What is psychological testing? Psychological testing refers to the battery of tests administered to evaluate the intellectual, learning, emotional and/or behavioral functioning of your child. The assessment information is most commonly used to help determine appropriate accommodations and/or modifications for the individual within the school/college setting. These may include extended time for class exams, shortened homework assignments, distraction-free exam environments, occupational/speech & language services, and more intensive help from a resource specialist. Children, adolescents, and young adults are typically referred for an assessment by their parents, pediatrician, or school for evaluation of:
• Attention Deficit Disorder (with or without Hyperactivity)
• Learning disorders
• Learning/processing problems
• Autism spectrum disorders
• Emotional disturbances (depression, anxiety, mood disorders)
• Psychological factors associated with medical conditions
• Disruptive behavior disorders
• Parent-Child relational problems
• Social problems
The test battery varies depending upon the referral question(s), and may include a structured interview, assessment of intellectual capability, neuropsychological/executive functioning, learning/processing measures, measures of attention and memory, academic achievement measures, projective measures, self-report surveys, and parent and teacher checklists. A school observation may be included (if requested by parent).
Testing sessions are scheduled during the morning when most children function at their best. One to four testing sessions may be scheduled, depending on your child’s age and number of tests/measures being given.
Preparing your child for the psychological assessment
Preparing your child for testing will minimize anxiety and encourage cooperation. Before the day of testing, it is helpful to remind the child what the day will be like. Try to avoid calling it “testing,” as this word makes many children anxious. Make sure your child knows they will be meeting alone with the psychologist. Explain that children learn in different ways and the assessment will help parents and teachers understand how he/she learns best. The day will include a variety of questions, puzzles, drawings, and stories as well as some school-like tasks like reading and math. While your child will be challenged, he or she will probably have fun with some of the tasks.
On the day of testing, make sure your child is well rested and has eaten a good breakfast (high protein/low-to-moderate sugar). While we do have organic snacks and water available (please indicate any food allergies in advance), feel free to bring any healthy snacks you think your child may like. To avoid fatigue, brief breaks will be taken during the testing to allow your child to use the restroom and have a drink or snack. When appropriate, we may use a rewards-based program (e.g., stuffed animal) to ensure optimal testing performance. If your child takes medications, please check with Dr. Williams if it should be taken the morning of the testing. If glasses or contact lenses have been prescribed, please make sure your child wears them.
For children under 5, we require parents to remain in our lobby for the duration of the testing. It is at your discretion to remain or run errands if your child is 5 and over, but please make sure that the office has a number at which you can be reached immediately in case of illness or other difficulty. You should also remain within 10-15 minutes distance to the clinic. Our La Jolla practice is conveniently located within walking distance to restaurants, art galleries, museums, cafes, shops, and the beach. Our Carmel Valley location is within 5 minutes driving distance to shops, restaurants, and Cinepolis movie theatre.
What happens after the testing?
Approximately two weeks after the final testing session, you will return to the office without your child for a results review and discussion. The results review appointment typically takes one hour. At this appointment, I will review the testing results, discuss recommendations, and answer any questions you may have. If indicated, your child or adolescent may return to the clinic for a follow-up appointment to discuss the results and recommendations.
A written report is provided at the results review session or within one week of that appointment. The report provides a written record of the testing that was completed, and provides specific recommendations so that parents, educational staff, physicians, and other professionals working with your child can coordinate a treatment plan that will enable your child to succeed.
If you wish to have the report sent directly to certain professionals, you will be asked to sign a release of information form. Reports are generally not sent directly to schools, as we have found that it is typically more helpful for parents to hand-carry a copy of the report directly to the school personnel who need to see the results and recommendations.