Treatment & Services

What is a Neuropsychological Evaluation? An evaluation can help your doctor understand and diagnose you better, with a clearer view of your strengths and weaknesses. The information below will help guide you as to what to expect.

What Is a Neuropsychological Evaluation?

This information has been provided by the American Psychological Association (Division 40; Clinical Neuropsychology) about what to expect in a neuropsychological evaluation. Please refer to the relevant sections below (pediatric or adult).

Pediatric neuropsychological evaluation: What to expect?
A neuropsychological evaluation usually includes an interview with parents about the child’s history, observation of and interview with the child, and testing. Testing involves paper and pencil and hands-on activities, answering questions, and sometimes using a computer.

Parents may be asked to fill out questionnaires about their child’s development and behavior. Many neuropsychologists employ trained examiners, or technicians, to assist with the administration and scoring of tests, so your child may see more than one person during the evaluation. Parents are usually not in the room during testing, although they may be present with very young children. The time required depends on the child’s age and problem.

Make sure your child has a good night’s sleep before the testing. If your child wears glasses or a hearing aid or any other device, make sure to bring it. If your child has special language needs, please alert the neuropsychologist to these. If your child is on stimulant medication, such as Ritalin, or other medication, check with the neuropsychologist beforehand about coordinating dosage time with testing.

If your child has had previous school testing, an individual educational plan, or has related medical records, please bring or send this information and records to the neuropsychologist for review.

What you tell your child about this evaluation depends on how much he or she can understand. Be simple and brief and relate your explanation to a problem that your child knows about such as “trouble with spelling,” “problems following directions,” or “feeling upset.”

Reassure a worried child that testing involves no “shots.” Tell your child that you are trying to understand his or her problem to make things better. You may also tell the child that “nobody gets every question right,” and that the important thing is to “try your best.” Your child will probably find the neuropsychological evaluation interesting, and the detailed information that is gathered will contribute to your child’s care.

By comparing your child’s test scores to scores of children of similar ages, the europsychologist can create a profile of your child’s strengths and weaknesses. The results help those involved in your child’s care in a number of ways.

  • Testing can explain why your child is having school problems. For example, a child may have difficulty reading because of an attention problem, a language disorder, an auditory processing problem, or a reading disability. Testing also guides the pediatric europsychologist’s design of interventions to draw upon your child’s strengths. The results identify what skills to work on, as well as which strategies to use to help your child.
  • Testing can help detect the effects of developmental, neurological, and medical problems, such as epilepsy, autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dyslexia, or a genetic disorder. Testing may be done to obtain a baseline against which to measure the outcome of treatment or the child’s development over time.

Adult neuropsychological evaluations: What to expect?
A neuropsychological evaluation usually consists of an interview and testing. During the interview, information that is important for the neuropsychologist to consider will be reviewed. You will be asked about your symptoms, medical history, medications, and other important factors.

Testing involves taking paper-and pencil or computerized tests and answering questions. The time required depends on the problem being assessed. In general, several hours are needed to assess the many skills involved in processing information. Some tests will be easy while others will be more complex.

The most important thing is try your best. Bring glasses or hearing aids if you use them. Try to rest and relax before your evaluation. You will probably find testing interesting, and the detailed information that is gathered will contribute to your care.

  • Test results can be used to plan treatments that use strengths to compensate for weaknesses. The results help to identify what target problems to work on and which strategies to use. For example, the results can help to plan and monitor rehabilitation or to follow the recovery of skills after a stroke or traumatic brain injury.
  • Studies have shown how scores on specific tests relate to everyday functional skills, such as managing money, driving, or readiness to return to work. Your results will help your doctors understand what problems you may have in everyday life. This will help guide planning for assistance or treatment.