F.A.Q.

F.A.Q.’s

What is the assessment experience like for the child? 

Your child will be asked to answer questions and perform a variety of tasks, from replicating designs with blocks to providing definitions of vocabulary words. Tasks generally start out easy and gradually increase in difficulty. Different tasks require different cognitive skills – thus some may be easy for your child and others may be difficult. I establish rapport and make sure the student feels comfortable with me before beginning work. I employ positive reinforcement to encourage students to work to their full capability tempered with sensitivity to areas of difficulty. Many “high-fives” are delivered as effort and successes are recognized. Stickers are earned with progress rewarded with selections from a toy basket (adapted to the age and interests of the child). Students are allowed and encouraged to move around rather than being made to sit still. I enjoy and find each child fascinating, and children thrive under my encouraging, one-on-one attention. Even those who arrive the first day with some trepidation leave having enjoyed the experience so much that they are eager to return. Of course missing school can be a huge incentive.

How should I prepare my child in advance for the assessment? 

Preparing your child in advance can reduce anxiety and encourage cooperation in the assessment process. For elementary school-age children, I suggest that you inform them a few days to a week in advance that that they have an appointment. This will give your child time to process and ask any questions that come to mind. Older children can be told further in advance.

In describing what we will be doing I advise that you try to avoid using emotionally laden terms like “testing,” “doctor,” “learning disabilities,” and “giftedness.” Rather than saying “You are going to a psychologist to be tested for learning disabilities,” or “You are going to be tested for giftedness to see how smart you are,” you might explain that you made an appointment with someone who will figure out “how their brain learns best” which will help you and their teachers make school and learning more fun for them. You can explain that our work together will involve a variety of things, such as doing puzzles, listening to stories, word exercises, and playing games. We’ll take breaks and there are stickers and toys involved. Emphasize that other children say they really enjoy the experience and are eager to come back. Most importantly, make an effort to convey a positive and confident attitude about the experience.

Try to ensure that your child gets a good night’s sleep and eats a healthy breakfast in the morning. Bring everything that your child normally needs, such as glasses or an inhaler for allergies. Please pack snacks and a drink for refueling. I often start at 9:00 and break for lunch at 12:30, at which time you can take your child out to lunch.  Families return after lunch so I can continue to work with the student until approximately 3:30-4:30. These time-frames are flexible, so please let me know if different times work better for you.

I do not do the testing with a parent in the room, as I find the dynamic is better if I can establish an independent relationship with the child. However parents are welcome to sit in the waiting area nearby where they may be able to hear much of what we are doing. They are also welcome to drop their child or come and go as desired.

What kind of testing is done? 

The comprehensive assessment involves three types of testing: psychological, educational, and neuropsychological. Psychological tests measure both cognitive strengths and weaknesses (e.g. IQ, specific abilities), and the non-cognitive factors that can influence learning (e.g. behavior, motivation, emotions, and mood). Educational tests measure academic skills and achievement – what has been learned in reading, writing, math, and oral language relative to age and grade peers. Neuropsychological tests measure processing skills in areas including: attention, executive function, memory, visual-motor processing, auditory processing, and social cognition.

I do not employ a standard “test battery,” as the tests I employ are chosen to address the specific issues of concern expressed by parents, teachers, and students, as well as issues I see crop up during the testing. Assessment is thus an adaptive process, responding to the student. If there is something particular you would like measured or a specific test you need to have given, just let me know.

How long does the assessment take?

Depending on the child’s age and areas of concern, 8-12 hours of testing broken into two sessions over two days are typically required for a comprehensive assessment. A gifted and achievement assessment can usually be conducted in one day. Some children who are slower to process yet have much to communicate, or who need more breaks or tire easily, or are very young, may require more time. I do not charge extra in this event. Typical two-day assessment sessions need to be separated by at least one night and optimally by no more than one week. I use the time between sessions to score and analyze the tests in order to decide what to administer next. For this reason I am unable to provide instant feedback on the testing days. It is likely that your child will need to miss school (this may be a selling point). In the case of students for whom missing school would be problematic (e.g. high school students) I make every effort to accommodate them on weekends or over school holidays.

How quickly will I get the results? 

I’m afraid I will not be able to provide feedback immediately after the first meeting as I will not yet have had an opportunity to score the tests or reflect on the meaning of the patterns of performance. Also, I prefer to avoid discussing your child in front of him/her. I am often able to provide at least some feedback a day or two after the testing is complete. Every effort is made to provide a full report and complete feedback within four weeks of testing. When I anticipate that more time might be required (e.g. I am going on vacation or am particularly booked up) I will discuss this possibility with you at the earliest opportunity.

