Child Psychological Testing
Many children, although not all, that present for concerns to the Center for Children do benefit from further psychological testing. In order to make this determination, we do require that parents send in a number of pieces of information prior to the initial appointment. These include the following:
- Previous testing reports/relevant medical records
- Formal education plans (e.g., IEP or 504) and/or past educational evaluations
- Child & Family History Questionnaire (provided by Center for Children)
- Child Behavior Checklist (provided by Center for Children)
Although it is not required, we do ask that parents give their child's primary teacher a rating form (typically the Teacher's Report Form) to complete and return. Information from multiple settings is very helpful in determining where concerns are apparent and how they affect a child's functioning in areas such as school and peer relationships.
Once this is obtained, an initial appointment is scheduled to gather further information. Although we typically meet with the entire family at the beginning, much of the time is spent talking with the parents to determine the history of the problem, relevant concerns, and issues that are most pressing. During this time, we work to determine if additional testing would be useful, and if needed, explain our process in going through this evaluation. If it is agreed this would be the best course of action, then a separate testing block is scheduled weeks later.
Testing generally occurs during the morning, and is completed by lunchtime. We work to provide parents with brief feedback of our initial impressions at the end of the testing morning. However, at the time of the initial appointment, a follow-up consultation appointment is also set a few weeks after the testing is scheduled.
During this time, we work to further discuss findings of the testing, with specific focus on how they relate to different methods of intervention that may be needed. We strive to base our findings and recommendations on both the data we obtain from the evaluation and up-to-date research in the field.
Many parents have questions about the types or names of tests that will be given during testing. In general, we do not begin to formulate a clear plan for testing until after having met with the family during the initial appointment. Even on the day of the testing, though, certain tests may be added or deleted depending on the child's performance, and what is felt to be the most beneficial in addressing concerns.
We are happy to discuss any questions that parents may have about specific test issues, but are legally not allowed to provide parents with copies of the actual test forms in most situations. This is important, because a child's previous exposure to a test may alter their results, which would make the child's performance during testing less reflective of his or her "true" abilities.
At the end of the testing process, parents are provided with a copy of the report and any relevant resources/handouts. A copy is also sent to the referral physician. This is important because it is clear that children do better when all professionals are in communication about concerns. For some children, it is decided that they would benefit from further therapeutic treatment. This will be discussed in the follow-up consultation, and it will be decided whether the child is best served to be seen by us or referred to another facility.
In general, psychological testing can be a useful tool to better understanding the underlying causes of a specific concern and the best methods to reduce or eliminate this issue. It is important to note that many symptoms, such as inattention, can be the result of multiple different causes.
For example, poor attention can be caused by chronic sleep deprivation, delayed cognitive skills, anxiety, ongoing family difficulties, medical issues, and a number of other possible issues. Poor attention does not necessarily mean a child has an attention-deficit disorder, just like many other symptoms can be caused by related, but different issues. Therefore, we strive to be as thorough as possible in understanding all the "pieces of the puzzle".
Although an appropriate diagnosis can be important for a number of reasons, we feel that understanding a child's strengths and weaknesses is critical for parents and other professionals in knowing the best ways to work with him or her. We hope that our evaluations can provide all caregivers with ideas that will promote short-term improvement and long-term resiliency and growth.