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Is Your Child Struggling in School? Make Sure they Get the Most Thorough Assessment?

The following post is from our dear colleague Dr. Laura Muggli

Parents: you love your kids. You want the very best for them. You want them to succeed in life, to fulfill their greatest potential. You’ve done everything you can to set them up for success, including sending them to the best schools and providing every opportunity possible for their growth and enrichment.

Which is why, if your child is struggling in school, it can be devastating. You’re probably feeling frustrated and helpless. Maybe you wonder if your child simply needs to try harder, or if there is in fact something “wrong”?

And what if there is? Can it be fixed?

First off, take a deep breath.

Note: In this post, Dr. Laura speaks primarily to parents looking for testing for their children’s learning difficulties. However, this information can also apply to adults needing testing for themselves.

There’s Good News

We’re fortunate to live in a time and place where the fields of Psychology and Neuroscience are very advanced (and still advancing!). Over the years, a precise and accurate series of tests has been developed to determine whether a child has learning difficulties, attention problems, or anything else that may be interfering with their ability to learn and function academically and socially.

So, there are answers to be found! And with the proper evaluations and assessments, we can get to the bottom of it so your child can thrive in their academic and social environments.

Does Your Child Need Testing?

If your child has never been tested before and you’re in the research stages (perhaps testing has been recommended by another professional), you may be wondering what sorts of issues or concerns testing is appropriate for.

Here are some common reasons people come to my office for testing:

  • Difficulty learning to read
  • Difficulty learning English
  • Difficulty acquiring a foreign language
  • Difficulty comprehending or retaining information
  • Speech problems (phonological processing problems)
  • Difficulty learning spelling
  • Difficulty learning mathematical concepts

Types of Testing

Many of my younger patients (ages 7+) come to me needing answers for the first time. Some of my older patients (12+, including college students and grad students) have already gotten a diagnosis but need updated testing for their educational accommodations.

In either case, my #1 aim is to provide the most comprehensive evaluation possible for each patient so we can develop a plan that will work for them and help them to be successful now, and for the long term.

The terms Psychoeducational Testing/Evaluation and Neuropsychological Testing/Assessment are often used interchangeably; however, they’re actually quite different.

It’s important to understand the distinction as you advocate for your child (or yourself, whatever the case may be.

Psychoeducational Testing

If your child has been tested before, you may be familiar with Psychoeducational Evaluations. A Psychoeducational Evaluation (PE) assesses the psychological aspects of learning. These include:

  • Intelligence (IQ)
  • Language skills
  • Memory
  • Verbal and visual learning
  • Attention and concentration
  • Coordination

A PE also assesses academic skills, such as:

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Spelling
  • Mathematics
  • Listening comprehension
  • Oral communication skills

A PE will give you a good understanding of your child’s IQ and academic level. It measures the child’s skills and abilities and provides some information about learning differences and disabilities.

Neuropsychological Testing

Neuropsychological Testing (NT) includes all the above: IQ, measurement of academic skills, and identifying learning difficulties or disabilities.

The difference is, NT gives a better understanding of how the child learns and how various cognitive functions such as attention, concentration, and executive functioning, can help them learn more efficiently. It helps us better understand ADHD and can also involve psychological disorders such as anxiety and depression.

A word about Executive Functioning:

Executive Functioning (EF) is how your brain helps you get things done. EF includes time management, the ability to plan, the ability to organize tasks, focus (and change your focus), remember details, and so on.

In terms of academic achievement, EF is important because there are “rules” to learning. For example, think about the “rules” of math, or writing, or learning a language. Executive Functioning allows you to process and organize those rules efficiently so you can acquire the knowledge. Many symptoms of ADHD are problems with EF.

Conclusion

In my experience, including Neuropsychological Testing into a comprehensive assessment provides a much clearer understanding of what the child is dealing with, how their brain processes information, and how best to address it on all fronts.

Ultimately, you want the most thorough testing so that your child can get the help they need, whether that be Executive Functioning coaching, medication, academic coaching, access to reading or other academic programs, and so on.

Please call Dr. Laura’s office  with any questions you may have about testing for yourself or your child. 

Helpful Links: https://lauramuggli.com/

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