A neuropsychological evaluation of a school-aged child is a comprehensive battery of tests that provide detailed, in depth description of an individual’s abilities and skills. The evaluation often includes: clinical history, clinical and behavioral observations, completion of behavior rating checklists, computer-based tests, standardized assessments of global intellectual functioning, and a variety of other structured norm-referenced hands-on activities. The specific series of tests measures brain functioning in the areas of: executive functions, memory, language, visuospatial abilities, fine and gross motor skills, academic performance, intellectual skills, and behavioral/emotional functioning. These measures are then integrated into a report for the patient to provide to school professionals, medical professionals, and post-secondary institutions.
Who benefits from a neuropsychological evaluation of a school-aged child?
Parents and educators utilize a neuropsychological evaluation and report to determine aptitude, intellectual functioning, learning styles, rate of processing information, memory skills, the interface of emotional problems and learning, problem solving skills, and attention/organization. The neuropsychological report guides academic interventions, clarifies the need for academic support, recommends accommodations and remediation by providing resources and recommendations for the students specific learning styles.
When should a neuropsychological evaluation be used?
When students experience learning difficulties, a neuropsychological evaluation can be an instrumental tool in appropriately evaluating abilities and skills, and providing a foundation for accurate diagnosis and useful recommendations. Comprehensive information about brain-related strengths and weaknesses help to understand the sources of problems and implications for academic and everyday functioning. A neuropsychological evaluation can furnish much needed relevant information regarding a child’s educational planning to the parents and school district.
How can a neuropsychological evaluation clarify eligibility for school based services?
If it is determined that a school-aged individual has a disability that adversely affects educational performance, school services can be granted due to the school impact of the area of disability. In this case, special education services for students identified as having a disability are secured and are intended to remediate the area of disability. If a school-aged child does not fit into one of the 13 defined disabling conditions specified in federal special education law, or they do not require special education to remediate impact on learning they may still be entitled to services or accommodations under Section 504.
If a school-aged individual is determined to have a physical or mental disability that substantially restricts a major life activity (ie. walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, working, caring for oneself, or manual tasks) to a degree greater than the majority of people, an individual may qualify for services intended to level the playing field commensurate to what is afforded to non-disabled students. These accommodations are intended to remove barriers that prevent equal access to education and can be granted through a Section 504 Accommodation Plan. A Section 504 Accommodation Plan will describe the accommodations that a school will provide to support the student’s education. A collaborative team that determines the student’s eligibility and identifies the needed accommodations will write the plan. Written documentation and record of impairment via evaluations, reports, and recommended accommodations are required.
Resources and helpful links for 504 Accommodation and IDEA qualification: