Pediatric Neurospsychology: Referrals  |  What to Expect  |  Prepare Your Child

What is pediatric neuropsychology?

Pediatric neuropsychological evaluations provide an integrated understanding of your child’s cognitive, academic, emotional and behavioral functioning and how these relate to the child’s brain structures and systems.

Our neuropsychologists rely on a child-centered approach that analyzes your child’s individual strengths and weaknesses and how they affect his or her functioning on a day to day basis. An extensive evaluation is provided. Some abilities may be measured in more detail than others, depending on the child’s specific needs. Observing your child to understand his/her motivation, cooperation and behavior is also a very important part of the evaluation.

There are some similarities amongst children with certain disorders (for example, ADHD, Dyslexia) and medical conditions (for example, Brain Tumor, Epilepsy) although each child is an individual and so pediatric neuropsychologists are careful to determine your child’s unique characteristics and background in order to understand his or her profile and provide the most appropriate recommendations.

A comprehensive report is provided detailing how your child’s neuropsychological profile affects his/her functioning in all relevant domains (cognitive, academic, psychological, social, family). Detailed recommendations are provided to help you make use of the testing in your child’s daily activities, including school.

Education is considered such an important aspect of the child’s functioning that the Psychology Assessment Center also provides the services of an Educational Specialist who can assist with recommendations tailored to your child’s specific school curriculum. Additional education testing, direct consultation with your child’s school and the development of individual education services can be provided

Pediatric specialists at the PAC often work closely with your child’s physician when a specific medical condition and/or developmental disorder is an important factor in your child’s general neuropsychological functioning.

Why are children referred for Neuropsychological Evaluation?

Children are referred by a physician, teacher, school psychologist or other professional because of one or more problems in areas such as:

  • Difficulty in learning, attention, behavior, socialization or emotional control;
  • A disease or developmental problem that affects the brain in some way; or
  • A brain injury from an accident, birth trauma, or other physical stress

The Assessment / What should I expect?

A neuropsychological evaluation usually includes an interview with parents about the child’s history, observation of and interview with the child, and direct 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 the concerns.

By comparing your child’s test scores to scores of children of similar ages, the neuropsychologist 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.

StudentTesting 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 neuropsychologist’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.

An evaluation typically lasts from 3-5 hours depending on your child’s age and developmental level although evaluation of older teenagers and young adults may take longer. Emerging skills can be assessed in very young children; the evaluation of infants and preschool children is usually shorter in duration because the child has not yet developed as many skills.

How should I prepare my child for the Evaluation?

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.”

  • Make sure your child has a good night’s sleep and breakfast 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.




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