When parents are told that a psychological assessment is being recommended for their child, it can be a source of concern for some people – but it shouldn’t be.
There are plenty of valid reasons why your child might benefit from seeing a specialist child psychologist. Your child might be struggling at school, either in the classroom or in fitting in with their peers. They may be suffering with depression or anxiety, or battling a learning disorder.
An assessment will make sure the issue is correctly identified, and help us begin to understand the roots of it, as well as the strengths and challenges that a child is facing emotionally, behaviourally and cognitively. An assessment is often the first step on the road to helping your child reach their full potential.
What actually happens during an assessment?
It’s worth stating from the start that there is no ‘pass’ or ‘fail’ with a psychological assessment. We are very keen that the children we evaluate are relaxed and understand that there is no expectation on them to be absolutely anything other than themselves.
During the assessment we’ll talk with you and your child to find out more about how they behave and how they respond emotionally. If it’s appropriate, in some cases we’ll also talk to your child’s teachers.
During this interview (that’s technically what it is, although not what it should feel like for you or your child) we will be observing your child’s responses during our conversation. We’ll also ask them to complete a test for us, one that every child takes that helps us understand areas like their behaviour, mood and dexterity, as well as reading, writing and mathematical reasoning. Separately we might ask to look at your child’s medical or school records if we think it would be helpful.
How long will it take?
There is no fixed time for an assessment, as each one is tailored to the child and family and the responses we get. Ultimately we need to understand fully where and how we can help a child, so it may involve more than one session to make sure we’ve got all we need.
You should be aware that psychological testing isn’t a quick 20-minute evaluation. The assessment often takes several hours to complete and likely will involve more than one session to be certain the psychologist has all the details about a child.
By putting all this information together, our child psychologist can come to an understanding of where your child needs assistance and can develop strategies to help them reach their full potential. Which, ultimately, is why we’re here.
How do you get the results?
You’ll be taken through the evaluation report once it’s done by the child psychologist who you met at the assessment. We’ll talk you through our evaluation of the issues you’re facing with your child, how we think they’re being affected, and what we can do to help.
If a child is diagnosed with an emotional or behavioural issue, or a learning disability for example, we’ll take you through our recommendations for ways we can help your child.
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Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
There’s no medical test that proves ASD, instead it’s identifiable by observing behaviours.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is the most commonly-known behavioural disorder, and includes symptoms like inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness.
Cognitive strengths and difficulties
Cognitive assessments give us a profile of an individual’s strengths and difficulties in relation to their learning, and can benefit children with learning difficulties.