Red Bank Psychological Services Blog
Our thoughts on mental health therapy, neuropsychology, and more.
So, Your Kid Needs a Neuropsychological Evaluation for ADHD: 5 Frequently Asked Questions
Have you been referred to a psychologist by a school or medical professional because it’s suspected that your child may have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder? I’ve noticed in my private practice how confused and overwhelmed caregivers can get when faced with this task. When they initially contact my Red Bank, New Jersey office, they are unsure about what an evaluation will entail and what kinds of useful information it will uncover. Below are 5 valuable and frequently asked questions parents ask in their first phone call or initial visit to me.
1) What exactly happens during an evaluation For ADHD?
A child neuropsychological examination should be comprehensive and extend over the course of several visits. That means the examiner over a period of time will want to meet with at least one parent or guardian, the child, review medical and school records, interview a teacher, and conduct a wide variety of intellectual, academic, cognitive, psychological, and social assessments. All testing data, should be scored and statistically compared to other children or adolescents your child’s age.
2) What are the tests like?
Kids engage with the tests using an iPad. This tool speeds up the comprehensive process and provides accurate results. The tests themselves present a wide variety of tasks ranging from visual and verbal attention to reading comprehension. For most, testing begins at an easy level and becomes more challenging as the child progresses.
3) Why is about six hours of testing necessary?
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is challenging to correctly assess and cannot be accomplished through simple observation. Also, children and adolescents with ADHD are very likely to have a second or even third diagnosis that includes additional types of learning disabilities, anxiety, and/or depression that all can impact school and social functioning. In order to boost the child’s academic and social functioning, other diagnoses must be identified or ruled out.
4) Who will do the actual testing?
Dr. Stein. In addition to the data gathered through interviews and the iPad, he takes this opportunity to observe and gain insightful information about the student. He gets first hand observations of how the child problem-solves challenging test items and handles frustration. By the end of testing and observation, he learns about the child’s personality very well and is able to comment on other important aspects that may impact academic functioning such as anxiety, impulsivity, or inattentiveness.
5) What happens once testing is completed?
After the assessment procedures are finalized and the data has been analyzed, Dr. Stein writes a detailed report, about 12 pages long, regarding the child’s medical, social, and academic history. The report will also describe the child’s intellectual, academic, and psychological functioning in terms of strengths and weaknesses. Dr. Stein provides an accurate diagnosis or diagnoses, and most importantly, recommendations for treatment and academic interventions. The report is easy for parents and guardians, teachers, and other healthcare professionals to read and understand. The report can also be used as a baseline measure to the effectiveness of both academic and treatment interventions and/or for a school Individual Educational Plan.
If you think your child or teen would benefit from a psychological evaluation for ADHD, or a learning disability, please call me at my Red Bank, NJ office at 732-747-8818 for a free 15-minute consultation where we can decide together if making an appointment is the right move.
Why Do I Need a Psychological Examination for a Spinal Cord Stimulator Surgery?
Obtaining psychological clearance before you begin a trial period of spinal cord stimulation is routine, but many people are unsure about why this is such an important step.
Spinal cord stimulation uses electrical current to minimize the feeling of pain reaching the brain. It involves insertion of small devices in the area around the spinal canal, which send the current when activated.
Following are a few common questions people ask about the required screening session with a neuropsychologist and how the results can be used to help meet your needs.
Q: Does a referral to a neuropsychologist mean my surgeon thinks I’m crazy or will go crazy after the stimulator placement?
A: No, but not everyone responds well psychologically when a foreign device is implanted into their body. For some, the stimulator can cause an increase in worry and anxiety. Unfortunately, this stress can reduce the effectiveness of the simulator placement. In part, the pre-surgical clearance examination helps your physician prepare you for the procedure and make recommendations to help you adjust to this new part of your body.
Q: What happens during the pre-surgical psychological examination?
A: Sometimes patients who have never met with a psychologist before get anxious about the initial visit. Knowing what to expect can help decrease worry. Typically, the examination consists of a conversation between you and the psychologist about your medical history, including your chronic pain struggles. It also involves a social history, family history, information about previous alcohol or substance use, and what kind of psychological treatment you may have had in the past.
Q: What if I am depressed or anxious? Will that stop me from having the stimulator placement?
A: No. In fact, chronic pain patients are much more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety than the general public. It is typical and expected that people living with chronic pain will have high levels of irritability, anxiety, and depression.Also, pain relief often helps decrease depression and anxiety. If you are struggling with depression and/or anxiety, the pre-surgical clearance evaluation will offer recommendations to help diminish these feelings.
Q: Can the psychologist make other recommendations besides the stimulator?
A: Yes. The psychologist can be a valuable member of your pain management team. Many people find that alternative or complementary treatments, such as biofeedback and mindfulness approaches, can be helpful in helping manage chronic pain. Psychologists can guide people in these therapies as well as provide traditional psychological counseling.
Q: How long is the appointment and can the screening usually be done in a single appointment?
A: Typically, an evaluation takes two hours and—depending on your insurance—can be done in one appointment. Following the evaluation, the results are shared with you and your physician.
Q: Are most people cleared to proceed with spinal cord stimulation?:
A: While most people are cleared to have the trial placement of the stimulator, a small number of people are not. Those who are experiencing hallucinations, delusions, and cannot understand and follow post-operational directions should not have a stimulator. Instead, complementary and holistic interventions such as mindfulness, cognitive-behavioral therapy, or biofeedback may be a more effective option for pain management.
If you have any questions, feel free to call me in my Red Bank, NJ office at 732-747-8818.
Dayna Stein, MST, MSW, LCSW: Therapist, Educator, Parent, Movie Buff, & Travel Enthusiast.