Dr. Erica Felsenthal
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What is Neuropsychology?

 

WHAT IS NEUROPSYCHOLOGY?        
Neuropsychology is the study of the relationship between the brain and human behavior.  A neuropsychologist is a licensed professional specifically trained in how brain functions and systems affect cognitive learning, behavior, and development. Clinical neuropsychologists are trained to assess, diagnose and aid in treatment and rehabilitation of a variety of conditions and situations. Neuropsychological evaluation is useful for people of all ages who have experienced problems with concentration, thinking or memory. An evaluation can: Identify subtle cognitive difficulties Determine which parts of the brain have been affected by injury or disease Explain how the results will impact an individual’s everyday life Most importantly, neuropsychological evaluation is the first step toward recovery in situations where various cognitive difficulties, disorders and syndromes are discovered. 

WHEN IS NEUROPSYCHOLOGICAL EVALUATION HELPFUL? 

WHO BENEFITS FROM EVALUATION? When a patient experiences problems involving concentration, thinking, memory or social skills, it can be an indication of clinically recognized neuropsychological disabilities, disorders and/or syndromes. However, diagnosis is not limited to disabilities. Neuropsychological evaluation is also highly effective in revealing giftedness and a variety of learning aptitudes. Therefore, evaluation is also useful for individuals who want a point of reference for their current level of brain functioning, as well as a better understanding of themselves, their personality and their neurocognitive profile. Individuals can use this information to become more effective at work, to improve personal relationships, and to use strengths to compensate for weaknesses. In either case, the evaluation is discussed at a feedback meeting and is detailed in a written report. The report includes specific, individualized recommendations for treatment that has been shown to be effective in similar cases. Treatment is possible with the help of various professionals, such as educational therapists, speech therapists, occupational therapists, social workers, psychologists and physicians. 

WHAT CAN I EXPECT FROM A NEUROPSYCHOLOGICAL EVALUATION?  

THE INTERVIEW PROCESS: The interview process is the first step in neuropsychological evaluation. It serves to answer questions about a patient’s developmental and medical history, behavior, socialization and any current concerns he or she may have. 

SPECIALIZED TESTING: During the testing process, validated instruments (i.e. standardized procedural tests) are used and behavioral observations are interpreted in order to assess a broad range of areas, including: general intellectual ability, academic achievement, social and emotional functioning, mood, learning and memory, speech and language skills, visual-spatial relations, gross and fine motor coordination, attentional processes, executive functions, (such as planning, cognitive flexibility, inhibition). 

A typical adult evaluation involves one to two days (5-10 hours) of focused, one-on-one testing, but this may vary depending upon an individual patient’s needs. 

CONSULTATION: With the patient’s permission, the neuropsychologist will consult with other professionals who are familiar with the patient in order to gain the best possible understanding of the patient, as well as his or her specific needs. 

INTERPRETATION OF RESULTS: Once the neuropsychologist has compiled test results and integrated the raw data with applicable outside consultation, the patient is compared to individuals of similar age and educational level and measured against his or her own aptitudes in other areas. 

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS: The ultimate goal of a neuropsychological report is diagnostic clarity and determination of a treatment plan to best support the patient in question. This is gained through specific and thorough reporting, as well as action-oriented recommendations. Detailed study results and overall summaries serve as informative, useful tools for the patient and outside professionals alike, and provide guidelines for future action. A treatment plan is then tailored to the patient’s needs. The plan is based upon methods and routines that have proven effective for similar patients. It includes clear, specific steps and resources needed for successful integration and progress measurement. Neurodirectives will also provide a list of helpful resources, such as books, articles and websites, which pertain to the patient’s unique profile. 

REFERRALS TO OTHER PROFESSIONAL SERVICES: Finally, and when necessary, the patient will be referred to other specialists who will gather additional information or provide treatment. Recommendations range from speech pathology for corrective language therapy, psychology for behavioral therapy, psychiatry for medication assessment, or neurology or other medical specialty for additional testing.

 

HOW CAN NEUROPSYCHOLOGY HELP?

