Cognitive Abilities on Children With Bipolar Disorder

Strengthening the child’s cognitive abilities?

Cognition is often considered as a fundamental set of learning skills and necessary for maintaining attention, focusing on and remembering a topic, processing and responding to information, and organizing thoughts. A child’s cognition level at school is determined by his ability in reading, writing, solving mathematic tasks, participating in class, and implementing acquired knowledge. A child’s performance in school can be impaired by fluctuating mood states such as depression or mania, however cognitive dysfunction may still appear even when the child is emotionally stable. Cognition may also be affected by the child’s nutrition and quality of sleep.

The child needs some helps in strengthening weak areas of cognition, but first, you should determine the areas and extent of the child’s cognitive dysfunction. Special educational testing may be needed to uncover weaker areas. Determining where a child is struggling with, can be a good start in examining cognitive problems. A special therapist or teacher may need to perform extra efforts when dealing with a child who has seriously impaired cognitive skills. Parents can help by directing their children to play computer-based memory games each day. Also, there are tools to deal with poor cognition. But if there is also a serious memory problem, the child should be taught activities that can enhance memory for example, picture association or rhyming. The child sometimes benefits from using common tools such as daily planners and organizers. Try a few things until there is an improvement, and make sure the child gets a healthy diet, enough exercise, and reasonable sleep schedule. Keep in mind that even PHDs don’t have perfect cognition abilities, and poor cognition on children can be improved over time. Helping a child to work on his cognition ability will make daily tasks and learning easier for him.

Problems on executive functioning

It is a unique set of cognitive skills necessary to perform complex tasks, for example, planning, organizing, and sequencing skills that a child needs to analyze a large project and break it down into more manageable pieces. Executive functioning allows the child to reevaluate his situation, and perform necessary actions. Generally, executive functions are believed to come from the prefrontal and frontal lobes of our brain but also include communication and interactions with other parts of the brain. Poor executive functioning may make it difficult to advance to higher grades at school because each year, children are expected to tackle larger and more detailed projects. If a child seems to be poorly organized and face difficulty breaking down a task into incremental steps, then he should be treated for impaired executive functioning. These children may also find it very difficult to abandon an old plan that doesn’t work. The child should be instructed to accomplish a task in an effective way and work as part of a cooperative, interactive team. Finally, problems in inhibiting actions may lead to sidetracked work pattern, perhaps the child tends to dwell onto a very small detail that have little impact on the whole project. Poor executive functioning is a very common symptom on children with bipolar disorder. This deficit may contribute to irritability, frustration, mood swings, and poor self-esteem and you should find ways to assist the child with this method of functioning. Try to minimize their impatience by helping with both household and homework tasks that require adequate executive functioning skills. During a training session, the instructor can work together with a child in breaking down larger tasks, set definite timetable for each step, evaluate progress, find mistakes and make required changes.

The impact of treatment on learning ability

Therapists often use comprehensive treatments for bipolar disorder by combining psychotherapy and medication, which can have a big impact on the child’s learning ability. Minimizing prominent symptoms of bipolar disorder will increase the child’s chance in performing well at school by taking in information more effectively. Even just one effective learning session in the classroom can significantly build the child’s confidence, and he may attempt bigger and more positive decisions later on. Without the sudden changes in emotions and the distracting thoughts, learning at school may become a good deal easier. Additionally, effective treatment can forestall the inevitable mood episodes that often disrupt cognitive skills. Treatment can improve the child’s prognosis.

Even so, individual responses to a treatment can vary widely. One common concern with certain medications is the “cognitive dulling” effect. Some children, who suddenly have difficulty after taking a medication, may actually experience cognitive dulling. Some drugs are better known for showing this side effect than others, while some children seem more vulnerable to it. If impaired cognition becomes a big concern, a change in type or dosage of medication may be needed. Being alert to this risk can prevent drug-induced cognitive difficulties. You should also know that negative responses to medication trials or a change in medication regimes may also interfere with performance in school. Before it happens, it’s essential to have a dependable safety net in place.


Bipolar disorder is a psychological illness that may affect learning problem, but it isn’t a learning disability. A child with bipolar disorder do have more risk in developing learning problem due to their condition, and it doesn’t have to be caused by an underlying neurological deficit. If a child with bipolar disorder displays excessive difficulty with learning tasks, then he should be examined for the possibility learning impairment. However, it is also possible that he actually doesn’t have learning disability; poor performance in school may be related to treatments on his bipolar disorder symptoms, which interfere with classroom sessions.

Learning disabilities can run in families and appear in many forms, with or without bipolar disorder. They can cause difficulty in reading, speaking, writing, processing information, or performing mathematics tasks. Generally speaking, a common learning disability happens when the child’s intelligence significantly contrasts with his capability to learn or implement information. So, a child may have learning problem when his academic performance is far below the average scores. When considering this fact, remember that even gifted children can also have learning disabilities. This problem can be very specific, which hamper a student in a specific area such as science, for example, but not social studies, or they can have a global effect. Serious learning disability in writing or reading may have big consequences in virtually most subjects because a good reading skill is essential for acquiring knowledge in science and history, for example, but may have little effect on art, music and gym classes. Reading disabilities is also obstructive in developing math skills due to problem in defining directions or solving word problems. The lack of appropriate intervention can cause a child to experience increasingly more complicated problems, because the whole class won’t wait for a troubled and lagging child with learning disability. If a child struggles with bipolar disorder, effectively diagnosing learning disabilities and find ways to compensate them can make managing the entire situation easier. Concerned parents should talk to the principal and request an evaluation on educational performance to help psychiatrists determine whether an underlying learning disability is present.

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