Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Planning for the future for a person with significant disability. Here's a start !

As a psychologist I often have clients and their families come in to find out about qualifying for assistance due to a permanent disability. It is not uncommon for me to see parents with a significantly handicapped adult child who has made no plans for their future and don't know how to move forward.
Often people come to me because of my legal background, however, I DO NOT PRACTICE LAW in British Columbia and cannot offer you legal advise. Nor can I offer you investment advice. What I can do is suggest that you do not wait too long to address these issues, and that you get in touch with someone who is experienced in this area as soon as possible.

These issues apply for individuals with ADHD, learning disabilities, autism and related cognitive disorders.

As I psychologist I offer my expertise completing tests and assessments that are necessary to proceed. However, you must make connections with appropriate provincial and federal agencies, and find yourself a good tax and investment consultant.

Some parents say they will have very little to leave their child, but often that child would be qualifying for federal tax benefits, as well as an RDSP (a Registered Disability Savings Plan). The benefits from these plans are simply too good to ignore. Government incentives go up to an annual amount of $3,500 to a maximum of $70,000.  To qualify you must be:
A Canadian resident
Have a valid social insurance number
Be under the age of 60

Complete a Disability Tax Credit Certificate (Canada Revenue Agency Form T2201) with the assistance of a qualified practitioner and receive notification of approval from the Canada Revenue Agency.

You child's school, if he or she is in secondary school and has a disability, should be able to help you through your child's IEP (Individual Education Plan.)  That plan should address how your child will be as independent as possible.

Another issue you should address , as early as possible, is who will care for your child if something happens to you. One key element of this is setting up a Disability Trust Fund. This protects your child, and protects those who you hope will provide that care. Talk to a financial planner, or even your bank, about this.

You might also try contact ACT - Autism Community Training.
 Contact them directly and ask if they know of any workshops on setting up Disability Trust Funds and other legal questions. They have a great resource page found here:
ClickLaw is a great resource for this information. Here is their current webpage on this topic:

Here is a brief summary of the information:
Many people with disabilities find they have extra costs because of their disability. People who have these or other disability-related costs (and their families) may want to create resources to pay for these costs now and in the future.
The resources below explain the different kinds of trusts, who can set one up, and how it may affect disability assistance.
Good starting points include:
Disability Assistance and Trusts, from the provincial government, provides overview information about what a trust is, how a trust is set up, and how it can make payments.
Trusts for People Receiving the Persons with Disabilities (PWD) Benefit, from Disability Alliance BC, is a factsheet that explains what a trust is, who can set one up, and how they work.
Future Planning Tool, from Plan Institute, guides you through the steps of building a personal plan to secure the future for you or anyone with a disability. One of the planning topics is trusts, where you can learn about trusts, Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP), Qualified Disability Trust (QDT), and finding professional advice.
Need more help?
Plan Institute has workshops on Wills, Trusts & Estates Planning. The setting is a small group where specific individual questions are answered. Each session is co-facilitated by an attorney, along with a PLAN parent. You have to register and pay a fee for this workshop.
Advocacy Access Program, from Disability Alliance BC, provides assistance for people with disabilities. They can direct you to community organizations that may provide information about trusts to you.
Lawyer Referral Service, from the Canadian Bar Association BC Branch, offers an initial consultation of up to 30 minutes with a lawyer for $25. You may need a lawyer to set up your trust.

These are often difficult topics to deal with. Your welcome to set up an appointment to come in and I can at least guide you in the right direction. We can also talk about the usual testing and assessment that these programs require.

Visit us at:  www.relatedminds.com

Friday, February 23, 2018

How do we diagnose ADHD? Relatedminds/Burnaby, BC

How do we diagnose ADHD?

A lot of people wonder about this because they hear of others who were misdiagnosed, or seemed to be diagnosed by answering a 16 question form.  The truth is almost every child who enters a doctors office (MD or Psychologist) will have symptoms of inattention, impulsiveness, hyperactivity and often academic issues. They do not all receive a diagnosis of ADHD. There is something more to the diagnosis than just these symptoms. First, the rating scale you filled out (usually the SNAP-IV) is used, but we need ratings from more than one source, more than one setting. So we collect rating scales from school and home, at a minimum.

The symptoms we collect also need to be evident for at least 6 months, and their needs to be some consistency with the symptoms.

We also do an observation, as some other neurological issues might be very evident to a professional familiar with ADHD.  Sometimes this includes a smile mental status examination,

The child's academic history is also important. (Oh, this all applies for adults as well. Adults are often diagnosed with ADHD because of difficulty at work, college or in their relationships.)

