Pediatric Neuropsychological Evaluations: Assessments For Learning And Behavior Problems

14 December 2022
 Categories: , Blog

A brain disorder can affect a child's behavior and ability to learn. Problems with brain function are often caused by a medical condition, developmental issues, or an injury to the brain. Conditions that affect brain health have an impact on memory, problem-solving, and concentration. Your child's pediatrician, pediatric specialist, therapist, or teacher may recommend a pediatric neuropsychological evaluation if your child is having behavioral or learning difficulties.

Conditions that Affect Learning and Behavior

A variety of different conditions can impact a child's ability to learn and interact with their environment and other people. Treating the neuropsychological effects goes hand in hand with treating a child's primary disease or injury. Some common conditions seen in patients referred for pediatric neuropsychological services include:  

  • Chromosomal disorders such as Down syndrome and Klinefelter syndrome
  • Concussions or traumatic brain injury
  • Pediatric cancers
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders
  • Hearing loss
  • Genetic disorders that cause metabolic or muscular diseases
  • Encephalitis or other brain infections

Purpose of a Neuropsychological Evaluation

Psychological health care providers perform a neuropsychological evaluation to determine why a child is having learning or behavioral problems. An evaluation identifies cognitive, emotional, neurological, or psychiatric issues that affect a child's behavior and mental abilities. The results of an evaluation can show how problems with brain function impact school performance and relationships with family members and other children. The tests can help providers find treatment options and interventions that are appropriate for each child. 

Areas Tested During Evaluation

The parts of the evaluation are determined by a child's individual needs. Evaluations usually include an IQ test, emotional and behavioral assessment, and a test of executive functions such as planning and organizing. Other areas that may be tested include memory, visual perception, fine motor skills, and language. Testing may also include adaptive functioning tests, which assess a child's social skills, basic life skills, and ability to interact with their environment.

What to Expect

Part of the child's evaluation includes gathering information from the parent to provide an accurate history of medical, academic, behavioral, and psychological issues. The child meets with the neuropsychologist or other psychological associates for a few hours of testing. Tests may also be spread over a period of days. Breaks are given throughout the testing period and children are generally encouraged to bring snacks and comfort items with them.

During Evaluation

Testing occurs on a one-on-one basis with the provider and the child. Much of the evaluation involves the clinician talking to the child and asking questions. Other tests may include written responses or other kinds of assessment activities. Testing is personalized based on the child's needs.

Results and Follow-Up

Following the evaluation, parents receive feedback from the clinic about their child's results. Providers share how the child performed on the tests and make recommendations for treatment or support the child needs at home or at school. Neuropsychological evaluations can help parents understand what their child needs to become successful while managing their primary health conditions.

For more information on pediatric neuropsychological evaluations, contact a professional near you.