What is a neuropsychological evaluation?

You’re considering getting a neuropsychological evaluation done for your child. You always suspected that they may struggle with attention, social interaction, or academic performance, and you want to understand the root cause of that. 

However, you’re unsure where to start. What is a neuropsychological testing, and what does it mean? Neuropsychological testing is an evaluation of how the brain is functioning. It helps determine weaknesses and areas of concern, as well as areas that are strengths. 

It includes areas such as: reading, language usage, learning, attention, processing speed, problem solving, reasoning, remembering, mood, personality, and more. Tasks are specifically designed for children or teens to complete. 

a. neuropsychological evaluation helps to understand the overall intellectual functioning, executive functioning, visuospatial skills, and social-emotional development of a child. 

toddler standing on stairs and looking out

Why would I get a neuropsychological evaluation?

Getting a neuropsychological evaluation could be for a few reasons, including:

Determining a diagnosis. The results of your evaluation can further contribute to providing a proper diagnosis for your child. For example, if your child seems to be struggling in reading and comprehension, and they get evaluated for these areas, the results of the examination will show if they have a learning disorder, like dyslexia, a visual processing disorder, or if there may be something else occuring. 

Maybe you noticed that something has been off with your child, where they are having trouble in social situations, performing repetitive behaviors, or struggling with communicating verbally. These are all possible indicators that your child has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). A neuropsychological evaluation for autism can help determine if these symptoms truly are connected to this diagnosis.

If your child does have ASD, it is important to have a diagnosis as it will help them access important services that can support their development. Certain programs, like ABA, require potential clients to have an ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) diagnosis in order to provide proper treatment and care. A neuropsychological assessment can help determine if these symptoms are a result of ASD, and will help connect to the proper treatment sources. 

Perhaps you’ve noticed your child struggling to stay focused in school. Teachers report constant movement, trouble listening, and frequently getting in trouble. You may notice similar difficulties at home. A neuropsychological evaluation can be helpful to determine if your child may have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

How long does a neuropsychological assessment take?

At Simi Psychological Group, we are dedicated to providing you with thorough and clear cut results as we provide detailed reports with personal, individualized recommendations for the next step. A comprehensive evaluation usually consists of an initial interview with the parent(s), 3-4 testing sessions with your child and the evaluator, and a feedback session.  

child sitting on father's lap while both sitting on floor

What does the neuropsychological evaluation include?

During a neuropsychological evaluation at Simi Psychological Group, we want to offer peace of mind with clear and thorough results as well as individualized recommendations. Our assessment starts with an initial developmental interview with parents, to obtain a clearer picture of symptoms throughout development and how they may be interfering. 

We develop a customized assessment plan including a battery of cognitive, academic, executive functioning, and social-emotional testing to obtain a “whole picture” understanding of how your child’s brain is functioning.

Parents and teachers also complete standardized questionnaires to help determine the extent of symptoms and how they are interfering.

We provide families, caregivers, and individuals with a comprehensive written report with the diagnostic results on it. 

From here, we provide personalized and unique recommended treatment strategies and resources to follow up on the diagnosis. 

Our two main goals are to:

a) provide a clear understanding of any issues that may be occurring for your child and

b) connect you with treatment providers who can help address these symptoms, as well as clear strategies you can incorporate at home that can help your child.

What happens during an Autism assessment?

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that impacts social-communication and can lead to repetitive behaviors and interests.

An autism assessment at Simi Psychological Group begins with an interview and questionnaires. These are tailored to examine how symptoms may be related to ASD and how they have developed over time. The developmental interview takes place with the parent. We determine when milestones occurred. These include walking or talking, as well as the presence of specific ASD symptoms. Symptoms include unusual eye contact, odd speech patterns, and repetitive behaviors. Questionnaires for parents and teachers help detail the extent to which these symptoms occur in the child’s daily life. 

We then hold a semi-structured play observation (called the ADOS)  that involves interacting and playing with the child. The purpose of this is for the clinician to observe specific autism related symptoms during this observation.

The results of this assessment can determine if a child has ASD. Or if concerns may be related to another issue, or if these behaviors are actually within the expected range. If a child does have ASD, specific recommendations are provided to help support the child’s needs. 

boy with head to his knees sitting against a wall

What happens during an ADHD assessment?

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is marked by issues with attention, distractibility, hyperactivity, and impulse control. Some children with ADHD primarily exhibit issues with inattention while others exhibit hyperactivity along with these attention difficulties. 

During an ADHD assessment, the child is administered a cognitive (IQ) test. In addition there are several assessments requiring shifting attention, controlling impulsivity, and other tasks of ‘executive functioning. 

Parents and teacher complete questionnaires detailing the possible presence of ADHD symptoms at home and/or at school. 

The results of this assessment help determine if a child does meet criteria for ADHD. It also shows specifically what areas of difficulty the child may be experiencing. This helps determine the best plan to support the child’s needs.

What happens during an assessment for a Learning Disability or Dyslexia testing?

Children with a specific learning disability (such as Dyslexia) struggle to learn specific skills in that area, despite having an expected intelligence level and abilities in other areas. Specific Learning Disability in Reading and/or Math are the most commonly diagnosed for children. 

During a dyslexia assessment, the child participates in a cognitive (IQ) test to determine their overall intellectual functioning in several areas. They then participate in an academic assessment to determine their academic functioning. Children with learning disabilities exhibit far lower performance in a certain area (e.g. reading) of academics compared to their overall intelligence.

Parents and teachers also participate through interviews and questionnaires to help determine specific areas of difficulty for the child. 

The results of this assessment help determine if a child does meet criteria for a learning disability such as dyslexia. Specific strategies, recommendations, and referrals are provided to the family. 

child in dress embracing monther in yellow dress

Who is a good fit for a neuropsychological evaluation?

If your child is showing symptoms such as attentional struggles, social-emotional problems, or learning difficulties, they are likely a good fit for neuropsychological testing. 

If you feel your child is capable, but seems to be struggling with some of these issues, then an assessment can help determine a path forward. 

We strive to provide clear, meaningful, and accurate information regarding your child’s development, while providing a judgment-free environment. Every child is unique and possesses special qualities within themselves. Our goal through the testing process is to explore areas that may be preventing your child from meeting his/her potential and connecting you with resources that can help address these areas. 

We want to give children and parents alike the confidence and hope to believe in themselves and overcome their struggles.

At Simi Psychological Group we offer ADHD testing, Autism Testing, Dyslexia Testing, and Gifted Testing. Contact us today to find out more information.

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At our therapy practice in Simi Valley, Ca we offer Child therapy and family counseling, Teen therapy, Anxiety Treatment, Depression Therapy, Marriage Counseling, and Neuropsychological Testing