Information for Parents

1. Dr. Reisetter is a school neuropsychologist. What is that?

2. The letters “LP” follow Dr. Reisetter’s name. What does that mean?

3. Who needs cognitive or neuropsychological assessment?

4. How many visits will the assessment take?

5. How is cognitive assessment done? Is it done at a medical office? Is it invasive or dangerous?

6. What about this neuropsychological testing? Is it done in a medical office? Is it invasive or dangerous?

7. What kinds of situations or diagnoses are identified? Specifically, what can Dr. Reisetter do for my child?

8. Can’t any psychologist do cognitive assessment?

9. Can’t I just find a school psychologist to help?

10. What if cognitive testing doesn’t tell us all we need to know?

11. What might a rehabilitation plan include? Months or years of therapy by a psychologist? How will that help a learning issue?

12. What about using commercial tutoring services?

13. Can’t I just get my child tested at school?

14. How much is this going to cost?

15. How much might be paid for by insurance?

16. What is the time frame? Will this take weeks or months?

1. What is a school neuropsychologist?

A school neuropsychologist refers to a clinical psychologist with very specialized training and credentials. The school neuropsychologist may or may not be actually employed by a particular school district, but she or he is trained and licensed to help with students who are having difficulty in any school setting, and to help identify why the student is struggling and what can be done to help. A school neuropsychologist has completed a graduate course of study at an accredited university that grants a school psychology degree (Dr. Reisetter has a Ph.D.). This includes training in testing and assessment of cognitive and achievement capacities (including IQ); testing and assessment for mental or psychological disorders; various interventions and therapies for treating disorders; report writing for such cases; the legalities of special education law as it pertains to schools, what schools can and cannot do for students and their families legally, ethically, and so on; received a license to practice in the schools of a particular state as a psychologist in schools (similar to teacher or counselor licensure); received additional in-depth training in neuropsychology, including brain structure and function; brain development in children; assessment and diagnosis of brain injuries or weaknesses and brain strengths; various interventions and therapies for treating brain disorders; report writing for such cases.

2. What does “LP” mean?

In Minnesota, LP (Licensed Psychologist) denotes a psychologist who has completed a rigorous course of study at an accredited university in clinical psychology; has passed a national licensure examination called the EPPP (similar to “boards” for physicians); has completed an internship experience in psychology under the supervision of another Licensed Psychologist; has passed a state licensure examination concerning legal and ethical psychology laws and practices specific to Minnesota; continues to renew the license through continuing education.

3. Who can benefit from a cognitive or neuropsychological assessment?

The answer is: children all along the learning spectrum!

Some examples are:

Gifted children are not required to be serviced by special education law. However, they often deal with high levels of frustration when they don’t understand why everyone else doesn’t understand concepts as quickly as they do. They perceive that they are different than their peers, but they don’t always understand why. Because of this, they often have difficulties with social relationships. Gifted children can also be gifted in the level of their emotional responses. This can lead to hypersensitivity about interpersonal relationships, new situations, or possible failure. Gifted children actually have a higher rate of both dropping out of school and suicide than the average population. They may need help understanding how their brains work, and developing a niche for themselves in society as a whole.

Children who struggle in school often present a puzzle to parents and educational personnel. They don’t seem to respond to traditional teaching methods. Actually the majority of the population does NOT learn best with the “sit quietly while I teach you” method used in many classrooms, but with large class sizes, teachers often have little freedom to incorporate more relaxed learning atmospheres. Children, parents, and teachers can all benefit from understanding how a particular student’s brain works. Perhaps this child learns better through pictures, or that one through having the body in motion. Perhaps this student can demonstrate learning on a multiple choice test, while that one can write stories, and a third one demonstrates through speaking rather than writing. A personalized cognitive assessment can empower learning.

4. What does an assessment involve?

A cognitive assessment usually requires three office visits.

First, the parent/guardian meets with the psychologist to determine exactly what tests are most appropriate. Sometimes this can be done over the phone.

The second visit is for the cognitive assessment itself. Usually, a full cognitive battery will yield the information needed. While the child is being tested, the parent/guardian can complete forms that provide vital information. The psychologist then analyzes all of the information and develops a learning strategy guided by the way that child’s brain learns best.

The last visit is for the psychologist to share the results of cognitive testing and a plan to move forward. During the last visit, the psychologist explains the results to the parent/guardian in person. If the child is old enough, he or she might benefit from attending the meeting.

When neuropsychological testing is required, there will often be two testing sessions (for a total of four sessions).

5. What is cognitive testing? Is it done at a medical office? Is it invasive or dangerous?

Brief description of a couple tests; give a couple example tasks. Name the most common tests.

6. What about this neuropsychological testing? Is it done at a medical office? Is it invasive or dangerous?

Brief description of a couple tests; give a couple example tasks. Name the most common tests.

