by Dr. Hilary Hughes, Licensed Clinical Psychologist
Psychoeducational/diagnostic assessments are comprehensive evaluations that test cognitive abilities, academic achievement, and psychosocial functioning. Comprehensive evaluations often include detailed clinical interviews, record reviews, behavioral observations, administration and interpretation of standardized assessments, and consultation with teachers or other established providers. These evaluations help identify individual strengths and challenges, determine eligibility for academic or community services, provide diagnostic clarity, and inform treatment recommendations. For instance, many families utilize the results of testing for obtaining IEP/504 plans or for coverage of ABA services. These evaluations can be tailored to the specific needs of the individual or family. Prior to testing, a clinician will help you determine the goals for the evaluation.
Although there are many reasons why families choose to pursue testing, here are a few common situations in which testing is recommended:
- Many individuals/families pursue testing when there are concerns regarding academic progress or behavioral functioning within the classroom. A comprehensive evaluation can help identify any learning challenges, assess executive functioning and academic progress, and determine a need for academic supports. Additionally, families can pursue testing to assess intellectual giftedness or academic readiness.
- Some individuals/families are referred for testing when there have been specific developmental delays, behavioral or social challenges, or concerns related to psychological health. In this situation, comprehensive evaluations utilize a variety of tools to confirm or rule out a variety of diagnostic impressions. The results can be used to develop an individualized treatment plan.
- On occasion, individuals/families may already be working with a treatment team, but there is some confusion as to how to direct treatment or there are conflicting diagnostic impressions. An evaluation can provide clarity and establish a blueprint for treatment.
- Many schools or community supports require that evaluations be updated every few years to assess current functioning and to ensure that an individual is receiving appropriate services. In such situations, comprehensive evaluations will compare updated testing results to prior results.
- Curiosity! Some individuals are interested in learning more about their individual profile and skill set; therefore, they will self-refer for testing.
Testing may be recommended by pediatricians, medical or mental health providers, teachers, or other experienced professionals. Individuals may also choose to self-refer for testing. After testing is complete, a detailed report of the testing results, diagnostic impressions, and list of recommendations is written. Individuals/families will meet with the clinician to review the report, foster an understanding of the results, and learn how to apply the recommendations to their life.