Too often in the case of ADHD, the Evaluation is done in a rather haphazard fashion. Perhaps you’ve had the experience in which you’ve been asked to fill out a questionnaire on your child which is usually 100 or so questions asking you to rate various symptoms. Your child’s teacher is asked to do the same. The school psychologist collects the questionnaires, scores them and then it’s suggested that you see a pediatrician for a consultation. The pediatrician may spend an hour or so with you and your child and based upon her observations and the school report suggests a trial of medication.
Decisions such as whether or not to medicate a child should be based on more data and a better understanding of all the factors that might be impinging upon your child’s functioning. More importantly, we believe that other medication free interventions should be tried first to see whether improvement can be brought about before resorting to a medication. In fact, that is exactly what the American Academy of Pediatrics has recently recommended to their membership.
Thorough and accurate assessment is crucial to the identification and understanding of all of the kinds of difficulties we encounter in our practice. We conduct this process with respect and consideration for the individual, and always with an eye to arriving at a definitive picture, a fingerprint, of each individual’s areas of strengths and weaknesses. The first step in helping your child is to obtain a truly complete and thorough diagnostic evaluation. The Reynolds Clinic provides a wide range of psychological and educational tests, including some new and exciting technologies.
Psychological and Educational Evaluation Process
A good diagnostic Evaluation should serve 2 purposes. It should provide a clear explanation of the trouble your child is having and should be a road map for how to get your child from where he is to where he can potentially be. At The Reynolds Clinic, we provide a thorough and complete diagnostic workup so that all conditions that may be affecting your child’s performance in school and behavior at home can be readily understood by all concerned.
The Psychoeducational Evaluation process generally begins with an interview with the client, and other significant people in his or her life. These might include parents, spouses, and other family members. We obtain records from professionals who have been previously involved, as well as prior school records. These steps ensure that, before testing even begins, we are achieving as complete an understanding of your child as possible.
Our scoring procedures are almost entirely computerized, which saves a great deal of time, and provides us with data that might be virtually impossible to obtain otherwise. Of course, the integration of all of this information is entirely a human endeavor, and ensures that the personal touch exists throughout the final report.
At the conclusion of the interview process and after reviewing available preliminary test information, further appropriate tests are chosen from an extensive stock. Depending on what may or may not have been done before, we will examine your child’s intellectual and cognitive functioning, academic achievement, emotional functioning, and attention span. From there, we will delve more deeply into areas of specific learning disability, behavior, and brain functioning.
Sometimes your child’s school will have completed some preliminary tests, such as IQ and special achievement tests. The evaluations at The Reynolds Clinic incorporate any preliminary information with a complete and detailed diagnostic investigation, including analyses of attention, behavior and learning, visual and auditory processing deficits, and neuropsychological injuries to provide a complete and holistic picture of your child’s cognitive and emotional functioning.
Computerized Test for Assessment
The computerized Continuous Performance Test is a vital new tool in accurately diagnosing ADD and ADHD. Many children receive such a diagnosis because the teacher finds it difficult to get the child to sit still or pay attention. But there can be many reasons for such behavior. As noted, parents or teachers will fill out questionnaires about the child, but these still only provide a subjective estimate of what the problem may be.
As a part of the Psychological Evaluation, the Continuous Performance Tests provide an objective measure of whether a child has ADD / ADHD. There is an extensive database for comparison for both visual and auditory tasks. The computer program provides accurate charts and statistics for the Clinician to review.
It is important to identify fully the types of problems your child is having. For some children, it is limited to a problem in reading or in math performance. For others, it is an inability to pay attention for more than a few minutes, even when they try as hard as they can. Some children are unable to tolerate frustration and become explosive without even an understanding of what is happening to them.
Often, our personnel will attend a Planning and Placement Team (PPT) meeting at school to confer with teachers, parents, and others, to create a comprehensive program for a particular child. In any case, the relationship with the client does not end with the distribution of the report. The Reynolds Clinic will offer services for as long as necessary, and considers each client as an ongoing relationship. We are committed to seeing that each child’s needs are met to the greatest extent possible.
The full Psychological Evaluation is the key to understanding and provides a road map for remediation. It is estimated that a third of children are misdiagnosed, while others have problems which are never discovered. Effective treatment requires an accurate diagnosis as the starting point.
A full Evaluation is the only way to arrive at the “hard data” necessary to back up the interventions that may be necessary for an individual to succeed in school, at work and in life. We encourage anyone who has questions about themselves or a loved one to seek out this information. There is always something important to learn about ourselves.