Child Neuropsychological Assessment
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Thank you for your inquiry regarding a neuropsychological evaluation. This document was prepared to answer some of the most common concerns or questions people raise when they first contact me. By using this written approach, I hope to help you understand what is entailed in neuropsychological evaluation. I hope that the points below will answer many of your initial questions to help you make an informed decision about whether you wish to proceed with an assessment for your child. If you would like to speak to me directly, please see my CONTACT page for further information.
- What is a pediatric neuropsychologist?
A pediatric neuropsychologist is a licensed psychologist with training in clinical psychology and neuropsychology. They have completed specialty training in how the brain develops and how changes in normal development may result in brain-based disorders. Specialized training in neuropsychology assists in both the evaluation process and in the management of a child’s needs. Problems assessed may be developmental in nature or may have resulted from a medical illness or injury.
- What services do you provide?
The primary activities of my practice are neuropsychological assessment and consultation related to concerns about your child’s educational, behavioral, and emotional difficulties. I do not do individual psychotherapy. Although I do not provide ongoing psychotherapy, often consultative meetings with children, parents, or family members do occur in the course of an assessment, and for a period following an assessment. I make myself available to families for ongoing consultation if needed.
- Who do you assess and serve?
I typically evaluate only children and adolescents with special education needs. In some instances I evaluate young adults with a childhood history of neurological or neurodevelopmental disorder who may want an assessment at age 18 or when they are in their 20’s. In some instances, I evaluate children with few academic achievement problems who are having other difficulties (e.g., attention problems; behavioral problems; those who may require an evaluation due to a recently diagnosed medical condition that may affect their cognition). Sometimes a record review is first needed when prior testing or treatment has been completed. When a child has been tested in the recent past, I will often discuss with parents doing a record review or speaking with prior providers before taking additional steps. This helps me provide you with appropriate advice about whether additional assessment is required or certain interventions may be helpful.
- What type of issues or disorders do you typically evaluate?
Often neuropsychological assessment is completed with children who may have developmental problems or neurodevelopmental disorders. Sometimes a child’s challenges are noticed early on in life, although at other times problems go unnoticed until a child enters school. For example, a child may begin to demonstrate learning deficits, behavioral or emotional problems, attention difficulties, or can struggle to process information. Parents often want to know whether their child has a specific diagnosis, such as a Learning Disability (LD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), or Autism. Neuropsychological assessment is also utilized to evaluate children with known brain dysfunction, such as a head injury, a brain tumor, seizures, encephalitis, or other conditions that affect the central nervous system and cause cognitive deficits. In other instances, a child may have developed a new problem, such as memory or executive dysfunction, secondary to a medical condition (e.g., a child treated for leukemia with chemotherapy or cranial radiation; a child with viral encephalitis). In other instances, children may be functioning below age expectations because a child was premature and of exceptionally low birth weight.
Although I do assess children for learning disabilities as part of a more extensive neuropsychological assessment, sometimes a comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation may not be the first step required. This is particularly true for children with mild developmental learning issues related to decoding, spelling, and handwriting difficulties. For example, sometimes an educational evaluation may be more appropriate. Neuropsychological assessment is useful in cases of complicated learning disabilities or with children who have not been sufficiently assisted by a more standard educational assessment or from remediation provided when testing was not first completed.
- What is typically assessed in a neuropsychological evaluation?
The following domains are typically assessed: intellectual abilities, attention, executive function, learning and memory, visual perception, visual-motor ability, processing speed, control over hand movements, language, emotional assessment of issues such as depression and anxiety, social skills, and academic achievement.
- How long does a neuropsychological evaluation take to complete?
The number of hours differs depending upon a number of factors including a child’s age and their ability to focus during the assessment. Typically testing can take 10 to 12 hours. If some tests were completed recently (e.g., IQ; achievement), many times this information can be utilized as part of my assessment.
- How do I book an appointment?
After reviewing your concerns in a phone appointment or during an office consultation, I will be able to determine if neuropsychological assessment is what is required and if I am the right type of professional to complete your child’s evaluation. At that point, we can discuss scheduling an evaluation.
- When will I receive the results of this evaluation?
Typically, an evaluation report can take 3 to 4 weeks to complete after our final test session. I can provide a verbal feedback session sooner if desired.
- What is the cost of completing this evaluation?
The cost for a neuropsychological evaluation depends on the amount of testing completed, records reviewed, teachers and clinicians involved that I speak with, and time we spend in conferencing. Fees are charged on an hourly basis. In addition to the testing time, there are other activities: scoring and tabling test scores; report writing; non-logistic emails; and our face-to-face meetings for intake and feedback. There may also be a face-to-face meeting with your child.
- Will my insurance cover the cost of this evaluation?
If neuropsychological assessment is covered by your plan it often falls under the umbrella of your Behavioral Health Plan benefits. Neuropsychological evaluation generally covers the assessment of cognitive difficulties associated with medical condition or certain mental health conditions. If you plan to seek reimbursement, you are advised to call your insurance company prior to our first appointment. I do not call or bill any insurance companies. If you have mental health coverage and your child has a mental health diagnosis, you may be able to receive at least partial reimbursement for the costs. Based on California AB 88, otherwise known as the Mental Health Parity Act, some mental health conditions are covered. Likewise, the Wellstone-Domenici Mental Health Parity Law was enacted by Congress to aid in insurance reimbursement for mental health diagnoses.
Individual insurance policy coverage differs widely. The most informed approach is to call your health plan and ask whether a neuropsychological assessment is covered. You can provide your insurance company with these CPT codes associated with neuropsychological evaluation with report. 96116, 96121, 96136, 96137, 96132, 96133. Typically, most insurance companies will not cover learning disabilities evaluation or if testing is completed for educationally-related purposes (e.g., determining if extended time accommodations are required to complete the SAT). Your insurance company may require preauthorization or require that you see an in-network provider. I am not a member of any health insurance plan. My practice is a fee-for-service practice, which means you will need to pay me directly for all services rendered and submit my bill to your insurance company directly. The bill will be coded with appropriate CPT codes and a diagnostic code. If you have a multi—tiered health insurance (e.g., a PPO; POS), where your insurance plan provides reimbursement for out-of-network providers, you may receive at least partial reimbursement. I recommend that you check your benefits carefully.
- Am I available to attend IEP or school meetings?
Yes. Frequently as a follow-up to an assessment,I attend an IEP or school meeting to review my test findings to assist school personnel. Most often this is a useful meeting to support your child’s school goals, schools are typically collaborative, and my input is often welcome. I have maintained a positive working relationship with local school districts and private schools throughout the Bay Area.
Sometimes parents ask if I will attend their child’s IEP if I have never tested their child. I only attend IEPs of children I have evaluated or if I have conducted a comprehensive record review and have met with the child and their parents. I may not always need to do a comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation for the purpose of attending an IEP, but I must professionally evaluate a child and his or her needs to provide an objective, informed, opinion.
Thank you for reading this information. I look forward to speaking to you.