What's so special about a neuropsych?
Updated: Apr 30, 2019
Many parents are told by teachers, pediatricians, and therapists to get a neuropsychological evaluation to better understand cognitive, academic, or social problems their kids are facing.
What exactly is involved?
Neuropsychological assessments use computer-based and paper/pencil tests to understand the relationship between brain function and behavior. A comprehensive evaluation includes tests of cognitive reasoning abilities, academic achievement, working memory, processing speed, attention, memory, language, motor coordination, emotions, and social skills. Testing is usually conducted over two to three sessions that last a few hours each. A member of the team will also interview parents and often teachers about a child's developmental history as well as current strengths and weaknesses.
How is this different from the school evaluation?
While sometimes the same tests are used (which is a great reason to always let the neuropsychologist know if a child has had recent testing in school), the school assessment will focus mainly on whether or not a child is having current difficulties learning. The neuropsych goes one step further and allows for understanding of the processes underlying a child's difficulties. For example, a child may struggle in reading due to difficulties with decoding of basic letter sounds, slowed processing speed, or even a bit of both!
Recently, many of the tests used by neuropsychologists have been updated to be administered on an iPads. Lots of research has been conducted to show that this approach is just as accurate as old-school paper/pencil methods, but also has the advantages of increased testing engagement and fewer scoring errors.