You or your child should have a physical exam to rule out various issues that might be causing the symptoms. An eye test and hearing test should be part of this.

Here in our office we also do some other things as part of our comprehensive assessment for ADHD. We look at personality issues that might be causing these symptoms through an assessment procedure or an extensive structured interview. We also look at overall executive functioning through a series of neuropsychological tests. This includes looking at things like long term memory, working memory, cognitive flexibility, verbal and visual memory skills, information recall, the ability to stay focused, and inattention.

Taking these different tests, along with your clinical interview, we are able to provide a very good picture of your cognitive strengths and weaknesses, as well as social and emotional factors that may effect your treatment.  From this we can develop a comprehensive plan for non-medical interventions (skill development) as well as provide your medical doctor with information they often find helpful when making decisions about medication.

We only provide these comprehensive assessments of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and we do not make a clinical diagnosis based only on simple self report forms. The cost of the procedure is $800.00  This cost is not covered by MSP, however your extended health care plan may cover a good part of the cost. You need to speak with them directly about what they will cover.

Psychoeducational Assessments / Workplace Assessments
Often individuals come in to get an ADHD assessment but really need a more comprehensive assessment for school, college, university or the workplace. Usually this means a psychoeducational assessment that looks for cognitive and processing deficits, learning disabilities, and academic skill level. These assessments are necessary to receive funding and accommodations in school, college, university or work. These assessments take several days and generally cost $2,400.00  If you are really in need of this type of assessment we should no from the start, as the ADHD assessment/testing can be part of that process, saving you time and money.

Contact our office through our website at www.relatedminds.com or by calling 604.726-2651.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

ADHD / ADD Assessments in Vancouver, Coquitlam, New Westminster and North Vancouver

At RelatedMinds Educational Services we provide comprehensive diagnostic assessments for ADHD.

We do not provide short assessments using a checklist, as others do. Instead we engage each individual in a comprehensive process that does three things:

1. We do look for signs and symptoms of ADHD, as others do. We use some of the same checklists such as the SNAP-IV, but also checklists that are recommended by CADDRA, the Canadian medical association focused on ADHD, which looks at your history and your symptoms across various settings, such as home and work or school.

2. We also engage each patient in a differential diagnostic process, ruling out other reasons you may have these symptoms. Often we hear that ADHD is misdiagnosed, or over diagnosed. This is because of the use of one dimensional, brief screeners. We used multiple tools to look at your personality and related mental health issues that may look like ADHD, or be covered up by your ADHD.

3. We complete a good, comprehensive screening of your neuropsychological and cognitive status so that we can again, rule out other causes of your symptoms, and additionally look for neurological strengths and weaknesses that can help us help you develop a good, solid intervention plan. During this process we look at issues of working memory, long term memory, simple attention, complex attention, cognitive flexibility, planning, organization, impulsivity and your ability to remain focused over time.

These tools take time to administer, score and then evaluate. Usually we see you for an initial one hour meeting, and then decide if this comprehensive assessment would be useful and appropriate. Not everyone with ADHD needs a comprehensive assessment. So there is an hour initial session, 2-3 hours of testing, two hours of scoring and report writing, and an hour for our feedback session, totalling 6 or more hours. The total cost is $800.00

If you are interested in seeing us about an assessment for ADHD, please visit our website at www.relatedminds.com  You will find a page just about the ADHD assessment process. Our senior psychologist holds a PhD in clinical psychology as well as a post graduate certificate in educational psychology and completed two post-doctoral years of training in neuropsychology. He will be completing the ADHD assessment himself.

Contact us if you have any questions.

Email us here at relatedminds@gmail.com

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Psychoeducational Assessments - Coquitlam / Port Moody / Port Coquitlam - Learning Disabilities

RelatedMinds Educational Services, located at the Production Way Skytrain Station in Burnaby, offers psychoeducational, ADHD, autism, and behavioural assessments which meet Ministry of Education requirements for use in local schools. While each school district has its own specific process and requirements, psychoeducational assessments from RelatedMinds Educational Services address the specific requirements put forth by the Ministry of Education for students to meet requirements for special education services and accommodations in the school district. Our testing also leads to a verified diagnosis of learning disabilities or dyslexia when appropriate.

Our team includes only certified school psychologists or registered psychologists who have had direct experience working in school districts. They are familiar with Ministry procedures and what is practical and helpful in the classroom.

