What is a Neuropsychological Evaluation?
A neuropsychological evaluation is an assessment of your child’s cognitive and behavioral functions through standardized tests and procedures. Neuropsychologists can gather information about a child’s cognitive, behavioral, linguistic, motor, and executive functioning through a neuropsychological evaluation. NPEs are conducted by psychologists who have been specially trained and have experience in the field. Types of training a neuropsychologist has received include psychology, neuropsychology, brain-behavior relationships, and neuropsychological assessments.
How to Know When Your Child Needs a Neuropsychological Evaluation
If you or a healthcare professional suspect your child has impaired cognitive function or behavior, then it’s a good idea to seek a neuropsychological evaluation to determine if there are cognitive processes associated with the impairment and the extent of said impairment. Examples of conditions that are often tested for in an NPE are:
- Asperger’s syndrome
- Seizure disorders
- Effects of toxic chemicals
- Chronic substance abuse
- Developmental learning disabilities
- Attention deficit disorders
- Medical illness or treatments
- Traumatic brain injury
- Psychiatric or neuropsychiatric disorders
- Memory disorders
Neuropsychological Evaluations Depend on the Patient
There are many different types of neuropsychological tests, so it’s hard to say exactly what test your child will take. Which type of neuropsychological evaluations are conducted depend on the patient’s unique needs. Because NPEs are not a fixed series of tests, it requires a professional to conduct the exam.
The Process of a Typical Neuropsychological Exam
Although we can’t tell you specifically what tests your child will need, we can give you an idea of the typical neuropsychological exam. It usually involves the patient completing tasks while sitting at a table. None of the procedures are painful or invasive. An evaluation typically takes 4-6 hours, but it can be spread out among different appointments if that works best for your schedule. It usually involves the patient completing tasks while sitting at a table with a psychologist.
At the end of the neuropsychological exam, the doctor will give you a 45-55 minute briefing in which they summarize and explain the results. After going over the results with you, the doctor prepares a report that you can show to a school, physician, or other professional. You can request additional consultation if you need it.
What Neuropsychological Tests Can Be Used For
A neuropsychological evaluation can be used to confirm a diagnosis, guide rehabilitation, determine which compensatory strategies are beneficial, and document functional changes since previous examinations. The neuropsychologist may refer your child to another healthcare professional after the NPE. You may be referred to:
- A neurologist
- An educational therapist
- A psychiatrist
- A cognitive rehabilitation professional