What is a psycho-educational assessment?
We often see brilliant children who aren't achieving their potential, or who are fantastic at certain things but struggle with others. A psycho-educational assessment provides an in-depth look at a child's strengths and weaknesses, demonstrating what may be impeding their progress at school, or making learning difficult. A good psycho-educational assessment will provide the tools to address challenges, while using the child's strengths.
A comprehensive assessment can:
- Help determine the specific problem by looking at many different aspects of thinking and learning.
- Include tips for home and school that will help maximize a child's potential.
- Provide parents, teachers and the child with appropriate strategies for success.
- Qualify a child for specific accomodations that might be necessary within school or with national testing services in the future (such as the SAT, IB or A-Levels).
Who should have an assessment?
A psycho-educational assessment can be beneficial for everyone, but it can be especially useful if a child is:
- Unexpectedly struggling in school
- Having difficulty learning a particular skill
- Suspected of having a learning disability
- Struggling emotionally or socially
- Looking to qualify for testing accommodations (SAT, IB, or A-Levels)
- Applying to a school that requires a psycho-educational assessment
What does the assessment measure?
In order to provide a complete picture, a comprehensive psycho-educational assessment will measure:
- General intelligence (through, for example, an IQ test).
- Specific areas of cognitive strength or weakness, such as visual memory, retrieval fluency, phonemic awareness, long-term memory, and so on.
- Current academic levels,
- Ability to sustain attention
- Social and emotional development
How should I explain the assessment to my child?
We all have strengths and challenges; discussing this with your child, as well your own strengths and weaknesses prepares them to talk about their own.
Talk to your child about:
- The tasks they will do - such as puzzles and some school tasks like reading and writing.
- Most of the tasks are short and interesting, but some might seem dull.
- Let your child understand that by learning about how his or her mind works, they’ll be able enjoy life and school.
What else should I do to prepare my child?
It’s important that your child is comfortable at the assessment, so please make sure that:
- Your child has a good night’s sleep before the assessment, and a good breakfast.
- If your child is taking medication, please be sure that medication is taken on the day of the assessment and is consistent through the assessment process.
- If your child is not feeling well, please call to reschedule the assessment.
What should I bring on the day of the assessment?
On the day of the assessment, your child is welcome to bring drinks, snacks and toys – after all, we want the experience to be comfortable and enjoyable!
Other things to bring:
- Glasses or hearing aids, if your child wears them.
- Copies of recent report cards (if possible).
- Any reports of previous assessments (psychological, occupational therapy, speech and language, important medical).
- Individualized Education Plan (IEP) if your child has one at school.
Who gets the results?
The parents – and after that, it’s entirely up to them. Following the testing, a report will be written, and a debrief session will take place with the parents, child, and whoever else they choose to invite. It is important that the parents receive both written and verbal feedback so that they have the opportunity to ask questions and to hear directly from our Clinical Psychologists.
The detailed report will cover how the child thinks, learns, behaves, and currently functions – this report (or parts of it*) may be a useful tool for the child’s school, doctor, playgroup, tutor, or any other person involved in the child’s life.
*If this is the case, we are happy to abridge the report to your specifications.
Will you send this information to anyone else?
The information goes to no one other than the parents, unless the parents have given permission. We do encourage parents to be as open as possible with the school, and invite the child’s teacher to the debrief so they know how to best address the child. We recommend that you include teachers in this process as the child is best supported in a community. However, it’s entirely up to the parents.
How long does the assessment take?
Usually two three-hour sessions. However, as this is an average, we sometimes need to see a child for an additional session to wrap up subtests we have not completed. This is more likely to happen with:
- Very young children (who fatigue easily)
- Older teenagers (who complete longer assessments)
- Those with serious attentional or processing speed difficulties.
Sometimes, however, a third session simply demonstrates the child’s persistence in attempting difficult tasks.
Will you tell my child their results?
We strongly believe that it empowers the child to know his or her strengths and challenges. That’s why:
- We explain the results and what they mean in child-appropriate terms, emphasizing the child’s strengths and clarifying and normalizing any weaknesses.
- We explain our recommendations to the child.
- On very rare occasions, we may suggest two separate debriefing sessions so that we can discuss issues with parents that may be sensitive for a child to hear about.
How long does it take to get the results?
The report is finished within three weeks after all forms have been received and all testing completed, after which parents and the child are invited for a one-hour debrief.
I’m worried that if I have the teachers fill out the form, they’ll judge my child.
Teachers often appreciate that parents are taking an active role in their child’s success. We work with schools all over Hong Kong, as well as several in China and around Asia, and teachers are very familiar with the forms.
Will a diagnosis or ‘label’ hurt my child?
The honest answer to that, is maybe. It can be dangerous to misinterpret a diagnosis due to the cultural differences and misunderstanding of other people, but we believe that a diagnosis should help, not hurt, a child. To ensure this:
- A diagnosis should be provided responsibly.
- Parents should be very careful about whom they share the information with and how others might interpret it.
- We can prepare a report (at the request of the parents) that, without changing numbers or test results, does not include the diagnosis so parents can provide information to those they would prefer not know the diagnosis.
Is my input important?
Absolutely. As a parent, you know your child best; your input is vital to an assessment. Not only do you have years of experience with your child, but your child may behave differently during the assessment than at home or at school. An assessment can only take a snapshot of your child at one moment in time. Some children are on their ‘best behavior’ while others are very shy or act out because they are excited. Your input, and if possible the input of teachers, helps us get a much richer and more detailed account of the child’s typical performance.
Who is on the assessment team?
Dr. Blurton has selected a team from around the world that is made up of individuals who meet her standards of professionalism, ethics and ability. At present this includes two Doctoral Level Clinical Psychologists, a Medical Doctor, and a Psychometrician.
What are the advantages of a team approach?
Having several observers from different areas of expertise means our diagnosis and recommendations are not limited to just one person’s opinion or specialty. This ensures that we are thorough, multi-systemic and objective.
I think my child may have autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
If you are concerned that your child may be on the Autism Spectrum, please let our administrator know. We’ll modify the assessment to include a more targeted measure of Autism and language.
Do we have to do more testing?
For most children, our psycho-educational assessment is more than enough. For others, a more in-depth language assessment, occupational therapy assessment or follow-up testing through another professional (for example an ophthalmologist) may be recommended.
How often should I have my child tested?
We usually recommend a re-assessment every two to three years. It’s a good measure to check-in on your child’s progress and understand the effects of the treatment plan and intervention recommendations provided. Testing services such as the College Board also look for a history of testing every three years. In order to get accommodations for high school entry, the testing must be recent. Some parents who are particularly concerned about academic progress ask to repeat only the academic portions of the testing every 18 months with a full assessment every three years.
What if I have further questions?
We want you to feel comfortable with the assessment, so if you have more questions, schedule a one hour pre-assessment interview. You are not obligated to continue the assessment process, but pay only for one clinical hour. If you decide to continue, the amount you paid at the pre-assessment is deducted from the cost of the assessment. To schedule a pre-assessment interview, please call (+852) 2869-1962.
This Q&A is also available in Chinese here.