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Neuropsychological Evaluation for Children or Adolescents

Children are referred for a neuropsychological assessment for a variety of reasons. They may be depressed or anxious, have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), behavior problems at home or in school, or have a learning disorder. Often parents notice a difference in a child's behavior or mood; or a counselor or teacher will suggest the child undergo a neuropsychological assessment, when kids are struggling in school or seem to be developmentally behind their peers.

An evaluation can help clarify problems that may be underlying a child’s behavior and provide reassurance or recommendations for next steps. The results of the neuropsychological evaluation will show which areas of the brain are strong and which areas are below average, or even impaired. These weaker areas are the ones that need to be addressed. For example, ADHD or a learning disability can be addressed by a school's individualized education plan (IEP), with medication, and behavioral modification programs. A treatment plan for your child will be designed, specific to the way their brain is functioning. This means that we will help your child to become the best they can be, to help them perform at a level more equal to their potential.

Child at Psychologist

Who performs a neuropsychological assessment?

Assessments are done by specially trained mental health professionals - a skilled psychometrist and a neuropsychologist. These mental health professionals evaluate the child’s strengths and weaknesses, then work with parents to develop a therapeutic plan to help the child progress and to reach their best possible potential.

What happens during a child’s neuropsychology assessment?

These evaluations aren’t intimidating, the way an “actual” test can be. It is best if the child is relaxed during the assessment, so the evaluation isn’t stressful for the child. It's not a type of a test you would normally study for "to pass". That being said, there are no right or wrong answers, only what the child knows. 

During a neuropsychological assessment, the mental health professional will:

  • Talk with the child and their parents to gather more information about their emotional and behavioral skills, in addition to their neurological or cognitive functioning in areas such as spatial processing. In some cases, they may also talk to the child’s teachers or others who know the child well.

  • Observe the child during the evaluation. 

  • Have the child complete a standardized test battery. These tests have been standardized and allow the child psychologist to compare your child’s results with those of others in order to assess their range of abilities. They want to know how the child functions in areas such as behavior or movement (dexterity), and in subjects like reading, writing and math. It also goes into areas such as emotional regulation, comprehension, and social interactions. 

  • Evaluate medical records, school records, or interview the child’s parents or teachers to learn more about the child, as needed.

Neuropsychological testing isn’t a quick evaluation. The assessment often takes several hours to complete and sometimes will involve more than one session to be certain the psychologist has all the details about a child. By putting all the information together, the child psychologist comes to an understanding of where a child needs assistance and can develop strategies to help the child reach their full potential.

A comprehensive assessment of a child’s mental health includes the following:

  • An interview with parents addressing a child’s developmental history, temperament, relationships with friends and family, medical history, interests, abilities, and any prior treatment. It is important to get a picture of the child’s current situation, for example: has he or she changed schools recently, has there been an illness in the family, or a change with an impact on the child’s daily life.

  • Information gathering from school, such as standardized tests, reports on behavior, capabilities, and difficulties.

  • An interview with the child about his or her experiences, as well as testing and behavioral observations, if needed.

What happens when we get the results of a neuropsychological assessment?

When the testing is complete, the neuropsychologist will go over the results with the child and parents. Keep in mind that the outcomes do not reveal 100% of a child’s potential, abilities or skills. Rather, the evaluation is used as a way to learn about the child’s “present functioning level” emotionally, in their school and home environments, how they learn, and their strengths and weaknesses. The neuropsychologist will discuss areas in which the child does well and offer suggestions to help them improve in areas that need to be addressed. If the child is diagnosed with a learning disability, or a behavioral or emotional issue, recommendations will be made for ways to help the child manage that specific concern or problem. By evaluating and understanding where the child has issues, neuropsychologist can provide a plan on how to help the child develop positive coping strategies, reduce the child’s stress, and enrich their competence and well-being.

For more information about how we can evaluate your child through neuropsychological assessment, contact Peak Performance Institute - (623) 440-5053, and we will be happy to answer your questions. 

Young children may benefit from an evaluation and treatment if they:

  • Have frequent tantrums or are intensely irritable much of the time

  • Often talk about fears or worries

  • Complain about frequent stomachaches or headaches with no known medical cause

  • Are in constant motion and cannot sit quietly (except when they are watching videos or playing videogames)

  • Sleep too much or too little, have frequent nightmares, or seem sleepy during the day

  • Are not interested in playing with other children or have difficulty making friends

  • Struggle academically or have experienced a recent decline in grades

  • Repeat actions or check things many times out of fear that something bad may happen

Older children and adolescents may benefit from an evaluation if they:

  • Have lost interest in things that they used to enjoy

  • Have low energy

  • Have trouble to concentrating

  • Irritable and explosive outburst

  • Failing in academic 

  • Major mood swings

  • Sleeping too much or too little, or seem sleepy throughout the day

  • Are spending more and more time alone, and avoiding social activities with friends or family

  • Fear of gaining weight, or diet or exercise excessively

  • Engaging in self-harm behaviors (e.g., cutting or burning their skin)

  • Smoke, drink, or use drugs

  • Engage in risky or destructive behavior alone or with friends

  • Have thoughts of suicide

  • Have periods of highly elevated energy and activity, and require much less sleep than usual

  • Say that they think someone is trying to control their mind or that they hear things that other people cannot hear

It is important to remember, that many disorders like anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, do occur during childhood.

In fact, many adults who seek treatment, reflect back on how these disorders affected their childhood, and wish that they had received help sooner. In general, if a child’s behavior persists for a few weeks or longer, causes distress for the child or the child’s family, and interferes with functioning at school, at home, or with friends, then contact us for evaluation and treatment plan.

If a child’s behavior is unsafe, or if a child talks about wanting to hurt him or herself or someone else, then seek help immediately.

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Our kids testing is only available in the English language.
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