Why are people referred for Neuropsychological Assessment?
– Children are often referred by a counselor or psychologist, doctor, teacher, parent, or because of one or more of the following difficulties:
- Difficulty learning, reading, shortened attention span, behavioral, social, or emotional difficulties
- A developmental problem that affects the brain (i.e. autism, epilepsy, prematurity, etc.)
- A brain injury from an accident, birth trauma, or other physical stress
Common diagnostic questions:
- Learning disabilities (reading, writing, math)
- Depression and anxiety affecting cognitive skills
- Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Developmental disorders
- Epilepsy, Stroke, Tic disorders
- Genetic Disorders
- Concussion/Brain Injury
– Adults are referred by medical professionals, family members, or by themselves to address concerns regarding:
- Memory problems o Longstanding attention problem since childhood that is impacting work, relationships, etc.
- Emotional difficulties such as depression and anxiety that are impacting cognitive functioning
What does a neuropsychological evaluation involve?
A neuropsychological evaluation involves examining thinking, behavior, and social and emotional functioning through standardized tests and procedures. You or your child will be asked many questions and to solve a number of different types of problems. A neuropsychological evaluation often includes standardized measures of:
- Problem Solving
- Planning, organization, impulse control, ability to multitask
- Learning and Memory
- Processing Speed
- Academic Skills
- Visual spatial/perceptual skills
- Depression and anxiety
- Social skills
How does a neuropsychological evaluation differ from a school evaluation?
- School evaluations are often completed by school staff to determine IF a child exhibits a problem with academic skills and whether a child qualifies for special education programs or school interventions to enhance school performance. They focus on academic achievement within the school setting.
- Neuropsychological evaluations focus on understanding WHY a child is having problems in school, home, or community settings. Neuropsychologists apply knowledge of functional neuroanatomy and brain behavior relationships to obtain a greater understanding of a child’s strengths and weaknesses which are contributing to difficulties across settings. Academic skills are just one part of the comprehensive evaluation in which thinking, problem solving, language, attention, learning and memory skills (among others) are assessed. Most importantly, the neuropsychological evaluation provides recommendations on what types of interventions can be done to help a child across all areas, not just at school
How do neuropsychological assessments help families and the professionals they work with?
- Clients, parents, and professionals receive evidence based data on how each individual’s skills in various areas of functioning compare to the skills of other individuals of similar age which provides helpful quantitative information on the nature and severity of the problem
- It can help detect the effects of developmental, neurological, and medical problems such as ADHD, dyslexia, autism, dementia, and genetic disorders. Testing can provide a baseline against which to measure the outcome of various interventions (i.e. medication, school services, psychotherapy) or a child’s development over time
- Differential diagnosis: for example, testing can help identify whether a individual’s attention difficulties are related to anxiety, depression, language or a primary attentional deficit disorder
- Most importantly, the quantitative data provides better understanding of each individual and a platform for medical professionals and family members to develop interventions and target areas of need to maximize the potential for success and improvement across settings
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