The Assessment Process
Evaluations begin with a comprehensive clinical interview, which is typically completed with parents or caregivers during the first 45-60 minutes of the testing appointment. In some cases, this interview may be completed by phone prior to the appointment. Ongoing challenges are discussed, along with a review of developmental, medical, and educational histories. Please bring copies of any previous evaluations to the testing appointment (e.g., neuropsychological evaluations, school testing, speech/language evaluations). It is especially important to let us know about any assessments that have occurred during the past year, since some tests cannot be repeated within the same 12-month period.
The next step of the assessment process involves standardized testing in domains such as intelligence, academic achievement, and other cognitive abilities. Testing is completed one-on-one and usually lasts between 3 and 5 hours in total with several breaks for snacks or lunch. It may be helpful to bring along a few snacks and a sack lunch. Many parents worry that their child will not be able to complete the assessment in a single day. We find that most children and adolescents have no difficulty, and many enjoy the testing more than a typical day at school. However, the accuracy of the assessment is our top priority. If fatigue, frustration, or other factors begin to interfere, we may ask to schedule a follow-up visit for the remainder of the testing.
Questionnaires and Rating Scales
Information about an individual's functioning in day-to-day life is equally important. For this reason, parents or other family members are often asked to complete a range of questionnaires and rating scales. For children and adolescents, teacher questionnaires may also be used to assess functioning in the classroom. Coupled with comprehensive clinical interviews, these questionnaires help to identify any emotional, behavioral, or social difficulties that may not be readily apparent during the testing appointment.
Results and Recommendations
Once all testing and questionnaires have been completed and scored, the results are integrated into an extensive written report. This provides a comprehensive summary of strengths, weaknesses, and any relevant diagnoses, as well as individually-tailored recommendations for treatment and support. In most cases, we provide specific recommendations for school and home, as well as referrals to specialists when necessary (e.g., speech/language pathologists, occupational therapists, neurologists, psychiatrists, therapists, or tutors). In many cases, families chose to share this comprehensive report with schools, treating clinicians, or standardized testing agencies.
The family feedback session is perhaps the most important part of the evaluation process. In this one-hour session, we will review and discuss the results of the evaluation. The appointment almost always includes feedback to parents or other family members. In some cases, we may meet directly with a child or adolescent, with the goal of boosting their confidence while also motivating them for any needed treatment or services. The goal of the feedback appointment is to provide families with a clear and well-informed plan for moving forward.
While most families leave the feedback appointment with the recommendations and guidance they need, some find that additional follow-up is necessary. We pride ourselves on our strong connections with families, and it is indeed what makes our jobs rewarding. Even after the assessment process has been completed, we offer as-needed consultations for following up with families, schools, or other providers.