Our expert pediatric neuropsychologists evaluate children with difficulties learning, paying attention, controlling behavior and emotions, and socializing. They use standardized tests and observation, in the office and the school environment, to define a child’s pattern of brain functioning and overall development. Based on the assessment results, our experts develop a care plan for educational and social success. When necessary, they will help advocate for your child.
Neuropsychological Assessment Differs from School Psychological Evaluation
School evaluations typically are used to determine whether or not the child qualifies for special education programs or therapies to enhance school performance. These evaluations focus on achievement and skills needed for academic success. Generally, they are not sufficient to diagnose learning or behavior disorders, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), that are caused by altered brain function or development.
A neuropsychological assessment is far more comprehensive. It includes the educational component but also involves cognitive abilities, brain-behavior relationships, social skills, and personality functioning. The results of the neuropsychological evaluation offer insights on the child’s functioning in the following areas: memory, attention, perception, coordination, language, and personality.
Neuropsychologists undergo training that enables them to understand test results within the context of how the patient’s brain is functioning. This requires detailed knowledge of brain anatomy, the role each area of the brain serves, and how these functions are likely to be impacted by various disorders. For example, it is more important to know why a learning disorder exists than to simply know that there is one. This distinction enables the neuropsychologist to tailor a unique and effective treatment plan for each individual patient.
Why Are Children Referred for Neuropsychological Evaluation?
Children undergo a neuropsychological assessment because of one or more problems or effects, such as:
- Difficulties with school, including learning disabilities and behavioral disorders, such as ADHD
- Psychiatric disorders, such as depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, autism, Asperger’s syndrome
- Effects of developmental, neurological, and medical problems, such as epilepsy/seizures or a genetic disorder
- Brain tumors and/or cancer
- Traumatic brain injury
- Neurosurgical intervention
- Exposure to toxins, e.g., lead, street drugs, inhalants
How the Results Can Help You and Your Child
The neuropsychological evaluation and report will provide you with:
- A description of your child’s strengths and weaknesses
- A foundation for understanding your child better, such as:
- What is fair to expect from your child
- What your child’s needs may be in the future so that you can plan appropriately
- Suggestions for what you can do to help your child
- Recommendations for educational programming
- Suggestions for improving your child’s behavior
In addition, the pediatric neuropsychologist may refer you to another professional such as a clinical psychologist, neurologist, or occupational, physical or speech therapist for ongoing help with your child’s development.
What to Tell Your Child
What you tell your child about the neuropsychological evaluation will depend on how much he or she can understand. It is important to tell your child that neuropsychological testing does not involve “shots” and that it is not about right or wrong answers. Reassure your child that you are trying to make things better. Parents are not typically present during testing, so reassure your child that you will be waiting for him or her in the waiting room, which is close by.
You can describe neuropsychological testing for school-aged children like school tests. There will be many different activities. For preschool children, you can tell them that they will be playing games with blocks and puzzles. They can bring a security object with them to the appointment, but make sure it is not be a distracting object like an action figure.
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