Friday, June 23, 2017

Learning Disabilities: The Basics of Visual Note-taking

In my practice I often see patients with a variety of learning disabilities. Sometimes as part of a pstychoeducational assessment, and sometimes after a psychoeducational assessment as part of the follow-up meetings where we provide consultation and coaching on learning skills. One of my favourite areas is written expression. So many young people have problems with visual expression. More specifically, with handwriting. Handwriting problems can mean a student will not be able to produce work that is commiserate with their abilities. This can be frustrating and debilitating.

Besides the usual accommodations that we suggest, such as the use of tablets, keyboards and voice dictation programs, I always suggest that an individual not avoid writing. Writing when taking notes is a critical part of getting the information into your head and fully understanding it. For those individuals we have specific writing techniques which differ from age to age, and generally we suggest visual note-taking, sometimes called doodle-note taking. Not only does it help with memory and retention, it also helps with sustained attention and distractibility.

Take a look at the entire New York Times webpage on this topic, which can be found here:

For more information on psychoeducational assessments, as well as diagnostic assessments for ADHD and autism spectrum disorder, please visit my webpage at:

The best way to reach me about a psychoeducational assessment is by email. You will find my email on the webpage.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Speech and Language deficits in children with autism may not cause tantrums.

A recent study from Penn State College of Medicine suggests that speech and language impairment may not be the cause of frequent tantrums in children with autism. This is important because many parents are told that as their child matures and developed speech and language skills their behaviour will improve. This study suggests that is not necessarily so.

Researches found that only a very tiny percentage of temper tantrums are caused by an inability to communicate, or an inability to be understood by others.

While the study doesn’t answer the question “what” causes the tantrums, it may be more productive to spend time focused on mood dysregulation and low frustration tolerance - both of which can be addressed through an appropriate form of applied behaviour analysis (an FBA), and some simple behavioural techniques. 

The problem is to be relying on a total language based program, which really won’t address the core issues, or teach the necessary skill stet to the child.

This is similar to the American Academy of Paediatrics warning about over-reliance on a sensory based program, to the detriment of more basic behavioural therapy and skills learning.

Here is the article at Autism Awareness:

Here is a short version at Science Daily:

I continue to see patients for a variety of problems, including ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, depression and anxiety in my Burnaby office. This includes children, adolescents and adults. The majority of my practice right now are young adults and adults with autism. Please contact me for any information.  You will find a contact page on my website at

Thursday, May 11, 2017

ADHD Assessments. Burnaby/Vancouver/New Westminster

Assessing for ADHD is often done by family doctors. Such an assessment often consists of little more that completing a checklist of symptoms. Here in Canada we also have a specific set of forms that medical doctors are asked to use from our Canadian ADHD Association, CADDRA.

Many doctors refer patients to me for an ADHD assessment because a more comprehensive look at your symptoms is necessary. My ADHD assessments include more than a simple checklist of symptoms because for the most part the list of symptoms your doctor gives you doesn't rule out other possible causes for your concerns/problems, and also doesn't tell us much about the nature of your individual case of ADHD.

During a comprehensive assessment we also need to look for other "comorbid" disorders, disorders often found in people with ADHD. These include things like depression, anxiety and OCD symptoms, as well as problems like learning disabilities, problems with executive dysfunction and working memory. A checklist isn't going to be able to tell you about these issues, and certainly can't be used  to develop an intervention plan. For this reason, we complete a more comprehensive assessment every time we do an ADHD assessment.

Assessments for ADHD start with an initial appointment to review your history and current signs and symptoms, and together decide what kind of assessment, if any, we are going to engage in. If we move forward we schedule a two hour session for testing, and then a final session to review the results. The total cost of the assessment is $800. The cost of the initial meeting, $200, becomes part of the overall $800 cost.

Some patients the move on to medication, others do not. Many patients see me for follow up sessions during which we address specific skills that are found helpful by many individuals with ADHD.

For more information, and to arrange an appointment, please visit my webpage at

Friday, March 31, 2017

Therapy for Adolescents/Teens with ASD/Asperger's

Counselling and "Social Thinking" therapy for teens and young adults in Burnaby. Dr. Jim Roche provides counselling services based upon the theories of Michelle Garcia Winner - Social Thinking - in his offices in Burnaby. The office is located at the Production Way Skytrain Station. Social Thinking is a form of social cognition training and cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) for young adults to help them understand the perspective of others. Most teens and young adults with autism spectrum disorder, or what was formerly called "Asperger's Disorder" need help in developing social cognitive skills to make social interactions easier. Therapy differs from individual to individual but usually focuses on issues such as social perspective taking, dealing with difficult people, handling stress and anxiety, controlling an over controlling brain - learning to be socially and cognitively flexible, and emotional regulation.

