How an Assessment Can Help Address Worries about Learning and School Stress

By the time parents seek testing they are often worried for their child’s academic future and overall well-being. They may have been referred by their child’s therapist to clarify a diagnosis or by a teacher due to learning or behavioral problems in the classroom. Ongoing struggles with learning can contribute to significant levels of stress felt by all family members, particularly the struggling child and the parent responsible for helping the child with homework or other daily activities.

The signs and symptoms of learning problems are often misinterpreted as behavioral or temperament issues. Families report being told that their child seems bright but doesn’t apply him/herself or that he/she is “lazy,” “unmotivated,” or just not academically inclined. Both parents and their child may wonder about his or her true abilities. Left untreated, learning differences can have far-reaching consequences including decreased self-esteem, reduced motivation, and high levels of stress surrounding grades and homework.
A formal assessment can be an opportunity to look at a child’s challenges in a holistic manner. Testing can help parents and teachers identify strengths and weaknesses, clarify any diagnosis(es), and provide a treatment plan with individualized recommendations. Testing can also provide short- and long-term strategies for home and school that can allow students to re-engage in learning, improve self-esteem, and alleviate symptoms of worry or anxiety. When children and teens show improvement both emotionally and academically through classroom supports and in-home interventions, the child’s relationships with family and teachers improve, self-confidence increases, and overall family stress levels reduce.
Frequently asked questions about the assessment process:
How do I know if my child needs a psycho-educational assessment? Some of the most common signs that a child is struggling academically include: excessive time on assignments, school avoidance, test anxiety, low classroom participation, withdrawal from peers, distractibility, and frequent complaints of stomach or headaches.
What areas does an assessment test? Domains commonly evaluated include overall cognitive ability (IQ); language; visual-spatial skills; memory; daily-living skills; attention/concentration; processing speed; academic ability (reading, writing, and math); symptoms of depression/anxiety; and social skills.
What kinds of information can an assessment provide? An assessment can help clarify a child’s diagnosis, assess school readiness, identify a child’s most effective learning styles, and provide recommendations for both the school and family. An assessment can also be helpful for individuals seeking support as they pursue a college or graduate education. Recommendations from an assessment may include special education services, accommodations for the classroom, strategies for supporting the child in the home, and/or evidence based therapeutic interventions. Referrals for adjunct therapies (i.e. speech therapy, occupational therapy, educational

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