Description of the Evaluation Process
Our evaluation process typically involves the collection of historical, qualitative, and quantitative data and the analysis and synthesis of the information and observations collected into a comprehensive and individualized report. Concretely, it means that the evaluation process unfolds in different steps.
The first step is an intake interview with the parent(s). This direct encounter is the opportunity to collect background information, including information about the development and living environment of the child, and his/her medical, school, and social histories. Its aim is to begin to understand the parents’ perceptions of their child’s difficulties. This is why we encourage parents to bring up in this initial interview any information they believe could enlighten the understanding of their child’s current difficulties. This includes past evaluations and treatment reports, relevant medical records, school records and/or grade reports, and/or referral letters from other professionals. At the end of this initial intake, we give the parents various questionnaires and inventories to be completed by them and by the child’s teacher(s). These questionnaires cover various aspects of the child’s behavioral, social, and emotional functioning.
The next step includes a series of direct testing sessions with the child. We generally see younger children in shorter sessions and only in the morning, while we see school-age children in longer sessions. Some of these sessions can take place after school. A session with a preschooler typically would not exceed one hour, a five-year-old may last one-and-a-half hours, and a school-age child is usually tested for two to three hours. Adolescents can be tested for three hours or, depending on the particular child, for longer. The testing phase includes:
- Cognitive testing, which covers the various cognitive abilities that define intelligence, as explained above.
- Academic achievement testing, which consists of assessing performance in various academic areas, including reading, written language, and mathematics. Our testing examines different aspects of these areas. For example, we examine the child’s ability to decode words, read fluently, and understand text.
- Attention and executive functions. Executive functions include self-regulation of physical and mental energy, set maintenance (staying on task or switching tasks), selective inhibition of verbal and nonverbal responses, cognitive flexibility, planning, and organization of time, space, and output efficiency.
- Depending on the results of the basic measures described above, we may feel the need to investigate different aspects of cognitive and/or academic skills (e.g., pragmatic language, knowledge of quantitative concepts). In children, supplemental neuropsychological measures may be used to better identify and describe the cognitive deficits affecting their behavior and/or academic performance (e.g., poor planning and organizational skills, deficit in working memory).
- The child completes an inventory of behavioral and emotional functioning and a depression screener. Depending on the child, we may need to expand our evaluation in this area.
Summarizing and Conceptualizing Results and Report Writing
After completion of testing, all information, including the measures obtained from the parents and teachers, is integrated and summarized in an extensive report that provides diagnostic conclusions as well as individualized recommendations to help the child’s identified weaknesses and/or deficits at school and at home. Our recommendations are tailored to respond to your child’s unique profile and needs and offer practical suggestions to be applied at school, at home, and during private tutoring sessions. They also include specific referrals to various specialists when necessary (e.g., speech and language pathologist, neurologist, psychiatrist, psychotherapist). Finally, we provide a variety of recommendations of reading materials (e.g., books, Internet resources) and contact information of useful organizations specializing in your child’s areas of difficulty.
A feedback session is then scheduled with the parents to review and discuss the results of the evaluation. We pride ourselves about the quick turnaround of our reports. During the feedback session, we provide parents with a guide to better understand the evaluation report as a supportive guideline while further reviewing the report on their own, once back home. Of course, we remain at the parents’ disposal for further explanations and clarification whenever needed.