What is a neuropsychological evaluation?
A neuropsychological evaluation is a comprehensive assessment of functioning related to such areas as: cognition/intellectual development; memory; executive functioning, working memory and attention; visual perceptual skills and visual processing; phonological or auditory processing relevant to language; expressive and receptive language; emotional adjustment and behavior; and social skills or interpersonal communication and functioning. A thorough evaluation provides a refined profile of strengths and weaknesses in these domains, and helps elucidate contributing factors to an individual’s adjustment or efficacy within broader school, family or community contexts. Most importantly, a neuropsychological evaluation informs opportunities and methods for intervention and growth within areas of relative challenge, while fostering and capitalizing on areas of strength.
Although neuropsychological assessments can be useful for anyone who wishes to learn more about themselves and about addressing their strengths and weaknesses, in children they typically provide information to clarify the following:
- learning disorders (such as those relating to reading, math and written expression)
- attention disorders such as ADHD
- executive dysfunction
- language delays or challenges
- social developmental disorders (such as autism spectrum disorders)
- potential residuals or areas for support following a traumatic brain injury
- epilepsy-related challenges (pre- or post-surgery, or to guide recommendations)
- cognitive influences of toxic exposures, chemotherapy or radiation
- a variety of other conditions reflective of altered or unique brain-behavior relationships
The precise combination of measures and instruments used in an evaluation will vary according to the needs and questions relevant to a given assessment. They involve observations and interviews with the individual, and may often involve input from informants (e.g., family members, providers, educators, etc). Test instruments should be empirically-based and valid, appropriate for the individual being assessed, and conducted only by an individual trained an experienced to administer and interpret them.
What is a psychoeducational evaluation?
A psychoeducational evaluation, sometimes briefer than a comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation, measures a student’s proficiency across academic, cognitive and related processing domains. For instance, the practitioner may assess basic and applied math, reading and writing skills, as well as academic fluency, or the speed with which a child can perform these tasks. It can provide present estimates of skill levels and identify areas and avenues for remediation or support. It may also include measures of cognition and information processing, such as verbal or nonverbal reasoning, and visual or psychomotor processing speed.
Ideally, a psychoeducational evaluation is done as part of a comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation, to place academic or cognitive scores in context. Understanding the profile of a student’s strengths and weaknesses within a broader picture of that individual’s functioning can help refine the interpretation and usefulness of results. Nevertheless, sometimes more brief or targeted assessments are warranted, often as an update of functioning within a particular domain some time after a comprehensive evaluation has already been performed.
How long will a comprehensive evaluation take?
Time to complete an evaluation varies by referral questions and an individual’s age, need or desire for breaks, and speed of completing tests. It also can change as the evaluation progresses and additional areas that would benefit from in-depth assessment are uncovered. In general, most evaluations take between 7 and 12 hours of direct testing in the office, split between 3 – 5 sessions. Adult evaluations are typically towards the lower end of this estimate, with children’s assessments typically towards the higher end.
An initial intake meeting is conducted beforehand to learn more about you (or your child) in detail, answer questions, determine if an evaluation is appropriate, and to help Dr. Davies acquire records and plan in way that best addresses presenting concerns and questions. It may be helpful for Dr. Davies to observe a student in his or her school setting prior to testing. Finally, at the conclusion of testing, a feedback meeting is held with you, your child, or the family to discuss results and recommendations. In addition, Dr. Davies sometimes attends school meetings to discuss findings, such as at IEP meetings or to review plans for intervention with educators.
What is an Independent Educational Evaluation?
An Independent Educational Evaluation, or IEE, is a publicly-funded assessment by a qualified professional in areas of functioning bearing on a student’s educational achievement and progress. IEEs are generally conducted to determine whether a student qualifies for special education services, or to elucidate their needs should these services be subject to change or updating. These assessments provide clarity on these issues and detailed recommendations based on the unique needs of a given student to help him or her learn and be successful in the educational setting.
How much will an evaluation cost, and will it be covered by insurance?
Fees vary according to type of evaluation and its needs. Usually a fixed fee is appropriate to explore any aspects of functioning that require assessment, but for briefer evaluations an hourly rate may be available. For comprehensive evaluations, an initial deposit of $750 is due prior to the commencement of testing, with the balance due upon completion of testing before or at a feedback meeting. Please contact our office for specifics on your evaluation needs and with questions regarding anticipated costs. Payment plans can sometimes be arranged.
Although Dr. Davies is not paneled directly with insurance entities, you can be provided a superbill at the conclusion of the evaluation detailing treatment codes and related services to be submitted with an insurance claim. Typically, evaluations are covered at some percentage according to your plan, and treatment code and diagnostic rule-out information can be provided ahead of time for you to inquire regarding your level of coverage.