We have expertise in:
Turning - Five Evaluations for entry to Kindergarten
Autism Spectrum Disorder, Aspergers and Social Communication Disorders
Dyslexia, dysgraphia and other language based learning disabilities
Nonverbal Learning Disabilities
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Anxiety, Depression and struggles with Affect Regulation
Testing for Accommodations for Standardized Tests including - SAT, ACT, GRE, LSAT, GMAT
Neuropsychological evaluations are comprehensive assessments and include information from several settings. They involve face-to-face testing with the individual assessing current functioning in many areas including thinking and cognitive skills, attention, executive functioning skills, memory, learning, visual spatial and perception, academics, and social emotional status. Assessing these abilities helps to show how each of these skills interact to create a unique learning profile.
The evaluation process includes the following:
Meeting with parents and involved family members for an initial intake
Observation of the student in his or her educational environment
Contact with teachers and related therapists
Intensive face-to-face work with the student (about 6 hours for 4 year olds up to 10 hours to a school aged student)
Feedback for parent and child when appropriate
Attending IEP meetings to advocate for services and support
Developing individual learning plans for parents and teachers
The results of the evaluation are used for:
Recommendations about learning needs and interventions
Educational Consultation for appropriate school settings
Advocacy for individual needs and supports
Tools that we use include, when applicable:
The Autism Diagnostic Observation Scale-2 (ADOS)
Projective Testing, including the Rorschach Test
Tests that demonstrate the need for extended time for standardized tests such as the SAT, ACT, GRE, MCAT, GMAT and LSAT
When to consider a neuropsychological evaluation
Neuropsychology is the understanding of the underlying neurological processes that impact behavior. The neuropsychological evaluation will give you comprehensive understanding of your child’s learning, social and emotional struggles. It will assess the domains of reasoning, language, memory, executive functioning, academics, social abilities and emotional functioning. This information is gathered from multiple sources, including: parent report, teacher report, classroom observation, review of prior records, and direct administration of tests to your child. Responses to information gathered are understood in terms of the developmental age of your child. Test scores are compared to those of other children at the same age and/or grade. Behaviors and social functioning are understood from a developmental context. The behavioral observations and interactions in the testing session also provide vital understanding. All of this information is aggregated, resulting in a document that is meant to provide a deep understanding of your child’s strengths and struggles. This process can also result in a diagnostic understanding of your child that will produce recommendations to address their areas of difficulties.
As a parent, this evaluation process can be difficult because of the focus on the negative aspects of your child. Your child’s behaviors seem confusing and frustrating. You may feel that you have tried everything you can to help, but nothing is working, or working well enough, to make a noticeable improvement. To engage your child in this process may be difficult because in some respects, flaws and disabilities are magnified. It may also be difficult to read such a report about your child. This is important to make explicitly clear, as the aim of this process is to identify your child’s needs and address them within the context of who they are as a developing person. The diagnostic conclusions from this process contribute towards the goal of getting your child’s needs met, but they do not define who your child is.
When children struggle academically, socially or emotionally, it can be painful to observe. As a parent, you want to do everything within your power to support your child and have him or her function to the best of their abilities. Children also naturally want to succeed. Their natural instinct is towards achievement and mastery over their environment, whatever developmental point they are at. When this ability goes awry, there is a direct impact on self esteem, from a lesser to greater extent, depending on the degree of difficulty, number of areas of functioning impacted, and how protracted the problem is. It is expected that children will have emotional reactions to struggles with performance. This can look like a child who is highly distractible and “loses time” creating a sense of lack of control; a highly impulsive boy who feels that he cannot control his own behaviors and feels ashamed and angry as a result; the painful experience of wanting to interact with other children and not knowing how to begin, or being able to start the engagement but not knowing how to keep it going; feeling so sensitive to the environment around you that you are too afraid to go out into the world; being distracted by sensory sensations to the point of not being able to do anything else. Performance anxieties can be powerful and halting, incapacitating the student to apply themselves as needed. Often underlying these feelings are high levels of intelligence that is limited by difficulties with executive functioning, including slow processing speed and poor working memory. Finally the oppositional child can often be understood as “making passive into active.” For example, for the child who is struggling to learn how to read and write who is surrounded by peers who seem to be picking this up quite naturally, with the demands that he cannot seem to meet increasing, it can be quite natural to become oppositional and defiant as a way of taking back control – “I am not doing this because I am unable, but because I do not want to”. Children have a great sense of pride, and when developmental issues prevent them from performing in ways or levels that are expected, they will do what they can to preserve it. The frustration and anxiety that arises from not being able to rise to expectations can be extremely high. This impacts children across the board, no matter what their level of skill or capacity may be. It can be excruciatingly painful to understand and reason at a very high level, but to not be able to get thoughts and ideas down on paper. Or, to be able to understand and reason through a problem, but not be able to quickly find and organize the words to express one’s thoughts. Emotional sensitivities, low frustration and difficulties with affect regulation can also have a powerful impact on the child’s functioning. All of these issues, from a lesser to larger extent, contribute to one’s sense of self.
One of the most important outcomes of the neuropsychological evaluation is to gain better understanding of your child and his or her struggles. It will give you tools to help them. The process is meant to be therapeutic. During the testing process the child is engaged about their approach to tasks with the goal of developing self reflection and awareness. The goal is for your child to emerge with a sense of increased self awareness and to feel understood. The evaluation also provides specific recommendations for intervention and in some cases, a recommendation for a different kind of school setting. The student – school match is imperative for children who are struggling with learning, attention and social issues.