Neurospsychological Assessments: FAQ's

1. What is a neuropsychological assessment?

childA neuropsychological assessment is a comprehensive evaluation of an individual’s thinking and learning style.  The key areas examined in a neuropsychological assessment are:

  1. intellectual reasoning capacity, or IQ;
  2. academic achievement, particularly in the areas of reading, writing and math;
  3. executive functioning (skills such as planning, prioritizing, organizing, problem solving, cognitive flexibility, cognitive inhibition, etc.);
  4. attention capacities and associated behaviors;
  5. memory abilities, including visual and auditory memory in both immediate and delayed modalities; and
  6. social and emotional functioning.

2. Why would someone need such a comprehensive assessment?

One of the most common reasons for getting a neuropsychological assessment is that someone – usually a school age child, adolescent or a college/graduate student – is experiencing a pattern of difficulty in one or more areas of their school functioning.  Common patterns of difficulty are listed below:

  1. problems paying attention in classes
  2. difficulty following through and completing assignments
  3. struggling to get reading done because it takes too long
  4. reading, but not understanding what was read
  5. getting frustrated trying to finish tests on time
  6. taking too long to organize and write papers
  7. hoping for extended time on college entrance exams
  8. struggling to learn a foreign language
  9. lack motivation, particularly regarding school work
  10. declining grades in school
  11. distracting and impulsive behaviors interfering with school and social success
  12. anxiety and/or depression related to school-related performance
  13. disparity between honors-level grades in school and low scores on standardized tests
  14. effects of certain social, emotional and/or family stressors on academic and social functioning
  15. difficulties with math, reading and/or writing
  16. wondering about the possibility of having a specific learning disability

3. How can a neuropsychological assessment be helpful?

A comprehensive neuropsychological assessment can help to evaluate an individual’s current level of overall functioning, and then isolate certain problem areas that are likely to be interfering with their ability to be more successful.

Once these problems are identified, a list of modifications and/or accommodations can be recommended in an effort to tailor specific plans – for the individual and for parents and teachers who live/work with them – to help the individual to function more effectively in their academic and social environment.

4. Can a neuropsychological assessment help to diagnose ADHD and other disorders?

Usually, yes.  With the combination of different assessment tools, such as a clinical interview, specific cognitive and neuropsychological tests, various subjective rater scales/inventories, and observations made by the examiner, an Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is usually detectable.

Since this diagnosis may be overly assigned, a thorough approach to making an accurate diagnosis is recommended.  When necessary, consultation with an individual’s physician and/or psychiatrist helps to coordinate diagnostic observations and treatment recommendations.  Specific learning disorders, such as dyslexia and other reading disorders, math disorders and writing disorders are more easily diagnosed with these assessments.

5. How long does a neuropsychological assessment take, and when do we get the results?

In general, a comprehensive neuropsychological assessment takes about six to eight hours of direct, one-on-one testing time with the examiner.  Depending on the age of the client, these testing sessions are scheduled to maximize energy and attention levels.  After an assessment is completed, it usually takes about a month to receive a full, written report.

At that time, a follow-up meeting is held with the individual and/or his or her parents, to review the findings and to discuss treatment recommendations for optimal success.  In more urgent cases, an abbreviated report can be provided in an effort to maximize effective treatment.

6. How long does it take to schedule an assessment?

Neuropsychological assessments are scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis.  Sometimes there is a one-to-two month wait, but in general, every effort will be made to accommodate the request for services as soon as possible.

7. Will my health insurance pay for one of these assessments?

Many health insurance companies will pay for some portion, if not all, of a neuropsychological assessment.  However, since I do not bill insurance companies directly, I expect payment from the client/parents directly, and then will assist you in seeking reimbursement from your insurance company.

It is a good idea to explore your health benefits first, however, as some insurers will not pay for this kind of assessment.  In some cases, having a medical doctor make  a referral for a neuropsychological assessment can help with the insurance company’s willingness to pay for these services.

8. How much does a comprehensive neuropsychological assessment cost?

The fees for these assessments vary according to the age of the individual being tested.

9. Will my child’s neuropsychological assessment be shared with their school?

Usually, parents are eager for their children’s teacher(s) to know about these assessments, with the hope that teachers can help to accommodate for the child’s learning needs.  However, the report is given to the parents, as they are the owners of their children’s information.  Once the report is approved by the parents, and a written consent is provided, then a copy of the report can be released to the child’s school.

In some cases, parents provide a copy of the report to the school directly, without involving the examiner.  As needed, the examiner will attend meetings at the school with the child’s parents, teachers and appropriate school administrators in an effort to discuss assessment findings and to coordinate follow-up plans for optimal success in school.

10. My son or daughter is applying for admission to an independent school, and needs an IQ test as part of the admissions process for that school.

Many independent schools require that their applicants include an IQ assessment as part of their application to their school.  Typically, this test is called the WISC IV.  It takes about two hours to administer in a one-to-one format with the examiner.  A full report of this assessment is usually available within two weeks of the time of the assessment.  In some cases, this report can be completed more quickly, but an added fee is included for a “rush order.”

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