To be told as a parent that your child needs to be assessed for potential learning disability, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or Attention Deficit (ADD) can be very concerning. Many questions will run through your head. Is my child struggling? Is my child normal? Is he intellectually ok? Will he succeed academically? The good news is that a diagnosis of learning disability, ADHD or ADD does not equate to intellectual disability. In many cases, inattention or hyperactivity might mean that your child is actually very smart so that he gets bored in the classroom and has a hard time to sustain attention so starts becoming fidgety. Having your child tested or evaluated is a journey with a number of steps along the way. For a child and a parent psycho-educational testing may seem intimidating. As you take each step, you may have questions and concerns. But at the end, you’ll have a clear picture of where your child is struggling and how you can help your child succeed. Once you’re ready to have your child tested, the next question is: “How do I make this happen?” Psychologists at Clinic Dr. Bita in Montreal recommend considering these tips:
Having a child undergo psycho-educational assessment might be a complex and confusing process for most parents. Parents often wonder where to find clear information about the testing, what do the tests involve and how to understand and interpret the resulting test scores. The more you know about psycho-educational assessments, the more prepared you’ll be to advocate for your child. That’s true during the evaluation process itself and beyond. It is important to demystify this process by discussing it with a professional. Seeking appropriate support will help you learn while also improving your child’s confidence and sense of self- efficacy.
Discuss What to Expect
Preparing your child for psycho-educational testing can reduce anxiety and encourage cooperation through the upcoming battery of tests. Keep in mind that many children and teens that are struggling worry about taking “another test”. Thus, it is important to be mindful of how you describe the process to your child. In most cases, it’s best to explain the upcoming evaluation in a way that will reduce anxiety and encourage cooperation. Your psychometrist or evaluating psychologists can advise you how to inform your child, if you are not sure how to go about this step.
Present the Positive
Psycho-educational testing, despite its intimidating name, is nothing more than a series of child- friendly tests, challenges, and puzzles used to assess attention span, verbal and perceptual skills, Executive functioning, including child’s ability to plan, organize, and see tasks through to the end. Taken as a whole, these tests can identify your child’s weaknesses and strengths and allow you and your child’s educators to set up a plan to maximize their potential.
Try framing the testing as a positive event by telling the child that they’ll be meeting someone who’ll help him figure out how they learn best, or how to make learning more fun and less frustrating.
Schedule The Session Carefully
Let your child know about the testing few days prior the appointment so the event doesn’t loom and they have less time to worry about it. Schedule the test sessions during a time of the day when your child usually functions best. Try to retain your child’s favorite classes or activities so that testing doesn’t appear like a negative experience. Or see if the testing can be done on weekends.
The first session could be scary for some children, as they don’t know what to expect. Once they get to develop a relationship with the evaluator and they see what it is about, their anxiety diminishes, for most kids. If your child becomes anxious in new situations, prepare them as best you can. Let them know that they can wear their favorite clothes or bring a well-loved toy or blanket with them. Let the child know you’ll be in the waiting room during the session.
If the child is anxious about the testing itself, let them know that most kids enjoy it because it involves puzzles, drawing and some challenges, but no grades. Tell the child to do their best but not to be discouraged.
Your Child’s Best Mental State
Best mental state is when the body and mind are satisfied. A hungry child is a distracted child. If the appointment is in the morning, make sure to feed the child a hearty, protein-filled breakfast. If in the afternoon, make sure they’ve had a healthy lunch or a substantial snack before the session.
A good night’s sleep before the sessions will put your child in the clearest frame of mind. The best assessments are made when the child is awake and alert.
Author: Maja Babic
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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are not to be misinterpreted as medical, clinical, or any other professional advice. The views expressed are opinions and / or ideas founded on research and clinical experience. These views are meant to provoke awareness and inquiry into various issues, and thus, create an open-minded dialogue, civil discussion, and respectful debate among our readers. Any claims made are subject to change should new studies be conducted that disprove these claims.
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