What is a pediatric neuropsychologist?

 

A neuropsychologist is a licensed psychologist with advanced training in the study of how brain functioning affects thinking, learning, emotions, and behaviors.  All psychologists complete a doctoral degree, which usually takes at least four years.  To become a neuropsychologist then requires an additional, highly specialized, two-year fellowship in clinical neuropsychology.  These fellowships often are either adult-focused or pediatric-focused.

 

Neuropsychologists have extensive, specialized knowledge of brain structure and functions.  Thus, a neuropsychological evaluation can provide a more sophisticated understanding of your child's cognitive, academic, behavioral, and emotional functioning than a regular psychological evaluation might be able to provide.  However, neuropsychologists also conduct psychological, psychoeducational, and other such types of evaluations when clinically indicated.

 

A pediatric neuropsychologist has particularly extensive knowledge about how the brain develops and changes across childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood -- and how those changes affect thinking, learning, emotions, and behaviors.  Given her particular training and Board Certification in Clinical Neuropsychology, Dr. Holland also has a highly advanced understanding of how medical conditions can affect brain development and neuropsychological functioning.

 

 

 
What types of problems require an evaluation?

 

An evaluation conducted by Dr. Holland may be helpful with regard to the following issues:

 

  • Difficulty with learning

  • Decline in grades

  • Behavior problems

  • Attention problems

  • Poor social skills

  • Depression symptoms

  • Anxiety symptoms

  • Questions of motivation/effort

  • Gifted/talented assessement

 

This is not a comprehensive list.  There are many other instances in which a neuropsychological evaluation may be useful.  For example, some parents may wish to have their children evaluated in order to establish a baseline so that any changes in brain functioning after some future event (anticipated or not) may be more objectively determined.  Children who have a history of developmental issues (e.g., speech delays, genetic conditions, Pervasive Developmental Disorder/PDD) or a medical condition affecting the brain (e.g., epilepsy, hydrocephalus, cerebral palsy, stroke, head injury/concussion, brain tumor) may benefit from a neuropsychological evaluation.  Children with a history of medical treatment affecting the brain (e.g., intrathecal methotrexate, cranial radiation, shunt placement) also may benefit from a neuropsychological evaluation.

 
What are the steps involved in having my child evaluated?

 

The evaluation consists of an initial parent consultation, testing session(s) with your child, and a feedback conference to discuss the results and recommendations.  Please click here for an overview of the evaluation process.

 

The initial consultation will take place on a separate day, prior to the testing session(s).  During the initial consultation, I will ask you questions that will help me plan the testing activities.  Testing activities are individualized to address your specific concerns and answer the questions you may have about your child.  Please note that sometimes this consultation reveals that an evaluation is not necessary at the present time -- I will discuss this with you if this is the case.

 

The testing session(s) are customized for your child.  Testing may involve paper-and-pencil tasks, hands-on activities, verbal questions, and/or computerized tasks as indicated based on information collected from the parent interview and any prior documentation that has been provided.  The exact duration of testing can vary drastically depending on many things, including how quickly your child works.  In some cases, abbreviated testing sessions distributed over multiple days may be indicated.

 

Once all testing been completed, I will meet with you -- and possibly your child as well, if appropriate based on his/her age -- to discuss the findings and recommendations.  Some time after the feedback conference has been completed, you will receive a comprehensive written report of the evaluation.

 

 
What is assessed during an evaluation?

 

A comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation involves assessment of three broad domains: cognitive functioning, academic skill development, and psychological functioning.  Within those domains, testing may address:

 

  • Cognitive Functioning:

    • General intelligence (IQ)

    • Memory and learning

    • Attention

    • Executive functioning

    • Language

    • Visual-spatial skills

    • Sensorimotor skills

  • Academic Skill Development:

    • Basic word reading

    • Phonetics

    • Reading comprehension

    • Spelling

    • Written expression

    • Basic math calculation

    • Math word problem solving

    • Academic fluency (speed/accuracy)

  • Psychological Functioning:

    • Emotional adjustment

    • Behavioral regulation

    • Social skills

    • Sensory issues

    • Effort/motivation

 

Other types of evaluations (psychological, psychoeducational, etc.) may involve assessment of some but not all of these domains, as clinically indicated.

