Centers of Excellence

Pediatric Neuropsychology Program

The Pediatric Neuropsychology Program at Barrow Neurological Institute at Phoenix Children’s Hospital provides neuropsychological evaluations for children, adolescents, and young adults with a diverse range of medical, neurological, and neurodevelopmental disorders that impact thinking or behavior. A neuropsychological evaluation can be conducted on outpatient or inpatient basis to help a child’s family, doctor, teacher, and therapists provide support and assistance to meet the child’s unique needs. We know that a child with cognitive or behavioral problems—as well as his parents and family—often need the help and assurance available only through testing by a trained professional.

Neuropsychologist Michael Lavoie, PhD, Division Chief of Psychology leads the comprehensive evaluation program here that offers testing based on an appreciation of functional neuroanatomy and normal brain development, defining how a child is functioning in comparison to expectations for that child's age level. At Barrow at Phoenix Children's Hospital, we know that a child with cognitive or behavioral problems—as well as his parents and family—often need the help and assurance available only through testing by a trained professional.

The Neuropsychology Divison has a staff of five neuropsychologists, who collaborate to provide excellence in patient care and clinical research. The staff regularly works with a wide range of patients from children with epilepsy to children needing inpatient rehabilitation services. This interdisciplinary cooperation means your child's treatment plan is developed by experts in many different fields, such as rehabilitation, neurosurgery, neurophysiology and neurology, to provide the comprehensive care your child needs to get better faster.

What is a Neuropsychological Evaluation?

A neuropsychological evaluation is done when there may be a problem with a child’s behavior or thinking. It is available to children and adolescents up to age 25.

Prior to the evaluation, your child’s neuropsychologist will:

  • Review your child’s medical or school records.
  • Ask questions about your child’s medical, school and family history.
  • Give some tests during the evaluation so that the healthcare team can better understand a broad range of your child’s thinking and behavioral abilities. This can take one to five hours, depending on your child’s level of functioning.
  • Request a chance to watch your child at home and/or school if necessary.
  • Have your child’s teacher complete additional forms about his learning behavior.

After the evaluation, the results and suggestions for improvement are reviewed with the parents. Plans are made for follow-up, such as contacting school personnel, physicians, rehabilitation professionals and others involved in your child’s care.

Read a parent’s guide to Pediatric Neuropsychology from the American Psychological Association.

How Neuropsychological Assessments Differ from Psychological Assessments

School psychologists, clinical psychologists, and neuropsychologists all employ similar measures when evaluating behavior – that is, they use psychological and other tests to examine how a child is functioning in comparison to his or her age-mates. Thus, an IQ test, academic achievement test, or test of a child’s emotional adjustment could be used by any one of these providers.

Despite this overlap in instrumentation, the services offered by each discipline are different. Assessments conducted by school psychologists focus on eligibility for special education or other school-related services and are generally focused on evaluating a child’s functioning in relationship to academic success. Assessments conducted by clinical psychologists are often focused on the psychological/emotional functioning of the child, though they can examine almost any aspect of the child’s cognitive or behavioral status.

School and clinical psychological assessments emphasize functions or psychological processes, without explicitly referencing brain structures or mechanisms. Results from a neuropsychological evaluation help the healthcare professional determine the proper rehabilitation, psychological, psychiatric or educational services for your child and family

When could a child or adolescent benefit from a neuropsychological evaluation?

A Neuropsychological evaluation may be needed if you suspect your child has:

  • Difficulty thinking
  • Problems learning
  • Uncontrollable emotions
  • Unusual behaviors
  • Memory problems

Neuropsychological testing may also needed if your child has had any of these conditions:

Contact/Referral Information

For referral information, please contact 602-933-0414












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