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Signs That Your Child May Need an Assessment

Friday, March 14, 2014

Watch Dr. Jensen on The Hampton Roads Show!

The signs are there, if we know what to look for.  For example, if your child chronically earns poor grades in an academic subject such as reading or math despite help. Or when he is not mastering expected academic skills. She is having difficulty completing work accurately or on time. Maybe your child or adolescent is no longer trying in school, perhaps refusing to work or hiding work. A student may have difficulty focusing, completing tasks and is very disorganized. If you child’s teacher recommended that your child may need medication for ADHD. All of these scenarios are possible indicators that your child may need a psycho-educational assessment to determine what is causing the difficulties noted. So, what do we do?

First, we know what NOT to do! It is too easy as teachers and parents to fall into the trap of blaming the student. We often hear: "He could do better if he tried." "She just does not work hard enough." "If he only paid attention more, he would have less trouble.”

If you are concerned about your child's performance in school, meet with the student’s teacher and/or principal and discuss your concerns with them. The public school principal should call a meeting with the classroom teacher and relevant special education professionals to discuss the student. If there is general agreement that there might be a problem, either permission is requested to start psycho–educational testing or a Response to Intervention model is initiated.

What is a Psycho–Educational Evaluation?

Psycho–educational studies consist of a battery of tests that will provide information on your child's overall abilities, specifically learning style, information processing abilities, and academic skills. A significant part of this assessment is the IQ test which helps to clarify the student's strengths and weaknesses. It provides information regarding the student's ability to process verbally and visually presented information as well as his or her overall intellectual potential. Additional information is derived relating to sequencing abilities, short and long–term memory issues, language functioning, and processing speed. The other parts of the psycho–educational evaluation assess the student's academic skills: reading, written language, and math.                                                     

What will the results of such testing tell you?

First, the psycho–educational evaluation will describe your child's overall intellectual potential. Be sure not to look at the single summary numbers (e.g., the Full Scale IQ) as necessarily the best indication of intelligence. Students with LD have many strengths as well as weaknesses. Averaging these high and low scores into one single score can be misleading. The evaluator should sit down with you and explain your child's strengths and weaknesses rather than focusing on a single score. You need to know the areas of strength and the areas of weakness. The test results will also describe the student's overall academic skills. You will learn whether the student's reading is at grade level and, if not, where the specific deficits lie. For example, it could be that your child has trouble sounding out new words but uses intelligence to compensate, getting the gist of the information.

It is important to note that, even children with cognitive abilities in the gifted range will have a unique pattern of strengths and weaknesses, as well as interests. It would not be surprising, for example, to find a child who excels in math but not reading. If, however, your child is having significant difficulties with a school subject, can’t get organized or pay attention in class, or seems anxious and unhappy, he or she may be experiencing a secondary area of disability. Some gifted children are indeed “twice exceptional” being both gifted and learning disabled, attention deficient, or significantly anxious. We try to understand the whole child – both gifts and challenges – to help them reach their full potential as confident, successful, students.   At Chesapeake Bay Academy’s Diagnostic Assessment Program, we do not use a one-size-fits-all approach to testing. Rather we individualize the testing to be sure we can answer the questions you have.