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What is a neurodevelopmental evaluation?

A neurodevelopmental evaluation gives information about how a child is learning, growing, and developing over time. The goal of the evaluation is to assess all aspects of your child’s development including language, cognition, motor and social skills. During the evaluation, tests to assess these developmental skills are performed, as well as both neurological and physical examinations. Other testing such as brain imaging, genetic tests and other laboratory tests are frequently recommended to understand if there is a specific cause for the developmental differences. All of these results will help your doctor understand your child’s developmental profile and make personalized and specific recommendations for treatment, therapy and education.

Steps of the neurodevelopmental evaluation (click to expand)

It is very important to us to make sure that our practice is the right fit for you. When you first reach out to Inspire Pediatric Neurology, you will speak with our Intake Coordinator who will provide you with information about our evaluations. She will discuss with you the nature of your concerns and what your goals are for the evaluation. As we want to make sure that we schedule you for the right type of appointment, you may be asked about previous evaluations and we may request reviewing records before setting up your appointment. We will then schedule you for Day 1 of the Neurodevelopmental Evaluation.
You will meet with our pediatric neurologist, Dr. Sidhu. She will review your child’s health and developmental history and perform a developmental-behavioral assessment. She will also conduct a comprehensive neurological evaluation of your child, including a thorough neurological examination. A key goal is to identify any potentially diagnosable or treatable causes that may be contributing to your child’s developmental delays and provide appropriate treatment and intervention. The results of these assessments will help Dr. Sidhu understand what additional medical tests or evaluations are needed.
About 3-6 weeks after the first visit, you will return to discuss results of the diagnostic testing that may have been recommended. The time between the two visits largely depends on the extent of diagnostic testing recommended and the availability of the test results. In addition to reviewing the results of the diagnostic testing, Dr. Sidhu will discuss your child’s diagnosis at length, make recommendations for any additional tests or evaluations, if necessary, and outline a comprehensive treatment and intervention plan. You will also have the opportunity to meet with our family resource advocate, at a later date, via either a virtual video visit or an in-person office visit, based on your preference. Our family resource advocate will discuss local community resources, programs and supports that are in line with Dr. Sidhu's therapeutic and educational recommendations and that are personalized for your child and family’s needs. We offer this additional service at no charge to you because parent education and advocacy is fundamental to our mission of providing the highest quality comprehensive and personalized care.
Following your child's evaluation, you can continue to use our secure patient portal to communicate with our team to ask any questions that might have arisen and to troubleshoot any concerns regarding the recommended resources you received. Your child will also be scheduled for a follow-up visit with Dr. Sidhu to monitor developmental progress.
Why see a neurologist for a developmental evaluation?

  • A neurologist focuses on understanding if there is a specific cause for a child’s neurodevelopmental disorder and works to identify what that specific cause may be. Identifying a specific reason for a child’s developmental delay may provide information about the anticipated trajectory for development and overall prognosis. It can also guide treatment if specific medical therapies are available and inform whether or not there are associated medical problems that need to be addressed.

  • A neurologist will also assess whether your child’s history is indicative of a progressive or degenerative neurological condition. The overall goal is to identify any potentially diagnosable or treatable medical conditions.

  • A neurologist will conduct a thorough neurological examination as part of the developmental evaluation.

  • A neurologist may use diagnostic tests such as brain MRIs to understand what the structure of the brain looks like.

  • A neurologist can treat disorders that co-occur with neurodevelopmental disorders. For example, children with autism spectrum disorder have risk for developing seizures. A neurologist can identify if a child is having seizures by conducting tests such as an electroencephalogram (EEG) and subsequently treating the seizures with anti-seizure medications, if necessary.

  • A neurologist very commonly orders genetic testing to identify genetic differences that may be causing a child’s neurodevelopmental disorder. Genetic differences or syndromes can be identified which give more specific information about the cause for the neurodevelopmental disorder. For example, Fragile X syndrome is the most common known inheritable cause of intellectual disability and is the most common known genetic cause for autism spectrum disorder. This can lead to identifying any associated medical problems for which a child may be at risk. Furthermore, some test results can help families make more informed decisions about having more children by providing information on recurrence risks in subsequent pregnancies. Above all, results of genetic testing can often provide a sense of relief and end a journey of searching for answers. By having an answer, families can avoid further unnecessary testing of a child and focus on available prevention, monitoring and treatment options.

Who needs a neurodevelopmental evaluation?

We evaluate infants, toddlers, school-aged children, and adolescents when there are concerns regarding development, learning or behavior. It is best to have a comprehensive neurodevelopmental evaluation if a child does not carry a specific diagnosis. Some of the most common concerns are, but not limited to, the following:
  • Developmental delay (speech, motor, global)
  • Developmental regression
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Intellectual disability or cognitive delay
  • Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Learning difficulties/school failure
  • Behavioral problems

We also recommend a neurodevelopmental evaluation for the following concerns:
  • Child has been diagnosed with neurodevelopmental disorder but family is seeking a 2nd opinion
  • Pediatrician or other specialist has recommended a developmental evaluation
  • School recommended a developmental evaluation
  • Child was tested at school and family is seeking further clarification on a specific diagnosis