Testing & Psychological Evaluations for Kids & Teens
Does your Child Struggle Socially, Academically, or Behaviorally?
Are you worried about your child’s academic performance? Perhaps he or she has a hard time paying attention in class or focusing at home to compete homework or study for tests. Does your child complain about feeling bored at school? Do you notice your child daydreaming or getting easily distracted? Do you wonder why it’s such a chore to get your child to finish 15 minutes of homework, but they can play video games or engage in their hobbies for hours uninterrupted?
Maybe your child is determined when it comes to school, but despite his or her best effort still struggles to earn goods grades? Have you noticed your child has a difficult time with certain subjects like reading, writing, or mathematics but excels in others? Perhaps your child feels anxious about their academic performance?
Does your child have difficulty making friends? Perhaps they worry about measuring up to their friends? Do you worry about your child falling into the wrong crowd? Or maybe you’ve noticed they have a hard time regulating their emotions, especially when it comes to social and peer interactions.
Maybe your child excels in school and seems to have a thirst for knowledge. Does your child breeze through schoolwork and consistently earn good grades? Have you wondered if they may be gifted and curious if they could benefit from being placed in gifted classes?
It's Not Your Fault...
Parenting is one of life’s greatest experiences and one of the most challenging, especially when watching your child struggle. Have you asked yourself, “Where did I go wrong?” Do you feel guilty for not being about to help your child succeed? You may not have caused these problems, but you can play a crucial role in the solution.
There are many reasons children have difficulty performing in school, managing their behaviors, or regulating emotions. For example, neurodevelopmental disorders, which are commonly diagnosed during childhood, are disabilities related to the brain. This class of disabilities include Autism Spectrum Disorders, Learning Disorders, Intellectual Disability, Communication Disorders, and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), among others. As children grow, the symptoms and behaviors associated with these disabilities may change, others may be permanent.
Aside from Neurodevelopmental Disorders, Mood and Anxiety Disorders are also diagnosed in childhood and may include separation anxiety, social anxiety, or depression. Furthermore, children may exhibit problems with self-control of emotions and behaviors often observed with disruptive behavior or impulse control disorders.
Many symptoms of childhood disorders tend to overlap and mimic each other, making it even more challenging for you to know what is going on with your child. For example, a child who appears to daydream in class and struggle with attention and concentration may suggest ADHD, anxiety, or even depression. Or perhaps symptoms of boredom could suggest ADHD or giftedness.
As a parent, you want to do what’s best for your children, but sometimes it feels overwhelming because you do not know how to help or where to start. You do not need to go through this alone. With the support and guidance from a psychologist, you can finally get the answers you need.
You can be part of the solution today, call for your complimentary phone consultation to see how testing and psychological evaluations can help your child or teen!
Psychological testing and evaluations are similar to medical tests conducted by a physician. When you take your child to the doctor’s office with physical complaints, a physician typically orders blood work, x-rays, or further testing to figure out what could be causing your loved one’s symptoms. The physician then utilizes results from these tests to create a treatment plan to help your child heal from their symptoms. Similarly, psychologists use assessments and evaluations to provide a better understanding of one’s social, academic, emotional, or behavioral challenges.
As part of the evaluation, a psychologist will take a thorough history with you to fully understand your child’s life including social, familial, academic, and developmental history, as well as when certain concerning symptoms occur. By measuring and observing one’s behavior through a variety of standardized psychological and academic tests, a psychologist will use the results to diagnosis and create a comprehensive list of steps to take to help your child achieve success.
A comprehensive psychological evaluation may involve interviews, school observation, surveys, checklists completed by the patient, caregivers, or teachers involved, and formal testing (e.g., cognitive, achievement, reading, writing, attention). Further, an evaluation may include a review of records, such as academic or medical records, as well as consultation with any professionals involved.
There are several types of evaluations conducted including psychoeducational and psychological evaluations, academic testing, ADHD testing, and gifted testing. Depending on the reason for testing, an evaluation is individualized to the unique circumstances of each child.
The duration of a psychological evaluations may vary from six to ten hours depending on the amount of testing required and the work ethic of each child (e.g., some can test without breaks, others are fatigued quickly, or multiple breaks may be needed to improve one’s attention and concentration).
The goal is for your child to do their best; therefore, testing may be spread out over several sessions. On the other hand, gifted testing is brief; and involves a short interview and intelligence testing only. Gifted testing lasts approximately three hours.
Once testing is completed, all material is scored and interpreted. A final report is provided directly to you as part of an in-depth feedback session. During this feedback session, any diagnoses will be discussed and specific recommendations will be provided.
If you are concerned about your child’s performance at school or his or her social, emotional, or behavioral functioning, scheduling a comprehensive evaluation is a great place to start.
Have Questions About the Testing and Evaluation Process?
Why do I need an evaluation, can’t I just take my child to therapy?
The focus of a psychological or psychoeducational evaluation is to provide an accurate diagnosis, if one is present, or to provide a thorough picture of what could be contributing your child’s difficulties. As part of evaluation, one of the recommendations might be to attend therapy. However, an evaluation will include a list of goals and objectives for the therapist to address and focus on with your child. In many ways, it gives the therapist a working game plan and can move along the process quicker.
Further, as part of an evaluation, an expert psychologist will spend approximately 10 hours with you and your child allowing them to gather a detailed look at the strengths and challenges. In therapy, it could take up to 10 weeks to gather the same kind of rich information.
How can you accurately diagnose my child after only a few visits?
First, it will be important to choose a psychologist who specializes in psychological evaluations and working with children and teens. Secondly, information will be gathered from many sources including parents, teachers, tutors, caregivers, as well as the child, which provides an exhaustive look into each child’s difficulties. Standardized testing is another tool to provide an estimate of one’s academic, emotional, and behavioral functioning.
There are also cases where a school observation may be recommended to allow a psychologist to directly observe the child in their natural academic setting. Observations are also made by the psychologist throughout the testing process. Even after a few visits, this amount of information can provide the psychologist with good collateral data to make an accurate diagnosis.