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Why does someone need a neuropsychological evaluation

An individual might benefit from a neuropsychological evaluation for many reasons. The truth is, the more we have learned about the brain and neural development, the more we have realized how frequently brain functions such as attention, memory, language and spatial skills can be affected. What follows is a description of some common reasons to seek an evaluation and some of the more typical diagnostic categories or associated conditions. 

I. You are having difficulty learning

Common concerns for both children and adults in a learning environment typically relate to difficulties in one or more areas of academic performance, social skills or behavioral functioning. When these learning differences are the presenting concerns, the following are examples of common developmental diagnoses that might be considered, regardless of the individual's age:  

1. Learning Disorder
2. Reading Disorder or Dyslexia
3. Math Disorder or Dyscalculia
4. Disorder of Written Language
5. Developmental Language Disorder (Receptive Language or Expressive Language)  
6. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) 
7. Disorder of Executive Functioning
8. Right Hemisphere Learning Disabilitiy or Nonverbal Learning Disability
9. Asperger's Syndrome
10. Autism or High Functioning Autism 

II. You have a condition from birth that may be associated with cognitive impairment

There are also childhood conditions that are present at or soon after birth that could lead to or be associated with learing differences. A neuropsychological evaluation can be helpful in documenting baseline performance and changes over time, and it will be helpful in making treatment and educational recommendations for conditions such as: 

1. Premature birth
2. Sickle Cell Disease
3. Cleft Palate and Lip 
4. A variety of genetic conditions such as Neurofibromatosis, Klinefelter Syndrome, Turner Syndrome, Phenylketonuria and many others. 
5. Intellectual Deficiency or mental retardation

III. You have been through an acute trauma, accident, or have developed a new disease associated with cognitive impairment

Some individuals may be doing just fine in school or at work until some kind of acute or chronic trauma, accident or medical concern is experienced. Following this, there may be changes to the individual's cognitive functioning that are difficult to pinpoint and crucial to understand. A neuropsychological evaluation can assist an individual in understanding her cognitive peformance better and knowing how it might affect their daily functioning and long-term outcomes following some of the following problems:  

1. Concussion or Traumatic Brain Injury
2. Brain disease such as cancer and encephalitis
3. Anoxia/hypoxia
4. Stroke
5. Aneruysm or AVM rupture 
6. Seizure Disorder

IV. You have a mental health concern or other diagnosis that is associated with learning differences

Mental health issues can often co-occur with some of the above mentioned struggles. Meeting with a neuropsychologist may also be helpful to tease apart the extent to which emotional functioning is impacting daily functioning. For example, individuals may also meet criteria for a number of Mood Disorders (e.g., major depression or dysthymia, generalized anxiety disorder, bipolar, obsessivecompulsive), and Behavioral Disorders such as oppositional defiant and conduct disorder. This is a brief list as there are too many to name in a meaningful way. It is simply important to note that a good neuropsychological evaluation will aslo delve into the psychology of it all in order to arrive at more useful diagnoses and more effective treatment approaches. 

In summary, there are literaly dozens of issues that might make someone question their ability to think as well as they feel they should, many of which were not listed here.  If you feel that your concerns are not falling into one of the categories on this list, please feel free to contact Dr. Askin to discuss your issues further. A neuropsychological evaluation may or may not be for you, but it is always helpful to consult when there is even a question.