Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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What is a Pediatric Neuropsychologist?

A pediatric neuropsychologist is a doctoral level psychologist with specialized training in brain-behavior relationships.  The pediatric neuropsychologist uses standardized tests and observes behavior to define a child's pattern of cognitive development. The child's performance is compared to what is expected at the child's age-level. The child's individual pattern of strengths and weaknesses is defined based on this comparison. The pediatric neuropsychologist uses knowledge of brain development, brain organization, and the effects of various forms of brain pathology on development to guide this assessment and to interpret the results.

How does neuropsychological assessment differ from the testing provided by a clinical psychologist or school psychologist?

The pediatric neuropsychologist holds a doctoral degree in psychology with specialized training in their area of practice, typically including two years of post-doctoral work; while the school psychologist typically hold a master’s degree and sometimes a doctoral degree.  The pediatric neuropsychologist and school psychologist may use some of the same tests; however, the school psychologist is typically testing to determine eligibility for special education, while the pediatric neuropsychologist typically performs a more comprehensive assessment and examines patterns of scores across different tests to come to conclusions about the child’s development, attempting to define a pattern of strengths and weaknesses to inform treatment. The pediatric neuropsychologist works to understand where the child is having trouble and why.  Unlike most school psychologists, the pediatric neuropsychologist is able to render a diagnosis that the child may require in order to receive the appropriate medical, educational, and developmental treatment and accommodations to reach their full potential.

The pediatric neuropsychologist may look at a broader range of skills, evaluating skills not usually tested by the clinical or school psychologist, including:

  • General intellectual functioning
  • Academic achievement skills, such as reading, writing, and math skills
  • Executive functioning, such as organization, planning, inhibition, and flexibility
  • Attention
  • Learning and memory
  • Language
  • Visual–spatial skills
  • Motor coordination
  • Behavioral and emotional functioning
  • Social skills

When should I consider a neuropsychological evaluation for my child?

Referral is typically made by the child’s pediatrician, teacher, developmental specialist, or parents/caregivers to answer specific questions about a child’s developmental, cognitive, and emotional status and to aid in differential diagnosis. A neuropsychological evaluation can be helpful if your child has:

  • Difficulty with learning, attention, behavior, problem-solving, socialization, acquisition of language, or emotional control.
  • Not reached developmental milestones on time or has had a regression in skill development.
  • Concerns for a developmental condition, such as Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder, learning disorder, or emotional disorder.
  • A neurological condition such as hydrocephalus, cerebral palsy, epilepsy (seizures), neurofibromatosis, tuberous sclerosis, or a brain tumor.
  • A brain injury as a result of an accident, a stroke, or an infection of the brain.
  • Other medical problems or genetic disorders that place him/her at an increased risk of developmental or neurological problems.
  • Had an assessment by a clinical psychologist or the school multi-disciplinary team, but interventions resulting from that assessment failed to help your child.

How will neuropsychological assessment help my child and me?

The neuropsychological assessment and report will provide you with:

  • An accurate diagnosis (if warranted) that can help guide effective interventions and acquire educational and developmental services.
  • Documentation of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Disability Category Qualification (if warranted).
  • Documentation of skills before and after interventions to evaluate treatment efficacy.
  • Documentation of your child's cognitive developmental pattern over time so that medical treatments, family expectations, and school programming can be adjusted to your child's changing needs.
  • A description of your child's strengths and weaknesses.
  • Recommendations for what you can do to help your child, including recommendations for educational, medical, and/or developmental programming.
  • Resources for community based interventions and supports.
  • Help in knowing what is fair to expect from your child at this point in time.
  • Help in knowing what your child's needs may be in the future, so that you can plan for the future.
  • Recommendations for improving your child's behavior and development. A good pediatric neuropsychologist will provide ongoing follow-up over time to monitor your child as he/she grows and make updated recommendations, as needed and help to coordinate care. In addition, the pediatric neuropsychologist may refer you to other specialists, such as a clinical psychologist, social worker, speech and language pathologist, occupational therapist, or behavioral therapist for ongoing help with your child's development and behavior.
  • The pediatric neuropsychologist should also be available to attend school meetings with you or perform a school observation, if necessary.

What should I tell my child to prepare him/her for neuropsychological assessment?

Children sometimes think that visits to a doctor will involve shots. It is important to reassure your child that no shots or painful procedures will be involved in the visit to the neuropsychologist. For school aged children, it is appropriate to describe testing as like school. You can tell your child that he/she will be doing many different activities. Some activities involve listening and talking while other activities involving looking at things, building things and drawing. Parents are not typically allowed to be present during testing unless the child is very young or has difficulties with separation. Let your child know that you will be close by while he/she works with the neuropsychologist. Reassure your child that she/he can have breaks to use the bathroom and to eat lunch and that she/he may even earn special rewards if they put forth their best effort!

For young children, you can describe neuropsychological assessment as playing games involving listening, talking and remembering. Let the child know that the neuropsychologist will have toys like blocks and puzzles that he/she will get to use. Your preschool child may wish to bring a security object along to the appointment. Try to choose an object that will not be too distracting for the child (e.g. a security blanket or small stuffed animal as opposed to an action figure or toy with many small parts).

You can help your child get ready for assessment by making sure that he/she gets a good night sleep prior to testing. Make sure that you child has eaten so that he/she will not be hungry during testing. Make the assessment day a special day for your child by leaving brothers and/or sisters at home.

What type of tests or measurements do you use?

I use assessment measures that are standardized for the particular need and population that are designed to help make an accurate diagnosis.  Some tests are structured and involve particular questions or instructions and other tests are unstructured and play-based.  Many are similar to the work children do in school and some involve puzzles, blocks, or games.  There are no medical procedures involved and nothing that will cause the child any discomfort, other than possibly some anxiety and discomfort that some children experience when test items become challenging for them.  In most cases, kids are eager to engage in the testing and have a lot of fun with it!  Most are eager to come back for more fun!

More FAQ

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How do you gather information about symptoms in more than one setting?

I will perform an interview with the child’s caregiver and teachers to gain information about symptoms in other settings. I will also you and the child’s teacher to fill out a detailed questionnaire, as well as standardized parent and teacher report forms to gain further information on how the child is functioning at home and at school.  I am also available to complete an observation of the child in school if necessary.

How long does it take to complete the evaluation?

It depends on the child’s age.  For a school-aged child, the testing  is typically completed within a  school day’s time (9:00-3:00pm) with breaks for the child throughout the day.   Some children benefit from the testing being broken into two half days.  Testing for younger children (toddlers and some preschool aged children) is typically completed in a half of a day (9:00-12:00pm).  For some children, it makes sense to spread the testing over multiple sessions or days.  This is determined on an individual basis.  

How soon will I get the report once the testing is complete?

I pride myself in being able to provide a very comprehensive evaluation and report in a quick turn around time.  Once I have completed the testing and have received all of the necessary forms back, the report is completed within 3-4 weeks time.  

Are you available to attend an IEP meeting with us?

Yes, I am happy to attend an IEP meeting to help the child’s school better understand their needs; however, this service is not covered by insurance companies.

Do you accept insurance?

No, we are not in network with any insurance companies at this time, but you may choose to seek reimbursement directly from your insurance company if you have out of network benefits (i.e., a PPO plan).  We will provide you with the necessary documentation to do so, including procedure codes and a receipt.  

What can I do at home to help my child?

The comprehensive report will outline specific and detailed recommendations for parents, teachers, and other professionals that will help your child  succeed and reach their true potential.