Many people do not know what psychological testing is, and because many of us generally dislike taking tests, we assume that a neuropsychological evaluation is a scary or nerve-wracking thing. Quite the opposite is true. Conducted a bit more formally than a friendly interview over two or three sessions, a ‘neuropsych’ test is a perfect starting place. These tests are designed to help caregivers, consultants, teachers, therapists, and parents put the puzzle pieces together to formulate the most appropriate approach to support for those with diverse needs.
While a ‘neuropsych’ evaluation helps explain why a young person might find difficulty participating in certain activities, it also provides actionable steps for healthy progress. Like a bright, focused flashlight, testing clearly illuminates area of concern. Knowing what the challenges are provides the framework for negotiating them. Test results pinpoint strengths and weaknesses and identify or rule out a diagnosis. Neuropsychological tests help determine good mitigation plans that can include medications, beneficial placements, and accommodations at school.
A complete neuropsychological assessment is described by the acronym RIOT— review, interview, observation, and testing. The process brings further insight and a fuller picture of an individual from various angles by reviewing records, interviewing that individual and their parents and teachers, observing behaviors before, during, and after testing, and administering the actual psychological test itself.
There are many psychological tests available that assess intelligence, personality, achievement, and aptitude. Some tests assess emotional needs others examine social behaviors. The specific test chosen for each case is based on the presenting characteristics, thus it is not a one-size-fits-all process. In other words, the test chosen is tailored specifically to the needs of that child or adolescent. For example, if an individual is struggling with the academic aspects of school, a trained evaluator may pick the Woodcock-Johnson IV Cognitive Abilities Assessment in order to measure overall intellectual level and cognitive abilities in various domains. Whereas a student who is nonverbal would take the Universal Nonverbal Intelligence Test. Those experiencing depression might be assessed with the Beck Depression Inventory to determine depression levels and possible suitable treatment. The California Verbal Learning test assess recall and recognition giving insights into personalities and learning difficulties. The ADOS (Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule) evaluates social skills.
As you can see, there are many, many tests to choose from. The right test at the right time can ultimately provide answers, guidance, and relief to individuals who have been struggling.