If your child is struggling with certain reading, writing, or math skills, they might have a learning disability. Have you been told by your child’s teacher at the Parent-Teacher conference that they suspect that your child has a learning issue, an attentional issue, or a processing issue? Or have you noticed your child’s struggles with certain things? Or perhaps it’s just chronic underachievement that is hard to explain (smart kid…not meeting his/her potential….sound familiar?). This is the time of the year where the “wait and see” approach that teachers employ during the first part of the year officially has come to an end and many conversations between parents and teachers get more real. In fact, in my practice, the busiest time for testing is spring and summer precisely because of the feedback that is given to parents during spring conferences.
According to the National Institutes of Health, learning disabilities affect 15% of America’s school children, and in my opinion it’s an underestimate because so many children go undiagnosed. With early intervention, children with learning disabilities can learn strategies to achieve as well as other children do. We, as parents, have to come to terms with the information we are given about our child, which is sometimes difficult to hear, and make some crucial decisions about what steps to take for our kids, which much of the time means we have to seek professional help.
Should I get my child tested?
At the parent-teacher conference, your child’s teacher informed you that they believe your child has a learning problem. You decide to have your kid tested. What qualities should you search for in a specialist? What sort of testing is conducted? Are you asking yourself, “Where do I even begin??”
Parents have the option of having their child tested within the educational system or through an outside psychologist. So the next choice is whether to have the assessment done by a psychologist or the school. My professional opinion is that educational systems are created to identify students with learning issues rather than to provide full evaluations. The educational system typically doesn’t provide particular exams because they are not culturally fair or because school psychologists are often not trained in testing at the same level as a clinical psychologist. Finally, the majority of schools typically lack the funding to carry out all the necessary diagnostic testing.
What qualities should I research for in a specialist?
Whether you decide to go with school-based testing or independent testing, it is important to know what kind of testing will be conducted to specifically identify the problem. How long will the test process take and how long does it take to get results? How will you find out the test results? Are there any programs offered to help your child? Also, making sure that you have someone who specializes in psychological testing is very important as well as making sure that the testing and test report are thorough is crucial.
Where Do I Go To Get Help?
We provide testing to children, teens, and adults who may be struggling with developmental, cognitive, learning, social, or emotional issues. We test children as young as 2 years of age (but testing at this age is quite rare). Typical concerns for children and adults are:
- Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Processing Difficulties
- Learning Disabilities
- Academic Underachievement
- Cognitive Strengths and Weaknesses
- Diagnostic Clarification
- Personality Assessment
- Test accommodations evaluation (e.g. extended time) for standardized tests such as SAT, ACT. LSAT, GRE, GMAT, MCAT
The testing process is individually tailored to each person and tests are hand selected to answer the questions with which the individual/family begins the testing process. The process takes an average of 2-3 months. We begin with a thorough intake interview, during which we obtain important background information relating to development, as well as educational, medical, and family history. For most children, we conduct an in-school behavior observation which allows us to see the child’s academic and social/emotional functioning in their natural learning environment. The in-office testing appointments include the administration of various standardized tests backed by years of research that allow us to rule in/out various issues and understand how the individual functions academically, cognitively, socially, and emotionally. After a series of testing sessions, we require several weeks to compile all the data and crunch all the numbers. A detailed written report is prepared and you are then invited back for a feedback session, during which we explain all of the tests administered, the results, and most importantly the implications of those results. The feedback session (and written report) conclude with a detailed list of recommendations for addressing every problem that was uncovered during the testing process: solutions, interventions, resources, and other steps you can take to mitigate and treat the problem(s) at hand.
So if you received some less than glowing feedback at this year’s spring conferences, or if you just have a hunch that your child is struggling for a significant reason, perhaps it’s time to end the band-aid solution of tutoring and truly examine the problem from every angle in order to fully understand it. I promise you will leave the testing process with many more answers than you came in for and a deep understanding of what type of learner and thinker your child is, not to mention an empowering parental attitude (and plan!) of what you can do to support him/her and intervene.