Neuropsychological and PsychoEducational assessment includes a comprehensive evaluation of your child’s intellectual, academic, processing skills, language, executive functioning, memory, and/or emotional functioning. The evaluation will require direct contact, interviewing, and testing. I will also collect and review information from schools, psychologists, psychiatrists, and other professionals, as needed.

 

Depending on the number of tests being administered, we will typically meet on two to four occasions for 1 ½ to 2 ½ hours each session.  By the end of our time together, you will have better understanding of your child’s strengths, learning style and areas of vulnerability, and you will be provided with an extensive written report and recommendations. You will also have an opportunity to ask any questions regarding the testing or testing results. Please note that your child is welcome to attend the final feedback session, if appropriate. Alternatively, you may schedule an additional feedback session for him/her to discuss these results with me in a manner more suitable to his/her developmental level.

 

A child’s primary “job” is school. However, there are times when a child is not progressing in school because the standard instructional approaches do not work. When this occurs, a child may be referred for an evaluation for a suspected learning disability.  In other situations, a child may have had an initial evaluation and subsequent instructional modifications, but the intervention has not been successful. Under these circumstances, referral for an evaluation of brain-related factors such as the child’s memory or problem-solving may be useful to the educators.  It is helpful for teachers to know how “flexible” the child’s brain is. Can the child “shift” or change quickly from one idea to another? Can the child learn a task and then reapply it or “generalize” it to a new situation? The answers to these and other brain-related questions help teachers design educational programs that can be tailored to the child’s ability profile. Without this kind of information, a child’s progress is slowed, and frustration mounts for teachers and parents, as well as the child.   In addition, when a child fails to acquire academic skills as expected, this failure may indicate the presence of subtle brain dysfunction of a developmental nature or a specific learning disability. The critical issue is to identify what is causing difficulty, so that academic and behavioral interventions can begin in a timely fashion and maximize a child’s benefit from school. Early, appropriate intervention can reduce the likelihood that the child will experience continued failure, which may lead to more severe emotional or behavioral difficulties. These types of interventions may include environmental modifications, remediation, and/or the introduction of compensatory strategies.

 

Components of a Typical Evaluation

An evaluation seeks to obtain information about a child’s learning.  It is composed of a measure of cognitive ability (usually the WISC-IV), tests of academic achievement, perceptual testing and psychological assessment. 

 

Intelligence Testing

This is predictive in nature.  It does not measure school skills but gives us an idea of what a child is capable of.  It basically tells us what a child “knows.”

Objectives of the Cognitive Assessment:

 

  • Determine the child’s present levels of intellectual ability

  • Determine the child’s present verbal intellectual ability

  • Determine the child’s perceptual reasoning ability

  • Determine the child’s working memory

  • Determine the child’s processing speed

 

Tests of Achievement

A PsychoEducational Evaluation also looks at a child’s achievement or his

school skills.  This is what is happening in school – reading, math, written language, etc.  The most commonly administered achievement test is the Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Achievement (WJ-III).  Each domain (i.e., reading, math, written language) is broken down into its component parts.  For example, reading is broken down into:  word attack; comprehension; vocabulary and word identification. 

 

The WJ-III also provides three Special Purpose Clusters:  Academic Skills, Academic Fluency and Academic Applications.  The Academic Skills Cluster is an aggregate of reading decoding, math calculation and spelling of single words providing an overall score of basic achievement skills.   The Academic Fluency Cluster is a combination of subtests providing an overall index of his academic fluency.  Each of the subtests in this Cluster (Reading Fluency, Math Fluency and Writing Fluency) is a timed task in which a child is asked to think, process information and then respond quickly.  Finally, the Academic Applications Cluster consists of subtests which require the child to apply his/her academic skills to academic problems.

 

Objectives of Achievement Testing

  • To help determine the child’s current academic skills

  • To help a teacher gear materials to the learning ability of the child

  • To develop a learning profile

  • To determine is there is a discrepancy between cognitive development and academic achievement

  • To determine a child’s academic strengths and weaknesses

 

Perceptual Assessment

This is the bridge that gets a child from his cognitive abilities (i.e., potential) to his achievement.  If there is a break-down in any perceptual domain, a child is often not able to “show what he knows.”  Perceptual testing may include the following areas:

 

  • Auditory Processing – discrimination, part to whole discrimination, memory, reasoning

  • Visual Processing – discrimination, part to whole discrimination, tracking, memory

  • Tactile/kinesthetic

  • Association or organization – relating new information to other information and giving meaning to the information received

  • Memory – storage or retrieval process, which facilitates the association process to give meaning to information or help in relating new concepts to other information that might have already been learned

  • Fine Motor – takes a look at a child’s ability to use paper and pencil to express himself in writing

  • Attention should also be assessed

  • Executive functioning or the ability to plan, organize, initiate, and use working memory efficiently

 

Objectives of Perceptual Assessment

  • To help determine the child’s stronger and weaker modalities for learning.  Some children are visual learners, some are auditory learners and some learn through touching and moving.

  • To help determine a child’s stronger or weaker process areas.  A child having problems with memory will quickly fall behind his peers.

  • To develop a learning profile that can help the teacher understand the best way to present information to the child.

  • Along with other information, this will help determine if the child’s processing weaknesses are suitable to a regular classroom

  • To rule in or rule out attention as the cause for classroom difficulties

 

Psychological Assessment

Oftentimes a psychological assessment is included in an evaluation.  This is done to rule out or rule in possible emotional causes for classroom difficulties.  It is often difficult to determine if a child is feeling anxious because he is struggling in school or it is possible that the child’s anxiety is causing him to struggle in the classroom.

 

Objectives of the Psychological Assessment

  • To determine the child’s present emotional state

  • To determine what part a child’s emotions are impacting on his learning and vice versa

 

At the conclusion of testing, you will have a complete picture of your child.  You will know what he is capable of (Cognitive Assessment).  You will know what’s happening in school (Achievement Assessment).  You will know how he gets from his intelligence to his achievement (Perceptual/Processing) and you will know how he feels about himself and school.

 

 

Testing