Assessments for Learning Disabilities
Students with undiagnosed learning disabilities often hear that they need to “work harder” and become frustrated and confused when hard work does not make a difference. Despite the fact that learning disabilities are relatively common in students of all ages and ability, they are often overlooked as a source of difficulty, especially in bright, hard-working students.
A learning assessment can help young students who:
• Do not seem to be performing at the expected level
• Have difficulty reading or remembering what they read
• Struggle with math, spelling or homework
• Show a change in behavior, mood or attitude about school
Assessments help high school and college students who:
• Make careless mistakes on things they know well
• Show weakness in critical reading or reading comprehension
• Learn and remember information but cannot recall it during a test
• Take much longer than expected to complete homework, reading or tests
• Struggle with planning, organization and time management
• Have difficulty staying focused in class
• Don’t do well under time pressure
• Get frequent headaches, stomach aches or other unexplained symptoms
• Feel overwhelmed by pressure, responsibilities and academic expectations
Comprehensive Psycho-educational Assessments
As with any health or performance concern, an accurate diagnosis is critical for developing an accurate treatment plan, or for learning disabilities, an “education plan.” For students with no previous diagnosis of a learning disability, a comprehensive psycho-educational assessment generally includes:
• Thorough intake interview
• Review of developmental, medical, social and educational history
• Testing of cognitive abilities such as auditory & visual processing
• Tests of intellectual strengths and weaknesses and overall ability
• Cognitive testing of achievement in major subject areas
• Evaluation of problem-solving and reasoning skills
• Measures of attention and other executive skills
• Additional tests as needed to evaluate overall health and well-being
Once the evaluation is complete, a detailed written report is provided to the parents or adult student. Included in the report are test scores, diagnostic conclusions, referrals and recommendations. Academic accommodations may be recommended when appropriate.
Update Evaluations / Re-certifications
Students who were previously diagnosed often need to provide updated information to schools or physicians. Prior to conducting an update assessment, Dr. McPhee will review previous reports, academic interventions and accommodations to determine what new testing is required. A complete battery of tests is not always necessary for updated evaluations.
Assessments for ADHD / ADD
Many bright, successful students struggle with academic tasks because of cognitive processing difficulties associated with ADHD. This diagnosis is often misunderstood and the label is misleading. Many students with ADHD are very intelligent and creative, succeed in many ways and have no symptoms of hyperactivity or impulsivity. There are actually three distinct sub-types of symptoms of ADHD:
• Predominantly Inattentive Subtype (often referred to as “ADD”)
• Predominantly Hyperactive Subtype
• Combined Subtype
Teens and adults with ADHD of the Predominantly Inattentive Subtype are often not diagnosed until high school, college or even graduate school, when academic tasks become more rigorous and the demands for attention, memory and organization increase substantially.
There is not just one objective test for diagnosing attention disorders. Information may be gathered from multiple sources, including the student, teachers and family. Cognitive tests of short term memory, working memory and visual and auditory processing, provide concrete data for tracking progress and change over time.
Assessment Reports and Feedback Sessions
Assessment data will be scored, interpreted and presented in a comprehensive written report at the feedback session, usually within two weeks of the completion of testing. Included in the report are test results, diagnostic conclusions, referrals and recommendations. Academic accommodations may be recommended when appropriate.