Acera BlogGifted EducationOur Teaching Philosophy

Neuropsych Evaluations: A Parent’s Perspective

By January 10, 2024No Comments

As a parent, I have had my fair share of “Why on Earth is this happening?” moments. My two sons are such bright stars in my life, but they each come with their own unique complexities. 

Take my older son, as a case study of sorts. I have worked with a wide spectrum of neurodivergent students over the last 18 years of my life, so I like to think that I’m adept at noticing indicators of said neurodivergence. My son had been showing glimmers of ADHD for a couple of years, and I was starting to get more and more reports from school that he seemed to be struggling with paying attention, switching focus, and reigning in impulsive behaviors. My husband and I had made a deal that we would look into the neuropsych evaluation process if he started to demonstrate struggles in school, and here we were. 

To be fair, I was very familiar with the evaluation process through my work experience, but my husband gained insight into the process for the first time. He learned that the goal of obtaining a neuropsych evaluation was to learn about someone’s brain and their way of thinking and approaching the world, as well as to gain insight into what supports and accommodations might help them best learn and grow their independence. This evaluation may or may not include a formal diagnosis, but it does include recommendations and potential next steps to explore.

In the fall of his 2nd grade year, we had him evaluated. It took three sessions of about 2 hours each, during which he sat with the psychologist and worked through a battery of tests that he later told us were “really fun”! The psychologist also asked key adults in his life to submit questionnaires and answer surveys about patterns of behavior and questions we were hoping to get answered by undergoing this process, including us as his parents and current teachers. About two months later, my husband and I went back and met with the psychologist to review the written report and discuss her findings. Lo and behold, ADHD was part of the diagnosis, but to our surprise, giftedness and autism were also there as well! It was incredibly enriching to learn more about my son and ways to support him that we may not have stumbled upon until later in his educational path. 

This report then was shared with the school district, alongside an ask for an evaluation, and a couple of months later, my son had an IEP. This has unlocked so many opportunities for him and given him access to services that he may not have otherwise been able to benefit from. He is happy at school, supported in the ways that best suit his beautiful brain, and he has an increased awareness of his ways of thinking and how to shift his approach to learning to maximize his success.

And as for my younger son? I foresee a similar path for him in the coming year, and I can’t wait to start that journey with him and learn even more about that amazing brain of his that I love so much.

If this resonates with you and you are wondering if a neuropsych evaluation may be helpful for you and your child, the counseling team (Sigourney, Neal, Malcolm, and myself) are more than happy to meet with you to discuss it. We all strongly feel that these evaluations are amazing resources and wish that we each had one of our own! Please also see the Cheat Sheet for Neuropsychological Evaluations linked here for more technical information.

Eileen Sauer, BCBA, LABA, is Acera’s Student Support Program Manager & School Counselor