What is a Child Formal Assessment?
A child's formal psychological assessment offers insights into the nature of the child’s growth and developmental challenges. Various components, such as norm-referenced psychological tests, informal tests and surveys, interview information, school or medical records, medical evaluation and observational data, can comprise a psychological assessment. The assessment is intended to evaluate strengths and weaknesses in several areas such as learning styles and social-emotional patterns of functioning, which will help tailor recommendations for the child’s educational and mental health needs.
Psychological assessment processes
Clinical psychologists are trained to administer and interpret the results of individualised assessments and tests. A comprehensive, diagnostic psychological evaluation includes the following:
- Carrying out a clinical interview
- Choosing and deciding a number of tests
- Administering, scoring and interpreting tests
- Integrating and conceptualising clinical interviews, test results, behavioural observations, and other data sources
- Writing a psychological assessment report
- Providing parents with feedback
A comprehensive psychological assessment typically takes between three to four sessions, or four to six hours total, including the feedback session. Depending on the complexity of the situation, it may take clinical psychologists up to eight hours to prepare a report.
What is evaluated during formal assessment?
Assessments are based on the needs of the child and are individualised, which will help to address the concerns that prompted the evaluation. A psychological assessment may look at the following:
- Intelligence: These tests look for developmental delays, intellectual disabilities, language and communication skills, nonverbal reasoning skills, and the speed at which an individual can absorb and process new information. The purpose of the IQ test is not to determine the child’s IQ but to evaluate the skills required for each subtest. Additionally, skills can further be compared between peers and within the child. The child’s strengths and weaknesses can then be identified, further facilitating the treatment plan.
- Achievement: Mastery of reading, mathematics, writing, psychological and educational tests are measured. The psychological and educational tests can identify academic strengths and learning disabilities such as dyslexia. For children with special needs, the psychological assessment can help develop an educational plan specifically meeting the child’s needs.
- Memory and attention: Neuropsychological testing is frequently used to identify attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This set of tests can also assess memory, reasoning, and executive functioning, such as planning and organisational skills.
- Behavioural, emotional and social development: Social-emotional and behavioral questionnaires can be utilized to assess whether a child is facing challenges either at home or in the classroom. This assessment can provide valuable information to clinical psychologists, aiding in the development of an intervention plan.
- Personal or family history of mental, behavioural or developmental disorders
- Complete medical history, including a description of the child’s overall physical health, a list of any other illnesses or conditions that are present, and any treatments that are currently being administered
When should parents seek help from a clinical psychologist?
When caring for a little one, parents may notice their child having developmental delays or behavioural issues. It is a good idea to seek the assistance of a clinical psychologist whenever one or more of the following apply to a child:
- They appear sad, withdrawn or isolated most of the time
- They refuse to go to school
- There is increased irritability
- Change in their appetite or sleep pattern
- They become more clingy
- Not achieving developmental milestones
Formal assessment is not a universal solution for everyone; consequently, intervention plans will be planned and carried out based on the child’s condition and needs. These plans will also guide parents and educators on how they can assist the child.
If you have any concern about your child’s behaviour or mental well-being, please schedule an appointment with our trained mental health professionals at Mindcentric based in ParkCity Medical Centre (PMC) to learn more about how we can aid you, from therapy to medication and care.