Children's epilepsy resource for Clinicians

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Assessment of learning and behaviour


Guidelines regarding cognitive assessment

According to the The NICE Guideline; The Epilepsies (released  October 2004 and updated January 2012), neuropsychological assessment should be considered in children, young people, and adults in whom it is important to evaluate learning disabilities and cognitive dysfunction, particularly in regard to language and memory.



More specifically, the NICE Guideline suggests referral for a neuropsychological assessment is indicated, when:

  • A child, young person or adult with epilepsy is having educational or occupational difficulties
  • An MRI has identified abnormalities in cognitively important brain regions
  • A child, young person, or adult complains of memory or other cognitive deficits and/or cognitive decline.



Neuropsychological Assessment of learning and behaviour

Neuropsychological assessments focus on the relationship between the brain, cognitive functions (thinking skills), and behaviour. The assessments involve the use of sensitive and specialised tests to assess a range of behavioural, cognitive and academic abilities, typically including:

  • overall intellectual ability (IQ)
  • processing speed
  • attention (immediate, sustained, divided)
  • higher-order executive skills (e.g. planning, problem solving, multi-tasking)
  • learning and memory
  • expressive and receptive language function
  • visual-spatial, visuoperceptual, and visuoconstructional skills
  • sensory-perceptual skills (e.g. dyspraxia)
  • academic performance
  • behaviour
  • emotional/psychiatric functioning
  • impulse control



Results from the neuropsychological assessment

Results provide detailed information for parents and schools. Analysis of the cognitive profile can pinpoint areas of difficulty and also determine areas of cognitive strength. This information can then be used to:

  • advise parents and teachers of tailored management and compensatory strategies to assist the child
  • develop education plans to support the child
  • aid referral to appropriate support services (e.g. counselling, speech therapy, occupational therapy etc.)



Based on the results of the assessment, the neuropsychologist can also:

  • Advocate for the child’s needs at school
  • Visit schools and/or talk with school staff
  • Assist schools in applying for support funding (e.g. Teacher’s Aide)
  • Advise about and help request Special Provisions for exams (e.g. HSC)
  • Help parents access support services as needed (e.g. tutoring, behaviour management, speech and language pathology, occupational therapy)




This page was last reviewed in December 2017.