Intro to Psychological Assessment for Parents: What to Expect
Often I get questions from parents and other caregivers who are inquiring about assessments in our practice. Most commonly, an assessment has been suggested by an individual working with their child, and parents are left scratching their heads wondering about what this means and what the benefits are. In this blog post, I will seek to answer some of these questions and clear up confusion.
Assessments are commonly performed by clinical psychologists to answer questions regarding an individual’s behavior and capabilities to get a better understanding of what is going on and make recommendations for intervention and support. They are requested for a number of reasons, including difficulties with social interactions, functioning or academic abilities. Some of the common diagnoses associated with assessments include Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD; associated with difficulties focusing), Learning Disabilities (e.g. Dyslexia; the child is not performing up to their potential in school), Anxiety (can be reflected in worries about school performance), Depression (eg: sad mood, low self-esteem, lack of motivation) and Autism (neurodevelopmental condition associated with difficulties with social skills, communication, and repetitive behaviors).
Assessments can be quite thorough and encompass several areas of information gathering, including:
- Clinical interviewing: This component seeks to find out more information from parents/caregivers as well as the child to determine the current concerning symptoms as well as background information such as developmental history, family history, academic history, and social history.
- Questionnaires: A number of different questionnaires and instruments have been developed to examine different areas of functioning. Depending on the child’s specific concern, different tests can be utilized. For example, if an individual is having behavior issues, questionnaires may be given to caregivers and teachers to further examine the child’s functioning. Often, information is gathered from the child themselves, caregivers, and teachers to ensure a well-rounded view of the child is gathered.
- Psychoeducational Testing: Over the years, tests have been developed by psychologists and education professionals to look at different areas associated with learning, including working memory, verbal abilities, processing speed, and visual-spatial abilities. Along with tests which look at areas of reading, writing, and mathematics, we can determine an individual’s strengths and weaknesses, providing recommendations for teaching professionals on how the child will best learn.
- Autism-specific Assessments: At OnCourse, we can provide autism testing utilizing the Autism Diagnostic Observation Scale, 2nd Edition (ADOS-2) and the Autism Diagnostic Interview (ADI) which are the gold standard tools utilized in diagnosing autism. These tests look at the child’s developmental history as well as their responses to a number of different tasks involving social interactions, play, and imagination to capture a well-rounded picture of the child’s abilities.
After testing, the findings will be reviewed with you and you will be provided with a report with a summary of testing procedures, results and recommendations for your child’s school and support team.
Although the area of assessment can be large and diverse, I hope this information helps clear some confusion! For additional questions, please feel free to contact us at OnCourse Cayman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 745-6463.
-Dr. Colleen Brown