Psychological and psychoeducational evaluations involve a process of testing that uses a combination of techniques to help arrive at some hypotheses about a person and their behavior, academic functioning (if appropriate), personality, and capabilities. Information is typically gathered from multiple sources using multiple instruments, which helps provide a comprehensive picture of the person being tested. Recommendations are based on evaluation results and are aimed to be functional and meaningful for the individual. Common issues addressed in psychological and psychoeducational evaluations include:
Autism Spectrum Disorder
According to the Association for Science in Treatment of Autism, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex neurobehavioral disorder characterized by impairment in reciprocal social interaction, impairment in communication, and the presence of repetitive and stereotypic patterns of behaviors, interests, and activities. The onset of symptoms is typically before the age of 3 years. The severity of impairment in the given domains as well as the pattern of impairments varies from individual to individual.
Impairment in social interaction range from difficulty initiating and maintaining interaction, impaired ability to recognize and experience emotions, and difficulty processing and appreciating the thoughts and feelings of others. Communication deficits range from no useful form of communication to very advanced language abilities, but little ability to use language in a social manner. Repetitive and stereotypic behaviors include perseverative behaviors such as complex rituals, extreme difficulty adapting to change and transition, and unusual movements such as hand flapping or whirling. Once thought to be very rare, autism spectrum disorders are estimated to occur in as many as 1:59 (one in every 59 children).
If you have concerns that your child may have some the symptoms above, early identification of ASD is critical to start the process of intervention for communication, social and behavioral challenges that may be negatively impacting your child’s functioning. At Connect, we provide a comprehensive evaluation for children starting at 24 months using a variety of instruments, including the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS-2).
If your child is demonstrating any of the following symptoms to a degree that is causing challenges in some important aspect of his or her life, assessing for ADHD may be helpful.
- Difficulty paying attention
- Frequently daydreaming
- Difficulty following through on instructions and apparently not listening
- Frequently has problems organizing tasks or activities
- Frequently forgetful and loses needed items, such as books, pencils or toys
- Frequently fails to finish schoolwork, chores or other tasks
- Easily distracted
- Frequently fidgets or squirms
- Difficulty remaining seated and seemly in constant motion
- Excessively talkative
- Frequently interrupts or intrudes on others’ conversations or games
- Frequently has trouble waiting for his or her turn
Specific Learning Disabilities (Reading, Writing, Math)
A learning disability is a neurological disorder that affects different psychological processes that are needed to effectively use our language system. It can manifest in difficulties with reading, writing, spelling, listening, speaking, thinking, or mathematics. The various kinds of specific learning disabilities include:
- Dyslexia: problems with reading, spelling, and writing (including transposing letters and pronunciation difficulties).
- Aphasia: difficulties with processing, speaking, or understanding language.
- Dyscalculia: problems with mathematical computations and concepts.
- Dysgraphia: difficulties with handwriting, spelling, and letter spacing.
- Dyspraxia: problems with gross motor tasks (walking) or fine motor tasks(handling a pencil for writing or drawing).
- Visual or Auditory Processing: difficulties in understanding informationpresented through visual or auditory mediums; trouble with understandingdirections or following a conversation, spatial relationships, or social distances.
- Short and Long-term Memory: problems with encoding or retrieving memories.
Based on one of these specific learning disabilities, the child is typically having great difficulty achieving adequately for the child’s age or to meet State-approved grade-level standards in one or more of the following areas (i.e., when provided with learning experiences and instruction appropriate for the child’s age or State-approved grade–level standards):
- Oral Expression
- Listening comprehension
- Written expression
- Basic reading skills
- Reading fluency skills
- Reading comprehension
- Mathematics calculation
- Mathematics problem solving
Diagnostic Clarification and Treatment Planning
Many times, your therapist and/or psychiatrist may recommend that you or your child participate in a psychological evaluation. We will work hard to provide accurate assessment and appropriate treatment recommendations so that you or your child will receive the important assistance he or she needs to succeed. Psychological testing and assessment are often the beginning stages of determining what is at the core of one’s problems. The process can help expedite what have been long-term and unanswered questions and lead to productive changes.
Formal Accommodations Needed
For individuals that are students, educational testing can be a powerful mechanism to assist in leveling the playing field with certain accommodations being afforded. Prior to testing, it is important to review the individual requirements of the test being considered to substantiate the need for accommodations. Some accommodations include:
- Extended time on tests (e.g., FCAT, SAT, ACT, GRE, LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, etc.)
- Distraction free environment for tests
- Use of a calculator
- Use of a word processer for writing