The Help Group’s P.L.A.N. Assessment 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.


Laurie Stephens, Ph.D., Senior Director of Autism and LGBTQ+ Programs

Dr. Stephens is a developmental psychologist who has been working with children, teens, and young adults on the autism spectrum for nearly 30 years. She currently serves as The Help Group’s Senior Director of Autism and LGBTQ+ Programs and oversees the Help Group’s PLAN Center. Previously, Dr. Stephens was the Director of Testing and Diagnostic Services at SUNY Stony Brook’s Division of Developmental Disabilities. She has been conducting Psycho-Ed and Diagnostic Testing spanning her entire career. She was one of the first psychologists to be research-level trained to administer and score the Autism Diagnostic Observations Scale (ADOS). Stephens has been instrumental in establishing a specialized diagnostic clinic for LGBTQ+ children, teens, and young adults who may suspect they have an autism spectrum disorder.


Stephanie Lord, Ph.D., Director of Psychology Training

Stephanie is the Director of Psychology Training at The Help Group. Stephanie earned her undergraduate degree in psychology from Cornell University and her PhD in Clinical Psychology from the Pacific Graduate School of Psychology at Palo Alto University. She completed her Postdoctoral training at the San Diego Center for Children. She specializes in complex psychological assessment and psychodiagnostic, neurodevelopmental, and forensic evaluations. Stephanie has trained and worked within numerous health systems at various levels of care including, but not limited to, community mental health, inpatient hospital, state hospital, partial hospitalization, residential, intensive outpatient, and full service partnerships. Stephanie is adjunct faculty at the California School of Professional Psychology at Alliant International University and teaches advanced graduate psychology courses is assessment and diagnosis. She has provided numerous guest lectures and continuing education training on a variety of topics including diagnostics, suicide assessment, complex diagnosis, communication and caretakers, pre and postpartum mental health, and graduate student training.


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.


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.



 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.