A variety of issues may lead to the recommendation for a psychoeducational assessment. There may be concerns about a child’s ability to focus and attend, about their follow-through with tasks, their organizational skills, or about the level of disruptive behaviour he or she displays in school. Sometimes there are concerns more generally about a child’s acquisition of skills in language, reasoning and problem-solving, and his or her difficulty coping with the academic and social demands that are typical for their age-group. Some children appear bright in many ways but experience difficulty in specific areas such as learning to read or spell, sounding out words, or understanding what they read, or developing skills in mathematics. Some children are very reluctant to write, or their written productions are far weaker than one would expect given their oral language abilities. Other children have a lot of difficulty with aspects of memory, or with understanding complex language; and yet other children have difficulty with gross or fine motor tasks and tasks that use visual-spatial skills. These kinds of issues can lead to conflicts, behavioural and emotional symptoms at home and school, and problems with self-esteem. Moreover, these various issues can be indicators of underlying learning disabilities, or attentional problems, or delays in aspects of development.
Parents, deeply concerned that their child is struggling, are often worried that a school system or busy practitioners will rush to provide a “label” for their child, with few useful ideas about what one can actually do to help the situation. At Fleming Vigna Balmer, we take the time to listen to your concerns, and strive to provide a sensitive and thorough assessment of a child’s strengths and weaknesses. If a child does qualify for a specific diagnosis, the meaning and implications of this diagnosis are discussed with you in detail. Problems such as Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Specific Learning Disabilities are based on neurobiological factors, and they are no one’s fault. We strive to start you on a path to better understand your own child’s unique learning needs, so that you can better advocate for him or her in the school and community.
If you enquire about a psychoeducational assessment for your child, a clinician will discuss your concerns in a telephone consultation prior to booking. We then meet the parents for the first session, to obtain developmental history information about the child and an understanding of the current concerns, and to review the assessment process. Several sessions will then be booked for the child, usually two or three hours in length. Typically, five or six hours of testing time is required for most school-aged children and adolescents. The selection of the tests depends on the nature of the referral, and the questions that need to be answered. These include measures of thinking, reasoning or problem-solving (tests of intelligence), and tests of various areas of academic achievement; the assessment may also include tests of memory, visual-spatial skills and fine-motor skills, and tests of attention. We may have the parents and school staff complete questionnaires. If required, we will explore social and emotional issues in more detail as well. After the results are analysed, we meet again with the family to discuss the results and implications in detail, and provide guidance around school-related programming issues. A detailed assessment report is provided with recommendations for school and home; these recommendations can be incorporated into a student’s Individual Education Plan at school if required.
If you have further questions about the psychoeducational assessment process, or wish to make a referral, we invite you to contact our office.