Children are full of life and activity, but they to face some tough times, which sometimes they are not able to express. It is probably one of the most difficult tasks to know what a child is thinking and going through. The human brain is the most important organ and controls all the physical and physiological actions of the body. If even a finger is burnt or injured, there are several neurons that alert the brain that a part of the body is hurt and needs attention. The brain is also responsible for the physical, emotional, and mental changes in the body. The study of brain and behavior and their effect on a person is called ‘neuropsychology,’ and a neuropsychologist is a qualified person who can evaluate an adult person or a child who has suffered an injury to the brain or if the brain has an illness.
The brain is quite a complex organ, and it requires a certain amount of learning, specialization, and training for a neuropsychologist to deal with illnesses and disorders with the brain and nervous system. There are many neurological disorders that develop when a child is small, and most are not cured permanently, and the patient can only alter his lifestyle and adapt to the changes. There are many children who have disorders such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, and Attention/Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), which affect their behavior, cognitive, social-emotional, motor skills, memory, and other sensory functions. The neuropsychologist works with parents, teachers, and doctors to know about the condition of a particular child and determine a proper diagnosis and treatment.
The neurological disorders, unfortunately, are diagnosed in children and mostly early in childhood. Many times a child is doing well both at home and school, but suddenly changes are noticed, such as falling grades, loss of concentration, not conversing with family and friends, forgetting things, and having trouble making a decision. There are certain injuries, ailments, and diseases that can affect the nervous system and away a child may feel, behave, and think. A neuropsychological evaluation is needed to determine, diagnose, and give a proper assessment, alternative therapy and treatment if a child has difficulties in learning, memory, mood, and nervous system dysfunction.
A neuropsychological evaluation is one of the most popular and common assessments to know how the brain of a person functions and its impact on the physical and physiological functions. The evaluation is an interview between a qualified neuropsychologist and a child, which consists of questions and a written test that is meant to judge a problem a child may be facing. The neuropsychologist first takes the history of the child from the parents and teachers to know the personality of the child and many times, a parent is also present during the neuropsychological evaluation. The neuropsychologist will also note if the child is having any current treatment and the medication the child is taking.
The neuropsychological evaluation consists of different types of tests that are standardized and measure many functions such as memory, personality, problem-solving, cognitive ability, reasoning, language, visual perception, and academic skills. The neuropsychological evaluation is closely linked with counseling as similar tests are carried out with same protocols and measurement techniques. The evaluation is given in counselling center where the neuropsychologist addresses the emotional, cognitive, and behavioural symptoms of children.
A neuropsychological evaluation is necessary as it can rule out if a child is diagnosed with a certain disorder such as autism, ADHD, Asperger syndrome, Specific learning disorder, or not. The evaluation test can reveal the strengths and weaknesses of a child and how parents and teachers can help the child to not only cope with the challenges but improve his strengths. The parents must seek help from an expert neuropsychologist if their child is having problems in following areas
- Difficulty in understanding words and common phrases
- Problems in starting a conversation and communicating
- Repeating odd language heard from television commercials
- Issues with verbal and non-verbal communication and reasoning
- Needing adequate time to learn
- Difficulties in problem-solving
- Getting low grades in school
- Problems with reading, comprehension, and mathematics
- Needing sufficient time for tests and homework
- Not properly communicating with peers and children of his age
- Problems with functional and imaginative play
- Staying solitary and playing alone rather than with other children
- Loss of concentration
- Not having particular interest and hobbies
- Irregular eating and sleeping patterns
- Getting upset easily
Motor and Visual Spatial skills
- Trouble with common skills such as tying a shoelace, buttoning the shirt, or unwrapping items
- Poor handwriting
- Problem copying lectures of class on a notebook or school diary
- Having difficulty when faced with lots of pictures, icons on a computer screen, or math problems on a sheet of paper
The neuropsychological evaluation is a test requiring only a paper and a pen. The tests are given to children in the same manner, and the score of an individual child is compared with the scores of a healthy child of the same age. The neuropsychologist will determine if the answer from a child to a particular question shows strength or a weakness. The neuropsychologist gave his observation usually when all tests are analyzed, and the child is properly interviewed along with his parents and teachers.
The complete neuropsychological evaluation usually takes 2 to 5 hours but can take longer depending on the complexity of the issues and child performance. The test may take longer, but the neuropsychologist like the child to finish the test on the same day and not prolong it for another session. The parent’s intake is very important at the start of the session as the information and history of the child will help the neuropsychologist to correctly determine symptoms, evaluate the test, and recommend further treatment and therapy. After the feedback session, the parents will receive a detailed report on results of test, diagnostic impression of the neuropsychologist, and further recommendations.
Andrew Smith works as a counselor and provides assessment and evaluation of children having physical and emotional problems. He also writes for online medical magazine and recently wrote on the role of child neuropsychology and counseling center in administering evaluation test to determine neurological disorders.