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Psychological Testing and Children

Psychological Testing and Children






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  • Psychology is the study of mental processes and behavior. Psychological testing refers to the psychological tests used to analyze the mental processes underlying your child’s educational, social, cognitive, and neurological performance.

Psychological Testing and Children Psychological Testing and Children Presentation Transcript

  • Psychological Testing And Your CHILDREN
  • How do I know if my child needs testing?
    • If you feel there is something “not quite right”, parental intuition is often right about concerns that others do not pick up on until later
    • It is your right to seek an evaluation at any time
    • 15% to 30% of children may suffer school failures because of learning disorders
    • Cause is usually of unknown origin, may be:
      • Family genetic link
      • chromosomal disorders
      • birth complications
      • head injury
      • Maternal drug abuse
    • Attention, Organizational skills
    • Language
    • Social cognition (ASD, NVLD)
    • Fine/Gross motor
    • Higher cognitive functions
    • Memory
    • Emotional concerns (anxiety,
    • depression, stress)
    • Behavioral issues
  • Common Types of Testing Evaluations
    • Neuropsychological Eval
    • Educational/Achievement Eval
    • Psychological Evaluation
    • Developmental Evaluation
    • Social Adaptive/Cognitive Evaluation
  • Factors to consider
    • Time consuming process
    • School system vs private testing
    • Can be expensive
    • Should not be repeated too often
    • Must be open to results of the evaluation in order to pursue recommendations if there is a disability (area of weakness substantial enough to warrant treatment)
  • What should you know?
    • Whom will be giving these tests?
    • What areas of learning and development will be assessed?
    • What types of tests will be given?
    • When will the testing be done?
    • Why is testing needed?
    • How will the test results be used?
  • What to tell your child?
    • meet the psychologist prior to testing and discuss the reasons for testing and expectations for performance
    • Your role is to:
      • Reassure them the reason is to understand why some things are struggles despite hard work
      • Explain there are questions, puzzles, drawings, stories
      • They only have to do their best, they cannot “fail”
      • Reassure them they are not “crazy”
      • Make sure they know it is normal to feel frustrated at times
  • What else to know about tests?
    • Tests are samples of behaviors
    • Important to also obtain:
    • observations of the child behaviors
    • Information from parents, caregivers, teachers
    • Information from tests
    A psychological test is just one measurement. No single definitive test exists to diagnose a specific disability with 100% accuracy.
  • More about tests
    • Reliability & validity
      • A test should measure a construct consistently (be reliable), and should measure what it says it will measure (be valid)
    • Screening vs. Diagnostic
      • Brief overview to see if further testing is needed or more detailed and specific
  • Who can psychologically evaluate my child?
    • Clinical psychologists (PhD, HSPP, PsyD)
    • Neuropsychologists (PhD)
    • School Psychologists (EdP, some PhD or PsyD)
    • Psychiatrists/Developmental Pediatricians (MD)
  • Intelligence Tests
    • Direct intelligence, neuropsychological, and/or relevant neurodevelopmental testing to detect neurodevelopmental strengths and weaknesses
    • Use of questionnaires to document past and present neurodevelopmental function, affinities, and styles
  • Domains assessed by IQ or Neuropsych tests
    • Ability to learn new skills and solve problems
    • Attention, concentration, and distractibility
    • Logical and abstract reasoning functions (non-vernal ability)
    • Ability to understand and express language (verbal ability)
    • Visual-spatial organization Visual-motor coordination
    • Planning, synthesizing and organizing abilities
    • Processing speed
    • Working memory (short-term)
    • Long-term memory
      • Iconic (visual), echoic (auditory), haptic (tactile)
      • declarative (what)
      • Procedural (how)…includes semantic (words meanings) and episodic (sequential events)
  • Psycho- educational testing
    • MATH
    • Factual recall
    • Procedural recall
    • Understanding of concepts ·
    • Word problem-solving skill ·
    • Visualization/geometric ability
    • ------------------------------------
    • Direct classroom observations and error analyses by teachers
    • historical data from parents =
    • possible interview with the student
    • Decoding accuracy and speed
    • Comprehension
    • Recall
    • Summarization proficiency
    • Overall speed and proficiency  
    • Spelling
    • Accuracy
    • Error types
    • Spelling in context (during writing activities)  
  • Psychoeducational cont.
    • Writing
    • Pencil grip ·
    • Graphomotor fluency, rhythm, ease of outpu
    • Legibility (manuscript and cursive)
    • Mechanics (actual use of punctuation, capitalization; recognition of errors)
    • Language usage compared to oral language
    • Ideation (topic selection and development)
    • Organization  
    • General
    • Patterns of attention during academic work
    • Use of strategies to facilitate work
    • Level of performance anxiety
    • Understanding of learning (metacognition)
    • Enthusiasm, degree of interest
    • Relativity
    • Specific content affinities
  • Behavioral/Affective
    • Direct observations,
    • projective tests, and
    • interviewing of the child to
    • assess affect, seek other
    • psychological conditions,
    • determine child’s feelings,
    • asking child to draw or tell
    • Stories
    • The Way I Feel
    • Children’s
    • Depression
    • Inventory
    • Use of parent, teacher, and (when possible) student questionnaires to elicit patterns of behavior and behavioral concerns
      • Child Behavior Checklist
      • Personality Inventory for Children
      • Conner’s Parent/Teacher Rating Scale
      • Gillian Autism Rating Scale
  • Situational/Environmental
    • Interview with parents to elicit relevant factors in the current and past home environment of the child
    • Consideration of cultural, peer-related, and community based issues related to the childs behavior
  • Medical Review
    • Review of child’s medical history to uncover current or previous factors affecting emotional, social, attentional or academic performance
    • Complete physical examination to rule out any definable medical disorder or neurological conditions that may be contribu-tory
  • The normal curve
    • Typically, the problem must be persistent, pervasive, impairing , and not attributable to other conditions or factors.
    • The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-TR-IV has specific criteria for childhood disorders.
  • What do I tell my child?
    • Kids are usually well aware of their problems
    • Many times it’s a relief to know they are not lazy or stupid or bad or to have someone know their problem
    • Use age appropriate language and confirm what they already know
    • Let your child know we all have strengths and weaknessess and what his/her testing showed
    • Explain how it will be made easier for him to succeed
    • Doesn’t mean he/she isn’t smart, but that some things are more challenging
    • Provide resources/books/talk to a psychologist or another child www.ldonline.org is a good resource
  • Issues affecting psychological testing
    • The overall condition and attitude of the child can affect test results.
    • Statistical adequacy of the tests, also known as psychometric properties — such as standardization, reliability, or validity — determine a test’s assessment value.
    • Test scores can be misinterpreted and thus lead to a misdiagnosis of your child’s problems.
    • A child who does not fit conveniently into one of the typical cognitive profiles may receive an incorrect differential diagnosis to explain his or her inability to learn.
    • Repeating the same test later may be an invalid measure of the child’s progress, particularly if too soon.
  • Sources
    • Levine, Melvin, Childhood neurodevelopmental dysfunction and learning disorders , Vol. 12, Harvard Mental Health Letter, 07/01/95.
    • Braaten, Ellen & Felopulous (2004). Straight Talk about Psychological Testing for Kids . Guilford Press.
    • Parent Information Center of Delaware, Psychological Tests-A Handout for Parents. Available at Http://www.picofdel.org/learn.fact_sheets/Psy_tests.html