Cardiac Neurodevelopmental Outpatient Program

Cardiac Neurodevelopmental Outpatient Program

Neurodevelopmental Care for Children With Heart Conditions

As your child grows, develops and moves beyond their heart surgery, we continue to provide neurodevelopmental care for a lifetime of success.

Children who had cardiac surgery during infancy may experience differences affecting their learning, thinking and movement (like their gross and fine motor) abilities. Developmental follow-up appointments are recommended by the American Heart Association and American Academy of Pediatrics to track your child’s growth and develop a plan to support their needs.

At Children's Health℠, we offer three clinics that monitor your child’s developmental progress over time and provide referrals as needed. From age 6 months through adulthood, your child will have access to a psychologist, neuropsychologist and a school services liaison. Together, these providers will help make sure your child has the resources and support they need.

A variety of programs and services to support and nurture your child

  • Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics. We work with children of all ages whose language, mood, social skills, memory, motor skills or attention span may be different than their peers. Our specialists work together to assist in evaluation, diagnosis and treatment.
  • Occupational Therapy. Children may need occupational therapy because their congenital heart condition affects their ability to care for themselves, play, rest or attend school. Occupational therapists work to improve your child’s ability to participate in daily activities.
  • Pediatric Audiology. We can help diagnose and treat hearing loss in children, from infants to teens.
  • Pediatric Autism and Developmental Disabilities. The Center for Autism Care offers comprehensive services for children with autism spectrum disorders, and a wide range of neurodevelopmental disabilities.
  • Pediatric Psychiatry and Psychology. Our mental health experts help with everything from problems with mood and anxiety, to helping your child cope with their medical condition, and so much more.
  • Physical Therapy. Physical therapy can maintain or restore movement, support gross motor development, improve range of motion, help ease pain and help prevent injuries. Sometimes, physical therapy can replace surgery or medication in treating a problem.
  • Speech Language Pathology. Your child’s congenital heart condition could affect speech development and feeding abilities. A speech-language pathologist provides therapy to help your child overcome these problems.

Developmental Clinic (6 months - 3 years)

The first three years of life are essential for your child’s brain development and overall function. Identifying developmental differences as soon as possible will help your child receive services that can improve their skills and quality of life. The Heart Center’s Developmental Clinic offers screening during outpatient cardiology appointments, developmental testing and follow-up to help support your child’s development and growth.

During an appointment, our Heart Center psychologist will meet with you and your child at The Heart Center in Dallas. A Developmental Clinic appointment is approximately 90 – 120 minutes, depending on your child’s age. The psychologist will observe how your child engages in playful activities (similar to games you play with your child at home) and will discuss your child’s development, recommendations, and referrals.

School Readiness Clinic (3 years - 6 years)

The period from ages 3 to 6 years is an important time for learning and developing language, and basic academic, social and play skills. The Heart Center’s School Readiness Clinic offers developmental screening at outpatient cardiology appointments, as well as cognitive testing of preschool abilities and behaviors, and resources to assist in supporting your child’s transition into a learning and social environment. The School Readiness Clinic will assist in identifying your child’s strengths and opportunities for growth.

You and your child will meet with The Heart Center psychologist at Children's Health in Dallas for the evaluation. Each appointment lasts between two and three hours and involves playful activities with your child. During your appointment, the psychologist will discuss your child’s results and recommendations. Our Heart Center school services liaison will be available to provide information on school transition and school support services, and to answer school-related questions.

Cardiac Neuropsychology Clinic (6 years - 25 years)

The Cardiac Neuropsychology Clinic focuses on testing the cognitive, psychosocial and behavioral abilities of children with congenital heart disease. Our goal is to make your child’s life better by supporting a successful transition into adulthood.

Our experienced neuropsychologists are trained to:

  • Evaluate a wide range of skills and abilities
  • Help determine the most appropriate intervention services
  • Assist with academic and vocational planning
  • Provide caregivers with strategies to improve patient outcomes

The skills and abilities often tested include:

  • Intelligence
  • Academic achievement
  • Attention
  • Executive control
  • Language
  • Visual-spatial processing
  • Adaptive abilities

Typically, your child will be re-evaluated every few years. The evaluations are scheduled across two sessions. The first session may last between six and eight hours and includes an interview, testing and caregiver questionnaires. The second session lasts between one and two hours and includes a review of results, recommendations and referrals. In some cases, feedback is provided during the first session, immediately following testing. Findings are shared with the patient’s medical team and cardiologist.


Meet the Care Team