Mary E. Cunningham, Ph.D.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How long does an assessment take?

Evaluations are usually accomplished in two sessions each of which lasts from 2.5 to 3.5 hours.  As individuals proceed at differing rates on many of these measures, at times the testing sessions may be slightly longer or shorter.  With very young children the testing may be divided into three sessions.
 
 
When are evaluations done?
 
 
It is generally preferable to do the testing in the morning rather than after school.  This minimizes the impact of cognitive fatigue on the test results and provides information about the individual's ability to manage demanding tasks over a period of time which parallels a morning in school. This is particularly true with children of elementary school age.  Many local high schools have rotating block schedules and early dismissal “flex" days and it is possible to schedule the testing to coincide with these. Depending on the individual’s schedule it is also possible to do the assessments in the early morning (e.g. 7-10 AM) so as to minimize disruption of the school day.  This can work quite well if the first classes of the day are non-academically demanding (e.g. art , PE, or computers) or are in subjects in which the student is doing quite well.  Saturday appointments are occasionally available.
 
  
How does this testing differ from testing done by the public schools?
 
Public school assessments are generally designed to determine if a child qualifies for special education services.  Private evaluations are designed to identify strengths and weaknesses, the factors interfering with a client's functioning, and provide recommendations to enhance performance. 
 
 
What should I tell my child prior to the assessment?
 
It is usually best to focus on the positive aspects of the evaluation.  Even young children are often aware that they are experiencing some struggles. Telling them the goal is to identify how they learn best and to make things easier for them is usually quite reassuring.  Students can also be told that while many of the tests will involve information and tasks that are familiar, some will be new, and they are not expected to know answers to all questions. There will not be anything which is likely to be physically uncomfortable.  
 
   
What is included in the fee?
 
 
The flat fee for the assessment includes a discussion (by phone or in person) prior to the evaluation, the testing, test scoring/analysis, report preparation, and meeting with you to discuss the test results.  Multiple copies of the test report can be provided as needed.
 
Consultations and school meetings are billed on an hourly basis to the nearest half-hour.
 
 
Does insurance cover the cost of testing? 
 
 
Most insurance covers only the cost of medically necessary evaluations.  If you wish to check with your insurance to  see if the assessment might be covered, the CPT code for neuropsychological testing is 96118.
 
 
What insurance do you accept?
 
The only provider panel that I am on is Marin IPA.  If your insurance is provided through Marin IPA you will need prior approval for testing and must ask your physician for a referral for the evaluation.
 
Many other insurance companies provide partial re-imbursement for out-of-network providers. You should check with your carrier to clarify their policies.  I am happy to provide you with a bill which you can submit to them once the assessment has been completed.
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 

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