40 Dale Road, Suite 204 Avon, CT 06001

40 Dale Road, Suite 204 Avon, CT 06001

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Pediatric Neuropsychology?

Pediatric neuropsychology is a specialized field dedicated to understanding the interplay between a child’s learning, behavior, and their brain.

A licensed pediatric neuropsychologist possesses the expertise to explore how the development of brain structures and systems correlates with learning and behavioral patterns. Through formal testing, these professionals assess various abilities, including memory and language skills, providing valuable insights into brain functioning.

The pediatric neuropsychologist not only conducts evaluations but also interprets the test results, offering informed recommendations for the child’s well-being. This role can encompass diverse settings, and the neuropsychologist may assume different responsibilities in the child’s care.

In some cases, the pediatric neuropsychologist acts as a case manager, monitoring the child’s progress over time and adapting recommendations to meet evolving needs. Beyond assessment, they may deliver treatments like cognitive rehabilitation, behavior management, or psychotherapy. Collaboration with physicians is common, ensuring a comprehensive approach to managing the child’s challenges. Additionally, some pediatric neuropsychologists collaborate closely with schools to assist in developing suitable educational programs tailored to the child’s requirements.

How does a Neuropsychological Evaluation differ from a school psychological assessment?

Typically, school assessments aim to ascertain a child’s eligibility for special education programs or interventions designed to improve their academic performance.

These assessments concentrate on evaluating achievement and the skills essential for academic success. However, it’s important to note that, in general, they do not serve as diagnostic tools for identifying learning or behavioral disorders resulting from changes in brain function or development.

Why are children referred for Neuropsychological Assessment?

Children are often referred for neuropsychological evaluation by doctors, teachers, school psychologists, or other professionals due to various challenges, including:

  1. Difficulty in learning, attention, behavior, socialization, or emotional control.
  2. Presence of a disease or innate developmental issue impacting the brain.
  3. Brain injury resulting from accidents, birth trauma, or other physical stress.

A neuropsychological evaluation serves as a valuable tool in gaining a comprehensive understanding of your child’s functioning across key areas such as memory, attention, perception, coordination, language, and personality.

This information becomes instrumental in tailoring treatments and interventions for your child, aiding teachers, therapists, and physicians in developing strategies that address their unique needs effectively.

What is assessed?

A comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation for a school-age child typically covers the following areas:

  1. General intellectual functioning (IQ)
  2. Achievement skills, encompassing reading, writing, and math
  3. Executive functioning, which includes organizational abilities, planning, inhibition, and cognitive flexibility
  4. Attention
  5. Information processing
  6. Learning and memory (verbal and visual)
  7. Language
  8. Visual–spatial skills
  9. Motor coordination
  10. Behavioral, emotional, and personality functioning
  11. Social skills

The extent of measurement for each ability may vary based on the child’s specific needs.

In addition to direct assessments, obtaining a detailed developmental history and gathering information from the child’s teacher are integral parts of the evaluation process.

Observation of your child is a crucial component, allowing for an understanding of motivation, cooperation, and behavior.

While emerging skills can be assessed in very young children, evaluations for infants and preschoolers are typically shorter due to the limited development of certain skills at that stage.

What will the results tell me about my child?

By comparing your child’s test scores with those of children of similar ages, the neuropsychologist can construct a comprehensive profile outlining your child’s strengths and weaknesses.

The results of the evaluation serve several purposes:

A) Explanation of School Challenges: Testing can elucidate the reasons behind your child’s academic difficulties. For instance, challenges in reading may stem from issues such as attention problems, language disorders, auditory processing difficulties, or learning disabilities.

B) Designing Interventions: The test results guide the pediatric neuropsychologist in crafting interventions that leverage your child’s strengths. The identified skills to work on and recommended strategies aim to support your child effectively.

C) Detecting Developmental, Neurological, and Medical Issues: Testing aids in identifying the impacts of various conditions, including developmental, neurological, and medical problems such as epilepsy, autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dyslexia, or genetic disorders.

D) Establishing Baselines: In some cases, testing is conducted to establish a baseline for measuring the outcomes of treatment or monitoring your child’s development over time.

E) Identifying Disorder Patterns: Different childhood disorders manifest in distinct patterns of strengths and weaknesses. These profiles contribute to the identification of a child’s disorder and the specific brain areas involved. For instance, testing can help distinguish between attention deficit and depression or pinpoint the cause of a language delay, be it related to speech production, language comprehension, expression, social shyness, autism, or cognitive delay.

Your neuropsychologist may collaborate with your physician, incorporating results from medical tests such as brain imaging or blood tests to facilitate a comprehensive diagnosis.

Most importantly, the testing process provides a deeper understanding of your child’s behavior and learning experiences in various settings—school, home, and the community. This evaluation serves as a valuable guide for teachers, therapists, and families, enhancing their ability to support your child in reaching their full potential.

What should I expect?

A neuropsychological evaluation typically comprises an interview with parents to gather the child’s history, an observation of and interview with the child, and various testing methods.

The testing involves a combination of paper-and-pencil tasks, hands-on activities, answering questions, and sometimes using a computer. Parents may also be asked to complete questionnaires about their child’s development and behavior.

Many neuropsychologists utilize trained examiners or technicians to assist with test administration and scoring. Consequently, your child may interact with more than one person during the evaluation. Parents are typically not present in the room during testing, though exceptions may be made for very young children.

The duration of the evaluation depends on the child’s age and the specific issues being addressed. It is advisable for your child to have a good night’s sleep before the testing. If your child wears glasses, a hearing aid, or any other device, be sure to bring it. Notify the neuropsychologist of any special language needs your child may have.

For children on medication, especially stimulants like Ritalin, coordination of dosage time with testing should be discussed with the neuropsychologist beforehand. If your child has undergone previous school testing, has an individual educational plan, or possesses relevant medical records, providing this information to the neuropsychologist for review is beneficial.

How much you explain to your child about the evaluation should be tailored to their understanding. Keep explanations simple and relate them to a problem your child is familiar with, such as “trouble with spelling” or “problems following directions.” Reassure a worried child that testing involves no “shots” and emphasize that the goal is to understand and address their challenges. Encourage them to try their best, emphasizing that it’s okay not to get every question right.

Assure your child that the neuropsychological evaluation is an interesting process that will provide valuable information contributing to their care and well-being.