By: Erin Gibbons, Ph.D.
Pediatric Neuropsychologist, NESCA
Having been at NESCA for more than 11 years, I have been fortunate enough to follow many clients throughout their childhood. In some cases, I have conducted two or three neuropsychological evaluations on the same student at different points in their life. After their first experience with an evaluation, parents will often ask, “Will we need to do this again?” or “How often should we get evaluations?”. As is the case for most things, the answer is different for every child depending on their needs. When determining how often to seek an evaluation, it might be helpful to think about what information you are trying to gather depending on the child’s age.
- Concerns about developmental delays (not meeting milestones)
- Concerns about autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
- Transition from Early Intervention into preschool
- Transition from preschool to kindergarten
Elementary School (5-10)
- Concerns about academic skills – assess for dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, or other specific learning disability
- Why is the student not making expected progress in school?
- Concerns about attention and executive functioning (possible attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Concerns about ASD (if not already diagnosed)
- For children who already have an identified disability – need to monitor progress
- Plan for transition to middle school
Middle School (10-14)
- If this is the first neuropsychological evaluation – it is usually because the child did okay in elementary school but is now struggling with increased demands in the areas of academics, executive functioning, and social
- For students with a previously identified disability – need to monitor progress
- Plan for transition to high school
Early High School (14-16)
- Monitor progress – how is the student managing increased demands of high school?
- Mental health – emerging concerns about anxiety and/or depression
- Start planning for postsecondary transition
- Is the student on track to graduate in 4 years?
- Does the student need programming beyond 12th grade?
Late High School (16-18)
- Heavy emphasis on postsecondary transition planning
- Do we need to work on vocational skills?
- If the student is college-bound – determine whether any accommodations will be needed
- If the student is not going to college – what is next?
- Remain at high school with ongoing special education services
- Gap year
- Young adult transition program for students with disabilities
- Consult with transition specialist to help with planning
Early Adulthood (18+)
- If the student is in college – do they need additional supports?
- If the student is still accessing special education services – where should we be putting the emphasis?
- Life Skills
- For students with developmental disabilities, need to plan for adult services
- Should the parents seek guardianship?
- Is the student eligible for DDS or other adult service agencies?
- What resources are available to the family?
- Combine with transition specialists to help navigate adult services
About the Author
Erin Gibbons, Ph.D. is a pediatric neuropsychologist with expertise in neurodevelopmental and neuropsychological assessment of infants,
children, and adolescents presenting with developmental disabilities including autism spectrum disorders, Down syndrome, intellectual disabilities, learning disabilities, and attention deficit disorders. She has a particular interest in assessing students with complex medical histories and/or neurological impairments, including those who are cognitively delayed, nonverbal, or physically disabled. Dr. Gibbons joined NESCA in 2011 after completing a two-year post-doctoral fellowship in the Developmental Medicine Center at Boston Children’s Hospital. She particularly enjoys working with young children, especially those who are transitioning from Early Intervention into preschool. Having been trained in administration of the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS), Dr. Gibbons has experience diagnosing autism spectrum disorders in children aged 12 months and above.
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Neuropsychology & Education Services for Children & Adolescents (NESCA) is a pediatric neuropsychology practice and integrative treatment center with offices in Newton and Plainville, Massachusetts, Londonderry, New Hampshire, and Burlington, Vermont, serving clients from preschool through young adulthood and their families. For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 617-658-9800.