on DSM 5
Dr. Alexander conducts Psychological and Neuropsychological evaluations for children and adolescents. Evaluations can be performed to address key areas such as:
• Attachment Style
• Neurological Functioning
• Effects of Trauma
• Academic Achievement
• Underlying Emotions
A psychological evaluation typically involves the following procedures:
•Interviewing and/or observing the child
• Interviewing the child's primary caregiver(s)
• Administering psychological tests and measures
• Speaking with teachers or daycare providers
• Reviewing the child's birth/developmental history
• Examining past records or documents of the child's life
This data and information is then summarized in a written report.
Psychological evaluations are conducted in order to:
•Identify areas of psychological strength & weakness
• Clarify the child's resiliency and coping style
• Give direction for parents and teachers
• Establish if medication might be indicated
• Identify what kind of therapy might work best
• Clarify the child's problem-solving style and abilities
• Pin-point if the child's problem is new or longstanding
• Establish a baseline by which to compare future abilities
Psychological evaluations provide several recommendations for parents, teachers, and providers.
Psychological evaluations also render a DSM 5 diagnosis, which may include:
Clinical Disorders [e.g., Autism Spectrum, Depression/Mood, Anxiety, Reactive Attachment, etc; Intellectual Disability; Learning Disorders; Personality Disorders; Medical conditions; and Environmental stressors.
The cost of a psychological evaluation varies. They are typically covered by insurance companies, under the billing codes 90801; 96101; 96118. Neuropsychological evaluations may require prior approval and/or a referral by an MD.
Dr. Alexander accepts New Mexico Medicaid (Optum Health).
Dr. Alexander will usually meet with a child for 60 - 90 minutes---preferably in the morning----in order to administer an initial battery of tests. At that time, the child is administered tests of achievement (reading, spelling, sentence comprehension, and mathematics); intelligence (a full Wechsler battery); cognition (immediate and delayed memory, fine/gross motor skills, mental processing, attention, etc.); and social/emotional testing.
At the time the appointment is made, parents are also provided with behavior forms to complete, as well as one for the teacher.
Following the assessment of the child, Dr. Alexander will meet with the parent(s) for 30 - 60 minutes to find out about the child's current and historical levels of functioning, at home/school/community.
If necessary, a follow-up appointment is set for the child, depending upon what the initial data shows. Some evaluators automatically do 6 hour evaluation of kids, but Dr. Alexander does not, unless it is indicated. In other words, the data guides the process and Dr. Alexander tries not to over-test.
These kinds of tests are all based on the child's age, and there are more options available with older children. Thus, the testing of a seven-year-old doesn't take up as much time as it will for an 11-year-old.
Once that is done, a report is released, summarizing the findings and providing recommendations and any applicable mental health diagnoses. That is usually enough for parents as they walk into the IEP process. Some schools are fairly familiar with Dr. Alexander's work, and with a few exceptions, will integrate the recommendations directly into the IEP/BIP. In most instances, the report gives you what you need to develop an IEP/BIP, as long as the child meets state/national criteria for eligibility.
Remember, once a report leaves my hands, I have little control over where it goes. Parents are often surprised to find that psychological reports written on their child end up in school or medical records for years. It is therefore important to use discretion when letting other people read or make copies of the report.
I conduct parent-child bonding assessments (also called a bonding study or interactional assessment. These typically include very young children and birth, foster, and/or adoptive parents. The bonding assessment is done as a means of quantifying which adult(s) hold the position of greatest centrality/importance in the child's life. In other words, who does the child view as the primary/psychological parent.
These are typically child welfare, as opposed to divorce/custody evaluations. I also do custody evaluations, but only by appointment of the Court.
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