NEUROPSYCHOLOGICAL TESTING

One of the most personalized services available in healthcare, neuropsychological testing answers questions about a child’s intellectual, cognitive, behavioral, emotional, and interpersonal modus operandi. It provides in-depth answers to clarify diagnoses and provide treatment recommendations.

Common questions about a neuropsychological evaluation are addressed below:

A neuropsychological evaluation is a careful assessment of the brain processes associated with thinking, learning, and behavior. It may be requested to better understand learning styles, attentional problems, developmental difficulties, or behavioral challenges. The goals of a neuropsychological evaluation are to understand exactly WHAT the child’s challenges are, WHY the child may be struggling, and HOW to use the child’s strengths to keep them on the path to success.

The pediatric neuropsychological evaluation is a comprehensive and thorough assessment. It typically involves completion of a variety of different tests specifically designed to provide customized information about an individual child’s diagnosis of treatment. These tests may include measures of intellectual ability, abstract thinking, problem-solving, language, attention, concentration, memory and learning, organization, planning, sensory-perceptional functioning, visual-perceptual and visual-spatial abilities, and motor coordination. Academic achievement in reading, math, and writing is also frequently assessed.

The evaluation may be requested to help understand the neuropsychological consequences of developmental difficulties, atypical learning styles, attentional disorders, chronic medical conditions, acute brain injuries, or neurological diseases. One primary purpose of neuropsychological evaluation is to help to understand the developmental impact of central nervous system dysfunction. However, it is most often requested to provide a comprehensive examination of the child’s abilities in order to guide treatment recommendations, develop educational strategies, or target specific strategies for intervention.

We understand that parents know their children better than anyone else. So, we involve parents in our evaluations. We take the time to listen carefully to parents’ concerns. Parents help us understand their children’s personal strengths, gifts, and talents. We work together with both parents and teachers so that we get the “big picture” and know how to help children feel happier and more successful.

Following testing, the neuropsychologist and the parents meet. They look at the results of the evaluation together and talk about the best ways to help the child. Parents ask questions, and we answer them—completely and clearly. A special meeting with the child is also recommended to help them understand their unique strengths. Through this careful process, parents and children are coached to become strong champions for success. A detailed written report is provided. Finally, a letter is written for the school to identify the student’s educational needs and give guidelines for helping the child succeed in the classroom.

In neurofeedback, brain activity is measured with an electroencephalograph (EEG) and children look at a computer screen to learn how to change their thinking and alter brainwave activity. At Plum Tree Psychology, the neuropsychologist evaluates children’s strengths and skills directly by talking to them and carefully analyzing the ways that they solve real-life activities, like puzzles, word games, and schoolwork. The focus of the neuropsychological evaluation is not to alter the electrical activity of the brain; the goal is to develop practical recommendations for paying attention, coping with stress, and learning specific skills in reading, math, and writing.

Teachers know when a child’s progress is slow, but they don’t always know exactly why. School districts have a process for testing whether students qualify for help in school. Often, parents are looking for answers right away. Many parents want more thorough and detailed recommendations. When difficulties are very subtle, when challenges are happening both in and outside of school, or, if complicated problems are a barrier to the child’s success, a neuropsychological examination is a great way to uncover them.