Does my Child need an Assessment?
All children are unique. Often when working with families, I talk about the importance of everyone having different strengths and needs. There are times when those needs can start to become more worrisome. The following are some possible times when you may wish to consider an assessment:
- If your child consistently tries hard in school, but marks don’t reflect this effort.
- If what your child is able to express themselves much more strongly in words than with writing.
- If your child finds it very hard to understand/ remember concepts being taught, or “remembers one day and forgets the next”.
- If your child easily understands concepts, but because of poor planning, organizational, memory skills, struggles in school.
- If you or your child’s teacher are concerned about their ability to pay attention or stay focused in class.
- If your child presents with behavioral or emotional problems.
- If your child consistently doesn’t want or like to go to school.
What is a Psychoeducational Assessment?
A psychoeducational assessment is a thorough individual assessment. It involves gathering many sources of information about your child including; a developmental and health history, family background, school history as well as social, emotional, personality, and temperament information. In addition, standardized, norm-referenced tests will be administered and interpreted . This information is then used to formulate a profile of a child/youth’s pattern of strengths and challenges, so that specific recommendations can be made to help the client reach their full unique potential.
Different types of psychoeducational assessments are available depending on the particular goal(s) of the assessment and related referral questions. Costs are similarly determined on this basis and vary as a function of the complexity of the assessment and the time required.
Initial Consultation: During an initial screening interview, the parents (and student when appropriate) will meet with me to discuss any ongoing issues and determine if a psychoeducational assessment is reasonable and necessary.
Psychometric Testing: If it is agreed an assessment would be of benefit, the student will be given various tasks (which are norm referenced and standardized) to assess his/her academic and reasoning skills, intellectual abilities, memory, attention, and executive functions. The testing duration will be adjusted to your child’s individual needs, but will typically last four to nine hours.
Assessment of Social-Emotional and Behavioural Functioning: This part of the assessment involves gathering collateral and qualitative information, especially if your child is presenting with social, emotional, behavioral or attentional issues. This assessment can provide valuable insight and further diagnoses. Clinical interviews with parents are conducted and questionnaires are sometimes given to parents, teacher, and student to complete. This assessment may include:
- additional memory assessment
- expressive and receptive language assessment
- social/emotional/behavioural or executive functions, or temperament multi-rater questionnaires
- cognitive processing testing (e.g., auditory, visual, visual-motor)
Report and Recommendations: Scored test results, analysis, interview insights, and questionnaire information is developed into a comprehensive report for parents. This report will comprehensively review your child’s unique patterns of strengths and needs. The report will also include recommendations for any necessary school accommodations and at-home support strategies. You will be provided a copy of the report.
Feedback Session with Psychologist: The parents (and student when appropriate) will meet to go over the report. This is a time to discuss the recommendations and answer any questions that you may have. It may also be appropriate to provide feedback to school staff and a meeting can be provided with your express consent.
What are the possible Outcomes of a Psychoeducational Assessment?
If the goal is to determine whether a child/ youth meets a particular diagnosis in order to access supports in the school setting (public, high school or post-secondary school); possible outcomes of this assessment may include the diagnosis of a Learning Disability, Intellectual Disability, or sometimes a Language Disorder.
At times, when a child is presenting with additional concerns, a clinical diagnosis or multiple diagnoses (such as; ADHD, Gifted, Learning Disabilities, Nonverbal Learning Disabilities and/or social/emotional/behavioral components; possible Austism Spectrum Disorder) are possible.
Finally, there may not be a diagnosis at all. Even so, assessment results will still provide insights into your child’s strong areas of functioning, as well as the areas in which they require additional support.
What can we expect after the assessment?
Managing and coping with complex learning difficulties can often leave children and their families feeling isolated and confused. The goal of a psychoeducational assessment is to help individuals and families feel more empowered to make changes in their school and home environments. With specific recommendations, and concrete tools to work with, identified strengths and challenges, clients are able to leave with a sense of hope and relief about future possibilities for their children.