Comprehensive Neuropsychological Evaluation
A neuropsychological evaluation weaves together information from several different sources, including parent reports, input from schools, communication with treatment providers, clinical observations, questionnaires, and structured psychological and neuropsychological tests. Areas explored include cognitive functioning, academic functioning, learning and memory, visual-motor integration, attention, executive functioning, social skills/social cognition, and emotional functioning.
Neuropsychological assessment is often prompted by difficulties in school, such as troubles with test taking, struggles with work production, variable focus, or vulnerabilities with aspects of executive functioning (e.g., planning, organizing, switching gears). Other reasons for neuropsychological assessment include escalating levels of emotional distress (e.g., anxiety, moodiness, irritability) or difficulties in the social domain, such as reduced social perspective taking or challenges with the formation and maintenance of friendships. A neuropsychological evaluation can help get to the root(s) of what is contributing to academic, social, or emotional challenges and can provide detailed recommendations to help ameliorate those challenges.
Team Meeting Participation
At the conclusion of the neuropsychological testing process, it sometimes becomes clear that an observation of a student at school – or of a program proposed for a student – is necessary. Children and adolescents can present variably in different contexts, and how a child or adolescent comes across in the testing set might be quite different from how they present in school. For instance, a student with a mild autism spectrum disorder might exhibit reasonably intact interpersonal skills in a one-to-one testing setting, while their social challenges become more apparent within a group of peers. Thus, observation of that student in lunch, physical education, or another less structured time during the day can provide important information about that student’s social presentation and needs beyond what can be gleaned in the testing office. Additionally, a school observation can be useful in evaluating the match between school programming (or proposed programming) and the needs of the child. Thus, particularly when the type of classroom or the types or intensity of services provided at school are highly disparate from recommendations stemming from the neuropsychological assessment, a school observation can be invaluable.