Neurobehavioral Health Services
A neuropsychological evaluation is a comprehensive assessment of a person’s cognitive abilities, or how well a person’s brain is processing different types of information.
Mental health is critically important to a person’s success in all aspects of life and to their overall sense of contentment and satisfaction with the lives they lead as children, adolescents, and adults.
Providing support with difficult subjects, reading intervention, support with organization, supporting homework understanding and completion, and preparation for classwork and tests.
Did you know that our emotions affect our physical health, and our physical health affects our emotions? They’re not distinct things as people once thought!
Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. In some cases, a child or adolescent may struggle in a certain area, making school and other activities more difficult. In other cases, a medical condition and/or its treatment affects cognition, or one’s ability to learn and process information.
We integrate detailed neuropsychological data with medical, educational, and psychosocial information to create a profile of strengths and weaknesses that our patients, their care providers, their families, and their educators can use to direct and promote growth. Please read our FAQ page if you have questions about what is involved in clinical assessment.
What Is neuropsychology?
Pediatric neuropsychology is a professional specialty concerned with learning and behavior in relationship to a child’s brain. A pediatric neuropsychologist is a licensed psychologist with expertise in how learning and behavior are associated with the development of brain structures and systems.
What Is Pediatric Neuropsychology?
Pediatric neuropsychology is a professional specialty concerned with learning and behavior in relationship to a child’s brain. A pediatric neuropsychologist is a licensed psychologist with expertise in how learning and behavior are associated with the development of brain structures and systems. Formal testing of abilities such as memory and language skills assesses brain functioning. The pediatric neuropsychologist conducts the evaluation, interprets the test results, and makes recommendations.
Why Is Neuropsychology Important?
Neuropsychological assessment can help when learning, attention, or behavior problems occur with medical problems that impact brain development, or when there is a sudden or unexplained change in a child’s functioning.
What Will the Results Tell Me About My Child?
By comparing your child’s test scores to scores of children of similar ages, the neuropsychologist can create a profile of your child’s strengths and weaknesses. The results help those involved in your child’s care in a number of ways.
- Testing can explain why your child is having school problems. For example, a child may have difficulty reading because of an attention problem, a language disorder, an auditory processing problem, or a reading disability. Testing also guides the pediatric neuropsychologist’s design of interventions to draw upon your child’s strengths. The results identify what skills to work on, as well as which strategies to use to help your child.
- Testing can help detect the effects of developmental, neurological, and medical problems, such as epilepsy, autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dyslexia, 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. These profiles of abilities can help identify a child’s disorder and the brain areas that are involved. For example, testing can help differentiate between an attention deficit and depression or determine whether a language delay is due to a problem in producing speech, understanding or expressing language, social shyness, autism, or cognitive delay. Your neuropsychologist may work with your physician to combine results from medical tests, such as brain imaging or blood tests, to diagnose your child’s problem.
- 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 you to better help your child achieve his or her potential.
Why Are Children Referred for Neuropsychological Assessment?
Children are referred by a doctor, teacher, school psychologist, or other professionals because of one or more problems, such as:
- Difficulty in learning, attention, behavior, socialization, or emotional control;
- A disease or inborn developmental problem that affects the brain in some way; or
- A brain injury from an accident, birth trauma, or other physical stress. A neuropsychological evaluation.
What Is Assessed?
A typical neuropsychological evaluation of a school age child may assess these areas:
- General intellect
- Achievement skills, such as reading and math
- Executive skills, such as organization, planning, inhibition, and flexibility
- Learning and memory
- Visual–spatial skills
- Motor coordination
- Behavioral and emotional functioning
- Social skills
How Does a Neuropsychological Evaluation Differ 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.
Did you know that the right side of your brain controls the left side of your body, and the left side of the brain controls the right side of your body? No one really understands why, that’s just the way it is.
Behavioral Management and Psychotherapy
Our therapists, Drs. Murphy, Laake, and Klostermann, are licensed clinical psychologists who bring a wealth of experience to their work with children and families. Our therapists work together with you to understand your child’s or your family’s challenges and identify goals for treatment. Our psychologists have varied areas of expertise that include anxiety, depression, healthy psychology and chronic illness, grief and loss due to death or divorce, parent-child conflict, sibling conflict, OCD, panic disorder, school refusal, coping and stress management, tic disorders, neurodevelopmental disorders such as ADHD and learning disabilities, and behavioral concerns across developmental stages.
- Support with homework assignments
- Review of notes/materials from class
- Reinforcement/reteaching of skills
- Assistance with long-term projects
- Studying for tests and quizzes
Study & Organizational Skills
- Organize materials and assignments efficiently
- Practice effective study habits
- Use simple strategies to support classroom learning
- Improve homework completion and preparation for quizzes/tests
- Break down big projects into manageable pieces
- Prioritize tasks
- Targeted one-on-one instruction
- Personalized lesson plans and goals
- Hands-on, interactive learning
- Progress updates
Sustaining a concussion can cause a lot of disruption in a person’s life. Our neuropsychologists work with families and schools to determine the best Return to Learn plans to support students when they’re out of school and when they return after a specific period of time, or gradually over the course of several days. Our assessments identify cognitive areas that might have been affected and accommodations that are necessary within the school environment to promote recovery and progress. Over the long term, if cognitive symptoms persist, our clinicians provide detailed information about those areas and recommend necessary interventions to help each child, adolescent, or young adult get back to life.
Care for Kids After Cancer
Dr. Dirksen has specialized training in assessing and caring for the neurodevelopment of kids after cancer. Treatments used often cause cognitive difficulties. Sometimes those difficulties are apparent during or right after treatment, and at other times, long after treatment has ended.
Because a child’s brain is a “work in progress,” the full effects of treatment on cognitive function are not always clear until long after the child has finished treatment. These are referred to as the cognitive late effects of treatment.
In 2013, the Dirksen Center was awarded a grant from SurvivorVision to deliver these much-needed services to children who are unfunded or underfunded and without insurance coverage.
The Dirksen Center is happy to provide independent educational and medical evaluations for local school districts and medical professionals.
What Should I Tell My Child Before the Visit?
Most children are just relieved to know that there won’t be any shots! Many parents like to tell their child a little about what they’ll be doing. Explain to them that they’ll be working with someone one-on-one and will be doing a lot of different things like answering questions, drawing, putting together puzzles, listening, playing games, and talking about the things they like and don’t like.
What Will the Neuro-psychological Report Tell Me?
You will review the results of the assessment at your feedback appointment, and a full report will follow.
The neuropsychological report will summarize your child’s history, the reason for the assessment, the results of the assessment, your child’s strengths and weaknesses and recommendations for home, school and other care providers.
What Happens in Therapy?
Parents and children work with their psychologist to find better ways of doing things, build skills, and solve problems you might be experiencing in everyday life. The amount of parent involvement depends on the age of the child and reason for therapy.
Ever heard about the fact that we only use 10% of our brain’s capacity? Well it’s actually not true! Every single part of our brain does something.
The Right Choice
The Dirksen Center for Neurobehavioral Health is a group of professionals experienced in working with children, adolescents, parents, and young adults to help your child and your family thrive.