Pediatric Neuropsychology

Pediatric neuropsychology is a specialty field that focuses on brain-behavior relationships in children. While a neurologist (M.D.) examines brain scans (ex. MRI, CT) to examine the structure of the brain, a neuropsychologist examines test data to examine how the brain functions. A pediatric neuropsychologist uses standardized tests and observes behavior to define a child’s pattern of cognitive development.

The child is given standardized tests and compared to other children his/her age, level of education, race/ethnicity, etc. A child’ s individual pattern of strengths and weaknesses is defined based on this comparison. The pediatric neuropsychologist uses knowledge of brain development, brain organization, and the effects of various forms of brain injury on development to guide this assessment and to interpret the results.

What is the difference between a neuropsychologist and other psychologists?

The pediatric neuropsychologist differs from other psychologists in what they do with the test results. While a clinical or school psychologist is primarily interested in the score that the child obtains, the neuropsychologist is interested in how the child obtains a specific test score as well as in the pattern of scores across different tests. Skills are broken down into component parts, attempting to define a pattern of strengths and weaknesses. The pediatric neuropsychologist works to understand where the child is having trouble and why.

How can a report from a pediatric neuropsychologist help me?

The neuropsychological assessment and report will provide you with:

  • A description of your child’s strengths and weaknesses
  • Suggestions for what you can do to help your child.
  • Recommendations for educational programming. This will include suggestions to help your child improve weak skills and suggestions on how to use your child’s strong skills to get around problems created by the weak skills.
  • Help in knowing what is fair to expect from your child at this point in time
  • Help in knowing what your child’s needs may be in the future, so that you can plan for the future.
  • Suggestions for improving your child’s behavior. In addition, the pediatric neuropsychologist may refer you to a clinical psychologist or social worker for ongoing help with your child’s behavior.

The following are some observable symptoms that may warrant a neuropsychological evaluation for your child:

  • Decrease in grades
  • Poor test scores
  • Trouble sitting down and completing homework
  • Difficulty paying attention
  • Difficulty concentrating in class and/or at home
  • Trouble recalling what he or she just read
  • Problems with memory (remembering assignments, chores, events)
  • Difficulty in specific subjects
  • Noticeable problems with language (limited vocabulary, poor speech)
  • Change or limitations in sensory perception or fine motor abilities
  • Atypical behaviors (obsessive over how things are to be done, has a specific order in which he or she performs tasks
  • Difficulty developing social relationships
  • Change in mood (more irritable, anxious, sad, angry)
  • Noticeable hyperactivity and restlessness
  • Acting out
  • Poor management of time
  • Disorganized, unable to keep things in order
  • Make careless mistakes
  • Misplaces items
  • Seems “spacey” or disengaged
  • Unable to understand instructions
  • Difficulty with planning and organizing
  • Using drugs and alcohol (including abusing prescription medication)

To learn more about our pediatric neuropsychology services, please contact us.

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