School Neuropsychology 

What Is School Neuropsychology?

School neuropsychology applies neuropsychological and educational principles to assessments and interventions with children, adolescents and young adults.  Doctoral training in school or pediatric neuropsychology, or the completion of a competency-based post-graduate training program with clinical supervision in school neuropsychology is required to practice as a school neuropsychologist.  Psychologists who practice in school neuropsychology must have knowledge of functional neuroanatomy, and brain imaging techniques. This model relies heavily on Lurian and process-oriented approaches to neuropsychological testing. A key component of this model is the analysis of the neurocognitve demands/solutions required to perform a given task.

The goal of school neuropsychology is to increase understanding of the nature and extent of any neurological deficits the young person exhibits, and to enhance learning, psychological well being and appropriate coping behaviors.

School Neuropsychological Testing

School neuropsychology

Dr. O'Connor offers Psychological Testing Services. These include School Neuropsychological Evaluations to children, adolescents and young adults in Toronto and the surrounding area.

A School Neuropsychological Evaluation  explores the neurobiological basis of childhood learning and behavioral disorders. School  Neuropsychological Evaluations assess the young person's neuro-cognitive strengths and weaknesses, as these apply to academic skills and social, emotional and behavioral concerns. School Neuropsychological Evaluations offer a more comprehensive, in depth assessment, than either a psychological or psycho-educational assessment, and often encompasses components from both. 

Neurobiological factors underlie a broad range of childhood issues and concerns.

Consequently, it is important to consider a school neuropsychological evaluation when choosing an assessment to explore the learning,  behavioural, social and emotional needs of a child, adolescent or young adult.

When To Consider School Neuropsychological Testing

School neuropsychological assessments are particularly useful  when the young person has a known or suspected neurological disorder (e.g., traumatic brain injury, acquired brain injury), or who shows neurodevelopmental risk factors.These might include prenatal exposure to drugs and/or alcohol, low birth weight, and/or prematurity or students returning to school after a head injury. Young people who are showing symptoms of a learning disability, or who have shown these signs on a Psycho-Educational Assessment, are also likely to benefit from School Neuropsychological Testing. So too are young people who are showing signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or have been diagnosed with this disorder.  

School neuropsychological testing is particularly helpful when exploring the strengths and needs of children with any of the following concerns:

  • A child or adolescent with a known or suspected learning disability.
  • A child or adolescent who has suffered a head injury, including a mild brain injury or concussion, and is showing behavioral and/or academic difficulties.
  • Children with a history of acquired or congenital brain injury (e.g., anoxia, brain tumours, encephalitis, genetic abnormalities, meningitis, neurofibromatosis, seizure disorders, or cerebrovascular diseases).
  • Children with neuromuscular diseases (e.g., cerebral palsy, and muscular dystrophy).
  • Children with central nervous system compromise (e.g., end-stage renal disease, HIV/AIDS, juvenile diabetes, leukemia, and spina-bifida, or hydrocephalus).
  • Children with neuro-developmental risk factors (e.g., alcohol exposure, cocaine/marijuana exposure, environmental toxin exposure, nicotine exposure, low birth-weight and prematurity).
  • Children who show a dramatic drop in academic achievement that cannot be explained.
  • A child who suffers from Post Traumatic Symptoms, and/or complex trauma, and is showing behavioral and/or learning problems.

To learn more about child trauma and how an assessment can help, click here.

Dr. O'Connor Can Help

Dr. O'Connor, a Toronto psychologist, with specialty designation in school neuropsychology, provides school neuropsychological testing for children, adolescents and young adults.  She holds a Diplomate in School Neuropsychology from the American Board of School Neuropsychology.

The school neuropsychological evaluation explores the young person's  functioning across the following neuropsychological domains:

  • Sensory-Motor Skills
  • Attention
  • Language
  • Visual-Spatial Functioning
  • Auditory/phonological Processing
  • Memory and Learning Processes
  • Working Memory Processes
  • Executive Functioning
  • Processing Speed

Social and emotional functioning is also addressed, as are the child's academic skill levels and his General Intellectual Ability.

Dr. O'Connor's school neuropsychological evaluations explore the neuropsychological weaknesses and strengths the young person  exhibits, and their nature and extent.

School neuropsychological testing also leads to evidence based interventions to help move the young person toward increased success within the school setting, at home and in the community. 

Following the assessment, a comprehensive written report is provided. This report outlines the assessment findings, and describes the specific neuro-cognitive concerns the child exhibits, including their nature and extent. The young person's strengths are also explored, and used, when appropriate, to help the child compensate for the challenges he/she faces. The report also includes evidence based interventions to help promote positive outcomes in the child.

Most children and adolescents spend the major part of their day in the classroom.

How well a young person does  at school, across all developmental domains, from the learning and academic, to the social and emotional, helps  lay the foundation for success in adulthood.  We use the findings gleaned from the school neuropsychological evaluation to promote the best possible outcomes for the young person at school, in the community, and at home.

The school neuropsychological evaluation can assist in legal cases, for example, when the child has suffered a brain injury, or is showing PTSD as the result of a MVA or other trauma or insult. The school neuropsychological testing quantifies the severity of the child's impairments and provides objective, valid and reliable measures of cognition, emotions, personality and behavior. These results can also help inform effective intervention programs.   

As a diplomate of The American Board of School Neuropsychology, Dr. OConnor completed a competency based post-graduate program with demonstrated mastery in School Neuropsychology.

Dr. O'Connor offers school neuropsychological evaluations through her  private practice at Yonge and St. Clair, in Toronto, the Family First Play Therapy Centre in Bradford Ontario, and at The Lingyu International Psychology Center in Toronto, Ontario.

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