In order to understand what we do with our assessments, let us explain several things. First of all, a neuropsychological evaluation is the most thorough and comprehensive of all the assessments that we offer. Several areas can be examined with this kind of evaluation:
- Intellectual or general cognitive abilities
- Learning disabilities or academic achievement (concerns with reading, writing or math)
- Sensory perceptual (how information is input: vision, hearing, touch)
- Motor function (how information is output: fine or gross motor, graphomotor, coordination)
- Attention and behavioral concerns (including ADD /ADHD)
- Memory and learning
- Language abilities
- Visual-spatial skills
- Executive functions, problem solving, reasoning and analysis
- Emotional status and how it relates to learning (anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder)
- Personality and behavioral assessment
- Social issues (autism, Asperger’s, peer problems)
What is Assessment?
A lot of folks who call our clinic will say something like this during the initial phone call: “Please help me find out what’s wrong with my kid” or “Please help me find out what’s wrong with ME.” Our neuropsychological evaluations absolutely can point out the areas in which the client has less strong abilities – but we also find and emphasize the strengths of our clients. Doing so allows the areas of strength to be built upon in order to address the areas that may not be as strong.
But What Happens During the Evaluation Itself?
Adult clients will have been interviewed already prior to their assessment day, so they’ll start right in with testing. Child clients will be interviewed by the psychologist on the day of the evaluation with questions about what they like about school, if there are any concerns at home or school – things like that. Some of the evaluation is just like school (even for adults!): math problems, writing stories, organizing items or answering questions. Some of it is much more game-like with puzzles or memory questions. We take breaks between testing sessions for 5-10 minutes every hour or more often as needed, so there’s always time for a snack, playing a game in the waiting room, checking email or getting a breath of fresh air outside. Assessments that continue into the afternoon have a lunch break for an hour between the morning and afternoon sessions.
Sounds Great! Then What?
Once these areas have been assessed, the psychologist can examine performance levels from each test, compare that information with the pattern of performance against all the tests and look for unusual signs in these patterns. Comparisons also are made with the client and his/her peers, whether by age or education level or both. Processing can be tracked across the hierarchy of skills to see where learning may be breaking down. Bringing all of this together allows for a coherent view of the client to be laid out including the diagnosis (if one is able to be made clinically), intervention and treatment plans, which can be managed over time to track progress.
Our neuropsychological assessments also include, when appropriate (Not IEE’s, clients referred by other advocates), a one-hour meeting with our educational advocate, Dr. Joanne Smith-Darden. This is to help ensure that family has all the help they need implementing the suggested interventions into the school setting.