As a parent, you’ve noted the signs for a while. Maybe homework has become a daily battle. Perhaps he complains about school and seems overwhelmed. His teachers may have indicated a number of areas that need improvement, and you know his grades don’t represent his true potential. Any number of factors may be at the root cause of his struggles. The first step in diagnosis is psychoeducational testing.
For a child and a parent, psychoeducational testing may seem daunting. Consider these five steps to prepare your child for the big day.
Step One: Present The Positive
Psychoeducational testing, despite its intimidating name, is nothing more than a series of child-friendly tests, challenges, and puzzles used to assess attention span, verbal and perceptual skills, emotional functioning and other factors, including his or her ability to plan, organize, and see tasks through to the end. Taken as a whole, these tests can pinpoint possible learning disabilities and allow you and your child’s educators to set up a plan to maximize his potential.
To your child, frame the event as a positive. Tell him that he’ll be meeting someone who’ll help him figure out how he learns best, or how to make learning less frustrating for him. Let your child know a week or less before the first session (there may be several), so the event doesn’t loom and he or she has less time to worry about it.
Step Two: Schedule For Success
You know your child better than anyone. Choose the days and the time of day that your child is at his or her best. To avoid feelings of resentment, don’t schedule a session that interferes with her gymnastic class, field trip, any other well-loved activity. Also, don’t schedule a session late in the day or early in the morning if that’s when he’s most cranky and least amenable.
Step Three: Allay Fears
If your child becomes anxious in new situations, prepare her as best you can. Let her know that she can wear her favorite clothes or bring a well-loved toy or blanket with her. Let her know you’ll be in the waiting room during the session. Visit the facility ahead of time if you think that will help.
If she’s anxious about the testing itself, let her know that most kids enjoy it because it involves puzzles and drawing and some challenges, but no grades. She can take breaks and have snacks and go to the bathroom. Let her know that she just has to be herself.
Step Four: Sleep For Success
A good night’s sleep before the sessions will put your child in the clearest frame of mind. If your child is just getting over a cold or clearly coming down with one, fatigue can be a factor. In either case, consider rescheduling the appointment. The best assessments are made when the child is awake and alert.
Step Five: Fuel For The Fire
A hungry child is a distracted child. If your appointment is in the morning, make sure to fuel him up with a hearty, protein-filled breakfast. If in the afternoon, make sure he’s had a healthy lunch or a substantial snack before the session.
Psychoeducational testing is the first step in understanding a child’s mental processes and, in many cases, diagnosing an underlying disability that may allow for accommodations in both classroom and standardized testing. If your child is struggling in school, don’t hesitate to ask for a psychoeducational assessment. The sooner a learning disability is diagnosed, the sooner educational intervention can help your child get back on track.