Often parents seek a psychoeducational assessment because the school has expressed some concerns about their child’s progress or there is a mismatch between what parents observe and what the school reports.
How do I know if my child needs a psychoeducational assessment?
Here are a few things that are commonly observed among children who are struggling to learn:
- Difficulty learning sounds of letters or recognizing words
- Can read but doesn’t understand
- Spells the same word differently
- Reluctance to read or write
- Poor printing/writing skills
- Takes a very long time to complete work
- Seems unhappy at school
- Gets easily frustrated
- Easily distracted and/or asks to be excused a lot
- Rushes through work just to be finished
- Trouble copying from the board
- Memory seems poor – doesn’t retain information
- Trouble organizing written text, ideas, things
- Difficulty with multi-step instructions
- Resistant to going to school
What age is it best to assess?
Generally speaking, the earlier a child is assessed, the earlier intervention can be beneficial. We assess children 6 years of age and up. The problem is, until Grade 3, a child is growing and developing very rapidly and unevenly, so it can be difficult to achieve accuracy in assessment results that will be valid over time. It is standard practice to recommend waiting until Grade 3, when more valid results can be obtained. If your child, however, is really struggling or falling below grade level, we recommend you not wait.
Can the school do the assessment?
Yes, possibly. Every publicly funded school in Ontario should have access to a school psychologist. They receive referrals from the school support team (SST) after student needs have been prioritized. It is possible that your school could arrange a psychoeducational assessment by the Board’s school psychologist. The first step would be to talk to your child’s teacher. They may be able to arrange for your child’s progress to be discussed at an SST meeting. If an SST has refused your request, or if you are facing a long waiting list, we’d be pleased to help. A private report from a registered school psychologist is usually recommended in order to go further in developing an Individual Education Plan (IEP) or in having your child formally identified as an exceptional student through the IPRC process.
When should I re-assess?
If your child was assessed in elementary school there are two key times to think about:
- In preparation for secondary school, you might want to have your child re-assessed towards the end of Grade 7 or the fall of Grade 8, prior to high school and course selection.
- In preparation for post-secondary studies, it is recommended to have your child re-assessed by the end of their Grade 12 year. With this updated report your child may qualify for accommodations at college or university.
How should I prepare for a psychoeducational assessment?
It helps us to know that your child has had a recent physical examination and that possible physical causes for your concerns have been ruled out. Also, because of the importance of hearing and vision to learning, it is ideal to have hearing and vision tested by a proper specialist prior to the assessment.
What should I do with the report I receive?
Following the assessment you will receive a comprehensive and detailed report of your child’s unique learning needs and strengths. We are fully licensed to diagnose neurodevelopmental disorders (e.g., learning disabilities, adhd, etc.) and we strive to provide you with evidence based recommendations that will set you all up for success. If you choose to share this report with the school they will have a better understanding of your child’s learning needs and the extra resources they may benefit from. We typically recommend sharing your report with the school principal and requesting a school team meeting to discuss its findings. It is here where Individual Education Plans (IEPs) are initiated and further referrals approved (e.g., IPRC, OT, speech & language).
Note: Always hold on to a copy of your report as a part of your child’s health history. Reports are often requested many years down the road and can be invaluable to those offering support.