FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Why would I need an assessment?

Evaluations may be requested by an individual directly, but often they are recommended by another service provider (learning specialist, teacher, therapist, physician, etc.) so that this provider can give better care to the person being assessed and/or so that the individual may obtain reasonable accommodations at school or at work. Reasons for assessment range from determining whether a specific condition such as dyslexia or Alzheimer's may exist, to more generally finding what aspects might be troubling a person or causing them difficulties. With children, assessment can help better identify and understand such things as learning differences and attention deficits, or emotional factors that may be contributing to distress or behavior problems. Deeper understanding can lead to more efficient and effective treatment, beneficial supports and accommodations at school or at work, better functioning within the family, and greater quality of life for the individual.

What will happen during the assessment process?

First, I will meet with you to discuss any concerns you have about yourself or, in the case of a child assessment, about your child or adolescent. I will help you develop questions that you would like answered. I provide a comprehensive interview for approximately one to one-and-a-half hours and ask questions about your, or your child’s, developmental history, educational and occupational background, style of learning, social history, emotional coping, etc. If it seems important, I may request your permission to talk with others (e.g., therapists, spouses, significant others, teachers) who have information about you or your child’s situation. Detailed information will allow me to tailor an assessment to obtain the most in-depth and accurate portrait of the client, and to answer the relevant questions.

Then you, or your child or adolescent, will spend several direct assessment hours with me. This amounts to approximately 6 - 8 hours of your (or your child’s) time over the course of several sessions. All tests administered are standardized and designed to obtain information about a client’s cognitive and/or emotional functioning. The assessment tasks are interactive, problem-solving type tasks that most individuals find interesting and stimulating. Following the testing, I will analyze and interpret the results and write a detailed and comprehensive evaluation report. I will then meet with you, or with you and your child, to discuss the results. If you wish, I will meet with personnel at your child’s school to explain the results as well.

How can I prepare for the evaluation, or prepare my child for the evaluation?

If you are an adult obtaining an assessment, make sure that you get adequate sleep the night before testing sessions, as well as adequate food and water prior to the appointment. Feel free to bring beverages and/or snacks to the testing session, since we may be meeting over the course of 2-3 hours. Please dress so that you will be comfortable sitting for this length of time. Also, please let me know when you need breaks, as these are important to maintain physical and mental stamina.

It is helpful if you tell your child or teenager the reasons why you have requested the evaluation. If you have questions about how to do this, please ask me. When you bring your child or teenager in for the first time, we will meet together during the interview. I may also request some time alone with you and/or with your child. Please make sure that your child or teenager gets enough sleep the night before and has a snack if s/he needs one.

What are the fees for an assessment?

Fees for assessment vary, depending on the complexity of the questions asked and the type of evaluation required. After a telephone consultation, I will quote you a fee for the entire assessment. I ask that you pay half of the assessment fee at the end of the first session and half at the final discussion session.

Will my insurance cover the cost of this evaluation?

Please contact your insurance provider directly for more information about their reimbursement policy for psychological, neuropsychological, and/or psychoeducational testing. I require payment in full, but am happy to provide an explicit invoice that you can submit for reimbursement if your insurance provider covers part or all of the evaluation.

What if I the assessment reveals that therapy or another type of treatment would be helpful?

I have a network of professionals that I am happy to refer you to should you need to follow-up with a therapist, learning specialist, psychiatrist, or other professional. I am not in the position of being able to provide therapy services at this time, myself, as my work is exclusively focused on assessment. However, I will work with you to find a professional with whom you feel comfortable.

I am available to provide an evidence-based treatment for attention and working memory deficits through Cogmed. Cogmed is a home-based computer program that helps people with attention problems by training and increasing their working memory capacity. Working memory is the ability to keep information in your mind for a short time, focus on a task, and remember what to do next. By training your working memory, you will be better able to stay focused, ignore distractions, plan next steps, remember instructions, and start and finish tasks. Candidates for this type of training are children and adults with attention deficits or learning disorders, victims of brain injury or stroke, adults experiencing information overload or the natural effects of aging, and adults wishing to maximize their cognitive efficacy. Please contact me for more information and/or go to the Cogmed website to learn more about this program at www.cogmed.com.

What are learning disabilities?

If a child has average or above-average intelligence and is performing poorly, or unevenly, in school, he or she may have a learning disability. This disability is caused by the makeup or function of a person's brain and may last throughout life. Learning disabilities have a wide range of characteristics and various degrees of severity. However, all learning disabled individuals have poor or uneven academic achievement even though they have normal or above-normal intelligence. These children may show difficulties with attention, memory, listening, speaking, reading, writing, solving math problems, or with visual-perceptual processing. Comprehensive evaluation is necessary to identify the nature, type, and severity of an individual’s learning disabilities. It is also very important for such individuals to understand their cognitive strengths so that they may rely on these in their learning experiences.

What is Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD)

AD/HD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is highly genetic. It is present from birth, although characteristics of AD/HD may not be noticed until the individual begins school and particular demands are made on their attention, ability to focus, and organization. There are three types of AD/HD. The first, AD/HD, Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type, describes individuals who have an above-average amount of activity, have difficulty sitting still, and are fidgety and restless. They also experience a high degree of distractibility and difficulty inhibiting their impulses to get up from their seats, say their thoughts out loud, and be social with others even when it may not be the appropriate time to do so. The second type, AD/HD, Predominantly Inattentive Type, refers to the type of individual who is prone to daydreaming, gets lost in his or her thoughts, has difficulty listening when being spoken to, is distractible, and has significant difficulty sustaining attention on tasks that are not highly stimulating, such as reading or performing homework. This individual also has significant problems with organization and may be very inconsistent when it comes to turning in homework for example. The third type, AD/HD, Combined Type, refers to an individual who experiences a combination of the hyperactive-impulsive and inattentive types of AD/HD. Psychoeducational and/or neuropsychological evaluation is necessary in order to better understand the nature and severity of an individual’s difficulties with attention and to ascertain whether they fit the syndrome of AD/HD.

 

 

Phone: (415) 257-0702 - License #PSY16162

San Francisco Bay Area Psychoeducational, Neuropsychological and Psychological Testing, Stacey Nelson PhD

Copyright 2008-2010 © Stacey Nelson PhD. All rights reserved.