My child’s school has suggested an assessment – what do they mean?

Many of the families I see at Attuned Psychology come along to an appointment because school has suggested that their child should have an assessment by a psychologist. The term “assessment” can mean a number of things, and could involve a range of different investigations, tests or discussions, depending on what sorts of things are happening for your child.

When families are referred by school, sometimes parents are unsure of what the school is concerned about and just have a general sense that their child could benefit from some sort of assessment and from getting some help.
So what sort of assessment would benefit your child at this point in time? I sometimes liken it to going to the doctor to ask for a test – the doctor needs to know what they might be looking for in order to know what tests might conducted to work out a diagnosis and treatment.

When seeing a child psychologist for an assessment of your child’s needs, it is important to understand and clarify what sort of assessment is going to be useful.

What kinds of assessments are there and what are they for?

There are two types of formal testing that I provide at Attuned Psychology.

1. IQ test
This type of testing is generally used for children who are exhibiting gifted abilities. It can help teachers and parents understand what level a child is operated at cognitively, or an IQ score may be required for entry into a particular program or for skipping a grade level at school.

An IQ test may also be of benefit when young children are showing signs of advanced development, to identify whether they are eligible for early school entry. Sometimes this testing is helpful also to identify delayed cognitive development, or to investigate difficulties in cognitive processing.

2. Educational assessment

This sort of testing is usually conducted following concerns that a child is not progressing academically, or struggling to keep up with academic demands in one or more subject areas. This might be related to investigating the presence of a specific learning disorder, such as dyslexia or dysgraphia, for example.

At times, an educational assessment may be helpful for children who are performing well above expected levels for their grade level. Getting a current profile of exactly where a bright or gifted child is operating can help educators to tailor their curriculum to suit the student’s needs and to extend and challenge that student to fulfill their potential.

There is a third type of assessment that may be what your child’s school is suggesting – a Behavioural or diagnostic assessment.

This can come in a variety of forms – child psychologists will work with children and families to identify behavioural or emotional needs, or investigate if there is a clinical disorder such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or anxiety disorders, just as some examples. This is usually done over time to ensure that the psychologist can spend time with the child and their parents to fully understand what could be going on, and provide therapeutic support to help manage the issues at school and home.

How to get the appointment that will address your child’s needs

When your child’s school suggests a psychological assessment, it is important to clarify what areas of your child’s development are being noticed by school staff. Is it a learning issue, is it gifted development, or are there behavioural or emotional difficulties causing concern? By doing this, you will be able to get the right type of assessment for your child’s particular needs, and therefore the right sort of support and help for them.

When you have as much information as possible from the school about their reasons for referring your child, our team can help you to book in for the most helpful type of assessment or appointment with the right practitioner.

Rebecca Rossi

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