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Does My Child Need Neuropsychological Testing? A Guide for Brooklyn Parents

Neurological testing is most simply defined as a series of tests designed to see how well your brain works. These tests look at a number of mental functions, such as reading, attention, learning, language use, processing speed, mood, and behavior.

There are several reasons a healthcare provider may order neuropsychological testing for children or young adults.

  • Discovering a child's strengths and weaknesses in cognitive skills. This may be done because of a traumatic brain injury or to get a baseline for a child who plays contact sports.
  • Find a diagnosis. If your child has poor academic skills, this type of testing may be used to determine whether there is a learning disability. In very young children, it can be used to interpret dysfunctional behavioral functioning or to determine whether they are on the autism spectrum disorder.
  • To create a plan for an individualized education program determining the need for therapies like speech or occupational therapy.
  • If your child needs brain surgery, it can be used to get your child's history as well as determine through neuropsychological evaluation how much risk may be involved for a change in thinking abilities after surgery.

What's Covered in a Children's Neuropsychological Test?

How Are Children's Neuropsychological Evaluations Performed?

What Are Signs Your Child May Benefit From Neuropsychological Testing?

What Should I Bring to My Child's Evaluation?

What Happens After Testing is Completed?

Pediatric Neuropsychologists in Brooklyn: Williamsburg Therapy Group

What's Covered in a Children's Neuropsychological Test?

There are a number of tests of mental function that are completed during the evaluation process. Through these tests, the pediatric neuropsychologist and other professionals can determine:

  • Executive functioning skills
  • General intellect
  • Visual spatial skills
  • Speed at which they can process information
  • Social emotional functioning
  • Behavioral problems
  • Problem solving skills
  • Mood and personality
  • Fine motor skills
  • Visual motor skills

The test results can be used to diagnose a number of conditions in children, including learning disorders, traumatic brain injury, brain tumors, and epilepsy.

How Are Children's Neuropsychological Evaluations Performed?

If parents or professionals involved in a child's life (such as teachers or a pediatrician) notice that there are indicators such as difficulty with social interactions, change in personality, difficulty concentrating, insufficient academic achievement, developmental disabilities, changes in the child's behavior, and other indications of impaired brain function, they can get a referral for neuropsychological evaluations.

Pediatric neuropsychologists will begin by asking for previous evaluations, school records (including previous school testing and report cards), the child's medical records, and any other relevant information that can help with the evaluation process. You may also be asked to fill out surveys for behavioral and psychological history, and at the first session, you may be asked about any concerns you may have about your child's cognitive functioning.

After this initial session, which allows the neuropsychologist to know which testing will be most appropriate for your child, they will then either be scheduled for a test day or given the tests at that same appointment.

Sample Evaluation Schedule

A neuropsychological evaluation may look something like this:

  • Initial appointment. Neuropsychologists will lay the groundwork for testing sessions, collect data from caregivers, ask questions, and interview the child.
  • The neuropsychologist will determine which tests are appropriate for your child's age, developmental framework, and history, and the tests will be given by a technician called a psychometrist. This may include things like drawing and writing, solving puzzles, or answering questions. Often, the psychometrist and the neuropsychologist are the same person.
  • Next comes evaluation. The neuropsychologist will spend time evaluating the results of the testing and work closely with other members of the child's educational advocates to make targeted recommendations. This may include school modifications, occupational, physical, or speech therapy, and other accommodations.

What Happens During a Neuropsychological Evaluation?

Testing days look different depending on what your child's needs are. Tests can be mostly geared toward academic skills or fine motor skills. They may involve clinical psychology testing or focus on brain structures. Your child may undergo testing that encompasses physical, behavioral, and psychological factors. This will be determined in the initial session through an interview and the evaluation of medical documents.

Classroom Observation and Consultation with Schools

Often personnel from the school will be involved in the process. The neuropsychologist may wish to complete observation in the child's school setting as a part of their evaluation. They may team up with licensed psychologists within the school system to get a better picture of the child's history. School personnel will also likely be, with the parent's permission, one of the recipients of the evaluation results for the child.

What Are Signs Your Child May Benefit From Neuropsychological Testing?

Some signs to look for to determine whether they may benefit from a neuropsychological evaluation include:

  • Personality changes, such as the development of delusions or increased depression or anxiety
  • Poor attention
  • Having difficulty with organization or completing tasks
  • Having difficulty in school
  • Difficulty relating to other children
  • Behaviors that interfere with the learning environment
  • Noticing that your child is not hitting developmental markers that are normal for your child's age

What Should I Bring to My Child's Evaluation?

Always check with your psychologist first, but some common items that should be brought to a neuropsychological evaluation include any medical aids or assistive devices (such as hearing aids or AFOs), a written report by school personnel, records from other professionals that pertain to your child (such as medical records, psychological history, behavioral evaluation, report cards, school evaluation, etc.), and any other records that will help you answer questions posed by the neuropsychologist.

What Happens After Testing is Completed?

Once your provider has completed the testing sessions and has evaluated the results, the parents should receive a report and possibly a treatment plan for the child. These are standardized tests and may take a couple weeks to interpret. The neuropsychologist may schedule a feedback session with the parents to go over any possible questions and explain any specifics found in the evaluation.

They will be able to share if they've found any signs of a medical condition, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or executive functioning disorder. In the feedback session, the parent or members of the care team can ask for re-evaluations and learn of any associated recommendations they may need to address at school or at home. These recommendations will vary based on the specific needs of the child.

Scheduling a neuropsychological evaluation for your child can be intimidating. While it's normal to worry about the results, rest assured that having a clear picture of your child's needs can be empowering. Many parents find that neuropsychological testing for their children is the first step in getting the answers they need and moving forward with the treatment plan that helps them succeed in school and life.

Pediatric Neuropsychologists in Brooklyn: Williamsburg Therapy Group

If you have a recommendation from a doctor for a pediatric neurological evaluation, or if you suspect your child may need one, it's time to talk to a licensed therapist or neuropsychologist.

Williamsburg Therapy Group is home to Brooklyn's best pediatric neuropsychologists, who maintain a high level of availability so you can get the care your child needs as quickly as possible.

Give us a call, and our patient coordinator will help you book your first appointment.

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