What to Expect- Testing for a Child

How do I explain testing to my child?

Children ages 5-12 can be reassured that they’re going to be playing “brain games” to learn how parents and teachers can help them use their brains best. For older children and adolescents, it can help to explain that everybody’s brain is unique, and that by knowing how your brain works a person can learn tips and tricks to “work smarter, not harder”. The most important goal is for individuals to come away from an evaluation knowing their strengths.

We do not use the word testing, which makes most people nervous. We suggest inquiring of your child what questions they have about their brain and writing those down to give to the clinician at testing. This build buy-in. We can often answer children’s questions during testing and satisfy their curiosity. Planning for lunch out or a special treat after the evaluation appointment (at least the initial appointment) often helps things go smoother. Make sure you communicate about the testing in a way that does not convey that testing is necessary because the child did something bad, is bad or to find out what’s “wrong” with them. Talking it over while doing something pleasant, when the child is calm several days or a week ahead helps children get used to the idea, think of concerns/questions they have that can be answered and alleviated. Children also need time to think over what questions they may have about themselves.

Will I be with my child?

Testing results are more valid if children ages 5 and up are seen separately from their parents. If you think your child will have difficulty separating, please share this during your consultation appointment, or call our office and ask to speak to the psychologist assigned to do your child’s testing. Parents and caretakers will be in a nearby room, and together you can strategize with the clinician on how to help your child separate. While we strongly encourage both parents to participate in the consultation appointment and summary meeting, it is only necessary for one parent to attend their child’s testing appointment. Parents will be able to see their child during breaks.

What do parents do during the testing? Will my child have a break? Can they have a snack?

Parents or caregivers may be asked to complete questionnaires during the visit. If your child separates easily and you have filled out the necessary questionnaires, then you are free to remain in the building or leave our offices. If you decide to leave, please check with our receptionist or the clinician on when you should return. Children are able to go about one hour at a time, with the longest stretch typically being the first half of testing. During their breaks, parents are expected to be available to supervise their children. We recommend bringing a healthy snack for your child to have during their breaks.

What is necessary to prepare for testing?

Children should be well rested and should have had a good night’s sleep, a well-balanced breakfast and refrained from sugary drinks, soda, candy just prior to testing or during breaks. Intake of these can affect testing results as well as mood. Stressful conversations, arguments, and tension in general should be avoided prior to testing when possible.

How long will testing visits last?

Psychological Testing can take anywhere from one to five hours, with three hours being the typical length of each session. Your child might attend one testing session or multiple. At least one break is taken about half way through and several other breaks are taken in the office with the clinician. More breaks are taken as necessary.

What else does testing involve?

Parents or caretakers will be asked to complete additional questionnaires typically via an online link that is emailed after the psychological portion of testing is complete. Additionally, teachers will also be sent questionnaires to complete, regarding observations of the child at school.

Receiving a range of observational information from people who know the client best is an important part of the assessment. Without this data, an evaluation is limited and considered incomplete. Also, the clinician may speak with a counselor or medical provider involved with your child, and/or other pertinent people.

What information is considered in the results of testing?

The clinician assigned to your child will take into account (1) background information including a review of any previous testing, (2) collateral information obtained from interviews with pertinent people (e.g., involved professionals, school staff, caretakers, etc.), (3) the quantitative results of the testing, (4) clinical observations during the testing, and (5) rating forms completed by parents/caregivers and teachers.

Who sees the results of the testing?

Testing results are reviewed with parents or caretakers, and others that they may invite to the summary meeting. If your child is over the age of 18 (even if they are still in high school) the testing report is released to the client themselves. If your child is under the age of 18 the testing report is released to the person(s) or agency that has custody of the child. Results are not sent elsewhere without your consent. Rather, parents or caretakers are encouraged to share the final report with the child’s pediatrician, school, and other involved professionals.

For school-funded evaluations, please see School Contracts.

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