What is a pediatric neuropsychological evaluation?
A neuropsychological evaluation is a comprehensive assessment of cognitive functions such as learning, memory, and problem solving.
Data collected within a developmental context include performance on standardized tests, clinical interviews, behavioral ratings, and direct observations.
Multiple areas are assessed including:
- General Cognitive Ability
- Language Skills
- Visuoperception and Spatial Skills
- Learning and Memory
- Executive Functions such as Attention, Planning and Organization, Problem Solving, and Working Memory
- Socio/Emotional Behavior
- Motor Skills
- Academic Achievement
When would my child need a neuropsychological evaluation?
A neuropsychological evaluation should be conducted in any of the following situations:
- If your child is struggling in school or underperforms on standardized tests
- When developmental challenges make it harder to understand how your child learns
- When a child has a medical history that can impact learning such as traumatic brain injury, seizure disorder, treatment for cancer, or exposure to toxins
- To document changes in your child’s abilities or achievement since prior evaluations
- If it is unclear why your child is having difficulty meeting the demands that other children seem to master
What are the potential benefits?
There are a variety of ways you can benefit from an evaluation, including:
- Gaining a greater understanding of your child’s learning and thinking style
- Discovering the causes of your child’s struggles
- Obtaining recommendations that will help you choose appropriate strategies and interventions to meet your child’s needs
- Determining whether your child meets criteria for special education services
- Explaining your child’s unique style to others
- Assessing the effectiveness of treatments and interventions
Who is qualified to conduct a neuropsychological evaluation?
As a consumer, it is important for you to consider who should perform an evaluation of this type.
Pediatric neuropsychologists have completed doctoral level training in psychology and advanced training in neuropsychology, specific to children. By professional standard, a pediatric neuropsychologist should have completed a two-year postdoctoral fellowship in pediatric neuropsychology or be board certified.
There are no tests specific to the practice of neuropsychology. The difference in skill of a fully trained neuropsychologist takes place both at the level of inquiry and at the level of analysis – what data are collected and how they are interpreted. A pediatric neuropsychologist has extensive training and expertise in how to translate the findings within the context of brain-behavior relationships.
To find useful information from the Lincoln (MA) Journal about how to select a neuropsychologist, go to: http://www.wickedlocal.com/lincoln/news/lifestyle/health/x998785754/How-to-select-a-neuropsychologist
To learn about the American Psychological Association’s specialized division devoted to neuropsychology, go to: http://www.div40.org/
To learn about the Houston Conference that outlined requirements for the profession, go to: http://nanonline.org/NAN/Files/PAIC/PDFs/HC%20Policy%20Statement.pdf