One of the most common reasons children are referred for assessment is that they are struggling in some way at school. The concerns may be related to reading or writing, to attention or concentration, to anxiety or behaviour, or to social functioning. There may or may not be a question of possible dyslexia (reading disorder), attention deficit, developmental delay or disorder, or other diagnostic issue.
Psycho-educational assessment is more than just testing. Ideally, it includes interviews with the parents and teachers, classroom observations, behavioural surveys, as well as standardized testing with specialized assessment tools (tests).
Depending on the age of the child, and the individual issues raised, different tests are used. For example, Katherine Fortier has been trained and registered to use tests such as WISC-V, WIAT-III, WPPSI-III, BASC-3 and many others. Such tests provide measures of intellectual functioning, memory, attention, behavioural profile, social-emotional profile, academic level and adaptive functioning.
Children who require psycho-educational testing are usually referred by their school. If you have concerns about your child’s functioning, their progress, or their behaviour, a good first step is to talk to the child’s teacher and then the special needs or learning support co-ordinator at your child’s school. Having seen many children of a similar age, they are in a good position to advise you as to whether a psycho-educational assessment is advisable.
Following the initial interview with parents, the assessment process takes place over the course of 3-4 weeks, and can include between 4 and 8 hours of testing for the child, depending on the area of concerns. Parents and teachers are usually asked to complete behavioural surveys about the child. Upon completion of the assessment, a full report complete with detailed recommendations, will be provided at a feed-back session for parents. In many cases an additional consultation meeting with the school is also arranged to discuss how best to support the child’s learning at school.
Behavioural and Socio-Emotional Assessment
When the child is achieving well academically at school, but is struggling socially or within the home context, a behavioural or socio-emotional assessment may be more appropriate. Some of the same procedures outlined above will be undertaken, but tests of intellectual functioning and academic achievement will not be included. One or more home-visit observations may be planned, and more emphasis may be placed on interviews with parents, teachers, and with the child him-or herself. Detailed child behaviour surveys completed by parents and teachers are a central part of this assessment.
With pre-school aged children, the behavioural/socio-emotional assessment is conducted when there are important concerns about the child’s behaviour or development.