2018 Presidential Address: Ecological Validity and the Measurement of Executive Functioning in Children

1.0 CE Credit

Presented by:
Cheryl H. Silver, Ph.D.


The objective of this presentation is to summarize the issue of ecological validity as it applies to the measurement of executive functioning in children.  Topics will include comparing and contrasting information obtained from performance-based tests and parent rating scales.  The audience will be invited to consider informant bias in ratings of child behaviors.  Methods that could be used to increase ecological validity of child behavior assessment will be discussed. 

After the webinar, participants will be able to: 
1. Explain the challenges of measuring executive functioning in children.
2. Discuss the differences between measurement of executive functioning using performance-based tests vs. rating scales.
3. Describe at least one methodology that could be used to increase ecological validity of executive functioning measurement in children.

Target Audience: Neuropsychologists
Instructional Level:

Dr. Cheryl H. Silver
earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and obtained her first real professional job writing behavioral objectives for a federal study of effective educational settings for children with learning disabilities.  Recruited as a teacher’s aide for the impressive annual salary of $3,000., she became fascinated with the kinds of cognitive impairments displayed by children with reading disabilities and decided to make that her career.  She earned a master’s degree in psychology at the University of Richmond in Richmond, Virginia, where she studied with a local learning disabilities expert and obtained a position in pediatric neurology at the Medical College of Virginia.  It was at MCV in the late 1970s where she first learned of a discipline called neuropsychology.  However, the specialty of School Psychology appealed to her interest in childhood learning disorders, and she moved to Texas in 1980 to study with school psychology, special education, and neuropsychology faculty (including Erin Bigler) at the University of Texas at Austin.  In 1984, she moved to Dallas to take a combined internship in clinical, school, and neuropsychology settings, and stayed for her postdoctoral fellowship, becoming the first neuropsychology postdoc at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.  After a short but worthwhile period of employment in a rehab hospital, she returned to UT Southwestern as a faculty member, involved in clinical services, teaching, and research.  Attaining the academic rank of professor, she became the Program Director for a master’s degree program in Rehabilitation Counseling, which she held for the last 12 years of her 30-year career.   


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Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders: Misunderstood and Misdiagnosed

1.0 CE Credit


Presented by:
Sarah N. Mattson Weller
Professor, Department of Psychology
San Diego State University

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) affect as many as 5% of the population, making it one of the most common developmental disorders. However, many affected individuals remain unidentified. In one study of youth in foster or adoptive care, only 13.5% of youth diagnosed with an FASD were previously identified; 6.4% were previously misdiagnosed, and 80.1% had not been previously identified. Reasons for low rates of accurate diagnosis include multiple diagnostic schema and changes to diagnoses, traditional reliance on physical features, professional reluctance, and social stigma. This webinar will define and describe fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, summarize neuropsychological features of the disorder, discuss progress towards developing a neurobehavioral profile that is both sensitive and specific, and present a newly developed tool for identifying youth affected by prenatal alcohol exposure.

 After the webinar, participants will be able to:
1. Define common diagnostic features of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.
2. Describe the neurobehavioral profile of youth with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.
3. Discuss the overlap between FASD and ADHD.
4. Identify youth affected by prenatal alcohol exposure using commonly available tools.

Target Audience: Professionals in fields that see children and adolescents, primarily including psychologists, neuropsychologists, social workers, psychiatrists, general practitioners, family medicine physicians, nurses, and pediatricians.

Instructional Level: Introductory to Intermediate

Dr. Mattson is a licensed clinical psychologist with expertise in neuropsychology and behavioral teratology. She received her Ph.D. from the SDSU/UCSD Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology and is a professor in the psychology department at San Diego State University. She is also the Director of Clinical Research for the SDSU Center for Behavioral Teratology, a campus-wide center focused on the brain and behavioral effects of heavy prenatal alcohol exposure and other developmental disorders and Co-Director of the SDSU Center for Clinical and Cognitive Neuroscience (CCN), a cross-disciplinary program bridging the department of Psychology with the School of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences. Her research on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders has been continuously funded by the National institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. She has served on the National Advisory Council on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and was awarded the 2018 Henry Rosett Award for Outstanding Contributions to the FASD field from the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Study Group of the Research Society on Alcoholism.

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Pediatric Mild Traumatic Brain Injury: A Neuropsychological Perspective

1.5 CE Credit


Presented by:

David Baker, Psy.D, ABPP-CN
Assistant Clinical Professor of Pediatrics
University of Colorado School of Medicine

Mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), or concussion, is an increasingly common diagnosis that neuropsychologists encounter in their clinical practice. In fact, the assessment and management of youth mTBI or concussion is uniquely suited for neuropsychologists. This webinar will explore numerous aspects of pediatric mTBI, from injury to recovery, by examining the most current research and best practices in assessing and managing this common yet often misunderstood condition.  Through careful exploration of the current literature on youth mTBI, discussion of best practices, and presentation of select case examples, the audience will gain a better understanding of this condition with the ultimate goal of improving pediatric mTBI outcomes.

After the webinar, participants will be able to:
1. Recognize the expected natural clinical course of concussion and list what factors can complicate recovery. 
2. Define the expected neurocognitive deficits following a concussion and their expected course.
3. Distinguish between outdated and current evidence-based concussion management techniques.
4. Evaluate their own concussion knowledge and practices and how they align with current research and evidence-based practices.