 
Do you conduct evaluations for standardized testing accommodations?

 

Yes.  Through a comprehensive evaluation, Dr. Holland can determine if accommodations on standardized tests such as the ISEE, SAT, or ACT may be indicated for your child.  If this is one of your primary reasons for pursuing an evaluation, please let Dr. Holland know at the start of the evaluation process, so that she can be sure to provide documentation according to the guidelines required for the particular test(s) in question.  You can review those documentation guidelines and other information regarding the process of requesting such accommodations at the websites for the ISEE, SAT, and ACT.

 

Please be aware that evaluation for standardized testing accommodations does not guarantee that your child will be determined to qualify for such accommodations.  Whether or not your child qualifies for standardized testing accommodations, the evaluation process still should help you learn more about your child's neuropsychological strengths and weaknesses.  Based on these strengths and weaknesses, Dr. Holland can discuss with you individualized strategies for how best to support your child in school and in life.

 
Will this evaluation provide a diagnosis for my child?

 

Maybe, but not necessarily.  Through a neuropsychological evaluation of your child, Dr. Holland can assess for a number of possible diagnoses, including but not limited to learning disabilities, ADHD ("ADD"), autism spectrum disorders, neurodevelopmental disorders, and psychiatric disorders.  However, Dr. Holland will not provide a diagnosis if it is not indicated based on the results of the evaluation.

 

Whether or not your child meets criteria for a diagnosis, the evaluation process should help you learn more about your child's neuropsychological strengths and weaknesses.  Based on these strengths and weaknesses, Dr. Holland can discuss with you individualized strategies for how best to support your child in school and in life.

 
What should I tell my child about his/her upcoming evaluation?

 

Younger children in particular may be worried that going to see a doctor means getting shots, x-rays, or other procedures.  You can explain to your child that Dr. Holland is not that kind of doctor but is more like a teacher.

 

Instead of telling your child that he/she will be "tested," you can tell your child that this will be a day of pencil-and-paper activities, questions, and puzzles.  For some children, it may be helpful to describe the evaluation as "sort of like school."

 
How much do these services cost?

 

For neuropsychological, psychological, or psychoeducational evaluations, payment of a non-refundable $500 flat fee is required to reserve a time for the initial parent interview.  That fee will go toward the total cost of the evaluation if it is determined that a full evaluation is indicated.  At the time of the testing session, the remainder of the full evaluation fee will be due.

 

Please contact Dr. Holland for more specific pricing information, including pricing for other services.

 

 
What forms of payment are accepted?

 

Payment is accepted by cash, check, Visa, MasterCard, Health Savings Account (HSA), or Flexible Spending Account (FSA).  HSA or FSA accounts typically can be used to pay for psychological or neuropsychological assessments, which effectively makes those services tax-deductible.  Please check your specific HSA or FSA to see if any restrictions apply.

 

Dr. Holland does not accept insurance for payment.  This policy protects your child's privacy, as insurance companies often request detailed psychiatric, psychological, and medical information in order to determine coverage for neuropsychological services.  This policy also allows Dr. Holland to provide the services that will be most helpful to your child, rather than having a representative from the insurance company determine what your child needs.  Dr. Holland will be happy to provide you with all of the documentation needed to file an "out-of-network" claim.  If you would like to pursue this option, please check with your child's insurance company before scheduling services.

 

 

 
Are there other services available not listed on this website?

 

Yes.  Please contact Dr. Holland for specific inquiries regarding other possible services.

© 2014 by Alice Ann Holland, Ph.D., ABPP