Accurate assessment of learning disorders, attention deficit disorders or psychosocial related issues assist in understanding how each child learns best. Testing services has many purposes and it can:
- Support your student’s academic progress and sense of success to break the cycle of learning failures.
- Increase your student’s self worth and reduce some of the psychological symptoms associated with educational difficulties, such as lowered self esteem, anxiety and depression
- Improve –parent-child-teacher relationships and reduce the risk of negative peer pressure.
- Develop individualized learning strategies tailored to the unique needs of each child.
- Distinguish between different learning disabilities: for example, for one student who has ADHD, fidgeting is a form of distraction while for another student with a different diagnosis, fidgeting may be stimulating and needed.
- Establish the need for informal and formal accommodations. Many private schools will take testing results into consideration and provide students with relevant accommodations either without a formal process or while waiting for the formal process to be completed.
- Identify appropriate accommodations based on specific learning disabilities: For example, by determining subtypes of dyslexia affect a student, –auditory, visual and/or attentional - will assist in tailoring specific interventions
- Find resources and specialists. Depending on the student’s specific learning disability, interventions may need to be assessed and implemented by various professionals such as audiologists, developmental optometrists, occupational therapists, educational therapists, psychologists and/or family therapists.
- Decide if emotional, behavioral, familial, or social based interventions are needed to accompany academic strategies
- Help differentiate situational stress, such as a loss in the family and depression, anxiety or social phobia from learning disorders.
- Support the child’s strengths and provide ideas for parents how to best support his/her learning.
When is a full psycho-educational battery of tests needed and when is a specific battery or a screen sufficient?
- A full psycho-educational battery of tests is helpful when it is likely that there are a few problems happening together. For example attention-concentration issues may be accompanied by depression or they may be exacerbated by depression. Or for a example, if a child is having problems reading there might be either or both visual discrimination issues and auditory processing problems. A full psycho-educational battery provides the opportunity to evaluate several learning domains, and provide integrated recommendations. The evaluation of Developmental Disabilities such as Autism, Asperger's and/or Non-Verbal Learning Disorder will usually require a full battery.
- A specific battery such as an Attention Deficit Hyper Activity Disorder- ADHD battery is best when trying to determine this diagnosis. For example parents may want to confirm an Attention Deficit Hyper Activity Disorder before beginning a course of medication. A Learning Disabilities battery will include ADHD testing. Specific tests evaluate for Writing, Reading, or Math disorders.
- Psychological testing looks at your child's overall well being. It includes a review of the child's social and school history and includes a variety of self and other reports, projective tests, mood and personality testing. Psychological testing can be very helpful to a treating therapist. Attention and learning neurological issues can be accompanied by emotional issues which need treatment. Parents can request a school report that excludes psychological results.
- Screens can supplement a specific battery. For example when testing for ADHD it might be helpful to provide a psychological screen for anxiety. This might assist your physician in determining what kind of ADHD medication is needed.
- All tests include a cognitive evaluation also known as Intelligence or IQ testing.
When Is Testing Necessary?
A referral for educational and/or psychological testing is suggested when a parent, teacher, clinician, or medical doctor has a question that requires resolution or when some of the following academic or social situations are noted:
-Academic Difficulties at School and at Home:
- Multiple academic efforts by parents and teachers have not helped.
- There has been an unexplained or steady decline in overall performance, grades, or standard test scores.
- The child’s study efforts are not reflected in his/her exam scores or grades.
- The student has many missed assignments and/or forgotten homework.
- The student is finding it difficult to complete tests/tasks.
- Student difficulties in starting tasks and staying on task, organization, , planning, and/or self-monitoring.
- Disorganization, distractibility, short attention span, impulsivity and disruptiveness are not amenable to parenting efforts.
- The child is a high academic achiever, he or she likes to be with adults more than with peers. She/he is very verbal but is experiencing visual-sensory challenges, social isolation as well as difficulties adjusting to new situations.
- There are situational stres that have coincided with poor performance.
- The child or most often teen is experiencing social isolation, becoming withdrawn, and having very few friends. This may happen in the transition to middle school or high school.
- Your child reports feeling sad, or seems depressed, helpless,or hopeless.
- There might be difficulties with verbalizing feelings which is possibly contributing to destructive behaviors, sleeping more than usual, losing weight and/or losing interest in usual activities.
- Unusual or high-risk behavior and/or persistent oppositional or aggressive behaviors.
What To Expect Before And Following Testing.
- Confidentiality is always maintained. Information about your child is not shared with the school or any other professional without your written consent.
- A telephone consult with no charge in which we will discuss the need for testing as well as how to present testing to your child
- A parent initial intake
- Gathering information from multiple sources (e.g. teachers) -- with permission.
- Classroom observation prior to the testing -- when needed.
- Testing meetings with breaks (individualized number of sessions and duration).
- Feedback session with parents and with school.
- Full report, including a review of the difficulties, the testing results, practical recommendations and referrals.
- A redacted school report is available, which does not include family information and/or psychological information.
- Follow-up with the school for either a 504 plan which includes accommodations, modification, and related services as needed and/or for an Individualized Educational Program (IEP) meeting*.
- Teachers, administrators, and therapists’ consultations are welcomed.
- Yearly follow-up recommended.
- *An IEP is meant to ensure that students receive appropriate support and not that they are necessarily placed in special education classrooms or special schools. In this way, the student is able to have specialized assistance only when such assistance is absolutely necessary, and otherwise maintains the freedom to interact with and participate in the activities of his or her peers. The IEP plan may be needed because the 504 plan does not allow for direct or indirect services with the student, or for consultation between special education teachers and regular education teachers. Individualized Education Program provides for services through special education.
Noah Hass-Cohen, Psy.D #24274, 433 N. Camden Drive, Beverly Hills CA 90201 (323) 717. 6546 firstname.lastname@example.org