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Assessment Services
Pediatric Neuropsychology
Adult Neuropsychology
Psychodiagnostic Assessment

Pediatric neuropsychology is a professional specialty concerned with learning and behavior in relationship to a child's brain. A pediatric neuropsychologist is a licensed psychologist with expertise in how learning and behavior are associated with the development of brain structures and systems. Formal testing of abilities such as memory and language skills assesses brain functioning. The pediatric neuropsychologist conducts the evaluation, interprets the test results, and makes recommendations. The neuropsychologist may work in many different settings and may have different roles in the care of your child. He or she may provide treatment, such as cognitive rehabilitation, behavior management, or psychotherapy. Often, the neuropsychologist will work closely with physicians to manage the child's problems. Pediatric neuropsychologists sometimes work closely with schools to help them provide appropriate educational programs for the child. They may also be employed as outside consultants when a independent assessment is warranted.

How is it Different from School Based Assessments?
The pediatric neuropsychologist and the clinical or school psychologist may use some of the same tests. The pediatric neuropsychologist differs from other psychologists in what they do with the test results. The clinical or school psychologist is primarily interested in the score that the child obtains. The neuropsychologist is interested in how the child obtains a specific test score as well as in the pattern of scores across different tests. Skills are broken down into component parts, attempting to define a pattern of strengths and weaknesses. For example, a child may have difficulty following a direction because he/she did not pay attention to the direction, did not understand the direction, or did not remember the direction. The pediatric neuropsychologist works to understand where the child is having trouble and why.

What is Assessed?
The pediatric neuropsychologist may look at a broader range of skills, evaluating skills not usually tested by the clinical or school psychologist. A neuropsychological assessment may include tests of the child's abilities in these areas:
• General intellect
• Achievement skills, such as reading, writing and math
• Executive skills, such as organization, planning, inhibition, and flexibility
• Attention (simple, complex, and sustained)
• Learning and memory
• Language
• Visual-spatial skills
• Motor coordination
• Behavioral and emotional functioning
• Social skills
Some abilities may be measured in more detail than others, depending on the child's needs. A detailed developmental history and data from the child's teacher may also be obtained. Observing your child to understand his or her motivation, cooperation, and behavior is a very important part of the evaluation and may include school visits to examine the child’s behavior in the classroom and other academic settings (recess, lunch, etc.).

When Should I Consider a Neuropsychological Assessment?
Children may be referred for a neuropsychological assessment for various reasons:
• Your child displays difficulty in learning, attention, behavior, socialization, or emotional control.
• To assist in establishment of a diagnosis.
• Your child has a neurological condition such as hydrocephalus, cerebral palsy, epilepsy (seizures), neurofibromatosis, tuberous sclerosis, or a brain tumor.
• Your child has a brain injury as a result of an accident, a stroke, or an infection of the brain or other medical problems that place him/her at an increased risk of brain injury such as diabetes, chronic heart or respiratory problems, certain genetic disorders, or treatment for childhood cancer.
• When an assessment by a clinical psychologist or the school multi-disciplinary team was inconclusive or interventions resulting from that assessment have failed to help your child.
• To document your child's current skills prior to a planned medical intervention such as a change in medications, a surgical treatment or treatment for cancer. After the medical intervention, testing can repeated to determine if the treatment has had an effect on his/her continued development of skills. Your physician may refer to this process as "baseline testing."
• To document you 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.

 

Adult Neuropsychology is a specialty area of Professional Psychology, with a focus upon the study of brain-behavior relationships, cognitive, intellectual, emotional and behavioral functioning, and the understanding of effects of various diseases and injuries of the brain upon these domains through the use of specialized assessment measures. Neuropsychological assessment examines the cognitive, intellectual, emotional and behavioral functioning of individuals with known or suspected diseases and injuries of the brain and nervous system, as well as a host of other developmental and neuropsychiatric disorders.

How Does a Neuropsychological Assessment Work?

