Why does my child need testing?
The decision to have your child evaluated is an important one that you may arrive at through several possible avenues. As a parent, you may have an intuitive sense that something is not quiet right in your child’s development, learning skills, or emotional well-being. A comprehensive evaluation can identify a myriad of problems, pinpoint underlying reasons for the emerging issues, and provide the direction and recommendations needed to jump start the process of obtaining the appropriate supports and interventions.
There are also times when educators or professionals raise concerns regarding your child’s behaviors, development, or learning style. The concerns may have escalated to a point where your child’s school placement has become an issue of contention. An objective assessment by a trained psychologist can help to clarify whether your child is in fact experiencing deficits or difficulties that require different placement and more intensive support or whether a set of environmental supports and modifications in their current placement can remedy the issues of concern.
How can you determine my child’s areas of needs by administering some tests within a limited amount of time, in an artificial setting?
The actual tests administered will be selected based on your child’s presenting areas of concern, age, and background. The tests selected must have proven reliability and validity (measure what they propose to measure). A skilled psychologist must take into account not only the scores on the items administered, but also the child’s response to the testing environment, their approach to the questions, and possible individual factors that may enhance or suppress a child’s performance on any given occasion. Furthermore, test scores are interpreted within the context of information provided by parents, teacher(s), the child’s environment and medical history, as well as the psychologist’s observations of the child.
Who can conduct evaluations?
Only the following are qualified to perform a psychological evaluation on a child:
• Child Psychologists (PhD, HSPP, PsyD)
• Neuropsychologists (PhD)
• School Psychologists (EdP, some PhdD or PsyD)
• Psychiatrists / Developmental Pediatricians (MD)
Why is it important for the evaluation to be completed by a skilled assessor?
A competent evaluator’s begins with an interview that gathers the most relevant information to formulate the question that the evaluation must answer. A skilled assessor integrates historical information, presenting issues, observations during testing, and the scores in order to paint a comprehensive picture of a child or adolescent’s areas of strength and need. Pulling together and interpreting these various pieces of information is an art that relies upon a clinician experience, judgment, and knowledge base. The competence of the evaluator is a key factor in ensuring that the assessment results are a valid representation of an individual’s abilities and that the recommendations are useful and applicable.
What do IQ or Neuropsychological tests measure?
• Ability to learn new skills and problem solve
• Logical and abstract reasoning
• Verbal and nonverbal skills
• Visual-spatial and visual-motor skills
• Planning and organization abilities
• Processing speed
• Attention, concentration, distractibility
• Working memory (short-term memory)
• Long term memory
How do I prepare my child for an assessment?
Most children have some awareness that they are experiencing some challenges and it is best not to deny or minimize the reality of these concerns. Use age appropriate language and let the child know that we all have strengths and weaknesses and testing is a means of identifying his or her unique strengths and needs. Children who are informed about the evaluation process and what to expect are likely to be less anxious and more cooperative, which will enhance the validity of the test results. Rather than using the word “testing,” inform your child that he or she will be meeting alone with a psychologist who will want to get to know him or her better by doing a variety of activities that may be similar to tasks done in school (e.g. puzzles, drawings). On the day of the testing, your child should be well rested and have had a good breakfast. They will be given breaks throughout the testing and you can use this time to provide them with additional snacks and drinks.
Why go through the process of an assessment rather than just meeting with a clinician for a few sessions in order to obtain a diagnosis?
A diagnosis can be made based on the presenting symptoms that you observe and report to the clinician. However, this label does not provide information about the unique traits of an individual child and subsequently cannot guide the necessary interventions and supports that a particular child may benefit from. A diagnosis does not capture a child’s unique characteristics, areas of strength, adaptive abilities, or interests.
Are assessments covered by insurance?
Most insurance companies do not cover the cost of psychological/ psycho-educational assessments, or may only cover a portion of the costs. Going through your insurance company for testing will also result in your child’s diagnosis becoming a part of your child’s medical record. For this reason, many parents opt to pay privately and then seek reimbursement from their insurance company. We can provide you with a coded billing statement that you can file with your insurance company in order to seek reimbursement.