What are the advantages of a private assessment over testing done at my child’s school?

An advantage of public school-conducted evaluations is that they are free of charge. However school districts may be willing to conduct evaluations only under certain mandated conditions. Before a student can receive an evaluation they may need to be: performing at a level below the average for their grade (the definition of “average” may be above the 25th percentile); have “failed to respond” to classroom instruction for an undefined period of time (Tier 1 in Response to Intervention); and have failed to respond to a Tier II general intervention, which need not have been customized to their specific learning needs. Thus a student whose verbal ability is above the 95th percentile yet who is reading at the 26th percentile may initially fail to qualify for school testing as they are considered to be performing within the “average range” for their grade. Valuable time can be lost in waiting for the student to fail – the “failure to respond” criteria under Tier I of the Response to Intervention model. Tier II interventions may not be specific enough to meet the student’s needs – again resulting in the loss of valuable time.

Even when a child does qualify for a school evaluation, there can be potential drawbacks. Due to time and cost constraints, and the lack of experience most school psychologists have with twice exceptional and gifted students, the evaluation is not likely to be as thorough or insightful as a private assessment conducted by a specialist like me. Most importantly, school evaluations tend to focus attention entirely on the student’s weaknesses and not their strengths and interests. This presents just one side of the picture – and can be damaging to the child’s self-esteem and development. Teachers and staff may define the student by a negative shorthand label such as “oppositional defiant” or “ADHD” without considering the whole child. If the student tests as having a lower IQ than expected, reduced expectations for achievement can influence how the student is treated. Finally, a school evaluation may not be completely independent as factors within the system can influence conclusions and recommendations. It is generally not in a schools interest, for example, to recommend the kind of intensive reading remediation a child with dyslexia requires.

In contrast, an independent, privately contracted assessment gives parents all of the information they need to help their child realize his or her potential in a confidential manner. With this information in hand it is possible to work with the child’s school to see what they are willing and able to provide, while supplementing what they cannot do outside of school.

What’s special about your assessments compared to other evaluators?

I am better at working with twice-exceptional and bright students because I am a specialist in this population. Being the parent of 2e children gives me a deeper understanding as well. Many psychologists who perform evaluations are clinical psychologists whose education and training was focused on understanding and treating psychologically-based problems like depression and anxiety among individuals of all ages through psychotherapy. They may have limited expertise specifically in: assessment, in working with school-age children, in learning disabilities, with schools and educational issues, and are likely to have very limited experience with bright and twice-exceptional students.

In contrast, I am a Ph.D.-level school and licensed clinical psychologist with extensive training and clinical experience focused specifically on the identification and understanding of the problems that can interfere with learning among bright children. My training includes research in giftedness, talent development, academic motivation, dyslexia, math disability, and ADHD. The large number of gifted and twice-exceptional children I have advised gives me a data-base of relevant experience. I am an expert in this niche field and dedicate considerable time to staying up-to-date on current research, educational trends, schools, camps, and programs of interest. By focusing my training and practice in this area, I have a distinctive competence relative to other psychologists.

Do I need a “neuropsychologist” to assess my child? Are you one? 

The term “neuropsych report” has become synonymous with a comprehensive assessment. This is probably because many recognize the valuable insights to be gained from an in-depth analysis of all the factors impacting the child, from cognitive ability to attention and executive function. I believe, though, that there is some confusion surrounding who is qualified to conduct a “neuropysch” report, and whether one needs to hire a “neuropsychologist” as opposed to a “psychologist” to do so.

Neuropsychological tests are tests that have been designed to measure information processing functions linked to particular brain structures or pathways. These include tests of memory (e.g. WRAML and CMS), language (e.g. CELF and CTOPP), executive function (e.g. D-KEFS and NEPSY), attention (e.g. Conners CPT and CATA), effort (e.g. Green’s WMT), visuo-spatial function (e.g. Beery VMI and Jordan), and social pragmatics (e.g. ADOS, ADI-R). These tests can be administered by any psychologist who has been trained to administer them. I have been trained to do so. Thus I employ “neuropsychological tests” and can describe what I do as “neuropsych assessment.”