Target Audience: Clinical neuropsychologists who evaluate children, adolescents, or young adults

Instructional Level: Beginner to intermediate

David Baker, Psy.D, ABPP-CN is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and serves as a Pediatric Neuropsychologist in the Rehabilitation Psychology Program at Children’s Hospital Colorado. Dr. Baker is involved in the supervision and training of externs, interns, and postdoctoral fellows. Dr. Baker has specific interest and expertise in traumatic brain injury- more specifically, concussion or mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) in children and teens. He has published numerous journal articles and book chapters related to mild TBI and performance validity assessment. Along with seeing hundreds of concussion patients each year, he also routinely conducts evaluations on children with various other neurodevelopmental conditions, as well as serving as an expert for medico-legal evaluations.

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Pediatric stroke as the ideal human model of developmental plasticity: The outcomes may surprise you!

1.25 CE Credit


Presented by:
Adam Kirton MD MSc FRCPC
Professor of Pediatrics, Radiology, and Clinical Neurosciences
The University of Calgary

Stroke in newborns and young children causes lifelong disability for millions. As a focal injury of defined timing in a healthy brain, stroke represents an ideal human model of developmental plasticity. By contrasting divergent motor, language, and neurocognitive outcomes and combining with advanced neuroimaging and brain mapping technologies, we are starting to understand the mechanisms underlying this plasticity. One result is the identification of key brain targets where therapeutic non-invasive neuromodulation strategies are being realized.  

After the webinar, participants will be able to:
1. Define the specific types of perinatal and childhood stroke.
2. Contrast the effects of timing of stroke on varying motor, language, and cognitive outcomes.
3. Describe how advanced neuroimaging and brain mapping are informing personalized models of how the brain develops after stroke early in life.
4. Discuss the potential of emerging neurotechnologies to enhance function, participation, and quality of life for children disabled by stroke.

Target Audience:  Anyone interested in the brain, pediatrics, and developmental clinical neuroscience.
Instructional level: 
Introductory to advanced

Dr. Kirton
is Professor of Pediatrics, Radiology, and Clinical Neurosciences at the University of Calgary and an attending Pediatric Neurologist at the Alberta Children’s Hospital. He serves as the Deputy Head (Research) for the Department of Pediatrics. His research focuses on applying technologies including non-invasive brain stimulation and neuroimaging to measure and modulate the response of the developing brain to early injury to generate new therapies. Dr. Kirton directs the Calgary Pediatric Stroke Program, Alberta Perinatal Stroke Project, the ACH Brain Computer Interface Laboratory, and the University of Calgary Noninvasive Neurostimulation Network (N3).

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Sluggish Cognitive Tempo: A Dimensional Approach to Attention in Children

1.5 CE Credits

Presented by:
Lisa A. Jacobson, Ph.D., NCSP
Pediatric Neuropsychologist
Kennedy Krieger Institute
Assistant Professor, Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Sluggish Cognitive Tempo (SCT) is a construct that evolved from field trials for the ADHD criteria in DSM-IV.  It includes such characteristic symptoms as lethargy, low initiation, mental "fogginess," and slowed speed of information processing.  Although SCT shows some overlap with Inattentive ADHD symptoms, evidence is mounting for consideration of SCT as a separate, but related, construct. This workshop will review descriptive evidence for SCT as a separate clinical disorder and empirical data from a variety of research studies characterizing SCT and its related comorbidities and areas of impairment. The NIMH's Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) project provides a framework for shifting our understanding of disorders from categorical to dimensional, taking development, multiple levels of assessment, and environmental expectations into account. Data will be presented that reflect a dimensional approach and the need for further behavioral clarification of the construct, but also suggest areas for potential intervention and/or accommodation within classrooms and daily activities. 

After the webinar, participants will be able to:

  1. Describe the characteristic diagnostic and associated features of SCT.
  2. Explain the current empirical support for the construct of SCT.
  3. Identify assessment techniques for SCT symptoms and relevant supports. 

Target Audience:This workshop is designed for practicing or research psychologists and neuropsychologists interested in understanding attentional disorders in children and developing their understanding of sluggish cognitive tempo. The workshop is of intermediate level in terms of assumptions regarding familiarity with clinical practice with youth with ADHD, current literature on ADHD, and child development.

Instructional Level:Intermediate

About Lisa A. Jacobson, Ph.D., NCSP 
Lisa Jacobson received a B.A. in Psychology from Davidson College and earned an Ed.S. in School Psychology from the College of William & Mary in VA. She worked as a school psychologist for several years before completing her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and Neuropsychology at the University of Virginia. She completed her predoctoral Clinical Psychology Internship at the Mailman Center for Child Development, in Miami, FL, and a postdoctoral fellowship in Clinical Neuropsychology at the Kennedy Krieger Institute/Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She is currently Assistant Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a pediatric neuropsychologist in the Kennedy Krieger Institute Department of Neuropsychology, where she coordinates the executive function and neuro-oncology outpatient assessment clinics, is involved in training pre-doctoral interns and post-doctoral fellows, and conducts clinical research. 

Dr. Jacobson is interested in brain development and attentional control, processing speed, and executive functions in children, and associations of these functions with learning and behavioral disorders. She is interested in studying children with identified disorders affecting executive functioning (e.g., ADHD, movement disorders, Spina Bifida, cancers and cancer treatment, etc.) as well as children at risk for developing executive dysfunction, and investigating ways in which parents and teachers can support children's development of EF skills. She is working to develop clinical screening tools for identifying children with executive dysfunction that can be used as part of typical medical care visits for specific clinical populations. She has collaborated on a variety of projects examining response variability in children with ADHD, characteristics of attentional disorders in referred children, influences of working memory on reading fluency in ADHD, neurocognitive profiles of childhood cancer survivors, executive functioning in spina bifida, and validation of the Kennedy Krieger Independence Scales - Spina Bifida Version (KKIS-SB). She is also involved in collaborations with the Maryland State Department of Education and Towson University designed to improve teacher training regarding neurodevelopment and interventions for children with various developmental disorders.

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