ChAMP coverBased on the latest advancements in memory research, the Child and Adolescent Memory Profile (ChAMP) is a fast, easy-to-administer measure that covers both verbal and visual memory domains for young examinees ages 5 to 21 years. Recently we had a chance to catch up with Elisabeth M. S. Sherman, PhD, and Brian L. Brooks, PhD, pediatric neuropsychology experts and authors of the ChAMP. PAR: What compelled you to want to develop a memory test? Sherman and Brooks: At the heart of it, we’re primarily clinicians who work with kids, some of whom have severe cognitive problems. Most can’t sit through lengthy tests. We could not find a memory test for kids that was easy to give, accurate, and also quick. We really developed the ChAMP because there wasn’t anything else like it out there. We hope other users like using the ChAMP, too. PAR: How have you used memory testing in your clinical work? Sherman and Brooks: Memory is such an important part of success in school and life. As clinicians, we evolved from giving memory tests selectively, to giving them to most children we assess. Children may have different reasons for having memory problems (i.e., developmental or acquired), but capturing their memory strengths and weaknesses allows us to better understand how to help them. Interestingly, in working with very severely affected children with neurological conditions, we realized that some kids have intact memory despite devastating cognitive conditions. The ability to detect an isolated strength in memory really gives educators and parents something tangible to use in helping those children. PAR: How has the experience of developing a memory test been different from your other projects? Sherman and Brooks: Developing the ChAMP was an amazing opportunity to get into the nitty-gritty of test design, planning, and execution. A lot of our other work so far has focused on reviewing, evaluating, or critiquing tests (e.g., Elisabeth is a co-author of the Compendium of Neuropsychological Tests from Oxford University Press). In the development of the ChAMP, we realized quickly that it is much easier to critique tests than to create good tests. Creating the ChAMP was a humbling but exciting process for us. It was a great opportunity to put theory into practice, with all the challenges and benefits that brings. We are excited about the ChAMP, and hope other clinicians will be, too. To learn more about the ChAMP, please visit www.parinc.com or call 1.800.331.8378.
The movers and shakers on Team PAR have been very busy, participating in community service projects and supporting causes that are making a real difference! Here are a few highlights of our activities so far this year. The PARty AnimalsPARty Animals 2015 emerged as leader of the pack in raising funds for the Humane Society of Tampa Bay at the annual Bark in the Park event this spring, keeping the trophy in its rightful place—the lobby here at PAR headquarters—for another year! A large contingent from our staff, along with their four-legged friends, joined the happy throng at Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park to support the Humane Society and its vital work in our community. “Love is Blue,” according to the old song, and that sums up one of Team PAR’s true labors of love: our support for autism awareness and research. But why blue? On World Autism Day each year, the Autism Speaks organization encourages people all over the world to “light it up blue” by wearing blue clothing and displaying blue lights in their homes, schools, and businesses. PAR staff turned out in our best dress blues that day; we also held a week-long silent auction and raffle, where theater tickets and fine wine were among the generous donations that had us all raising our bids. An enthusiastic team of walkers capped off the week by participating in the annual Autism Walk, engaging sponsors and raising thousands of dollars for autism research. Earlier this year, PAR was thrilled to be honored as the 2015 Outstanding Corporate Partner for the PACE Center for Girls. The PACE Center in Tampa provides at-risk teen girls an opportunity for a better future through education, counseling, training, and advocacy. With a balanced emphasis on academics and social services, the PACE model is recognized as one of the most effective programs in the country for keeping girls from entering the juvenile justice system. PAR was also honored to participate in this year’s Cup of Compassion Breakfast to benefit the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay. Through their crisis hotline and support services, the Crisis Center brings help, hope, and healing to people who are experiencing the devastating trauma of sexual assault or abuse, domestic violence, substance abuse, suicidal thoughts, and other crises. Each week throughout the year, PAR employees deliver a hot meal and a warm smile to Meals on Wheels recipients in our area. Many are elderly or disabled, and they often don’t get much company, so we try to take a few moments to chat with these neighbors who help to brighten our day as well. This April, we continued with our annual tradition of making and delivering an extra treat: cheerful gift baskets, brimming with goodies and designed to say, “Welcome, spring!” Above par, below par, or just from PAR…it really didn’t matter at a recent golf tournament, where our foursome of keen PAR golfers helped raise funds to benefit The Children’s Home of Tampa. This event is one of the many ways that PAR supports The Children’s Home in its work to strengthen families in our community. The Bloodmobile (a.k.a. OneBlood Services) makes regular stops at PAR, where they know that our regular donors—and a few first-timers, too—can be counted on for donations of blood and platelets. The experts on the Bloodmobile team make it easy for us to do the right thing! These are just a few of the many ways that PAR gives back to our community. “Creating Connections, Changing Lives” is more than just a tagline at PAR—it’s a commitment. Please visit the Community PARtners page on the PAR Web site to learn more!
Autism speaks 2This weekend, PAR staff took part in Walk Now for Autism Speaks Tampa Bay. Funds raised from walks like these are earmarked for research into the cause, treatment, and possible cure for autism. In addition to walking as a team to raise community awareness for autism, we held a raffle and a silent auction the week before the walk to generate additional donations. In all, we are proud to have raised $4,015 for this great organization! Want to get involved with Autism Speaks in your community? Here’s a list of other communities hosting local walks to raise awareness for autism.  
We are used to thinking of alcohol dependence as black or white: Either someone is or isn’t an alcoholic. Dr. John Mariani, who researches substance abuse at Columbia University, says that the field of psychiatry now recognizes shades of gray between someone who doesn’t drink at all and someone who suffers from an alcohol addiction. At least 38 million adults drink too much. Binge drinking, high weekly use, and any alcohol use by pregnant women or people under the age of 21 are included in this category. In the United States each year, about 88,000 deaths are alcohol related, and alcohol abuse costs the U.S. economy about $224 billion each year. A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that 90% of excessive drinkers were unlikely to need addiction treatment, and another revealed that only 1 in 6 adults talk with their doctor, nurse, or other health professional about their drinking. Among adults who binge drink 10 times or more a month, only 1 in 3 have discussed drinking. And only 17% of pregnant women have talked about drinking. The CDC recommends that physicians and other health providers include basic alcohol screening and brief counseling as part of routine medical practice by:
  • talking directly with patients about how much and how often they drink;
  • providing information about the health dangers of drinking too much;
  • offering options for patients who may want to stop drinking, cut down, maintain their current level of drinking, or seek further help; and
  • referring patients who need specialized treatment for alcohol dependence.
Screening and brief counseling have been proven to work by reducing how much alcohol a person drinks on an occasion by 25% and by improving health and saving money in the same way that blood pressure screening, flu vaccines, and cholesterol or breast cancer screening do. Drinker’s Checkup, an online confidential screening tool, is a good resource to share with clients; it provides detailed, objective feedback for people who aren’t sure whether their drinking is excessive and provides help with making a decision about whether to change drinking habits. An app called Moderate Drinking can be downloaded to help monitor drinking habits; its effectiveness has been demonstrated in a study published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.