Why Are Neuropsychological Evaluations Needed For Children?

girl childTypically when I am asked to perform a neuropsychological evaluation of a child, it is consequential to the child experiencing difficulty in learning, where the child has been struggling academically in school. At times the child may have problems with attention and concentration; may be encountering problems in socializing with others at school or home; or is experiencing behavioral management and emotional control issues.

If the child is presenting with learning problems it is important to understand and treat them as early as possible in order to prevent secondary problems of poor self esteem, school underachievement, or school failure from developing.

An early assessment can lead to interventions that maximize the child?s potential, while also improving his/her attitude toward school by identify the best methods for teaching, tutoring or the need for other services either at school or in the community.

When we are looking at children, behavioral or cognitive difficulties may arise consequential to a number of factors. There may be adjustment difficulties with:

  • Developmental Issues
  • Learning Disabilities
  • Emotional Concerns
  • Medical Concerns
  • Head Trauma related to Sports Injuries or Accidents
  • Toxic Exposure
  • Self Regulatory Problems.

children in football jerseysWhen the child is presenting with any of the aforementioned concerns, it is not unusual to then find the child experiencing difficulties in a number of areas of academic functioning. When this happens the child is not always able to readily explain to a concerned parent, teacher or other professional what the problem is. At times these issues are then expressed through behavioral withdrawal and isolation or in a more outwardly aggressive manner.

The neuropsychological evaluation is designed to assist the referring parent, physician, school or community agency by providing a detailed report profiling the cognitive and behavioral strengths and weaknesses of the child.

Prior to the formal evaluation of the child, a detailed developmental history is obtained from the parent and/or guardian. Information is also requested from the child’s teacher and other professionals who may be working with the child. Prior evaluations that may have been performed are reviewed along with past medical records. Classroom observations may also be scheduled if appropriate.

The neuropsychological evaluation is comprehensive and multimodal in an effort to fully understand the child. The neuropsychological evaluation aids in furthering the understanding of the child?s ability to function in areas associated with:

  • General Intellectual Processing of Verbal and Nonverbal Information
  • Achievement Skills
  • The Ability to Attend and Concentrate
  • Executive Skills Associated with Problem Solving, Planning and Organizing One’s Responses to Situational Demands
  • Learning and Memory Skills (Auditory and Visual)
  • Expressive and Receptive Speech and Language Skills
  • Visual Perceptual/Spatial and Visual Motor Skills
  • Sensory Perception Skills
  • Motor Coordination Skills
  • Behavioral/Emotional and Social Skills

The results of the evaluation help to provide a guide for the planning and development of an individualized remedial educational program and/or treatment program. The evaluation can help family members, physicians and school officials understand the basis of the underlying problem; while also assisting in developing strategies to help modify areas of deficiency while further supporting existing strengths.