A psychoeducational assessment costs $2,400. This includes all testing, parent meetings and feedback sessions to explain the results. Our assessments provide specific suggestions for interventions in the classroom as well as at home.

We work with children from elementary through post secondary school.

Usually a psychoeducational assessment can be scheduled within 10 days to two weeks. Usually this includes an initial interview to gather information on concerns and your child's educational history, followed by two days of testing (approximately 3 hours each day. We also gather information from the school district about current educational needs.  About a week is necessary to complete a written report outlining the results and suggestions for school and home based interventions. We then have a 1-2 hour session to review these results and discuss how best to proceed.

School observation visits are also possible in the Coquitlam school district (district 43) with the permission of the school staff, including the teacher and administrator. School observations are billed separately.

For more information about psychoeducational assessments, please visit our website at www.relatedminds.com or call us at 604.726-2651

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Skills for Children with Autism | Small Talk Can Loom Large: Teaching your child the flow of conversation.

RelatedMinds Educational Services  provides individual therapy for children with autism spectrum disorder, using the social learning curriculum from Michelle Garcia Winner. We see individual children, pairs, groups when possible, and provide consultation for parents and educators. We also help with school related issues, such as consulting on your child\'s IEP and behaviour plans. See our website for more information: www.relatedminds.com or http://www.relatedminds.com/autism/

Here is an excellent, and short, article on teaching your child about small talk. This can be a very difficult social skill to learn, and certainly during the holidays. A great read:  (Just click below)


Sunday, December 17, 2017

University Accommodations for Learning Disabilities and ADHD in BC

Academic Accommodations for Students with Learning Disabilities in the Lower Mainland

We provide assessments / testing for students seeking academic accommodations due to specific learning disabilities, ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), depression, anxiety, and other psychological or neuropsychological problems. These assessments are also appropriate for those in the workplace seeking workplace accommodations.

Comprehensive assessments for ADHD cost $800, and full Psychoeducational Assessments run between $1,800 (if you have a more recent assessment that needs updating) to $2,400.00.  Be aware these costs are not covered by BC MSP, but may be covered by your extended health care plan. Some schools will assist students in paying for this type of assessment. You need to contact the school directly. As far as insurance goes, you need to check with your own plan, as each plan is different and we have no way of knowing the extent of any individual’s coverage.

Assessments include testing, collecting a psychological and medical history, scoring of the tests, the determination of a diagnosis, if appropriate, and a final written report ranging from 5-15 pages, depending upon the type of report.  We spend about one hour with you to review the findings and make suggestions as to skill development, suggested accommodations, possible tutoring and study skill that would be helpful.

We are often involved with students after their testing providing tutoring and study skill training.

Each local college or university has different requirements for obtaining assistance, support  and accommodations. 

Academic Accommodations are put in place to mitigate the functional impact of a student's disability in the educational setting.  These supports are intended to promote access for students with disabilities without compromising the integrity of the learning environment. Accommodations are determined based upon medical documentation and in consultation with the student.
Please contact us at RelatedMinds Educational Services:  www.relatedminds.com
Our phone number and an email contact form can be found on the website.
Examples of Academic Accommodations
The following list is a sample of available academic accommodations. It is not all inclusive:

Alternate format/assignment
Preferential seating
Use of adaptive technology
TypeWell transcription
Separate setting
Use of a computer
Use of adaptive technology
Alternate format for course materials/text books (e.g. mp3, e-text)
Here is a sample agreement letter to record lecturers:

More detailed information on the specific requirements for local colleges and universities can be found below:

Simon Fraser University (SFU)

University of British Columbia (UBC)

Douglas College


Langara College

Vancouver Community College

University of the Fraser Valley

Friday, December 15, 2017

Independent Neuropsychological Exams / Independent Medical Exams (INE/IME)

Dr. James Roche of RelatedMinds Psychological Services provides Independent Neuropsychological Examination for the investigation of insurance claims, intervention planning and case management purposes. He provides a comprehensive neuropsychological assessment, as well as personality assessments, adaptive behaviour assessments and functional assessments. These exams should be arranged through your insurance provider or legal representative. Issues of suspected malingering, effort, substance abuse and diagnostic clarification are common reasons for these types of examinations.

Dr. Roche also provides assessments for workplace issues, including ADHD and autism assessments. He also provides individual therapy such as social skills training, anger management and executive functioning support.

For more information visit the RelatedMinds website at www.relatedminds.com
Te website provides contact information.