What is pediatric neuropsychology?
Pediatric neuropsychology is a specialty within the field of psychology and related health care sciences. The emphasis in pediatric neuropsychology is the study and understanding of brain-behavior relationships specifically in children with known or suspected brain injury or disorder.
Who is a pediatric neuropsychologist?
A pediatric neuropsychologist is a psychologist that has completed a PhD or PsyD in child psychology or a related psychology field and has completed specialized training including a post-doctoral fellowship regarding how learning and behavior are related to the development of brain structures and systems within children. A pediatric neuropsychologist uses standardized testing methods to determine a child's cognitive strengths and weaknesses. Paper and pencil and game-like tests are common techniques used by neuropsychologists. After testing, the results are interpreted and research-based recommendations are made with the goal of having the child progress and learn at their fullest potential.
Should my child be evaluated by a pediatric neuropsychologist?
Any child between the ages of 6 months and 18 years who is demonstrating difficulties with learning, development, or cognitive functioning (e.g., attention) could benefit from an evaluation.
Our clinic usually sees children with an established medical or neurological illness or injury that is known to change the brain in some capacity. A few examples include:
In addition to our general clinic, we conduct a Preschool and Infant Neuropsychological Testing (P.I.N.T.) Clinic and an Early Autism Clinic for individuals under 6 years of age.
What does a neuropsychological evaluation assess and why are children referred?
Evaluations vary depending on the age and development of the child and why he or she was referred for an evaluation. Some reasons for referral include:
- Determine the child's level of cognitive functioning
- Identify changes in brain function as a result of medical/neurological illness or injury
- Assist in school and medical treatment planning
- Determine level of functioning prior to treatment/intervention (baseline testing)
- Determine response to or recovery from treatment/intervention (follow-up testing)
- Monitor brain development and guide treatment decisions
Neuropsychological evaluations look at various different aspects of brain health and development. Some areas include:
- General intellectual abilities
- Attention capacity
- Executive skills (organization, planning, inhibition or flexibility)
- Learning and memory
- Language skills
- Visual-spatial skills
- Motor coordination
- Behavioral and emotional functioning
- Social and academic skills
What should I expect?
Your neuropsychological evaluation will be tailored to meet the needs of your child. Depending on the background, the current concerns, and whether they have been evaluated previously, most neuropsychological evaluations take between 2 to 8 hours to complete. Depending on the age and needs of your child, testing may be completed in one day or over the course of several days.
You will be asked to participate in an interview regarding your child's developmental history and to complete several questionnaires about your child's emotional and behavioral functioning. You will be asked to bring with you any records of previous testing or individualized education plans (IEPs) to the appointment.
Your child will be asked to perform a variety of paper and pencil and game-like tasks similar to things he or she may do at school. Most of the testing will be conducted over several hours by trained technicians who work with your child in an individualized setting. No medical procedures are involved.
In most cases, recommendations based on results from the evaluation will be shared with you at the end of the day.