This blog was written by Erin Pasela, mother of two sons and the newest Education Advocate at Fick Educational Services.
There are many questions that parents ask when raising their children. When your child has special needs, the questions seem endless. In my own journey with my special-needs child, I have been privileged to meet other parents who face similar struggles with their own children. We have become friends and part of a group who can understand the situations each other have faced or are currently experiencing with our own children. We have discussed many topics, including behaviors, services and supports available, educational, psychological, and social and emotional needs.
I recall an interesting discussion regarding a neuropsychological evaluation. It was the first time that I had heard of this testing. My friend explained that this evaluation would help in understanding how my child’s brain works and what could be implemented to provide better supports and services within the settings needed- whether it be home, school, or community. This evaluation could also provide insight into the best learning environment for my child.
As the elementary school years went by, I was advised by the school staff that my child was doing well academically, but there were struggles socially and emotionally. Even though a behavior specialist was working on social skills at school during lunch bunch, I started to realize that my child was very good at learning the script, so he could verbalize how to make a friend, but when it came to interacting with peers, he could not generalize those skills. Fast forward to the COVID19 pandemic with virtual learning in place, and there were even less opportunities for social in-person interaction. The routine had changed, behaviors were escalating, and the learning environment was different. Since this was an unprecedented event, there were revisions in the IEP, stating that Free Appropriate Public Education, (FAPE), was still being implemented to the best of the school’s ability within the current situation. The last two months of school were completed virtually. The teachers did their best to work within this unique format and provide as much as they could to support students, in all classrooms, yet, my child was not progressing to his full potential. After the end of the 2020 school year, there were continual struggles with the educational setting, and it was evident that more testing and a better understanding was necessary to help my child.
So, you might be asking, how do parents/caregivers know when to get a neuropsychological evaluation for the child? Many children get this testing because they are struggling in school even when appropriate supports are in place, when parents/caregivers want more information to understand their child’s strengths and weaknesses, or if you have noticed that your child is making little or no progress and your child’s IEP goals have not been met. The tests within the neuropsychological evaluation can pinpoint the child’s strengths and weaknesses and then provide recommendations to help the child thrive. The evaluation’s goal is to find the reason why your child is struggling and what can be done to help your child.
So which professionals conduct a neuropsychological evaluation? A licensed clinical psychologist or a neuropsychologist can conduct a neuropsychological evaluation and frequently, preforms an evaluation on your child over the span of a couple of days. A full, comprehensive report including the test results is provided to the parent/caregiver for their own record including the recommendations to support your child. So, if your child is struggling, and you’ve exhausted all of the supports and options without much success, it might be time to research the neuropsychological evaluation process. Contact your home school district and request a neuropsychological evaluation at no cost to you. The home district’s intermediate unit have this service available. Another option is to contact your insurance company to locate a participating neuropsychologist or licensed clinical psychologist. Fees may be involved when working with your insurance company.
If you are looking for more support through this process, please reach out to Fick Educational Services. Schedule a free 15 minute call to explore how we can support you through this process. https://calendly.com/fickeducation/15min?month=2023-08