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What is a psycho-educational assessment?
A lot of parents are unsure as to what exactly a psycho-educational assessment entails and when it is necessary for a child to have one. This kind of assessment is primarily focused on diagnosing learning problems and/or determining the child's emotional and academic strengths and weaknesses in order to design an effective intervention strategy or programme.
These interventions are designed to ensure that your child learns and develops to his/her full potential. Even if you think your child is average, there is a wealth of information a psycho-educational assessment can provide to help you and your child's teachers understand how your child learns best. The results of psycho-educational assessment often indicate that the child you thought was average has significant strengths and talents that can be completely overlooked in a traditional school setting.
Many intelligent and capable children do not achieve at school
Children with undiagnosed learning disabilities will usually experience school as frustrating and unpleasant. This is because there is usually such a big discrepancy between the effort they put in and the results they achieve. Failure to achieve is a highly stressful event for children, because they see the difference between themselves and others. Falling behind creates a snowballing effect and can lead to the development of many emotional difficulties.
What exactly is assessed?
The psycho-educational assessment starts with an individually administered cognitive (I.Q) test that will provide an IQ score you can use to compare your child's intellectual abilities with those of other children. It will also provide you with a wealth of information about his/her abilities.
You will learn about his/her verbal abilities including vocabulary, reasoning with words, quantitative reasoning, abstract reasoning, auditory memory, processing of information through verbal channels, and knowledge of information. You will also learn about his/her nonverbal abilities including reasoning with visual cues, abstract visual reasoning, visual sequencing and processing, visual motor processing and integration, and alertness to social cues and analysis.
You will also understand whether these abilities are evenly distributed within your child, or if he/she has significant strengths and weaknesses. And you will find out what his/her abilities are in tasks requiring memory and processing speed.
The academic part of the assessment will assess the following:
- reading (phonetic skills, sight vocabulary, reading comprehension),
- mathematics (basic numerical operations, mathematical reasoning),
- academic fluency (speed of reading, writing, calculating)
- listening comprehension
- oral expressive skills
The emotional part of the assessment examines the child's history. This interview will include a discussion about your child's birth issues, developmental milestones, health concerns and history, medications, injuries, vision, hearing, development of motor skills, speech and language development or problems, ability to pay attention, hyperactivity, emotional concerns, ability to listen to and follow directions, social development, and role in the family. You will be asked to reveal any traumatic events that may be impacting on your child. Based on the information gathered at this interview, additional testing in several of these areas may be necessary.
Following the assessment, you will receive a written report that explains the findings in detail. This report will include classroom and instructional implications of the findings, and recommendations. This could include certain concessions, which are available in the school system such as extra time in test and exams, or a reader and scribe in test situations. You will have a chance to ask questions and state your concerns. You shouldn't leave that meeting until you are satisfied that you understand what the psychologist is telling you as well as the educational implications for your child.