How will assessment help my child or young adult?
1. Accurate diagnosis
2. Understand your child’s strengths and weaknesses
3. Understand how a child learns best
4. Creating a customized plan of action
5. Understand why a child may have behavior problems
6. Understand how problems with the brain may relate to problems at school,
home, or with peers
7. Work with other doctors and teachers to develop the best treatment and school
plan for a child
8. Get help with an IEP or 504 Plan
9. Get accommodations at school or on standardized tests (i.e., SAT, ACT, GRE,
Ultimately, an educational or neuropsychological evaluation helps you better understand your child’s functioning in areas such as attention, organization, planning, memory, as well as emotional, social, and behavioral functioning. This information will help you and your child’s teacher, therapist, and physician provide treatments and interventions for your child that will meet his or her unique needs. Additionally, testing may be done to obtain a baseline against which to measure the outcome of treatment or the child’s development over time.
Most importantly, testing provides a better understanding of the child’s behavior and learning in school, at home, and in the community, and can you to better help your child achieve his or her highest potential.
How are our assessments different from those provided by a school?
Pediatric Neuropsychologists and school staff sometimes use some of the same tests. However, school evaluations focus on deciding if a child has a problem with academic skills such as reading, spelling, or math. Moreover, school evaluations are not diagnostic.
Pediatric Neuropsychologists have specialized post-doctoral training that allows them to understand why a child is having problems in school or at home. They can provide an integrated, comprehensive, and unbiased diagnosis and recommendations for school based on your child’s strengths and weaknesses. This is done by examining academic skills but also examining all of the thinking skills needed to perform well in and outside of school – skills like memory, attention, and problem-solving. Because neuropsychologists have pre-and post-doctoral training in clinical psychology, they are also able to diagnose developmental and emotional disorders like ADHD, autism, depression, and anxiety.
Our assessments can help identify difficulties in areas of:
- Intellectual Functioning (IQ)
- Problem solving
- Executive functioning skills
- Language skills
- Academic skills, such as reading or math
- Attention and focus (ADHD)
- Working memory
- Processing speed
- Visual-spatial processing
- Social functioning
- Depression and anxiety
- Aggression and impulsive behavior
The Evaluation Process
The evaluation process can take anywhere from about 5 to 10 hours. Here’s what to expect at these meetings.
- Initial visit: The doctor will take a detailed case history either in-person or via telehealth. You may be asked to fill out questionnaires about your child’s development and behavior. From there, the doctor will decide on the appropriate tests to give your child.
- Testing: Depending on the referral question, your child will come in for assessment one or two times (more if needed). A session can last from 90 minutes to three hours (with breaks, of course). The doctor will determine the session length that’s right for your child.
- Review and diagnosis: Once the doctor has reviewed the test results, you’ll meet again for a feedback session approximately 4 weeks after your child’s final testing day. If your child is a teen, she or he will likely be part of this discussion. The doctor will describe what the tests show and how they explain what you’re seeing in your child’s learning or behavior. If your child has one or more learning and thinking differences, the doctor will identify them.
- Treatment Plan: The doctor will give you a detailed treatment plan, with specific recommendations, and may recommend that your child get specific supports and services at school or on standardized tests.
Working With Schools
Dr. Friedman and her staff can provide recommendations for IEPs and 504 Plans and can attend any school meetings. The school will have the assessment report, but it’s usually a good idea to have the doctor be part of the conversation, and can help make sure that the school’s treatment plan addresses all of your child’s issues.
Let’s say your child’s diagnosis is dyslexia, the school might include special reading instruction in his IEP, but your child may need other supports or services to help with particular executive functioning or language-based issues. Maybe he or she has trouble with phonological awareness. The specialist might recommend that your child be able to work with a speech-language the rapist.
These types of details can be lost or minimized in a long report, having a Neuropsychologist there means that the doctor can act as an advocate for your child, and help to answer the team’s questions and explain key details in the report.
For more information about pediatric neuropsychological and educational assessments, please visit https://theaacn.org/pediatric-neuropsychology/
Dr. Friedman is an expert in the cognitive and academic assessment of young adults and older adults. She received her Master’s in Education from Harvard University, her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University, and completed her neuropsychology clinical externships at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and the UCLA Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine. She continued at the UCLA Medical Psychology Assessment Center, David Geffen School of Medicine for her APA-approved Clinical Internship in Neuropsychology and Major Mental Illness, as well as her Post-doctoral Fellowship at the UCLA ADHD Genetic Study. She has been in private practice since 2013.