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  • Print publication year: 2007
  • Online publication date: August 2009

3 - Empirical bases for assessment and intervention


Complex neurocognitive disorders are challenging to diagnose and treat, particularly when they occur in the developmental context of childhood. Pediatric neuropsychologists have a wealth of background knowledge and expertise that contribute toward a better understanding of a child who has a neurocognitive disorder. Pediatric neuropsychological assessment is important for accurate diagnosis, effective treatment planning, and conflict resolution among parents, teachers, and others who work with the child.

At the most basic level, an intervention is an action that leads to change. In the context of pediatric neuropsychology, the primary goal of an intervention is to effect a change in the child. This can be accomplished through direct intervention with the child, or by altering the child's environment in some manner. At times, interventions require changing those who work with the child, including caregivers (parents, guardians, family members), childcare providers (after-school, nannies), teachers (general education and special education), therapists (mental health, speech-language, physical, occupational), and medical professionals.

A pediatric neuropsychological assessment can guide intervention by establishing the need for services or funding, providing general and specific treatment recommendations, assessing change in the child, and informing treatment decisions made by other professionals. In some ways, the assessment is a form of intervention, as the neuropsychologist may reframe perceptions, adjust expectations, motivate interveners, and address caregiver emotions. The assessment can also be conceptualized as an intervention, in that it may prevent development of secondary disorders.

In clinical practice, we assume that the pediatric neuropsychological assessment is important for intervention.

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