A child’s vulnerabilities are often invisible or below the surface and cannot be reliably identified without proper testing. If small gaps are present, pushing a child to work harder in acquiring important skills is a reasonable solution and one of the first lines of defense by a parent or teacher. However, if such encouragement often results in conflict, then large gaps between talents and underlying vulnerabilities might be present.

Neuropsychological testing should be sought to confirm whether a child has underlying processing difficulties or large gaps in his or her abilities if:

  • struggles or resistance to schoolwork or a specific area of learning (such as reading, writing, or math) is seen for more than two consecutive academic quarters
  • a past learning disability has not been fully characterized or understood
  • problems completing or turning in homework are seen for more than two consecutive academic quarters beginning in middle school or high school
  • ADD or ADHD is suspected or has been unsuccessfully treated
  • struggles with friendships, anxiety, or depression have been present over six months or have been unsuccessfully treated
  • autistic-spectrum features are present and a reliable diagnosis, as well as full characterization of neuropsychological functioning, is needed to help plan for educational and social-emotional development
  • it is not known whether a child’s diagnosis is high-functioning Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, or PDD-NOS
  • a closed-head injury (with loss of consciousness of more than one hour) or medical condition is affecting a child’s learning or social development.


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