Pediatric neuropsychology focuses on understanding how brain functions and systems affect learning and behavior specific to child development. Pediatric neuropsychological evaluation is conducted in a child-friendly environment where children are given appropriately normed and standardized instruments. These may include written and verbal tasks, computer exercises, puzzles, and play activities. A pediatric neuropsychological evaluation can answer these important questions:

 

  • Why does my child excel in some areas and struggle in others?

  • Does my child have a learning disability?

  • Does my child have an attention disorder, or Autism? What does this mean and what treatment options exist?

  • Is my child in the right school and/or classroom setting to provide the best possible opportunities for learning?

  • Does my child require a special curriculum or accommodations at school?
    Is my child ready to start school?

  • What is my child’s IQ?

  • Is my child gifted?

  • What are the effects of any medical illnesses on my child’s cognitive functioning?

  • Does my child have Autism?

In order to answer these questions, Dr. Felsenthal will: 

  • Review medical and academic records

  • Interview both the parents and the child

  • Observe and interact with the child

  • Consult with professionals familiar with the child (teachers, doctors, therapists, etc)

  • Administer a full range of standardized tests

  • Interpret and summarize the data.

 

HOW DOES A NEUROPSYCHOLOGICAL EVALUATION DIFFER FROM A SCHOOL EVALUATION?

Assessments conducted within your child’s school typically focus on the current level of achievement and the skills needed for your child to perform academically. These assessments are used to determine if a child qualifies for special programs or therapies offered by the school. 

In contrast, a neuropsychologist has specialized training and a unique capacity to assess all the factors important to a child’s academic and social success. A neuropsychological evaluation will give you a comprehensive understanding of your child’s neuro-cognitive, social, emotional and scholastic functioning. The result can lead to substantial positive changes in treatment plans, educational techniques and parenting strategies necessary to provide your child with the best possible opportunities for growth and development.

WHAT IS INVOLVED IN MY CHILD’S NEUROPSYCHOLOGICAL EVALUATION?

As with adult evaluation, the ultimate goal of a pediatric neuro-psychological report is diagnostic clarity and a treatment plan specific to your child’s needs.

WHAT CAN I EXPECT FROM A CHILD NEUROPSYCHOLOGICAL EVALUATION?
THE INTERVIEW PROCESS


The interview process is the first step in neuropsychological evaluation. Parents meet with the Dr. Felsenthal to answer questions about their child’s developmental and medical history, behavior, socialization, as well as any current concerns they may have. 

SPECIALIZED TESTING

During the testing process, validated instruments (i.e. standardized procedural tests) are used and behavioral observations are interpreted in order to assess a broad range of areas, including:

  • General intellectual ability

  • Academic achievement

  • Social and emotional adjustment

  • Personality and mood

  • Learning and memory

  • Speech, language and auditory processing skills

  • Visual-spatial relations

  • Gross and fine motor coordination

  • Attentional processes

  • Executive functions, such as planning,
    cognitive flexibility, inhibition and ability to follow instructions

A normal pediatric evaluation involves two days (5-10 hours) of focused, one-on-one testing, but this may vary depending upon the child’s specific needs.

CONSULTATION

With parental permission, Dr. Felsenthal will consult other professionals familiar with the child in order to gain the best possible understanding of his or her particular case, as well as his or her specific needs.

INTERPRETATION OF RESULTS

Once Dr. Felsenthal has compiled test results and integrated the raw data with applicable outside consultation, the child’s results are compared to test results of other children of similar age and educational level, and measured against his or her own aptitudes in other areas.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Parents meet with the Dr. Felsenthal and are presented with detailed reporting, as well as action-oriented recommendations for their child. Detailed study results and overall summaries serve as informative, useful tools for parents and outside professionals alike, and provide guidelines for future action.
Dr. Felsenthal will then tailor a treatment plan to the child’s needs. The plan is based upon methods and routines that have proven effective for similar children. It includes clear, specific steps and resources needed for successful integration and progress measurement. Neurodirectives will also provide a list of helpful resources, such as books, articles and websites, which pertain to your child’s developmental profile.

REFERRALS TO OTHER PROFESSIONAL SERVICES

Finally, and when necessary, Dr. Felsenthal will refer the child to other specialists who will gather additional information or provide treatment when applicable. 

315 S. Beverly Drive  (310) 995-9432
drericafels@gmail.com

 

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