Over 17% of Ontario students require special education support.

Psychoeducational Assessments

A psychoeducational assessment is conducted by a registered psychologist and is required by most school boards, colleges, universities, and professional licensing examination boards in the determination of student needs for accommodation. A psychoeducational assessment is a standardized evaluation of a student’s cognitive ability, academic achievement, and ability to learn new information and retrieve it from memory. It may also involve an evaluation of executive functioning, emotional regulation, social skills and problem behaviors.

Diagnosis of Neurodevelopmental Disorders

A psychoeducational assessment provides information about an individual’s unique learning strengths and weaknesses and can often be used to make diagnoses and recommendations. In our School Psychology Clinic we provide psychoeducational assessments of neurodevelopmental disorders and we can provide you with a diagnosis (if applicable). You will also receive a comprehensive report to ensure you have the documentation and recommendations you need to obtain the support you require.

Learning Disabilities

Students with average to above average intellectual ability may struggle academically despite solid cognitive skills. To determine whether or not a learning disability is the cause of academic delays, it is first established that the student has the cognitive abilities that are expected, given his/her age. Second, we look at academic progress to determine if it is significantly lower than expected. Diagnostic assessment tools are then used to investigate information processing deficits (e.g., memory, language processing, visual/sensory/motor processing, executive functioning, etc.) that may underlie difficulties in learning, retaining or retrieving what is learned.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurocognitive disorder that is identifiable before the age of 12. There are three types of ADHD:

ADHD, Predominantly Inattentive Presentation
ADHD, Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation
ADHD, Combined Presentation

ADHD is characterized by having difficulty regulating one’s activity level, inhibiting behavior and difficulty focusing on the task at hand.

Assessment of ADHD begins with a psychoeducational assessment of cognitive ability and information processing. In addition to assessment tools and rating scales, the assessment will also include a clinical interview with you, your parents and, if possible, your teachers.

Developmental Disabilities

Assessment of a possible mild intellectual disability or developmental delay involves an examination of intellectual functioning which, in intellectual disabilities, is very much below average. An examination of daily living skills is also carried out to determine whether or not there are limitations in at least two adaptive functioning skill areas: communication, self-care, home living, social/interpersonal skills, use of community resources, self-direction, functional academic skills, work, leisure, health, and safety.

Do you need a psychoeducational assessment?

Elementary Students

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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

High School Students

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 few things that are commonly observed among high school students who are struggling to learn:

  • Difficulty reading
  • Can read but doesn’t comprehend
  • Spells the same word differently
  • Poor planning and writing skills
  • Doesn’t complete work
  • Gets easily frustrated
  • Easily distracted and/or asks to be excused a lot
  • Skipping or school refusal
  • 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
  • Getting into trouble, acting out
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:

  1. In preparation for secondary school you may wish to have your child re-assessed towards the end of Grade 7 – fall of Grade 8, prior to high school and course selection.
  2. In preparation for post-secondary studies you should have your child 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 or revised and further referrals approved (e.g., IPRC, OT, etc.).

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.

Post Secondary Students

Often students seek a psychoeducational assessment because they are struggling in college or university with problems that have either never been assessed or were assessed a long time ago (5 years or more).    In order to receive academic accommodations in secondary school an updated psychoeducational assessment is usually required.

How do I know if I need a psychoeducational assessment?

Here are few things that are commonly observed among university students who are struggling to learn:

  • Difficulty getting through readings
  • Can read but doesn’t comprehend
  • Can’t spell
  • Slow to complete work despite great effort
  • Work not done on time
  • Poor printing/writing skills
  • 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
Can the college or university do the assessment?

Yes, possibly.  Some colleges and universities have psychology departments with student assessment clinics affiliated with them.   You will have to call your academic institution to see if this service is available to you.

How should I prepare for a psychoeducational assessment?

It helps us to know that you have 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 unique learning needs and strengths. We are fully licensed to diagnose learning, developmental and neurocognitive disorders (e.g., adhd) and we strive to provide you with evidence based recommendations that will set you up for success. If you choose to share this report with the school they will have a better understanding of your learning needs and extra resources that may be available to you.  We typically recommend sharing your report with the student disabilities centre at your college or university to discuss its findings and the accomodations you need.

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.

Licensing and Entrance Exams

If you are in need of a psychoeducational assessment to receive accommodations for admissions exams (e.g., MCAT, LSAT, GRE) or professional licensing exams (e.g.  Royal College exams, Bar exams, EPPP) we can help.  The first step is to find out what the process is for your particular exam.   See the links below for the major examining bodies.   You will need to find out how the application process works and what all the deadlines are for submitting documentation.   To be on the safe side, make sure you give us one month from the time of your assessment to when your documents are due in.  If they require special forms to be filled in, in addition to a psychoeducational report, please bring those forms with you to your first appointment.

Entrance Exams

MCAT Exam with Accommodations

LSAT with Accommodations

GRE with Accommodations

Licensing Exams

Royal College Exams with Accommodations

CPA  CFE with Accomodations

Law Society Exams with Accommodations

National Dental Examining Board

Employees / Employers

Often employees seek a psychoeducational assessment because they are noticing patterns of difficulty at work that get in the way of performing their essential duties well  (e.g., writing or reading difficulties, math problems, difficulty picking up on non-verbal cues, problems sustaining attention, prioritizing, time management, etc).  A psychoeducational assessment can help employees and employers gain a better understanding of the problem and how to work with it or overcome it all together.   Canada has strong legislation to protect people with disabilities.  Employers and employees with learning difficulties should work together for mutual benefit.

How do I know if  I need a psychoeducational assessment?

Here are few things that are commonly observed among adults who are struggling:

  • Slow to read and comprehend
  • Spelling errors
  • Reluctance to read or write
  • Poor writing skills
  • Doesn’t complete work
  • Gets easily frustrated
  • Slow to complete tasks
  • Easily distracted
  • Memory seems poor – doesn’t retain information
  • Trouble organizing written text, ideas, things
  • Difficulty with multi-step instructions
  • Problems prioritizing and managing time
How should I prepare for a psychoeducational assessment?

It helps us to know that you have 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 are accommodations?

People with learning disabilities often benefit from accommodations and these will be part of the recommendations section of your report.   Accommodations could involve the use of different strategies (e.g., use of visual organizers, extra time) and may include adaptive technologies (e.g., spell check, tape recording)  for improved work performance.   It will be important to inform your employer of exactly what your needs for accomodation are.  Employers and employees who have learning disabilities have a shared responsibility for making the accommodation process a success and we’re here to support you in reaching that goal.

Note:  Always hold on to a copy of your report as a part of your health history.  Reports are often requested many years down the road and can be invaluable to those offering support.

The Assessment Process

All assessments will be planned in collaboration with you and will include an estimate prior to getting started. It is important to keep in mind that, when making a diagnosis, it may be important to rule out other conditions (e.g., ADHD vs. an Anxiety Disorder) and to identify co-morbid conditions (e.g., the coexistence of a Learning Disability and ADHD).

All assessments will include a detailed report which describes areas of strength and needs, diagnosis (if applicable) and recommendations. For grade school students, reports are written to facilitate teacher implementation of Individual Education Plans (IEP) and, if needed, formal identification through the Identification, Placement and Review Committee (IPRC) process. For older students, a psychological report may be used to support an application for academic accommodations at university or college, or for accommodations during admissions or professional licensing exams.

Dr. Donna Reist, PhD., C.Psych.
Registered Psychologist

Angela Massey-Garrison, MA, OCT Psychoeducational Consultant

Have a question?