Here are some of our FAQs. If you can’t find the answer below, feel free to reach out to us via phone or online contact form.
Bellow is a list of separate FAQ per condition, or the frequent questions in general.
Neuropsychology is the study and practice of the brain and how its functioning affects cognition and behavior. Often, neuropsychologists conduct evaluations on children and adults who are having difficulty in some aspect of their lives to determine if there is a biological and neurocognitive basis for their problems. A neuropsychological evaluation may be appropriate for children displaying developmental delays, individuals with traumatic brain injury or concussions, or older patients who are experiencing cognitive decline.
The length of a neuropsychological evaluation depends significantly on the purpose and setting. Some neuropsychologists conduct brief inpatient neuropsychological evaluations for individuals who have undergone surgery or experienced a neurological event. These evaluations can be as brief as 30 minutes or shorter. Alternatively, a comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation for a child displaying multiple deficits can take as long as several days.
There are many areas in which neuropsychological and psychological evaluations overlap, but there are also some important distinctions. Medically, one of the main distinctions is the focus on the brain behavior relationship in a neuropsychological evaluation. Instead of simply focusing on general cognitive abilities (i.e., what is the person’s IQ), a neuropsychologist uses their understanding of brain functioning and structure to interpret test results and formulate an understanding of an individual’s profile.
In addition, neuropsychological evaluations are often more comprehensive and involved than a psychological evaluation. This is largely due to the fact that understanding functions of the brain as distinct yet interconnected domains requires assessment of many individual abilities that can affect a person’s overall output.
There are some overlaps between school evaluations and neuropsychological evaluations, but the main differences between the evaluations are the purpose and focus. In general, it is a “what” versus “why” difference: a school evaluation focuses on what the child’s abilities are whereas a neuropsychological evaluation focuses on why they are struggling. For many school evaluations, the child is given a short intelligence test followed by an assessment of their academic abilities. This leaves out many potential factors that are important in understanding the child’s learning pattern.
For example, the school evaluation will often omit testing:
How the student memorizes and learns information
How their language and communication ability impacts what they understand and can express
How their visual perception and motor coordination function independently, as well as integrate into being able to process what they see and write effectively
How they can organize and plan to fulfill responsibilities that they have in their executive functioning
How they can inhibit or guide their behavior to follow rules that are constantly changing in their environment.
These are a few of multiple areas which are assessed in a neuropsychological evaluation but not in a general school evaluation.
In addition, there is also a significant distinction between the outcomes from these evaluations. As schools often only evaluate basic cognitive skills and general academic functioning, they often will avoid giving a diagnosis due to the lack of comprehensive understanding provided by the evaluation.
In a neuropsychological evaluation, on the other hand, the overall focus is to gain a complete understanding of the cognitive profile and whether there is a biological basis for the problem. This is also why recommendations are so integral to the neuropsychological report and are even omitted altogether in some psychological reports.
It is difficult to give a general guideline on when a child should be evaluated, but earlier intervention assessment and intervention can be critical to a child’s future development. As development and education are cumulative processes, regression in these areas can have a cumulative effect in which a child continues to fall further behind their peers due to a lack of proper intervention and assessment of their abilities.
Here are some important questions to ask yourself:
Is my child having ongoing difficulties that do not appear to be resolving independently?
When I look at my child compared to other children their age, do they appear different in a critical area?
Does some aspect of how they are functioning strike me as inconsistent with their overall abilities?
Do I hear from my child’s teachers or other adults that my child is falling behind others or showing problematic signs?
For younger children, it can be helpful to explain that they are going to a doctor but are not going to get any shots or have their ears or throat checked. Instead, the doctor is going to ask a lot of questions and play games to see what the child is good at.
For older children in school, it can be helpful to compare the experience to going to school with some important differences. The evaluation is similar to class in that the child has to sit at a desk and work on various activities. However, there are some important distinctions. Unlike school, most parts of the evaluation will be on tasks that the child has never seen before and may feel uncomfortable not knowing whether they are doing it correctly. Also unlike school, the tasks will often start out easy, but they will eventually become harder until the child is no longer able to answer the items correctly.
For some children, this is difficult as they are used to doing well on assignments, and preparing them prior to the appointment can be critical in decreasing their frustration and anxiety when working on the tests of the evaluation. Another main difference is that during the evaluation, the child can take breaks whenever they need to, even if they just want to walk in the hallway for a brief period to give themselves a breather.
Often, one of the most important things that parents can prepare their child with is that they need to try their best throughout the evaluation. It can even be helpful to incentivize the child to do this, as their effort has a large impact on the findings and interpretability of the scores.
At home appointments are generally conducted for individuals who have difficulty traveling to the office or would be better assessed in their home environment due to their developmental level or behavioral concerns. One should expect that the evaluation will be done in a quiet, distraction-free part of the house and will often take several hours.
The neuropsychologist will bring all necessary materials (sometimes including a table and chairs where necessary), but it is often helpful for the child to have writing or coloring utensils, something to eat or drink, and appropriate clothing for the evaluation. In addition, it is necessary to prepare a child before the evaluation to make sure that they are ready when the neuropsychologist arrives.
This largely depends on the purpose of evaluation, but most at home evaluations are relatively short when compared to full-day in-office evaluations. In general, evaluations at home last from one to three hours.
After all of the evaluation sessions are complete, the neuropsychologist will go through all of the data, score the appropriate tests, and interpret the findings. Then, the neuropsychologist will meet with the child’s parents (and often the child him or herself) to go over the findings, interpretations, and recommendations based on the results. This feedback session can be anywhere from 45 minutes to 3 hours long depending on the complexity of the case.
Afterwards, the neuropsychologist will prepare the results in a comprehensive report that will be shared with the child’s parents and can be distributed to other professionals who work with the child and would benefit from having a deeper understanding of their strengths and weaknesses.
There is no inherent expiration for these evaluations, but it can be important to reevaluate a child in the near future, especially if they are very young and there are significant developmental concerns.
Although these reports do not have a set expiration date, there are requirements from various agencies to have up-to-date evaluations. For example, many guidelines for testing accommodations require having these evaluations done within 2 years of the test.
This depends on the type of evaluation necessary and complexity of the case. Information on the cost of the various types of evaluation can be found on our pricing page.
As many insurances do not cover these types of valuations, our neuropsychologists are not in network with insurance. Nevertheless, some individuals are able to be reimbursed by their insurance provider if they have out-of-network benefits. In addition, some individuals are able to use self-direction funds provided by Medicaid Waiver to pay for these evaluations.