What is Pediatric Neuropsychology/School Neuropsychology?
Pediatric neuropsychology deals with the relationship between children’s learning and behavior as it relates to their brain structure and systems. Our training in school neuropsychology allows us to take findings and make recommendations for school and community-based accommodations and supports. Learning disabilities, or other brain-based conditions, do not mean that your child is incapable of learning, gaining knowledge, or obtaining skills; instead it means that different methods of teaching or therapies must be utilized to help build skills and promote growth.
Pediatric neuropsychologists are licensed psychologists who have developed expertise in how the development of a child’s brain relates to, and impacts, their learning, behavior, and social-emotional development. They evaluate clients using a variety of assessment techniques, analyze test results, and devise targeted educational or treatments plans.
What is included in a Neuropsychological Assessment?
We tailor each assessment based on the referral questions or concerns presented. In general, the neuropsychological evaluation is conducted in order to assess a child’s strengths and weaknesses in neuropsychological, cognitive, and academic areas. Assessment of additional domains, such as adaptive functioning, social-emotional functioning, language and communication, and/or other areas may also be included depending on the needs of the individual. Parents and teachers are often asked to complete rating scales of behavior and skills. A developmental history and interview techniques also allow the psychologist to get a more complete picture of the child and the presenting concerns. The data from these various sources is integrated, and results are explained in a detailed report. When the assessment is completed, we meet with you to review all of the results and findings. We provide guidance and recommendations for interventions in the home setting, school setting, and community. Even if testing does not lead to a formal diagnosis, we provide detailed recommendations for improvement based on individual strengths and weaknesses. The neuropsychological report can be shared, with your permission, with other providers to help access the most appropriate treatments and interventions.
Do you work with adults?
While we specialize in assessments for individuals who are currently, or planning to be, in a school setting, we will work with adults if the presenting concerns fall under an area where we have specialization. For example, an adult assessment may be appropriate for ADHD, Learning Disabilities, or Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). The majority of our clients are pre-school through college students, including individuals who may be homeschooled. However, we often work with adults with a history of a known or suspected brain-based disability, who are in need of initial or updated testing for college or graduate school entrance exams. Adults may also need testing to qualify for appropriate accommodations within a higher education setting.
What should I do to prepare my child for the assessment?
Your child should not prepare for cognitive (IQ) or other tests. In fact, exposing your child to similar test questions or materials can make their scores invalid. The best thing to do is to have your child have a good night’s rest and eat a healthy breakfast. They can bring snacks with them to have during breaks.
You can tell your child about the assessment using developmentally appropriate language that is tailored to the concern. For example, “you are going to play games and complete activities to learn more about how your brain works.” Please ask us if you would like ideas based on your child’s specific needs. We also always talk to the children about the process at the start of the assessment and answer any questions.
How long is the testing process?
A full neuropsychological evaluation generally takes about 6-8 hours of direct testing. This occurs over 1-3 sessions, usually depending on the child’s age and presenting concerns. There is also an initial intake session, and a feedback session once the report is complete.
Can you provide assessments for the gifted or twice exceptional (2E) child?
Gifted students, with or without additional exceptionalities, have unique needs in the schools and community. We love to work with gifted children and their families to provide an understanding of their cognitive and academic capabilities, along with a comprehensive understanding of their social and emotional needs. Reports for gifted individuals can be used to help advocate for your child within the school system, or to help plan appropriately for home schooling or private placements.
When working with twice exceptional children, we understand that individual scores do not always paint the full picture of a child’s unique abilities. We use dynamic assessment techniques to understand what your child can do under a variety of conditions, and to help plan and select the most appropriate interventions to help your child reach their potential.
Will I be able to obtain standardized test accommodations (SAT, ACT, etc.), school supports, or college level service with my report?
In order to receive accommodations on any of the College Board examinations, students must provide recent testing and documentation of a qualifying disability. Depending on the type and severity of the disability, different testing accommodations may be provided. Common accommodations include extended time, larger print, access to a reader or scribe, visual supports, or a reduced distraction environment. When we write our reports and suggested recommendations for testing accommodations or services, we provide clear rationales for recommendations based on testing observations and results. Testing companies approve accommodation requests on a case-by-case basis, so we cannot guarantee approval of every request. However, we will make sure we provide the level of detail and quality required by testing companies and college settings.