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Neurology Psychology

The Neurology Psychology service (Neuropsychology) at Sheffield Children’s offers specialist neuropsychological assessment to children and young people with an underlying neurological condition. The service also offers short-term psychological intervention in some cases. We see children with a variety of diagnoses including epilepsy, traumatic brain injury, acquired brain injury (for example stroke, or brain tumours), and neuromuscular conditions. 

What is a neuropsychological assessment?

Information gathering appointment

This will be an opportunity for the psychologist involved in a child’s care to find out more about them. This is typically done by a telephone or video appointment with the parent or carer.

During this appointment, the psychologist will ask questions about a child’s early development, medical condition and treatment, areas of strength and weakness at home, educational history, and current strengths and weaknesses within school. The psychologist will also be interested in how a young person is getting on socially, whether there are any concerns about their emotional wellbeing and behaviour, and any relevant family history. We routinely contact other agencies and professionals involved in a child’s care, and this includes gathering information from school. 

Assessment appointments

We arrange to see the child face to face for assessment. These appointments typically take place at Ryegate and last between 1.5 and 3 hours, though this depends on the child. Children often need to attend more than once.

Young people sometimes perform better when they are seen without their parent or carer present, but this is something that the psychologist will discuss and agree during the first face-to-face appointment as all children are different. 

The young person will be asked to complete a variety of tasks that assess their abilities in a number of different areas such as intelligence, attention, memory, and planning and organisation. Parents or carers are routinely asked to complete questionnaires during the assessment process, and questionnaire measures may also be sent to school. Depending on the age of the child, they may also be asked to fill in some questionnaires.   

Feedback and follow-up

The findings of the assessment will give an indication of a child’s current strengths and weaknesses and will allow us to suggest strategies that may be helpful at home and school. The psychologist will discuss the child’s assessment with the parent or carer and may also liaise with others involved in the young person’s care, such as their school.

A report of the findings of the assessment will be sent to the referrer, family and other involved professionals (this will be agreed with the family).

What to bring to face to face appointments

  • Hearing aids
  • Glasses
  • A drink and snack (for the child and the parent)* 
  • Copies of recent school reports
  • Copies of any educational psychologists’ reports or learning support assessments
  • Anything else that the psychologist has spoken to you about

*There is a vending machine for snacks and drinks in Ryegate reception. Free water is available at the water fountain at reception so feel free to bring a reusable water bottle.

How do I explain a neuropsychological assessment to a child?

Tasks may involve the child looking at pictures, using blocks, answering questions, and remembering information. Some assessments are completed on an i-Pad and others are completed on paper. The psychologist will talk to the young person about a number of things which may include their hobbies and interests, things they find easy and difficult, how they are getting on at school, and their thoughts and feelings. 

It is important that parents and carers emphasise the assessment is to look at what the child finds easy and what their brain finds more tricky to do. It is not helpful to describe the assessments as a ‘test’ as this can have the unintended consequence of increasing a young person’s anxiety. This may result in them not performing their best. 

Here is a social story you can use to explain a neurological assessment.

Resources

Take a look at information that might be helpful to you and your child.

How to manage problems with executive function

How to manage problems with executive function

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Understanding and managing difficult feelings in children with neurological conditions

Understanding and managing difficult feelings in children with neurological conditions

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Memory Difficulties

Memory Difficulties

SummaryAn overview of memory and strategies that can be used to ...

See more resources here

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