The Neuropsychological examination typically involves a comprehensive clinical interview, as well as an extensive series of specialized and carefully standardized psychometric assessment measures. These measures allow us to assess a variety of relevant domains that include (but not limited to) the following areas:

1. General intelligence
2. Attention and Speed of Information Processing
3. Learning and memory
4. Speech, language and communicative abilities
5. Visuospatial and visuoconstructive abilities
6. Executive, conceptual reasoning, and problem-solving capacities
7. Fine motor skills and manual dexterity
8. Basic academic skills
9. Emotional and behavioral functioning

Since each assessment that we conduct is unique to the individual's specific needs (and the nature of the referral questions that are asked), the nature of the assessment and the length of time that it will take to complete will vary on a case-by-case basis. In rare instances, only an interview is conducted. However, the majority of cases involve not only the clinical interview, but the comprehensive psychometric assessment process that typically runs an additional 6-10 hours in order to complete. While about three-forths of the examinations that we conduct can be completed within a single full day, a few of our cases will need to return for a second (and rarely third) visit in order to complete the assessment process.

Following completion of the face-to-face assessment process, the neuropsychologist then spends an additional 2-4 hours scoring and tabling the entire database that has been collected. Following the analysis and clinical interpretation of the assessment database, a report is typically prepared. Reports tend to vary in length depending upon the nature and complexity of the referral questions and the length of the assessment that was completed. These reports often fall into two categories, an intermediate report (typically 5-10 pages) and a comprehensive report (typically 11-20 pages). Reports generally take 2-4 weeks to complete, although at times reports are prepared on an urgent basis, when prior arrangements have been made.

Depending upon the nature of the referral process and the preferences of the patient, a single feedback or "informing" session will be conducted, either prior to, or following, preparation of a written report (if a report is to be prepared). The patient may chose whether or not they would like to have another family member or interested party present during a feedback session (and must consent in written form both for the release of a written report to a specific party, as well as to the presence of another party during a feedback session).

What Does A Neuropsychological Assessment Tell Me?

Depending upon the referral questions, Neuropsychological evaluations can be useful for many reasons, including:

1. Assistance with differential diagnosis
2. A detailed assessment and profiling of cognitive strengths and weaknesses
3. A broader understanding of underlying brain-cognition-behavioral relationships as they relate to day-to-day functioning
4. Suggestions for treatment strategies and interventions
5. Assessment of treatment effectiveness
6. Repeated assessments to "chart" disease course, recovery or decline
7. Assessment of the need for special accommodations in academic settings, workplace environments, and for examination procedures (such as SATs, college exams, professional licensing board exams, etc.)
8. Assistance with academic placement and learning related interventions
9. Assessment of effort level and motivation to perform

 

Psychodiagnostic assessment focuses on understanding the individual’s formal thought processes, emotional and personality functioning in order to help make accurate diagnoses and assist in the planning of appropriate treatments.

How Does a Psychodiagnostic Assessment Work?

The Psychodiagnostic assessment typically involves an interview and specialized measures and questionnaires targeting description of thought processes, personality characteristics, and mood state. For children, the assessment will usually include an observation of the child in their educational setting. A typical assessment will take several hours of examination time, after which the psychologist spends additional time analyzing the results and preparing a report. The psychodiagnostic report will include recommendations to the professionals involved in the treatment and care of you or your child.

What Does a Psychodiagnostic Assessment Tell Me?

The Psychodiagnostic assessment may help determine if there are specific ways of thinking, personality characteristics, developmental factors and/or mood related issues (e.g., depression, anxiety, etc.) that may be interfering with functioning. This information may help the professionals involved with you or your child in developing an optimal intervention plan. For example, some people have personality traits or characteristic ways of thinking about problems that can interfere with their progress. Children may have underlying learning disabilities or neurodevelopmental deficits that are interfering with their ability to process information and produce work in school. Psychodiagnostic assessment can help clarify these issues to guide understanding and appropriately target intervention strategies.

 

 

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