What is a Pediatric Neuropsychologist?
A pediatric neuropsychologist is a licensed psychologist with expertise in how learning and behavior are associated with the development of brain structures and systems. The pediatric neuropsychologist conducts formal testing of neurocognitive abilities, interprets the test results, and makes recommendations. Pediatric neuropsychologists may also work with schools to help them provide appropriate educational interventions for the child.
What Types of Problems Require Assessment?
There are many situations in which a child may benefit from an assessment. These include difficulty with learning, behavior, attention, social skills, or emotional regulation. Children who have suffered a brain injury from an accident or birth trauma require neuropsychological testing, as well as children with developmental problems that affect the brain.
How is a Neuropsychological Evaluation Performed?
Before the assessment begins, parents will be asked to fill out various forms and questionnaires about their child’s development and behavior. This is followed by an interview with parents about the child’s history and development. The neuropsychologist will also review any previous testing, individual educational plans, and related medical records. The actual assessment will include various tasks such as paper and pencil tasks, hands-on activities, providing verbal responses, and sometimes using a computer. Unless the child is very young, parents are not in the room during testing.
What is Assessed During a Neuropsychological Evaluation?
The following areas are usually assessed:
- General Intelligence
- Memory and Learning
- Attention and Executive Functioning
- Visual-Spatial Skills
- Sensorimotor Skills
- Academic Achievement
- Behavior, Social and Emotional Functioning
How Will This Assessment be Helpful?
Testing provides a better understanding of the child’s behavior and learning in school. Therefore, very often testing is done to explain why a child is having school problems and to provide appropriate academic interventions. Testing can also help to understand the effects of developmental, neurological, and medical problems, as well as to track these effects over time. Testing is also helpful in determining a child’s unique pattern of strengths and weaknesses and it is this profile of abilities that is used to identify a child’s needs.