Young people often also have academic issues they need help with, and these issues are dealt with as well.

Dr. Roche is a member of the BC RASP (approved providers of autism services) and is a Registered Psychologist. Contact him by email to set up an appointment of arrange for a short phone consultation. His website is found at

Parent training and education about autism spectrum disorder and Asperger's Disorder is also available, and often parents are seen in order to learn skills necessary to help their children succeed in the social world. Testing and treatment for ADHD and learning disabilities is also available. Dr. Roche has over 30 years experience in the field as a teacher, school psychologist, behaviour management specialist for school districts and as a provincial consultant on autism spectrum disorder.

Besides Dr. Roche's website, parents often find the website of Michelle Garcia Winner very helpful. That can be found at:

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Psychoeducational Assessments: Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster

What is a Psychoeducational Assessment (sometimes called a "psych-ed") ?
A psychoeducational assessment is often suggested when a child has been having difficulty in school and the normal classroom based interventions that often work for a student simply aren't working. 
While a psychoeducational assessment can help to diagnose a learning disability and identify strengths and weaknesses, one of the major purposes of a psychoeducational assessment is to see if a child qualifies for formal assistance in the school. This usually means that the school will develop an individual education plan (IEP) which addresses his or her current functioning levels, identifies strengths and weaknesses, and provides a step-by-step plan to support the student's learning process.
While a "diagnosis" is often helpful, the Ministry of Education has very specific requirements that must be met in order for a child to qualify for services. These services may include individual or group time with a specially trained teacher (support teacher) who uses techniques that have been found helpful in assisting children with similar needs.
Sometimes their are classroom based accommodations as well.
Who can conduct a Psychoeducational Assessment?
Within the schools a school psychologist may conduct this type of evaluation, and may be assisted by a speech pathologist, occupational therapist and other professionals who have specialized insights into the issues the student presents. Outside the school setting only a Registered Psychologist may conduct psychoeducational evaluations due to the high level of education, training, and expertise involved. Be careful, some parents take their children to an "educational specialist" or "reading specialist" to get an evaluation for dyslexia. These individuals, if they are not Registered Psychologists, are not qualified to make a diagnosis or prepare a psychoeducational assessment. You can find a list of psychologists who conduct psychoeducational assessments at the BC Psych Association website. I am qualified to do these assessments as both a school psychologist and Registered Psychologist.
What happens with the results of a psychoeducational assessment?
Schools use the assessment results and recommendations of a psychoeducational assessment report as the basis for developing an individualized education plans to help students maximize learning outcomes and obtain academic success.
Does a Psychological Assessment test for ADHD and Dyslexia?
Usually a psychoeducational assessment screens for ADHD, and if significant signs and symptoms are present, considers ADHD in the diagnosis. Dyslexia, difficulty with reading, writing and math, are fully considered in a psychoeducational assessment, however, they are looked at from the perspective of learning disabilities and meeting Ministry of Education criterion for qualifying for special services.
How much does a Psychoeducational Assessment Cost?
First, be aware your local school district is able to complete a psychoeducational assessment as part of their free educational services. Some parents also obtain these through other specialized programs. Many, for various reasons, make the choice to obtain a private psychoeducational assessment through a Registered Psychologist. The cost is approximately $2,000.
I (Dr. Jim Roche) am a registered Psychologist and Registered Marriage and Family Therapist in British Columbia. My offices are located in Burnaby at the Production Way Skytrain Station. I am uniquely qualified as not only a Registered Psychologist but also as a classroom teacher, teacher of special education, and experienced as a district school psychologist and for both local school districts and as a province wide consultant on autism spectrum disorder and behaviour management.
Feel free to email the office. Email is the best way to reach me. You will find my email contact form on my website at

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Office Space and Support Services, Burnaby, BC.

Currently I rent office space from BOSS Business Centre in Burnaby, BC. BOSS Centre provides complete office support services including phone answering, conference rooms, parking, direct connection to the SkyTrain etc. I have worked with BOSS services for several years and cannot recommend them highly enough. Their website is found at