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Disability, disorder assessments for Flint children impacted by pandemic

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Neurodevelopmental Center of Excellence

FLINT, Mich. -- The Neurodevelopmental Center of Excellence in Flint has helped hundreds of families.

Doctor Katherine Burrell leads the NCE.

Her team of highly trained, doctoral level licensed psychologists can diagnose a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, language disorders, intellectual disabilities, learning deficits, motor deficits, and mood or behavioral concerns.

RELATED COVERAGE: Free cognitive testing for children impacted by Flint Water Crisis

In most cases, like Autism assessments, that diagnosis requires close observation.

The NCE has to follow the same rules we all do in Michigan -- requiring masks in public, indoor spaces. As you can imagine, that makes things difficult.

“Do they have facial expressions that are directed at you when they’re excited about something? Imagine having the challenge of having a mask on and not being able to see that," said Burrell.

Burrell tells Mid-Michigan NOW the center is doing its best to improvise. It recently acquired masks with clear material covering the mouth to help during those visual assessments.

“It’s just not going to give us what it would without a mask," she adds.

The assessments simply weren't created with personal protective equipment, or PPE, in mind.

She also wants families to understand that the results could be impacted.

“There’s always going to be that caveat when we’re wearing PPE. Interpret these results with caution because certain aspects of what we’re testing might have been impacted by it," Burrell says.

Based on assessment results, a comprehensive, individualized list of recommendations is provided. That often includes educational supports, behavioral health treatments, and medical referrals.

Despite the added challenges, Burrell fears long-terms effects could come from kids not getting their usual resources during the pandemic. In some cases, getting their first diagnosis.

If you're interested in a neuropsychological assessment, contact the Flint Registry.