Specialists in Child Psychological Assessments
During an initial consultation meeting a skilled clinician ensures that your questions and concerns are clearly understood and that a plan for the most appropriate service is jointly formulated. Parents are an essential component of this initial step.
Comprehensive Assessments ensure that numerous factors have been considered, leading to recommendations that are practical and individually tailored. All assessments are anchored to a developmental framework, ensuring that children are not viewed as “little adults” and that their strengths are emphasized.
Adult and Family
Our assessment services extend to children and families. For example, with children we commonly assess for learning/ attention difficulties. With families, we often provide verbal feedback to parents related to children’s issues and needs as well as suggestions to enhance family functioning.
- Attention Difficulties
- Learning Difficulties (including reading,mathematics and written language)
- Developmental Concerns (e.g., Autism Spectrum)
- Achievement Problems
- Behavioral Difficulties
- Adjustment Difficulties (e.g., anger, anxiety and depression)
- Transition to Adulthood (Capacity Assessments)
Assessments are a formal way of measuring how well or how poorly a child is functioning compared to other children their age. They zero-in on the affected skills or areas that are impacting the child’s life.
Families often look for assessments to help solve problems at school, but they can also be used to shed light on behavioural, emotional, or social problems at home and in the community.
To be accurate, assessments need to gather information about the child in various settings. We combine information from parents and teachers with clinical testing and our skilled observations to create a complete picture.
When a child is not happy or successful, an assessment can help us answer questions including:
- What kind of school environment is going to be the best fit for my child?
- My child says he’s bored at school — is it because he is having trouble paying attention? Is he learning at a different rate than the other children?
- Does my child have some type of developmental issue that is
interfering at home, at school, or in the community?
The results of the assessment point us in the right direction to help us figure out what is the best way we can help them.
Our specialty is making sure that parents understand what the results of the assessment mean for their family, and how they can best help their child to fit in and succeed. The recommendations we provide are designed to ensure that everyone involved with the child has the best tools in place to create success.
What to Expect
In general, our assessments include four (or sometimes five) parts:
- a History Interview
- one or more Testing Sessions
- (if necessary, an Observation at school)
- File Review and Report Writing time
- a Feedback Conference
The process starts with a History Interview, where the parents first meet with the clinician (the child is not present for this session), bringing a completed History Questionnaire Form that outlines the issue and the child’s health and developmental history. During the interview, the clinician will gather more specific details about the problem and the family’s goals, and will explain what the assessment process will look like. The parents and the clinician will come to an agreement about the services that will occur. Often, the parents will be given one or more formal Parent and Teacher questionnaires to complete and return to us. These will form part of the assessment data and scores. We also ask for a copy of recent school report cards, or any previous reports written by doctors, educators, or other therapy professionals that will help us understand the child.
Depending on what type of issue is being assessed, testing may be booked for anywhere from 1.0 to 4.0 hours. Each testing session is usually 1.0 – 2.0 hours in length, but these can be broken up for younger children or others with a limited attention span to help us get the most accurate results. The clinician will use formal assessment tools (i.e. “tests”) to measure things like the child’s cognitive ability (i.e. how effectively he processes, remembers, and retrieves information), his academic performance (i.e. how much knowledge he can effectively use when he performs tasks like reading, writing, math, and sciences), or his overall development pattern, such as when assessing for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).
If the problem issue includes difficulty with socializing or behaviour in a group, the clinician can also perform an observation. This usually involves a visit to the child’s school, although it may occur in the home or in the community under some circumstances. These visits let the clinician gather important information about how the child responds to specific situations in his daily life, and helps her get a deeper understanding of his strengths and weaknesses.If the problem issue includes difficulty with socializing or behaviour in a group, the clinician can also perform an observation. This usually involves a visit to the child’s school, although it may occur in the home or in the community under some circumstances. These visits let the clinician gather important information about how the child responds to specific situations in his daily life, and helps her get a deeper understanding of his strengths and weaknesses.
File Review and Report Writing
An essential part of our thorough assessments, File Review and Report Writing involve careful study of all of the information available about the child so that we can make a valid diagnosis and give helpful recommendations.
It takes several hours to interpret all of the information and write a comprehensive report. This work involves looking at the scores obtained in testing, the background information from the History Questionnaire, the Parent and Teacher Questionnaires, and the clinician’s observation notes. We put a lot of effort into making sure that we understand and can explain to the family what it all means about the child’s abilities and what he needs to succeed.
This session is the conclusion of the process. The clinician meets for a last time with the parents to go over the results of the assessment and explain the list of recommendations.
The entire assessment process, from the History Interview to the Feedback Conference, usually takes about 4-6 weeks to complete, depending on how our clinician’s schedule matches up with the family’s availability for booking.
Are There Any Downsides To Getting An Assessment?
There are times when parents are hesitant to begin an assessment because it may feel like not knowing is better than finding out that their child has a special need. They may worry that receiving a diagnosis could label their child, and that others might judge or lower their expectations of him. We understand these fears and the potential downsides that could come from a diagnosis. Our team works to alleviate those concerns and address the risks by giving the family clear and accurate information about the child’s true potential, the success he’s capable of with the right strategies in place. This empowers parents to choose with whom they share the information. For example, they may wish to disclose a diagnosis to schools and community agencies, who will be in a better position to provide extra resources if they know the details about a child’s diagnosis. However, neighborhood parents and other family members might only need to know how they can help when they approach the child. A parent might say, “our child is having a tough time with (a certain skill) right now, and (this strategy) is what we’re trying to help him; it would be great if you could support our plan.”
We regularly act as consultants to other Agencies and professionals. As research and assessment technologies continually evolve, you can be assured that clinicians employ the most up-to-date assessment techniques and protocols.
The Bottom Line
We truly believe that every child can thrive, and that the more we know about a child’s unique strengths and needs, the better we can teach and guide him. It’s not the fact that we have struggles, but how we approach them that makes all the difference. Whatever the diagnosis, the greatest value an assessment provides is in the strategies it uncovers to let the child to achieve his full potential.