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Psychological Evaluations

Psychological evaluations are an essential and sometimes a required component for the assessment and treatment of conditions affecting academic performance and behavior, including:

  • Attention deficit disorder (ADD), with or without hyperactivity
  • Learning disabilities
  • Developmental disorders
  • Tourette’s disorder
  • Mood disorders such as anxiety and depression
  • School interventions
    o    504 Plan
    o    IEP (Individual Education Plan)
    o    Early Admission to school
  • Pre-surgical evaluations (Bariatric, Spinal Cord Stimulator, Transplant)
  • Diagnosis and treatment planning of many psychiatric conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety disorders  (i.e. obsessive compulsive disorder, PTSD).

One of the most common questions regarding a child’s ability to learn is whether the child has an attention deficit disorder (ADD).  ADD is only one reason why a person may not seem to be paying attention. For example, people who have a central auditory processing disorder (CAPD) are able to hear, but their brains do not interpret the signals that get from the ear to the brain in the same way that the brains of most other people interpret them.  The often appear as if they are not listening. Children and adults may also have difficulty sustaining concentration due to anxiety, depression, or both. A child who is obsessing about how neat his or her handwriting is, or whether the teacher has erased the board in its entirety, may be missing what the teacher is saying due to obsessiveness rather than ADD. An accurate diagnosis of the cause of one’s difficulty concentrating helps determine the most effective treatment.

Recently, there has been more focus on the fact that adults can also have ADD. If an adult did not have signs of ADD during childhood, the cause of new problems with attention and concentration is unlikely to be ADD. As we age, there are a number of neurological conditions that can cause problems with concentration such as sleep apnea or even diabetes.  As with children, determining the cause of an adult's attention-related problems helps determine the most effective course of treatment. ADD medications are some of the most widely abused drugs on college campuses. Just because someone concentrates better when he or she is taking medications used in the treatment of ADD does not mean that he or she has ADD.

The second most common question involving children who are having difficulty in school is whether or not they have a learning disability in reading, math, or written language.  In order to formally diagnose a learning disability (LD), at least two types of psychological tests must be administered:  A test of achievement (measuring what we have learned) and a test of intelligence (IQ tests).  When academic achievement test scores are statistically lower than IQ scores, a person may have a learning disability. Even people with high IQ's can have learning disabilities. If someone’s intelligence falls in the Very Superior range, yet reading ability falls in the Average range, that person may have a learning disability.

A neuropsychological evaluation is more comprehensive than a psychological evaluation because it better defines specific strengths and weaknesses in a child’s ability to think. With this information, a more comprehensive and specialized education plan can be developed to help the school system, the parents, and the child. The goal is to maximize the child’s ability to learn and make the learning process a happy one. For the child, one of the most important aspects of creating an academic plan is to keep a good working relationship with the school. There are many good teachers and schools, but with the shrinking education budget, resources are limited. Be patient.