However I am not a credentialed “neuropsychologist.” There are several different and competing certification programs for neuropsychology, most of which require a one-year Post-Doctoral Fellowship (typically in a hospital setting) focusing on brain disorders (e.g. epilepsy, traumatic brain injury, genetic condition, dementia, cerebral tumors) and their rehabilitation and remediation. I did not pursue this kind of training because I do not work with populations who tend to have such problems. If a family approaches me and they appear to have a problem of this type I can refer them to a neuropsychologist or neurologist with the expertise to help. Most families, fortunately, are not dealing with these issues. Instead, they want to understand why their bright child is having difficulty with aspects of learning and school, and what to do about it. In such cases I feel that the knowledge and experience of a school-trained clinical psychologist such as myself who specializes in bright students is likely to be more valuable than the knowledge and experience of a hospital-trained neuropsychologist specializing in brain disorders.

What if we don’t live near your office?

I am happy to provide help and guidance by phone or Skype, but I cannot assess a child remotely. Because of the dearth of professionals specializing in twice-exceptional and gifted learners, many families must travel outside their immediate living area for an assessment by a specialist such as myself. Families visiting from a distance generally need to spend two days in the New York area to make effective use of my services. Follow-up and ongoing services can be conducted via remote technology if it is not convenient for the family to return for face-to-face feedback sessions.

Do you provide assessments for testing accommodations for the SAT, GRE, MCAT, LSAT, and other standardized tests?

Yes, I am knowledgeable and experienced in conducting the comprehensive and specific type of assessment required for a student to be considered eligible for testing accommodations on standardized tests. My reports and recommendations have been accepted for the SSAT, the College Board PSAT, SAT, and AP exams, and by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) for the GRE exam. My reports are very thorough and I am familiar with what the testing organizations want.

How do I decide whether to go forward with you?

If you are thinking about an assessment for your child and would like to talk with me to see if I might be a good fit for your family, please reach out and we can schedule a time to talk on the phone or in person. I do not charge for this type of consultation if you are evaluating whether my practice will meet your family’s needs.

Do you provide general consultations? 

Yes. My consultation rate is $350/hour, which is charged in 15 minute increments and billed to a credit card. If parents would like me to review background information prior to a conversation I must bill for that time as well (but I am a quick reader).

Do you work with adults?

Yes. I enjoy working with adults who are interested in understanding their strengths and weaknesses in order to make the most of academic opportunities or embark on a new career path. It is never too late to understand one’s self better, and empowered adults continue to grow throughout their lifespan.

Do you assess individuals whose needs are primarily behavioral or psychiatric?

A psychiatrist or clinical psychologist specializing in psychological issues would be better qualified to conduct an evaluation focusing on primary problems in areas such as depression, anxiety, eating disorder, etc. However, I do assess emotions, behavior and social-emotional status as they relate to the ability to learn and my recommendations address what might be done to help the child with behavior and social-emotional functioning.

How far ahead do we need to schedule an assessment? 

It depends on how many assessments I have in the pipeline. As a general rule, I am booked at least 4-8 weeks in advance. Recently, I have been quite busy and am booking four months out. In the event of an urgent need on the family’s part, I will do everything possible to accommodate needs including meeting on weekends.

How long after testing does it take to receive a written report?

I am able, with rare exceptions, to commit to a maximum four week turnaround from the last assessment date to delivery of the final written report to the parents. This assumes that all the forms and questionnaires I requested of parents and teachers have been returned to me in a timely fashion as I do need this information to write the report. If I think there is a possibility it may take me longer than 4 weeks I will discuss this with the family to make sure it does not pose a problem.

What is the cost of a comprehensive neuropsych assessment? 

The fee is $6,000. Families who wish to schedule an assessment are required to provide 50% payment ($3,000) in advance to reserve the scheduled appointment dates with the balance of ($3,000) due upon the completion and delivery of the written report. I do some work at a reduced or no fee rate for families who cannot afford my services.

What is the cost of a gifted and achievement assessment?

The fee is $3,000. Same terms as above.

Should we give the report to our child’s school? Can you write a separate report for the school that leaves things out? 

Unless you tell me in advance that you would prefer that I do otherwise, I write the report for two anticipated audiences: parents, and service and accommodation granting organizations. This results in a comprehensive report describing everything I found that is relevant to your child’s development – including background information and diagnoses. The decision of whether to share this report with your child’s school is yours. If you are seeking services or accommodations, you will in all likelihood need to share the full report. If you are not requesting services, and wish to share only selective information with you child’s school, I can write a summary report. Because report-writing is time consuming, I will need to charge at my hourly rate for this service.