What is a neuropsychological evaluation?
A neuropsychological test battery is designed to evaluate different areas of brain functioning including attention, learning and memory, language processing, abstract reasoning, organizing, planning, complex problem solving, academic abilities, personality and mood regulation. Challenges in one of these areas of brain functioning can impact a person's ability to be personally, academically and professionally successful.
Why pursue a neuropsychological evaluation?
A neuropsychological evaluation helps you identify underlying strengths and personal assets. It provides diagnostic clarification for better academic planning and helps develop a treatment plan that is designed to utilize your strengths to help you with your individual challenges. Most importantly, a neuropsychological evaluation will help you rise to your fullest potential personally, academically and professionally.
What is the purpose of a neuropsychological evaluation?
The goal of neuropsychological testing is to provide diagnostic clarification and to identify a person's areas of relative strength and weakness. A comprehensive report is written with specific treatment recommendations that are tailored to the client's challenges. The results are used to help clients make more informed life choices including seeking educational accommodations, work modifications and possible referrals to mental health specialists.
How long does a neuropsychological evaluation take?
This depends on the reason for pursuing an evaluation. Most often, 4 to 5 hours of testing is required for children and adolescents. In order to receive academic or educational accommodations the learning challenges need to be well documented, especially if the adolescent is requesting accommodations for taking the ACT, SAT or college coursework. For adults, testing can be typically completed in 3 to 4 hours, however this may vary depending on the reasons for pursuing a neuropsychological evaluation.
Why do so many tests have to be administered?
The simple answer to the question is: A questionnaire does not provide enough information as it provides only one data point. Multiple tests are administered in order to get a panoramic view of the presenting concerns. The battery of tests that is administered typically reveals a pattern of scores that help to specifically identify the underlying challenges, as well as innate strengths.
What is the process?
The intake interview is conducted during the first hour of the evaluation. This is the time when background information is gathered and the presenting concerns are discussed. If previous testing has been done, it is often helpful to bring a copy of the report on the day of the appointment. School records, including IEPs, are also important sources of information. Dr. Binford administers the test battery and she provides the clients with some initial feedback after the testing is completed.
Why pursue a neurolopsychological evaluation?
There are many factors that can contribute to children's academic underachievement and poor social skills such as language processing difficulties, developmental delays, sensory processing challenges, premature birth and a history of abuse and neglect. Most often, children use inappropriate behaviors to tell their parents 'something's wrong.' In other words, children lack the ability to articulate their frustrations related to their school performance. So, behaviors such as defiance, obstinance, 'meltdowns', school refusal, fighting over homework, and 'forgetting' assignments are often 'tip-offs' to learning and language processing challenges. A neuropsychological evaluation helps to pinpoint the specific areas of challenge that are impacting a child's ability to succeed academically and/or preventing them from developing age-appropriate peer relationships.
How do I know my teenager needs a neuropsychological evaluation? Substance abuse and social isolation are two of the biggest 'tip-offs' to an undiagnosed learning disability. When an adolescent is abusing drugs or alcohol, it is often an attempt to self-medicate an undercurrent of depression and/or anxiety. One question to ask is: What is the source of mood dysregulation? When this question is accurately addressed, treatment for substance abuse will likely be much more effective. Similarly, when teenagers withdraw socially, one question to ask is: What is source of social isolation? Language processing challenges can impact a teenager's ability to succeed in language arts classes, as well as significantly impair their ability to develop relationships and to communicate with parents. A neuropsychological evaluation is the starting point for treatment; it helps to identify the underlying source of depression, anxiety, and social isolation, so your teenager can move forward and experience personal, social, and academic success.
Conflict in relationships and job dissatisfaction can be indicators of possible underlying neuropsychological impairments. Many times, adults will report other people in their lives will make the following complaints: "I'm tired of telling you what to do and how to do it!" or "It's so obvious, I don't understand how you could miss that!" On-the-job frustrations often include a disorganized work space, poor time management, feelings of inadequacy and an inability to meet job expectations despite above average intellectual abilities. A neuropsychological evaluation can provide insight and understanding to your personal and professional frustrations and disappointments.
What is executive functioning?
Executive functions are a set of mental skills mediated by the prefrontal cortex. They operate much like the conductor of an orchestra and help the brain to coordinate and engage in a range of tasks including:
- Organize and prioritize tasks
- Focus, sustain, and shift attention
- Regulate alertness and processing speed, as well as sustain effort
- Manage frustration and modulate emotions
- Utilize working memory and recall information
- Monitor and self-regulate behaviors.
Academic achievement, social engagement, and day-to-day functioning place an increased demand on this set of skills. From a practical perspective, executive functioning represents a person’s ability to (1) understand cause and effect, (2) use foresight and to think and plan strategically, (3) engage in novel complex problem solving, (4) generate alternative problem-solving strategies, and (5) see a different perspective.