattentive Type. ADHD Symptoms refer to a condition involving hyperactivity, restlessness and behavior impulsively. The ADD/Inattentive Type refers to persons demonstrating excessive daydreaming, distractability and frequent episodes of inattention. Symptoms of ADHD can negatively impact progress in school, adjustment to the work site and negatively effect social and marital relationships. A specific ADHD Evaluation is needed to provide definitive diagnosis and recommendations for follow-up services or medication management. A Multi-Disciplinary approach involves the parent, teacher, medical professional and a psychologist working together in a collaborative effort.

3. I have concerns about whether my child shows symptoms of childhood Autism. What should I look for?

Symptoms of Childhood Autism are manifested to 30 months of age. This neurobiological condition substantially impacts developmental skills and capabilities to adapt socially in life. In Kanner's Autism there are substantial life limiting delays which negatively impact communication skill, learning ability, socialization and emotional responses to others. Special Education Services and student specific accommodation are essential as the individual requires a great deal of social support and guidance usually throughout life. In the Asperger's Disorder, the individual may show average to superior intellectual ability. Communication skills are typically established but there are social and emotional aspects which limit capacity to form long standing relationships and impact quality of life. A Comprehensive Psychological Evaluation in conjunction with ancillary disciplinary analysis are necessary components for accurate diagnosis and treatment recommendation. A multi-disciplinary Assessment involving psychological, medical, speech pathology, and education services are components of a Comprehensive Evaluation.

4. My child shows disruptive behavior and does not listen to authority. What problems could cause this?

Children demonstrating disruptive behavior and poor listening skill are showing aspects of oppositionality and conduct problems. These behaviors can negatively impact adjustment to school, social, and family relationships. These children are described as being challenging, head strong and defiant. It is necessary for parents and care givers to develop a positive set of disciplinary strategies to enhance the child's development of internal self control and rule compliance. These behaviors many emerge due to individual personality traits, permission disciplinary strategies, or lack of consistency associated with parenting styles. Consultation with a child behavior management specialist may be helpful to address behavior issues and to learn appropriate parenting techniques. Behavior modification and parenting coaching are components of the treatment program.

5. My spouse and I recently separated and may get divorced. How might our children react to the family changes?

Common Reactions of Children to a Divorce
1. Children are confused. They do not understand nor comprehend what is taking place within the family.

2. Children experience feelings of loss or abandonment. They feel sadness at the "loss" of a parent; the absent parent does not participate in daily routines. 

3. Separation anxiety and fears may occur. The young child may cling to one parent or not want to be left alone. The child may show sleep disturbance.

4. Academic performance usually declines. the child is distracted at school due to home worries. The child may not have a parent to review homework or assist with studying.

5. Aggressive behavior may increase. The child may be angry at the changes which are taking place in the family. The youngster will act-out the anger toward siblings, peers, parents or others.

6. Children will fantasize about the parents reconciliation. Young children cling to the believe that the parents will settle differences and the family will be together as one.

7. The child may reject the new persons in parents' lives. Children will initially resent a date, partner, or presence of a step-parent. This is the reality of the parents not reconciling.

8. Increases in behavior problems. Children will test the new limits or rules which are in place, if any.  In some cases a breakdown in discipline occurs.

9. Adolescent children may show a disregard or "I don't care" attitude. This may culminate in aggressive behavior.

10. Change may be positive for the child. It is probably better for a neglectful, physically or emotionally abusive parent, or "absent parent," to leave home.

6. What is childhood anxiety and what are signs of childhood depression?

Childhood Anxiety involves persistent worry, preoccupation and obsessive fear over some live circumstance. This condition is manifested in multiple ways including separation anxiety, school phobia, fear of the dark, fear of others or fear of weather changes. Anxiety symptoms may be a function of individual personality characteristics, modeled behavior, or other episodes or real or unreal life trauma. For example, children exposed to parental worry oftentimes develop excessive anxiety. Children experiencing natural disasters or impending family crisis can develop anxiety. Cognitive Behavior therapy (CBT) and individual counseling facilitate coping skills.

Childhood depression includes emotional reactions of feeling moody, sullen and unhappy with life. Depression may be demonstrated by social withdrawal and an overall depressed mood or through frustration, anger and hostile intent. Treatment programs involve individual counseling and possible medication management. Unresolved depression can be a long-standing and chronic condition which has negative impact on social, emotional and familial relationships.

7. I have problems concentrating on my job and struggled in school. it seems i am always distracted and moving from one task to another without finishing. What could this be resulting from?

Adults demonstrate symptoms of ADD-Hyperactive Type and ADD-Inattentive Type. These symptoms where not discussed nor identified prior to 1985. Persistent difficulties in work, family, or spousal responsibility can be symptomatic of an ADHD Condition. A Comprehensive Evaluation of ADHD Symptoms may be helpful to identify patterns or characteristics which are amenable to treatment. Other life stressors may trigger symptoms. Anxiety/Depression should be ruled out as contributing factors.


8. Parenting is a tough job. I am always stressed out and lose my temper with my children. What can I do?

Remember, children react to and model your demonstrated behavior. If you come across as being stressed out, overly demanding and critical, the children will develop an emotional reaction. You must identify the source of your life stress. Focus on the day to day responsibilities of parenting and discipline and start gradually by making changes to enhance a more positive and peaceful household. The household should be a place of comfort and security for both parents and children. Excessive conflict, arguing, animosity or disagreements will only enhance the element of stress inherent int he parent-child relationship. Stress is emotionally toxic and should not be allowed to undermine the relationship with the family unit. Talking and discussing with a competent professional should be the 1st step in addressing these concerns. Parent Coaching is a viable technique to promote positive discipline and develop confidence in child discipline.


9. My ex-spouse and I have joint custody. Why does our child have emotional reaction moving from one house to another?

Children react differently to a visitation/custody arrangement. It is noted that children are comfortable with structure and security in life. When a child moves from one household to another, they frequently have different sets of rules and expectations regarding daily routines and behavior which are different from one residence to the other. When parents effectively communicate in a positive way and establish similar rules and procedures regarding child discipline, bed time schedule, homework completion and other daily activities the children adapt favorably. As he households are more similar, the children seem to have better psychological adjustment. When the households are extremely different and divergent, children experience increased adjustment problems. Co-Joint Counseling and Parent Coaching can help solve adjustment issues.


10. I never finished college and would like to finish my degree. What are my chances of success?

Furthering ones education is a rewarding endeavor both on an individual basis and a professional basis. Whether you finish high school, vocational certification, college, or a professional education program, an education is something that becomes part of your identity. An education could never be taken away. There may be doubts about your chances of success or pursuit of a particular career option. Specific testing and evaluation strategies are available to assess learning ability, competency level, career interests and overall learning style. Specific programs can be developed by qualified professionals to enhance ones changes for success as well as placement within the most appropriate program. A Comprehensive Evaluation of IQ, academic achievement, and learning style with Career Counseling should facilitate making proper career and educational choices.

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