What is Involved in Getting an Evaluation for Learning Disabilities and ADHD? (Part 2 of 3)

December 4, 2019 - Reprinted with permission from PTS coaching newsletter.

Now that the school year is almost halfway complete, Cindy Goldrich, Ed.M., ADHD-CCSP is often asked by parents if they should seek an evaluation for their child to address concerns that either they have or that someone at their child’s school has raised. She asked licensed psychologist Dr. Cynthia Johnson if she could answer a few questions to help parents determine when, where, and how to go about having their child evaluated. This blog is a continuation of the blog dated November 14, 2019.

What is involved in the evaluation process?

The evaluation process typically begins with a diagnostic clinical interview with the parents/guardian, where the medical, social, and educational history of the child and the family are discussed. The next step includes multiple assessment sessions with the child and clinician, where specific assessments are administered according to the diagnostic questions discussed during the interview. Sessions typically last one to three hours in duration, and there are typically two to three sessions with the child. During this time, clinicians can directly observe the child completing various tasks.

Depending on the specific information to be gathered, a comprehensive assessment may include activities related to cognitive, academic, executive function, language, memory, and motor abilities. Cognitive tests measure the child’s ability to process different types of information (verbal comprehension, visual-spatial abilities, reasoning abilities, short-term memory, and processing speed), resulting in a pattern of learning style. Academic or achievement tests assess skill levels in Reading, Math, and Written Expression. Targeted, in-depth reading/writing assessments may also be administered. Tests of executive function measure attention, hyperactivity, as well as a student’s ability to regulate their behavior, emotions, and thought processes. Language tests assess the core and social use of language. Memory tests measure short-and long-term visual and auditory memory. Motor tests assess the fine and gross motor coordination skills necessary for school performance. Comprehensive assessments may also include an emotional and behavioral assessment to check for problems that may be occurring in addition to the diagnostic questions at hand.

Some of the assessments include individual activities, while others include rating scales to measure various aspects of the child’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Scales are often completed by the child, the parents, and teachers. Results may indicate behavior patterns that may differ based on time of day, teacher, or location.

Information gathered from this process represents the different pieces of the puzzle mentioned in the previous blog. The clinician assembles all these pieces to get a full picture of what may be impeding a child’s academic success.

Following the assessment sessions, the clinician writes a comprehensive report and recommends specific interventions and treatments to support the child in his or her academic efforts. The final step of the evaluation process includes an in-depth feedback session with parents/guardians to discuss test results and recommendations.

To be continued in next month's blog......

Cynthia Johnson, PhD, NCSP is a Licensed Psychologist who specializes in diagnosing and treating children and adolescents with learning disabilities, gifted/2e, complex attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, traumatic brain injury, intellectual disability, and related emotional, social and behavioral difficulties. StepStone Psychological Assessment and Therapeutic Services works extensively with families and schools to support children and adolescents, and offers therapeutic services to help students utilize their strengths and successfully negotiate any areas of difficulty.

Cindy Goldrich, Ed.M., ADHD-CCSP, is a mental health counselor, certified ADHD Clinical Service Provider, parent coach and teacher trainer. As an ADHD Specialist, she supports parents, educators, and other professionals to mitigate the impact of ADHD & Executive Functioning on learning, motivation, and behavior.  www.PTScoaching.com.  [email protected]


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