Pediatric neuropsychology is a professional specialty with expertise in the area of learning and behavior in relationship to a child's/adolescent's developing brain (American Psychological Association, Division 40). A pediatric neuropsychologist is a licensed psychologist with formal training- post-doctoral fellowship- and expertise in the development of brain structures and brain networks. A pediatric neuropsychologist may work in different settings and roles and she/he can be a case manager who follows the child/adolescent over time adjusting recommendations to different developmental stages and changing needs. Pediatric neuropsychologists work closely with schools to assist in providing appropriate educational interventions and with pediatricians to help managing the child/adolescent problems.
What is a Pediatric Neuropsychological Evaluation?
The pediatric neuropsychological evaluation provides a detailed description of cognitive development , that is , how brain functions are developing. This evaluation identifies conditions that can disrupt the normal trajectory of cognitive, academic and emotional development of a child or an adolescent, resulting in uneven progress in reaching developmental milestones, problems with school achievement, psychological functioning, and difficulties in social relationships.
The evaluation is aimed at providing a diagnosis as well as detailed recommendations to improve the child's/ adolescent's level of adjustment at home and at school. Often these recommendations are used by a special education team within the school system to formulate an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP). Referrals are also made to specialists to guide treatment and rehabilitation of areas of weakness.
How does a Neuropsychological Evaluation differ from a School Psychology or other Psychological Evaluation?
The pediatric neuropsychological evaluation differs from the testing provided by the school psychologist or clinical psychologist. Although some of the same tests may be used, the pediatric neuropsychologist interprets the pattern of results in the context of information regarding brain organization, brain functions (e.g. attention, memory), the child's/adolescent's medical history, and the neurodevelopmental stage. The focus is on understanding what is preventing the child/adolescent from performing as expected.
Why are children referred for Neuropsychological Evaluations?
Children or adolescents are referred by pediatricians, neurologists, psychiatrists, teachers, psychologists and other mental health professionals due to a wide array of concerns such as problems with learning, psychological or behavioral problems, difficulties with attention, social functioning, after brain injury or due to the presence of an inborn or acquired medical condition that may potentially affect brain functions.
What can the results tell me about my child?
The goal of the neuropsychological evaluation is first to provide a comprehensive description and an understanding of the child's /adolescent's level of functioning in areas such as general intellect, attention, executive skills, - organization, planning, inhibition, - learning and memory, language , visual-spatial skills , motor coordination, social skills, behavioral and emotional functioning and academic skills.
Second, the goal of the pediatric neuropsychological evaluation is to provide an explanation about the interaction among these areas and the relative role and contribution played by each of these areas on the child's overall functioning. The results provide a profile of abilities that are useful in identifying the child's/adolescent's disorder and the brain networks that are involved. Results also provide a pattern of strengths and weaknesses that guides in designing interventions.
Third, testing provides a diagnosis that helps detect the effect of developmental, neurological, and medical problems such as dyslexia, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and epilepsy among other conditions that can affect the trajectory of normal neurodevelopment.
Fourth, the results of the evaluation also provide baseline information about the child's/adolescent's functioning to measure and monitor changes across development and adequacy of interventions. Most importantly, the results will provide a better understanding of the child's /adolescent's behavior at home, at school , and in the community that can be used to assist and guide them toward reaching their highest potential.
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Please review our office safety practices here. You may also contact the office to discuss any concerns that you may have prior to the appointment.