The Center for Child and Family Development / Nicole Cavenagh, PhD

What is Pediatric Neuropsychology?

“A professional specialty concerned with learning and behavior in relationship to a child’s brain” (Public Interest Advisory Committee, Division 40, American Psychological Association).

Who are Pediatric Neuropsychologists?

Licensed psychologists with specific expertise in how learning and behavior relate to brain structure and system development. Our Pediatric Neuropsychologists have specific, formalized training in conducting thorough and accurate neuropsychological evaluations.

What Does a Pediatric Neuropsychological Evaluation Assess?

  • General intellect/cognitive functioning
  • Academic achievement skills, if appropriate
  • Executive skills, such as organization, planning, inhibition, and flexibility
  • Attention
  • Learning and memory
  • Language
  • Visual-spatial skills
  • Motor coordination
  • Behavioral and emotional functioning
  • Social skills
  • Presence and intensity of symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorders, if relevant to the child’s presentation
  • In very young children, emerging skills and symptoms can be assessed in order to facilitate an early intervention program

How is this different from a school psychological assessment?

School assessments are usually performed to determine whether a child qualifies for special education programs or therapies to enhance school performance. They focus on achievement and skills needed for academic success. Generally, they do not DIAGNOSE learning or behavior disorders caused by altered brain function or development.

What will the results tell me about my child?

Testing can help detect the effects of developmental, neurological, and medical problems, such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, learning disorders, epilepsy, or a genetic disorder.

Testing may be done to obtain a baseline against which to measure the outcome of treatment or the child’s development over time.
Different childhood disorders result in specific patterns of strengths and weaknesses. Testing can help identify a child’s disorder and the brain areas that are involved. For example, testing can help determine whether a language delay is due to a problem in producing speech, understanding or expressing language, Autism Spectrum Disorder, social anxiety, or cognitive delays.

MOST IMPORTANTLY: testing provides a better understanding of the child’s behavior and learning in school, at home, and in the community. The evaluation can guide teachers, therapists, and parents to better help your child achieve his or her potential.

ALSO IMPORTANT: certain types of funding for services can be obtained once your child has a medical diagnosis; this evaluation provides a medical diagnosis.