mardi 18 juillet 2017

When should a new neuropsychological assessment be done?

ADHD Neuropsychologist with child

As a neuropsychologist, I am often asked this question: does a child who has already undergone a first neuropsychological assessment need to be evaluated again, and if so, when?

There is more than one answer to this question. In fact, a reassessment is not always necessary. If a child develops well following the first assessment and the methods employed adequately compensate for the challenges, there is no need for a new evaluation.

On the other hand, if the assessment has been made at an early age and the child now appears to be able to control the challenges without any help, some parents prefer to use a new evaluation to better understand where their child's abilities are now. This approach may indeed be worthwhile in order to be able to specify a diagnosis, such as differentiating between a developmental delay and a specific disorder, which will require long term accommodation.

Similarly, a reassessment is recommended if the child's abilities seem to be diminished or if new challenges arise. Indeed, it is recognized that some diagnoses come with an increased likelihood of receiving a second diagnosis linked to related neurological weaknesses. For example, a child diagnosed with ADHD will often be more likely to have a learning disability or to have difficulties in school.

Finally, some institutions may require a new skills assessment, deeming the first evaluation to be obsolete. These requests are often made to ensure the implementation of compensating methods appropriate to the current skills of the client, not because of skepticism of the diagnosis.

In short, the choice of reassessment remains that of the parent and/or of the grown up client. As a general rule, if the situation is stable, a new assessment is often not necessary. However, if new challenges arise, it may be worthwhile to consider having recourse to a new evaluation. In any case, when in doubt, do not hesitate to contact a neuropsychologist who can guide you in your decision!

Annick Millette, M.Psyc.
Y2 Consulting Psychologists

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