February 1, 2024

Reasons to Seek a Neuropsychological Evaluation for Your Child

A child may be referred for a neuropsychological evaluation when there are concerns about one or more areas of their development.

Neuropsychology is a field of psychology that focuses on the relationship between learning, behavior, and brain functioning. A child may be referred for a neuropsychological evaluation when there are concerns about one or more areas of their development. This can include a child’s cognitive, academic, memory, language, social, self-regulatory, emotional, behavioral, motor, visual-spatial, and adaptive functioning.

This type of evaluation can help rule out diagnoses such as Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Specific Learning Disorder, Language Disorder, as well as various emotional and behavioral disorders. A neuropsychological evaluation can also be helpful if your child has been diagnosed with a medical condition such as Down Syndrome or other genetic disorders, Traumatic Brain Injury, or Epilepsy. The purpose of the evaluation is to identify a child’s patterns of strengths and challenges in order to provide parents, schools, and other providers with strategies to help them succeed across contexts. It can also be used to track a child’s progress and response to targeted interventions.

In order to assess whether a neuropsychological evaluation may be helpful for a child, a family may identify concerns in the following areas:


  • Difficulties with verbal and nonverbal reasoning and problem solving
  • Requiring a significant amount of repetition and/or additional time when learning
  • Delays in adaptive functioning


  • Grades below peers
  • Concerns with reading (phonetic development, fluency, comprehension), mathematics (calculation, word problems), or writing (spelling, content, organization)
  • Needing additional time to complete schoolwork, homework, or tests
  • Frustration with academic work


  • Expressive (output of language) or receptive (understanding of language) difficulties
  • Challenges initiating or maintaining a conversation
  • Difficulties with sarcasm or non-literal language (e.g, “It’s raining cats and dogs”)
  • Repetitive or odd language usage (e.g., repeating lengthy scripts heard from television or news programs)
  • Pronoun reversals or odd use of language


  • Difficulty paying attention or sitting still
  • Needing frequent prompts or reminders to complete tasks
  • Difficulty with multiple-step commands
  • Losing or misplacing items
  • Forgetting to turn in completed assignments


  • Poor peer relations
  • Inappropriate response when approached by peers
  • Difficulty with imaginative, functional, or reciprocal play
  • Limited interest in peers or preference for solitary play

Repetitive Behaviors

  • Repetitive vocalizations
  • Repetitive motor mannerisms (e.g., hand flapping, finger flicking, body rocking)
  • Lining up toys, spinning wheels of cars, sorting objects for prolonged periods of time

Behavioral Dysregulation

  • Physical or verbal aggression
  • Defiance or non-compliance
  • Difficulties with transitions or changes in routine
  • Self-injury (e.g., head banging)


  • Poor frustration tolerance
  • Irritability or easily upset
  • Eating or sleeping difficulties
  • Somatic complaints
  • Negative self-statements
  • Lack of interest in things he/she used to enjoy

Visual-Spatial, Visual-Motor, and Motor

  • Poor handwriting
  • Trouble with fine motor tasks (e.g., unwrapping small items, buttoning or zipping clothing, tying shoe laces)
  • Difficulty transferring information from the classroom board to a notepad, or transferring information from a test booklet to a scantron/bubble sheet
  • Difficulty with overwhelming visual displays (e.g., computer screen with several icons; homework with several problems on one sheet; a book with several colors and pictures)

Should a child demonstrate difficulties in some of the areas listed above, he/she may benefit from further consultation or a subsequent neuropsychological evaluation. Through this process, areas of difficulty can be identified, and targeted interventions will be suggested to enhance a child’s development.

Download our Guide for Families

We know that choosing a local ABA facility can be a hard decision. We’ve created an informational guide to help you understand more about the questions you should be asking while meeting with different providers.

Although we talk about our services here, our highest goal is for you to feel comfortable and knowledgeable about picking a provider that is the best fit for your needs. You are making a decision that will impact the entire trajectory of your child’s life!
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The cover of the NSPT Guide for Families, which helps families to figure out the questions to ask when picking an ABA provider.

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