Should I Get My Kid (or Myself) Tested?

Well, by now, everyone should know that my answer will always be “yes”, since it is important to know how your brain works and processes information. But my families often express a lot of confusion over whether or not to test, not to mention what those test results mean.

Over the years, I’ve been amazed by the number of parents who have their kids undergo hours of testing, sometimes paying thousands of dollars out-of-pocket, only to shove the testing results into the kitchen drawer. And even more amazing are the teachers and administrators who pull out a pristine copy–with no notes or markups in the margins–at a 504 or IEP meeting.

Is anybody reading these testing results?

What do the testing results mean?

Does anybody know how to take the testing results and implement practical, results-oriented interventions? (Ok, that’s my job)

Beyond a specific diagnosis, such as ADHD or depression, most families don’t understand what the psychoeducational evaluations communicate about the learner. Some parents fear the “label” while others feel relief at the”label”. But besides the “label”, test results often outline a child’s natural learning style, detailing the specific strengths and weaknesses, as well as the biological reasons for the learning challenges. For example, the psychologist can use the results to explain that a child ” is smart but just has problems with memory.” After so much frustration, possible self-blame, or self-loathing, it can be quite powerful to hear a specialist reinforce that he or she is smart and capable, and back it up with EVIDENCE.

Probably the most important point to remember about the psychoeducational evaluation is that the PROCESS of testing provides the results. No single test can be used to diagnose. No individual score can stand alone to indicate a specific strengths or weaknesses. Specialists look for a PATTERN of strengths and weaknesses that emerges across several tests.

In future posts over the next few weeks, I’ll go through what to look for in an evaluator, how to read the results, what the most commonly-used tests assess, and how to implement and incorporate results into an action plan.

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