Outpatient Neuropsychology

The Children’s Institute’s outpatient neuropsychology service offers caregivers of children with brain-based disorders a comprehensive evaluation of their child’s strengths and weaknesses. During the assessment, our specially trained psychologists evaluate the patient’s thinking, learning and behavior in the context of his or her medical condition. This evaluation provides you with a fuller understanding of the patient’s needs and abilities, as well as detailed recommendations for the patient’s continued care and treatment options.

Would my child benefit from a neuropsychological evaluation?

If your child is 21 or younger and has or is suspected to have a documented brain-based disorder, he or she may benefit from an evaluation with one of our specialized neuropsychologists. We work with many types of brain-based disorders, including but not limited to:
•Anoxic Brain Injury
•Attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD)
•Autism Spectrum disorder
•Brain Injury/Concussion
•Brain Tumors
•Cerebral Palsy
•Cerebral Vascular Accident/Stroke
•Cleft Palate/Craniofacial Conditions
•Developmental delay
•Genetic Conditions
•Late effects of brain surgery or oncology treatments
•Muscular Dystrophies
•Spina Bifida/Myelomeningocele

Who provides the evaluation?
Our pediatric neuropsychologists (see bios below) have been trained to understand relationships between children’s behavior, brain structures and brain systems. They are knowledgeable in brain organization, brain development and the effects of acquired and developmental brain-based disorders on child and adolescent development. They provide a fuller understanding of the patient’s individual needs, as well as what methods of treatment or therapy may be most effective. A neuropsychological evaluation can help you clarify the nature of your child's condition or diagnosis, monitor progress and symptoms, plan for school, make return-to-play decisions and manage behavior.

What happens during an evaluation?
All evaluations are held at our Squirrel Hill campus. During an evaluation*, the child will spend time with a neuropsychologist and a psychometrician or a post-doctoral fellow in neuropsychology, a technician who will administer neuropsychological tests. Later, the neuropsychologist will meet with the parents or guardians to discuss their findings. The neuropsychologist may request information from you and other physicians, teachers and caregivers. Evaluations can last a full or half-day, depending on the patient’s age and endurance, as determined by the neuropsychologist. Post concussion evaluations are generally shorter in duration, but may occur over multiple sessions.
Areas of brain function that may be tested include:
• Intellectual Functioning
• Processing Speed
• Attention/Executive Functions
• Memory
• Language
• Reasoning
• Visual-spatial Skills
• Sensorimotor Functioning
• Adaptive Functioning
• Behavioral and Emotional Adjustment
*Depending on insurance requirements, the evaluation may take place over the course of 1 or 2 visits

Neuropsychological evaluations are covered by many major insurance providers as a medical benefit, if it is deemed medically necessary. Once a referral is made, we will work with you to determine if this is a covered benefit in your insurance plan. The Children's Institute is a participating provider with the behavioral health plan networks of Highmark, UPMC Health Plan, and Community Care Behavioral Health Organization.

How does the evaluation help?
Once the evaluation is complete, the neuropsychologist will review the report with the parents or guardians. During this feedback session, they will detail the patient’s strengths and weaknesses and provide recommendations. The neuropsychologist will discuss how the patient’s abilities can compensate for his or her weaknesses and may provide a consultation with school personnel to implement recommendations.This evaluation provides a comprehensive understanding of the patient’s cognitive, emotional and behavioral functioning as it relates to his or her medical condition, which will guide intervention planning.

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Our Clinicians

Jessica Bleil Walters, PhD, NCSPJessica Bleil Walters, PhD, NCSP
is a clinical neuropsychologist within the Neuropsychology Services of The Children’s Institute. As a clinical neuropsychologist, Dr. Walters specializes in evaluating children and adolescents with complex medical illnesses including traumatic brain injuries, seizure disorders, metabolic disorders, movement disorders, genetic disorders, chronic pain, as well as brain tumors and childhood cancers. Dr. Walters also specializes in assessing young children and adolescents for autism spectrum disorder. Additionally, Dr. Walters is involved in concussion management and follow-up care post-concussion. Dr. Walters is a Pennsylvania Certified School Psychologist as well as Nationally Certified School Psychologist and has extensive experience offering recommendations to parents, schools, physicians, and other specialists.

Rachael Hoffman, PhDRachael Hoffman, PhD is a Pediatric Neuropsychology Resident within Behavioral Health services at The Children's Institute. Areas of clinical interest and expertise include evaluation of children and adolescents with complex medical conditions, traumatic brain injury, ADHD, developmental disabilities, depression, and anxiety, as well as assessment of individuals who are primarily nonverbal. Specific research interests include neuropsychological correlates of medical conditions, management of chronic health problems, and the use of assistive technology. Dr. Hoffman is a Pennsylvania Certified School Psychologist with experiences in schools, as well as the inpatient and outpatient behavioral health settings.

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