What is a clinical neuropsychological evaluation?
A clinical neuropsychological evaluation is a comprehensive assessment of a person's learning and thinking skills, behavior, and social-emotional functioning. Clinical neuropsychologists at Mind Blossom Center specialize in pediatrics, working with children, teens and young adults. An important component of our evaluation involves working directly with the student. The purpose of our evaluation typically includes clarifying diagnoses (if any), identifying the student's unique profile of learning, thinking, and social-emotional strengths or vulnerabilities, and providing recommendations for treatment and educational planning.
What is a pediatric neuropsychologist and what sets us apart?
A pediatric neuropsychologist is a licensed clinical psychologist with specialized training in the science of brain-behavior relationships and has sub-specialty training in the developing brain and the impact of conditions on the central nervous system and related functioning. They use this knowledge and training to assess treatment and educational planning for children, adolescents, and young adults with brain disorders. Such conditions may involve neurodevelopmental disorders, brain injuries, or medical disorders.
The difference between a clinical neuropsychologist and a licensed clinical psychologist who provides assessment services is not the tests and procedures involved. Rather, it is the specialized post-doctoral level education and clinical training experience that allow us to interpret the findings from an evaluation in a way that is informed by the science of brain-behavior relationships. This training allows for more extensive knowledge of the complex interaction between conditions that co-occur, in addition to genetic, biological, temperamental, and environmental risk factors. In order to operate as a clinical neuropsychologist, the clinician must have completed a post-doctoral fellowship program that is approved by the guidelines set forth by the Houston Conference on Specialty Education and Training in Clinical Neuropsychology. More information can be found at:
How do I know if my child needs a neuropsychological evaluation?
A neuropsychological evaluation may be helpful if:
You are concerned that your child may have ADHD, a learning disorder such as dyslexia, autism spectrum disorder, language disorder, or intellectual disability
You are wondering whether your child or teen's attention and academic challenges are due to ADHD/"ADD" or a psychological problem such as anxiety or depression
Your child has a diagnosed neurological condition such as traumatic brain injury (e.g., concussion) epilepsy, brain tumor, or genetic disorder and you would like information regarding treatment and educational planning
Your child has certain biological risk factors such as preterm birth/low birthweight and they are beginning to show signs of learning, attention, behavioral or social-emotional challenges.
Your child had an evaluation by a psychologist or the school, but the treatment and recommendations following that evaluation have not helped
What are the steps involved in a neuropsychological evaluation?
Parent intake appointment
The evaluation almost always begins with a 90-minute intake session with the neuropsychologist and parent(s). During this appointment, the neuropsychologist will ask questions to understand your child's challenges and history . This will include gathering information regarding their developmental, medical, psychological, family, educational, and social history. This information helps provide context in which testing date can be interpreted.
School observation (on a case-by-case basis)
In some situations, the neuropsychologist will want to complete a school observation of the child to get a sense of their behavior and social functioning in their everyday environment. This will be discussed and agreed upon with the parents and school prior to the observation and will take place before the neuropsychologist meets the child.
The neuropsychologist works one-on-one with the student, administering standardized tests that cover a broad range of cognitive and academic domains. For older children, teens, and young adults, testing appointments are typically scheduled across two "full" days (9:30 am - 2:45 pm) with a one hour lunch break. For younger children, sessions are shorter and scheduled across three to four morning appointments (9:30 am - 12:30 pm).
Standardized questionnaires completed by the parents/guardians and teachers
An important source of data gathered as part of the evaluation is input from the parents and teachers via standardized questionnaires of the child's attention/executive function, social, emotional, and behavioral functioning in their day-to-day life. These questionnaires provide objective ratings, based on the rater's perspective, comparing the child's functioning in these important areas to their peers. The questionnaires are provided at the outset of the evaluation process and can be completed over the course of one or two weeks.
Educational and healthcare record review
As part of the "behind the scenes" work, the neuropsychologist will review educational records, reports from previous evaluations and medical records. Information gathered from records review is often helpful for diagnostic conceptualization and integrated into treatment and educational planning.
Consultation with teachers, therapists, psychiatrists, and other professionals
At Mind Blossom Center, we believe strongly in the importance of an inter-disciplinary approach to understanding your child's strengths and needs. With your consent, the neuropsychologist will consult with anyone who is closely involved in your child's education and therapeutic care to obtain information that can be used to inform the evaluation findings and recommendations.
Feedback meeting with parents
Once all the necessary information has been gathered and the neuropsychologist has completed the assessment, a feedback meeting with the parents is scheduled to review the findings and recommendations from the evaluation. This meeting involves the neuropsychologist and parents, typically lasting 90 minutes. Typically, the feedback meeting takes place two to three weeks after the final testing appointment; however, this may vary case-by-case and the specific timing of the feedback will be communicated as you progress through the evaluation process.
Feedback meeting with student
Once the neuropsychologist and parents have met for feedback, a one-on-one student feedback appointment is scheduled shortly after. During this meeting, the neuropsychologist provides the student with an appropriate summary of the key findings, emphasizing their strengths in order to build self-competence and empower the student, while helping them understand their diagnoses (if any) and the clear "action plan." The student feedback meeting typically lasts 30-45 minutes.
After feedbacks have been completed, a report summarizing the evaluation findings and recommendations is provided to the parents. Upon request and authorization, our office can also provide a copy of the report to anyone on the student's educational and treatment teams. At Mind Blossom Center, we pride ourselves on providing high-quality reports that are clear and comprehensive, with actionable treatment and educational recommendations. Our reports are individualized for each student and their unique profile of strengths and needs. The final report is typically sent to the parents approximately two to three weeks after the parent feedback meeting; however, this varies case-by-case and the specific timing of the report will be discussed and agreed upon by the parents and neuropsychologist.
School meetings, follow up feedback, and other consultation services
In some cases, parents may request that the neuropsychologist attend a school meeting or provide phone consultation to help develop formal plans for accommodations and supports. Additional feedback sessions for questions or further discussion regarding the findings and report may also be requested. Please be advised that because these are not routine aspects of all evaluations, there is an additional fee associated with these services.