Neuropsychological assessment of child and adolescent
A neuropsychological assessment of child and adolescent is always designed individually taking into account the research questions and the child's age. The assessment provides information on the child's developmental strengths and difficulties, and assess the child's or young person's need for support and care. A doctor's referral is usually required for the neuropsychological assessment, and the doctor utilizes the results of assessment when making a rehabilitation plan and a diagnosis. In a neuropsychological assessment, the causes of difficulties in reading, writing and counting, difficulties in concentration (vividness and immersion in one's own thoughts), difficulties in language and communication, difficulties in interaction skills (difficulties in interpersonal relationships), after-effects of behavior and nervous system disease and brain injury are assessed.
Implementation of the assessment
- At the beginning of the assessment, parents are interviewed either face-to-face or via internet. If necessary, a child or adolescent can also be present. At the beginning of the assessment, it is important to discuss about the concerns that led to the assessment, the child's or adolescent's strengths, and the family's everyday life.
- Most of the visits in the assessment period are the child's or adolescent's own individual visits. In total, there can be 1-6 visits, depending on the research question, previous assessments and age of the client. One of the parents or another familiar adult can accompany the child to appointments and wait in the waiting room or elsewhere.
- At the end of the assessment, there is a feedback discussion with the parents. Older children and adolescents can also participate in the feedback discussion at their own discretion. Children can also be told about the results at the last individual visit, through the parents or at a separate meeting. A statement is always written about the assessment, which is sent both to the home and to the referring doctor.
- A treatment consultation or a network meeting can possibly be held with the parties involved (e.g. school, other caring parties).
Neuropsychological assessment methods
The interview gathers information about the present moment, the child's developmental stages and the environmental factors affecting development. Test forms speed up work and help collect accurate and measurable information. The tests measure e.g. vocabulary, general knowledge and memory skills. The tests have certain methods of implementation and scoring, so that they can be used to compare the different areas of the child's skills with each other and the child's performance with others of the same age. Observation in the test situation is also one assessment method, because the test situation as an interaction between two people with instructions and challenges is usually a small sample of a child's everyday life. Observation in everyday life, at school, in daycare or at home, is necessary if a true understanding of the child's behavioral difficulties cannot be obtained between two people in a calm research situation.
Cooperation with the parties taking care of the child, i.e. the daycare center or the school, is usually useful in order to get the broadest possible understanding of the child's ability to function in everyday life. In general, information about daycare or school is obtained through evaluation forms, for example. These parties are contacted only with the parents' permission and the information obtained is always given to the parents as well.