Neuropsychological Testing for Your Child: Why, How & Where
Underlying mental health illnesses, learning impairments, developmental disabilities, school readiness or giftedness can all be discovered through neuropsychological testing. A skilled psychologist or psychiatrist conducts the evaluation, and the results offer deep insight into the child’s psychological development and it identifies learning or behavioral difficulties. It is essential for parents to know why, how, and where they can access these tests.
What is neuropsychological testing for children?
The link between the brain and behavior is examined in neuropsychology. Standardized tests and observation are both utilized in neuropsychological testing in children to gauge their progress. When children undergo a neuropsychological exam, a trained clinician interviews the parents to get information about the home and school settings, and the child’s medical history.
The child’s cognitive ability, attention, learning, memory, visual-spatial skills, language, motor coordination, and planning and organizational abilities, are all assessed during a neuropsychological evaluation. Additionally, it might target behavioral, social, and emotional functioning. Finding a child’s strengths and challenges can aid in creating a therapy strategy.
Why should you consider neuropsychological testing for your child?
Many parents face the dilemma of whether their child has a real problem, or they are just going through a developmental phase. A child could be having behavior or concentration problems, facing bullying, or experiencing depression or anxiety. A teacher or counselor may suggest a psychological evaluation if the child is having difficulty in school or appears to be developing at a slower rate than their peers.
An important question for parents is to ask if there is a persistent problem. Knowing the warning signs that your child might benefit from seeing a mental health expert in order to better cope is crucial for parents. Psychologists with extensive experience in neuropsychology and clinical certification conduct neuropsychological testing. They are able to distinguish between the traits of neurological, emotional, and behavioral factors that influence functioning.
Issues that may necessitate children’s neuropsychological testing include:
- Changes in cognitive abilities that affect reasoning, attention, memory, and academic performance.
- Developing abnormal sleep patterns, either sleeping too much or too little.
- Displaying symptoms of mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders or addictions.
- Social withdrawal where the child intentionally isolates themselves from others.
- Lacking concentration and control of emotions and responses.
- Illnesses that affect the brain such as seizures/epilepsy, brain injury, brain tumor, life-threatening disease, or stroke.
- Parents are concerned that something is amiss with their child’s behavior, social skills, or mental and emotional abilities.
What happens during neuropsychological testing for children?
One-on-one with a professional, your child will be tested utilizing several testing methodologies. Puzzles, games, computer tasks, question-and-answer exercises, and pencil-and-paper tasks are typically included as part of the assessment. Observing the child’s social interaction and conduct is also a part of the psychological exams. The test’s outcome will be used to make a conclusion regarding the child’s potential and innate skills.
Parents and caregivers will complete the required paperwork and have an interview with the neuropsychologist. Parents cannot be present with the child during the test, which can last around four hours or more. The evaluation’s findings are usually communicated on the same day. A comprehensive report is provided later that combines all of the information from the developmental history, tests, and behavioral observations with recommended therapeutic options.
How can you get your child prepared for neuropsychological testing?
Firstly, it is important to reassure the child there are no injections or painful tests involved. Parents should also describe the process and reasons behind the test using simple terms that will make the child feel less apprehensive. Even though these are tests, the child must understand there is no such thing as passing or failing.
Ensure your child gets enough sleep the night before and they have a nutritious breakfast the morning of the test. It is also critical to recognize how much work a neuropsychological assessment will be for your child. Finding a way to appreciate and reward their efforts afterwards is a good way to motivate and praise them.
What should you bring to your child’s neuropsychological evaluation?
Parents should take all the child’s necessary medical records, prescription eyewear, hearing aids, as well as a list of medication that the child is taking. If there are school reports, notes from teachers and school counselors, or police incident reports that are relevant, it is useful to include them for the clinician to review. Include any other documentation you might require, such as a list of questions, photo identification, and insurance details.
How can your child benefit from neuropsychological testing?
Neuropsychological assessments benefit anyone who is struggling with cognitive, verbal, behavioral, or emotional issues. Neuropsychological testing for children is first and foremost needed to make a clinical diagnosis that helps determine the best course of treatment. The evaluations also shed light on how your child’s brain works and identify potential strengths and areas of difficulty. The evaluation creates a baseline to track future changes in cognitive abilities, mood, and personality, including treatment effects.
Where can you get neuropsychological testing for your child?
You want the best for your child as a parent or guardian. It can, however, be challenging to know how to help when your child is having behavioral or emotional issues or struggling at school. Psychological testing helps identify the problem, so you can provide your child with the support they need to succeed.
Finding a qualified neuropsychologist with in-depth knowledge of the clinical and educational ramifications is where the process should ideally begin. Parents can get neuropsychological testing for their children done through the following channels:
- Get a referral from the family doctor or the child’s pediatrician.
- Enquire at mental health clinics.
- Discuss options with the school counselor.
- Research psychologists, psychiatrists, and pediatric neuropsychologists in your local area.
Although a psychological assessment might yield useful data, it can also be time-consuming and expensive. It may be beneficial to have an initial appointment with a psychologist to learn what tests are advised as well as the overall cost and time involved.