Psychological and Educational Testing
What is a Psychological evaluation?
A neuropsychological evaluation is a comprehensive, standardized assessments of cognitive function which provides a profile of strengths and weaknesses in the following areas:
~ Intelligence/ Cognitive Skills
~ Attention and Concentration
~ Learning and memory
~ Perceptual and spatial skills
~ Executive functions such as problem solving and reasoning
~ Mood, anxiety, and personality
Psychological Evaluation with Children
A comprehensive psychological evaluation describes a child's development, academic progress, and mental health and contributes to an understanding of a child's intellectual, emotional, and neurological strengths and weaknesses. The assessment provides appropriate diagnoses, a clear description of results, and recommendations of specific interventions to help your child. The assessment of includes recommendations for intervention strategies, therapeutic services, special education interventions, and assistance in developing Individual educational Program (IEP) or a 504 plan. The ultimate goal is to help optimize a child's learning and successful development, and to guide parents and teachers in tailoring interventions specific to each child.
When is a psychological evaluation needed?
Psychological evaluations with children are helpful in assessing if a child is making appropriate developmental progress, or if there are concerns about a child's ability to learn, remember, or concentrate. A psychological evaluation can also help determine if a child's problems at home, school, or socially are due to behavior/personality issues, or something else. An evaluation can provide a comprehensive understanding of the following types of problems common to childhood:
~ Attention Deficit Disorder, with and without Hyperactivity
~ Autism Spectrum Disorders
~ Non-verbal Learning Disability
~ Learning Disability including reading, writing, and math
~ Dyslexia and dyscalculia
~ Executive Functioning Disorders
~ Developmental Delays
~ Mental Retardation and Intellectual disability
~ Anxiety disorders
~ Mood disorders, depression, bipolar disorder
Psychological Evaluation with adults
Adult psychological evaluations often focus on concerns related to memory issues, focus, concentration, performance of work-related responsibilities, or emotional issues such as anxiety or depression. Many adults seek evaluation with concerns regarding attention deficit disorder that that has been undiagnosed during their childhood.
When is a Psychological evaluation needed in adulthood?
A psychological evaluation can assess memory, attention, language, and executive skills along with emotional and psychological status. It can help determine if memory loss is age-related, stress-related, or due to an early dementia. Early diagnosis and clarification of diagnosis can help establish treatment interventions and lifestyle changes. Assessment of possible attention deficit disorder in adulthood can help determine if employment or interpersonal problems are due to this disorder, and what can be done to minimize its impact on daily life. An assessment can also determine if an adult has a learning disorder or disability rendering eligibility for accommodations in the work or school setting.
Common presenting concerns during adulthood include the following:
~ Recovery from head trauma or traumatic brain injury (TBI)
~ Attention Deficit Disorder of adulthood (ADD, ADHD)
~ Memory disorders
~ Alzheimer's disease and other dementias
~ Parkinson's disease
~ Depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders
~ Multiple Sclerosis and other neurological diseases
~ Bariatric surgery evaluations
~ Epilepsy and seizure disorders
~ Stress-related disorders and psychosomatic disorder
~ Fibromyalgia and pain disorders that affect cognition
Psychological assessments can also aid determining eligibility for accommodations in higher education, accommodations for standardized testing including PSAT and SAT exams, and graduate school admissions tests such as Graduate Record Exams (GRE), Law School Admission Test (LSAT), or post-graduate licensing exams.
Psychological evaluation for the older adult and elderly
Psychological evaluation is highly effective in determining if cognitive changes in the older adult and elderly are due to medical problem, normal changes associated with aging, psychological problems such as depression, or due to a dementia. An evaluation assists in determining current level of functioning compared to previous level of functioning and to what extent cognitive changes are impacting independent living skills (ADLs or "activities of daily living") and how they are interacting with adults personality and behavior. Psychological assessments can assist physicians in determining if medical treatment is necessary, can assist family members in understanding what level of care and supervision is needed, and can assist in the individual coping with the changes they may be experiencing.
When is psychological evaluation needed for an older adult or elderly?
Physicians and family members often seek an evaluation to establish a "baseline" of functioning and to better understand how cognitive changes are affecting an individual. Repeated evaluations can assess response to treatment and the appropriate level of care, and also in proving a different diagnosis.
An evaluation is critical in understanding the following problems associated with the older adult and elderly:
~ Alzheimer's disease and other dementias
Parkinson's disease dementia and Lewy Body disease dementia
~ Aphasia and other language disorders
~ Depression and medication-effects on cognition
~ Ability to drive, work, and live, independently
~ Caregiver concerns and questions
Psychological assessment often begins with referral from a physician or mental health provider, school administrators, or self-referral directly from a client. The assessment includes a comprehensive clinical interview and understanding of your presenting concerns, administration of standardized psychological test, a written report describing the test results and recommendations, and a "feedback" session where your results and recommendations are explained in detail. When necessary a follow up is scheduled and/or referral to appropriate providers. The assessment does not include any medical procedures or needles. All tests are validated and reliable, administered by a licensed clinical psychologist.
Are Psychological evaluation covered my health insurance?
Most health insurance policies cover psychological assessments. They may require referral from a physician or other healthcare provider and authorization based on medical need. If educational concerns are the primary focus, insurance may cover a portion of the assessment but do not cover educational achievement testing since this is not considered a medical necessity. In such cases we are able to offer a payment plan for those portions of the assessment for which you are responsible.
What does a psychological evaluation involve?
How can I prepare for psychological evaluation?
Although it can sound stressful, most children and adults find a psychological assessment interesting, helpful, and informative. We recommend a good night's sleep, and a healthy breakfast. Be sure to bring eyeglasses or hearing aids if needed. We especially encourage parents to bring a snack for their child to be enjoyed during breaks and rest periods.
Please bring with you any previous evaluations, written individualized education plans or 504 plans, report cards or transcripts, and any documentation you believe could be helpful in understanding your concerns. We will ask that you sign a release of information for your permission to contact referral sources or providers as needed.
We may ask you to have your child's teachers or daycare providers to complete questionnaires to bring with you on the day of the evaluation. You will also be asked to complete registration forms and questionnaires to help with the assessment.
Whenever possible we ask that children with Attention Deficit Disorder not take their medication on the day of the evaluation. This helps us obtain a more accurate assessment of their attention span and results in greater validity of the test outcome. We understand this may not be possible for all children, but whenever feasible we ask that parents not medicate their child on the day of the evaluation.
What should I tell my child
Most children are satisfied to know that we will ask them to complete some puzzles, tell us what words mean, draw picture, and answer questions. Although some evaluations include observation of a child's play, please do not mislead your child into believing the assessment will be focused on playing games.