7. What kinds of situations or diagnoses are identified? Specifically, what can Dr. Reisetter do for my child?

School neuropsychologists are clinical psychologists that specialize in treating children and adolescents. They can diagnose, develop rehabilitation plans, and provide therapy for many disorders and situations, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
  • Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) including Asperger’s Syndrome
  • Depression
  • Giftedness
  • Learning Disabilities (LD)
  • Traumatic Brain Injuries, and many other issues

To address learning, school neuropsychologists can use cognitive testing to get information on how an individual student processes information. They can then take that information and help developinterventions and/or plans of action to facilitate that student’s learning. Cognitive testing does generate an “IQ” score, but more importantly, it provides a professional with a profile of an individual’s strengths and weaknesses in learning. The most effective plan is usually linked to a student’s strengths, not weaknesses.

8. Can’t any psychologist do cognitive assessment?

Psychology, like medicine, is a huge field! Most psychologists have at least some training in cognitive assessment, but unless they do lots of it, they may not be confident in their abilities to correctly spot and diagnose learning issues, or develop intervention plans. Many psychologists, therefore, refer cognitive assessment to school psychologists, who specialize in cognitive assessment and intervention.

9. Can’t any school psychologist do cognitive assessment?

Sure, provided you can find one! Most school psychologists are busy working directly for (you guessed it) the schools, and do not have the necessary licensure (most school psychologists are not licensed to work outside of the school setting) and/or time available to help individual students outside of the school day. Schools are primarily empowered to assess and try to intervene only for students who are identified as having specific Learning Disabilities or other Special Education issues. Schools and school psychologists, unfortunately, cannot help every child who may be struggling; they can deal with only the most extreme cases. And, the wait time for getting a child assessed and properly assisted can be a year or more. So what many folks may need is a school psychologist in private practice.

10. What if cognitive testing doesn’t tell us all we need to know?

That’s where the neuropsychology part of the deal becomes important. Sometimes, the picture is not clear enough with just the cognitive profile. In those cases, a school neuropsychologist can administer special tests to measure such areas as executive functioning, visual-motor integration, and sensory-motor functioning. These are the same tests used in a hospital/clinical setting when there has been a brain injury. Whether or not the parents can recall a specific head injury, there might be developmental “glitches” in the wiring of the a student’s brain that affect her/his ability to learn. Often, when no damage is evident on a CT-scan or MRI, a patient is sent to a neuropsychologist to find more subtle processing difficulties.

11. What might a rehabilitation plan include?

Give sample or short examples of rehabilitation plan elements.

12. What about using commercial tutoring services?

Commercial tutoring services tend to be directed at a subject area. That is, if a child is having trouble with reading, they specifically target reading strategies. If a child is having trouble with math, they target math. They are not staffed for considering brain function. They have no way of knowing if a child learns best by processing information from a visual or auditory pathway, or by utilizing the strategies of the left or right hemispheres of the brain. They may use “in house” tests to guide their program, but they cannot use standardized tests that only trained psychologists can administer and interpret.

13. Can’t I just get my child tested at school?

Yes . . . and no. Schools are overwhelmed. New laws require at least a month of interventions before a student can be accepted for testing. Sometimes the testing is denied. Usually, a cognitive test will be given, but the goal is often an IQ score to determine eligibility for special education. With an in-depth private evaluation, the parent/guardian determines if the child will be tested, the results are comprehensive, and recommended strategies apply directly to how their child learns best.

14. How much is this going to cost?

The cost depends upon the child’s needs. What type of assessment and plans are called for? Will a cognitive assessment suffice, or is neuropsychological testing required? Does the intervention plan require therapy by a psychologist, testing and intervention (such as medication) by a medical practitioner, specific types of tutoring, or just interventions which can be applied by the child’s parents and teachers? Perhaps an analogy may be useful here: Some children’s teeth need braces (orthodontics). The problems may be quite superficial and easy to fix in just a few months, or they may be quite problematic, requiring in-depth intervention by one or more specialists over several years.

15. How much might be paid for by insurance?

Insurance plans differ widely: some plans will cover all or almost all of the cost; others cover little or none. Once Dr. Reisetter has established exactly what types of assessments (tests) are required, your insurance company can tell you exactly how much they will pay towards them. Likewise, when an intervention plan has been developed, if specific types of therapy are called for, your plan can specify to you how much it will pay.

16. What is the time frame? Will this take weeks or months?

Initial appointments are usually scheduled within a week or two of your initial contact. Assessment appointments, analysis of data, development of plans, and final appointments usually happen within a few weeks to a very few months. Various therapies, depending on what is called for, may go on for some months or even years thereafter, depending upon the child’s needs.