P.L.A.N. Center

Overview

The Help Group’s P.L.A.N. Center is an assessment center dedicated to providing diagnostic and developmental assessments to individuals with suspected neurodevelopmental disorders (e.g., Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, Intellectual Disability), social-emotional issues (e.g., anxiety, depression, self-esteem), and learning difficulties (e.g., reading, writing, mathematics, underachievement, anxiety, low self-esteem).  Our assessments are comprehensive and are tailored to answer families’ and other professionals’ specific questions. We provide families with an understanding of a child’s overall development, diagnoses, and treatment recommendations. Our team includes experienced licensed Neuropsychologists, Clinical Psychologists, Postdoctoral Psychology Fellows, Doctoral Psychology Interns, and Doctoral Psychology Practicum Trainees who work directly with each client and family to provide individualized care.

Faculty

Claudia L. Kernan, PhD (Clinical Neuropsychologist)

Dr. Kernan is a clinical neuropsychologist and Director of The Help Group-UCLA Neuropsychology Program. Populations with which she works include children, adolescents, and adults with learning disabilities, attention problems, emotional and behavioral issues, developmental disabilities, head injuries, and other neurological and medical conditions.  She received her B.A. in anthropology from Princeton University and her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from UCLA, where she minored in developmental psychology.  Dr. Kernan completed her predoctoral internship in pediatric neuropsychology at New York University and her postdoctoral residency in clinical neuropsychology at the UCLA Semel Institute.  She is currently an active research scientist and assistant clinical professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.   Topics on which she has published and presented at scientific conferences include traumatic brain injury and concussions, epilepsy, hormones and cognition, childhood schizophrenia, and ethnic identity and multiculturalism in school settings.

The Help Group-UCLA Neuropsychology Program was established in 1997 and began under the partnership of The Help Group and UCLA’s Medical Psychology Assessment Center. The program specializes in helping families and educational teams understand the student’s learning patterns. Our goal is to help explain what advances a child’s learning and what inhibits their development, as well as providing individualized recommendations to maximize a student’s learning potential. Neuropsychology Fellows have Doctoral Degrees in Psychology and specialize in Pediatric Neuropsychology. They work in close collaboration with and are supervised by a Licensed Neuropsychologist.

 

Julie Hewett, PhD (Clinical Psychologist)

Dr. Hewett is a clinical psychologist who serves as coordinator of both the PLAN Assessment Center and the Clinical Psychology practicum training program. She also supervises within The Help Group’s APA-Accredited Clinical Psychology Doctoral Internship program and APPIC Member Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Autism Spectrum Disorder. Dr. Hewett received her undergraduate degree in psychology from Chapman University and her master’s and doctoral degrees from Loma Linda University with an emphasis in clinical child and adolescent psychology. She completed an APA-Accredited internship at Providence Saint John’s Child and Family Development Center as well as an APA-Accredited two-year postdoctoral fellowship specializing in trauma and neurodevelopmental disabilities at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles/USC University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD), where she simultaneously completed a two-year certification in the University of Southern California’s LEND (Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities) program.

 

Services and Assessments

 

Psychoeducational Assessments measure an individual’s cognitive, academic, and social-emotional functioning in order to answer questions about diagnosis (such as ADHD, Anxiety, Depression, etc), highlight strengths, and provide treatment recommendations.

The Assessment Process

The clinician will meet with you and your child to determine your goals for the assessment, and will tailor the testing battery to answer questions about your child’s diagnosis, strengths, and needs. These assessments typically include measures of:

  • Academic ability
  • Academic achievement
  • Social-Emotional functioning
  • Executive Functioning

Common diagnoses include:

  • ADHD
  • Mood Disorders
  • Anxiety Disorders (GAD, Social Anxiety)
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Adjustment Disorder

Learning Assessments evaluate an individual’s academic functioning and ability and are specifically related to classroom based and standardized test based performances.

The Assessment Process

These assessments are typically less time-intensive, but will provide you with a wealth of information regarding your child’s academic achievement (the level at which they are currently functioning) and academic abilities (the level at which they could or should be functioning).

Common Diagnoses Include:

  • Specific Learning Disability, with impairments in reading, writing, and/or math

 

Autism Assessments are tailored to aid in an initial diagnosis of Autism or to re-clarify an Autism diagnosis or other developmental delays.

The Assessment Process

The clinician can provide an initial diagnosis of Autism, a second opinion, or an updated diagnosis. Clinicians use measures such as the ADOS-2 and ADI-R, but might also use the Vineland or other developmental measures to help you ascertain your child’s current level of functioning and needs.

Common Diagnoses Include:

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder (including severity)
  • Intellectual Disability
  • Communication Disorders

 

Neuropsychological Assessments consist of evaluations across multiple domains to understand complex conditions. These assessments are especially beneficial for individuals with medical conditions and impairments in multiple domains.

The Assessment Process

During each evaluation, a pediatric neuropsychologist examines a wide range of functions:

  • Academic skills
  • Attention and concentration
  • Executive functioning
  • Intellectual abilities
  • Language processing and speech
  • Learning and memory capacities
  • Motor functioning
  • Sensory capacities
  • Visual and nonverbal functions

Common diagnoses include:

  • Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Birth injury / Anoxia
  • Brain injury or stroke
  • Brain tumors
  • Epilepsy
  • Genetic anomalies
  • Infectious diseases
  • Learning disabilities
  • Lead poisoning
  • Tourette’s Syndrome

 

The Report

The clinician will generate a comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation report. This report will consist of the child’s relevant history, the results of the testing in narrative and data formats, a diagnosis section, and recommendations for further treatment. The child will meet with his or her clinician for a one-hour feedback session, during which he or she will be able to go over the information contained in the report, as well as receive his or her own copy of the report.

 

Fees

 We offer a set fee for each type of assessment.  The Help Group is a Medi-Cal provider and can also accept payment by check, credit card, and cash.

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