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Preschool Pediatric Psychology Service (PPPS)

Psychologists in the Preschool Pediatric Psychology Service (PPPS) help infants, toddlers, and preschoolers (through age six) from the Maritimes who are displaying delays in their development (e.g., learning, communication, behaviour, socioemotional). 

How we help

We provide assessment and consultation services, and our psychologists work closely with other professionals from across the Maritimes, including those from other IWK Teams and Clinics (e.g., IWK Kids’ Rehab, Developmental Pediatrics Clinic). The orientation of PPPS Psychologists is primarily behavioural, cognitive-behavioural, and neuropsychological. We’re involved in a variety of research studies and train psychology students and residents. We also provide presentations to community groups each year.

Some of the children we see may have an identified neurodevelopmental or genetic disorder, or have experienced some other neurological or medical condition that has affected their development. This could include conditions such as, but is not limited to:

  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Language delay/disorder
  • Down syndrome
  • 22q11.2 deletion syndrome
  • Epilepsy
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Congenital heart disease

Children who have, or are suspected of having, an Autism Spectrum Disorder are not seen by our service but are seen by the Preschool Autism Team.

What to expect

We're a family-centred care facility, so your participation in your child’s care is very important. We hope to help you work on goals you have for your child and family. Before your child’s appointment, we like to get input from you about your child’s health and developmental history, your child’s current development, and concerns that you have as a parent. We'll ask you to complete some forms and questionnaires and forward these to us before your visit. 

Please remember that you'll need your child’s health card when you register for appointments. For in-person visits to IWK Health it’s also helpful to consider bringing a snack, a favourite book/toy to entertain your child, and a change of clothing and/or diapers, dependent upon your child’s needs. Families often find it useful to write down a list of questions that they have and bring this with them to the appointment.

You'll be contacted by telephone to schedule an appointment and you will receive a confirmation letter in the mail or by email that provides information regarding your appointment(s) and the location of our service. On the day of your child’s in-person assessment, your child’s Psychologist will greet you in the waiting room when you come for your in-person visit.

The Psychologist will work with your child on different tasks that assess abilities in many important areas (e.g., reasoning, problem solving, pre-academic skills). To help children prepare for the appointment, you may tell them that they will be working on different activities that most kids enjoy, like puzzles, memory games, and looking at patterns. You'll be observing your child during the session. 

Following your child’s assessment appointment, you can expect to receive feedback on your child’s performance, which will answer questions like the following:

  • How does my child learn, reason, and problem-solve by both listening to and answering questions and by looking and doing?
  • How well can my child understand early academic concepts (e.g., counting, identifying letters)?
  • How well can my child remember things?
  • How well can my child complete, or concentrate on, tasks?
  • How is my child doing emotionally and behaviourally compared to other children his or her age?

We'll discuss findings and any issues you wish to discuss, and will work with you to make plans for your child’s follow-up care. This may include some direct intervention services and consultation with other individuals involved in your child’s care (e.g., speech-language pathologist, developmental interventionist, teacher, occupational therapist) and referral to other community services. A formal written report regarding your child’s assessment will also be mailed to you. If your child is about to make the transition into a childcare program or school, with your consent we can consult with the program staff. 

Consultation appointments with parents and professionals may focus on developmental-behavioural concerns (e.g., toileting, sleeping), learning, changes/transitions (e.g., new school), social-emotional development, and/or other behaviours. For these appointments, a more formal assessment will likely not need to be completed. Psychologists will work together with you and other health and community service providers who are involved in your child’s life to achieve the goals you identify. You may choose to participate in a group intervention program, and you’ll learn more about other services available for your child and you elsewhere in the community. A short document indicating what services were provided to you will be created and distributed to others, at your request, when you have finished receiving services.

There are two Psychologists (Dr. Aimée Yazbek and Dr. Christine Ellsworth) who work in the Preschool Pediatric Psychology Service. They’re trained to assess and diagnose problems in thinking, feeling, and behaviour as well as to help people overcome or manage these problems. Our Psychologists have a doctoral degree (Ph.D.) in Psychology and are registered with the Nova Scotia Board of Examiners in Psychology (NSBEP). A Clinical Psychology Ph.D. student or resident (students who are in their final year of training prior to being able to practice independently) may also work with your child, under the supervision of your child’s Psychologist. 

Accessing this Clinic, Program or Service

Link Building -IWK Health Centre

5850/5980 University Avenue
Halifax, Nova Scotia
  • Contact

    Fax: 902-470-8736
    Toll free: 1-800-470-5888 ext. 8454

    Psychological Services