Psychological and Neuropsychological Evaluations
A psychological evaluation is a visit with a doctor called a psychologist. This visit helps you understand how your child thinks, learns, and behaves.
A neuropsychological evaluation is similar but provides more information when needed. Your child will visit with a doctor called a neuropsychologist. This doctor knows how the brain works and how brain injuries, illness, or treatments affect thinking and learning.
The psychology team will decide what kind of evaluation your child needs. During both types of evaluations, the care provider will:
- Speak with you and your child
- Ask questions about your child’s strengths and weaknesses
- Have your child complete tests that measure thinking
- Look at your child's medical records
- Talk with your care team about your child’s needs
Reasons for an evaluation
Your care team might suggest an evaluation to screen your child for any problems they might be having or to monitor how they are doing. The tests may also show if your child's illness or treatments are affecting their thinking, emotions, or behavior.
Your child might have problems with:
- Learning at the same rate as other children their age
- Doing schoolwork or learning new things
- Paying attention, remembering things, and staying organized
- Doing daily activities
Your child might need additional tests if they have medical problems such as:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Problems seeing, hearing, or speaking
- Weakness on 1 side of the body
Tell your care team if you notice these problems. A visit could help you find out why this is happening and how your child can get help.
Your child might also have psychological or neuropsychological testing if they are part of a research study.
What an evaluation measures
Depending on your child’s needs, tests might measure:
- Skills they use at school (such as reading or math) and work
- Language and verbal skills
- Developmental milestones
- How your child plans, organizes, and solves problems
How an evaluation can help
An evaluation can:
- Help you understand your child
- Show your child’s strengths and weaknesses
- Find a problem caused by illness or treatment
- Help your child go back to school or make plans to do so
- Get help with job training
- Find people who can help, such as teachers and therapists
A health care provider will speak with you and your child. Your child may take tests with a pencil and paper or a computer.
The length of the appointment will depend on the type of testing and evaluation and what your child needs. Testing might need more than 1 appointment.
How to prepare for an evaluation
Your child should have a good night of sleep and eat a meal before the appointment. Your child should take all their regular medicines on the test day.
Who should come to the appointment
A parent or guardian must be present to answer questions and fill out forms. For instance, a parent might have to sign a form that lets the care team talk to staff at your child’s school.
What to bring to the evaluation
Please bring your child's school records, including:
If your child uses any of the following, please bring them to the appointment:
- Prescription glasses
- Hearing aids
- Communication aids or devices, such as tablets with speech aids, books with pictures and symbols, or recorded speech devices
Your appointment schedule
- Please arrive on time. If you are late, it might be hard to complete the testing and the evaluation might not happen.
- If you need to cancel your appointment, call as soon as possible to reschedule.
- A psychology team member will contact you. They will tell you the results and suggest things that can help your child.
- You can speak with your care team about how to get your child’s report. The report might have a plan of things you can do to help your child.
How to use the evaluation results
You can use this information to:
- Help your child do difficult things in an easier way.
- Share the results with your child's teachers and health care team. The results help them care for your child.
- Share the results with organizations that can help your child. Examples would be the state Vocational Rehabilitation office or the Office of Student Disabilities at your child's college.
- Psychological and neuropsychological evaluations tell you about your child's thinking, learning, emotions, and behavior.
- These evaluations can help you know more about your child's strengths and weaknesses.
- Your child’s care team will use results to develop a plan to support your child or make referrals to other services.