Frequently Asked Questions
What does a neuropsychological evaluation involve?
Neuropsychological evaluations often include:
- Clinical interview and evaluation
- Collateral interviews with parents, families and/or other observers (teachers, employers, etc)
- Distribution of observer-report measures to parents, teachers, or other observers
- Record reviews (medical, educational, vocational)
- Scoring of results
- Interpretation of test results in conjunction with all other obtained data
- Report generation
- Treatment and educational planning, including referrals to other professionals as appropriate
- Feedback sessions with clients, families, etc.
What kind of tests and measures are given?
In addition to giving IQ tests that assess forms of intelligence, areas that are often covered include:
- various aspects of attention (e.g., sustained attention ability, impulse control, ability to hold small amounts of information in mind in the moment--known as “simple attention", etc.)
- various forms of visual and verbal memory (e.g., initial learning, short-term recall, long-term recall, and recognition memory for simple and complex information)
- ability to produce and understand language
- ability to process auditory and visual information (sensory-perceptual abilities)
- ability to perform and orchestrate higher-order cognitive abilities such as planning and organizing (referred to as "executive functions")
- ability to integrate visual information with motor output, and to coordinate manual motor movements (visuomotor and fine motor skills), as are needed with writing, drawing and small object manipulation
- ability to independently perform tasks needed in day-to-day situations (adaptive functioning)
- academic achievement
- social, emotional and behavioral functioning
How will neuropsychological evaluation help me?
Help my child?
Neuropsychological evaluations provide a portrait of a person’s strengths and difficulties, and give suggestions about what to do about them. Sometimes treatment/educational planning is promoted by determining a diagnosis, which is often provided. At other times, diagnoses are not desired and not needed (for instance, if a family is seeking to understand their child and to have a treatment plan, but is not seeking special school services or medical treatment). In such cases, descriptions and plans for follow-up may be sufficient. In all cases, evaluations lead to follow-up planning. Results may determine that an individual does or does not qualify for special services/accommodations in school, requires medical/therapeutic/educational follow-up, is/is not eligible for testing or work accommodations, etc.
What are the differences between neuropsychological, psychological and psychoeducational evaluations?
Psychoeducational evaluations tend to be done at school by school psychologists, and are interested in whether scores meet cutoffs for providing special services. Evaluations by school and clinical psychologists may use a number of the same tests and measures as clinical neuropsychologists. What makes neuropsychology evaluations different is their focus on determining the how and why a child performs the way she or he does. This involves looking at test result patterns, possible cognitive or perceptual underpinnings causing difficulties in particular tasks, and consideration of brain-behavior relationships. As an example, a child may show difficulty following an instruction for various reasons, such as not paying attention to it, not understanding it, or grasping but then losing hold of it. Individual scores tend not to give a full picture. In evaluating both children and adults, uncovering the reasons for difficulties almost always requires considering various data patterns and hypotheses.
Can you help with school meetings to implement findings from your evaluation?
Yes. Families sometimes wish to have a neuropsychologist attend IEP or other meetings for this purpose.This service is separate from the evaluation, but does often follow it if desired.
Can you perform an independent educational evaluation (IEE)?
Sometimes families and schools may disagree about the nature of a child’s difficulties, even after the school has performed a psychoeducational evaluation. I can provide an independent evaluation with the family and district’s agreement, to help come up with a plan for your child.
Will your evaluation qualify me/my child for accommodations at school? On standardized or entrance exams?
Schools and exam administration services have fixed criteria for accommodations. Unfortunately, one cannot predict in advance whether evaluation data will support a bid for accommodations. If they do not, recommendations can nonetheless be useful for devising strategies to help compensate for difficulties.
Will my insurance company cover neuropsychological assessment? Send me to a proper specialist?
Insurance companies often refer to their own panel of non-specialized psychologists even when a formal neuropsychological evaluation is indicated. An insurance company may not immediately observe the indication for a formal neuropsychological evaluation based on the established principles and standards of the psychological profession. It may not tell you that you have the right to obtain consultation from an expert outside the provider panel. If a neuropsychological evaluation is indicated, consumers may need to advocate for their right to see a specialist.
Consumers may also need to ask questions to establish that a psychologist does in fact have the needed experience to claim specialization. Few state licensing boards verify psychologists' self-declaration of competence/specialty. Some psychologists claim to be neuropsychologists without having had proper training.
How do I check for specialization?
Apart from asking for a practitioner's training history, one method to determine specialization is to ask for board certification status. One might ask if a psychologist is board certified by the American Board of Clinical Neuropsychology and is a member of the American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology. Or, go online to the AACN: www.theaacn.org.
Do you accept insurance? What are your fees?
I choose a fee-for-service practice to reduce paperwork and help keep my fees competitive. I recommend that you check with your insurance first to authorize an evaluation. Detailed statements will be provided at your request to facilitate claims. My fee varies according to the complexity of a referral, and this amount will be provided after the scope of a case is established. I ask for a deposit to hold your appointment dates, and payment of the balance at the first assessment session.