Frequently Asked Questions
Is my child really old enough to be tested? Shouldn't we just wait and see how
things go over the next couple of years?
This is a common question parents of younger children ask. For most behavioral,
cognitive, or academic problems, early intervention is important for long-term
outcome. Therefore, the earlier a problem is identified, the earlier interventions
can be put into place. When children with cognitive and/or academic problems
experience difficulties completing academic work for a longer amount of time,
they are at risk for developing lower self-confidence and lower self-esteem, and
may increasingly shut down as a way of protecting themselves (i.e., the child who
persistently struggles eventually decides not to try anymore, as he is then
consciously rejecting the task and no longer feels bad about himself). Similarly,
children with social skills deficits or other behavioral problems are prone to
increased social rejection as they progress into higher grades, and early
identification of their social strengths and weaknesses can result in interventions
to improve social success, which ultimately improves self-confidence and
self-esteem. Children can be tested as young as during infancy, but many formal
tasks are intended to be given to children 3+ years old.
My child's father/mother and I are divorced and we have dual custody. Do I
need to get consent from my ex-spouse before doing testing?
Ethically, psychologists are only able to test a child if both custodial parents have
consented to the evaluation. Therefore, if parents have a dual custody, they both
need to sign a consent form prior to testing.
Psychologists are always diagnosing kids and I am concerned that a diagnosis
could negatively impact my child. What is the purpose of giving a diagnosis,
particularly if I just want to know about interventions to help my child?
It is true that in many cases, a diagnosis does not tell you a lot about what needs
to be done. Competent psychologists go above and beyond the diagnosis and
thoroughly assess the child's strengths and weaknesses. For instance, even if a
child's symptoms meet diagnostic criterion for an autism-spectrum or
attention-deficit disorder, these children may have dramatic strengths and
weaknesses, and the diagnosis alone doesn't tell you a lot about what to do. On
the other hand, diagnoses can be useful in acquiring information about typical
treatments and school accommodations that have been effective for children with
similar diagnoses in the past.
What happens on the day of the evaluation? When will I receive feedback
about the test results and recommendations?
Typically, the parent(s) or guardian(s) are seen with the child for a brief meeting
at the beginning of the testing session to introduce the child to the testing process
and develop rapport with him/her. At that point, a doctoral graduate student (i.e.,
Ms. Alexxandria Meneses or Ms. Jayme Blais) typically begins some of the
testing with the child while Dr. Baker interviews the parent(s) or guardian(s). The
interview typically lasts 1.5 to 2 hours and involves reviewing background
information and questionnaires, as well as completing a diagnostic interview. At
that point, parents typically wait in the waiting room until testing is completed.
Children usually take a lunch break at 11:30 a.m. (or when they typically eat
lunch at school). Children are also given various breaks throughout the day. Once
the testing session is finished, a feedback session is scheduled, which involves
meeting with the parent(s) or guardian(s) to review the findings and
recommendations. Feedback sessions typically last 1.5 to 2 hours, depending on
the complexity of the issues involved. Dr. Baker does not typically provide
feedback about the findings or recommendations on the day of testing, as scoring
and interpreting the test results and behavioral observations is a complex process
that goes beyond the time designated for the testing session.
How long do evaluations typically last?
The length of the evaluation depends on factors such as the child's age and ability
to focus/sustained attention. Typically, evaluations begin at 8:30 a.m. and are
finished by no later than 3:30 p.m. As previously noted, this includes various
breaks throughout the day, as well as a lunch break. For younger children (3-5
years old), evaluations are typically shorter. Autism, ADHD, and
psychoeducational evaluations typically last 3 to 3.5 hours and are usually
completed in a morning session.
How do children typically react to completing a neuropsychological
Most children are comfortable with the process, particularly if they are prepared
for the process ahead of time. Some children find the process to be fun and
challenging, while other children may need regular prompting to put forth
maximum effort. It is best to let children know ahead of time that they will be
completing various tasks and games to look at their strengths and weaknesses.
For younger children (3-5 years old), a simpler explanation that they will play
some different games will usually suffice. It is best to let children know they may
complete some tasks that are more challenging so they know what to expect. It is
also important to let children know that there are no invasive or painful
procedures, as some children become fearful when they are told they are seeing a
doctor because of concerns about needles or other uncomfortable procedures.
Can I be present in the room while my child is being tested?
It is a consensus within the fields of psychology and neuropsychology that
whenever possible, parents should not be in the room for most cognitive and
academic tasks because the tests were not standardized in such a manner (and
research has found that having a parent or guardian in the room can negatively
impact the test results). However, there is a small window on the door of the
testing room if parents would like to periodically check on their child to ensure
he/she is safe. On rare occasions, if a child has a high level of separation anxiety
or is highly oppositional, a parent may need to be present for at least parts of
testing. It is not uncommon for parents to be present when testing younger
children (2-3 years old).
Can I leave the office while my child is being tested?
For younger children (i.e., under 8 years old), it is best for a parent or guardian to
be present in the office throughout the evaluation. In certain cases it is permissible
for a parent to leave the office for a shorter period of time (e.g., to run an errand
or go to the store) as long as we can reach the parent/guardian easily by cell
How long does it take to schedule the feedback session and receive the report?
Dr. Baker typically sees parents for the feedback session the week after the
testing session is completed, particularly if the teacher questionnaires have been
received. The written report is typically sent out the day after the feedback
I do not want to medicate my child unless it is absolutely necessary! Is Dr.
Baker going to recommend my child be medicated, or even prescribe
Dr. Baker is a neuropsychologist and is not a physician or nurse practitioner, so
he does not prescribe medication. At very most, for some children Dr. Baker may
recommend the parents consider discussing their child's symptoms with a
pediatrician or child psychiatrist to determine whether a low dose of a medication
could be helpful for providing initial treatment for the child (especially children
with more severe symptoms). However, Dr. Baker is unable to determine
whether a particular child needs or doesn't need medication, and that decision
needs to be made by a physician or nurse practitioner (and agreed upon by the