A Pediatric Neuropsychologist is a licensed psychologist with expertise in the development of brain structures and systems. A Neuropsychological assessment includes formal testing of abilities such as memory, attention, visual-perceptual processing and language skills.
Referrals are often made for the neuropsychological evaluation from neurologists, pediatricians, cardiologists, physiatrists, psychiatrists, and/or neurosurgeons. Pediatric neuropsychologists typically serve as consultants who work with children for a brief, circumscribed period of time. The neuropsychological assessment involves examination of neurocognitive and neurobehavioral functioning. Specifically, it involves the integration of information from various disciplines, and especially focuses on the interaction between cognitive functioning, medical issues, and psychiatric factors. Pediatric neuropsychological assessment includes the evaluation of children’s intellectual ability, memory, attention, executive/organizational skills, perceptual-spatial skills, graphomotor-coordination skills, and socio-emotional functioning. Psychoeducational testing can be included for the assessment of learning and academic achievement. Developmental testing includes the assessment of children under the age of 5 and involves the evaluation of skill acquisition across a number of domains (e.g., motor skills, communication, self-help skills, and sociability).
Pediatric neuropsychologists typically serve children with medical conditions, developmental disabilities, psychiatric problems, academic difficulties, and social problems. Specific concerns, for example, might include cognitive weaknesses secondary to medical problems, a decline in school performance, attention problems, behavior problems, developmental delay, and autism.
There are a number of components to a pediatric neuropsychological evaluation. Given the broad scope of the evaluation, information from parents and teachers is obtained through rating scales and consultation. Within a parent interview, information is gathered with respect to children’s developmental, medical, family, school, psychiatric and social history. Medical and school records are reviewed. Children typically are tested for a number of hours with paper-and-pencil tests, computer tasks, and puzzle- and game-like activities. Younger children typically undergo hands-on and play-based activities. Once all information has been obtained and testing completed, the pattern of findings will be integrated into a formal report of the child’s strengths and weaknesses. This formation is communicated to parents and children (depending upon age) within a meeting (typically a 1-hour feedback session). Parents and children are also provided with recommendations to increase the likelihood of children’s success within school and their day-to-day living. Recommendations may include referrals for other evaluations (e.g., occupational therapy), suggestions for school-based accommodations and related services, referrals for psychiatric evaluation, referrals for counseling, and resources regarding academic remediation/tutoring.