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How a diagnostic assessment is carried out

The psychologist and paediatrician will carry out the assessment in four stages:

  • ? collection of information about the child
  • ? examination (testing) of the child
  • ? explanation of the findings to the parents
  • ? recommendation of an appropriate management plan.

Collection of information about the child

Prior to the assessment visit

‘Assessment’ is a word that often makes parents feel anxious. They are concerned that important decisions about their child’s future may be based on his performance on a particular day. Any good assessment will, however, take into account the parents’, therapists’, and teachers’ reports about a child’s skills and behaviour demonstrated in the past, and in a wide range of situations.

You may, therefore, receive a request from the psychologist or paediatrician, prior to the assessment day, for permission to obtain reports from the teacher, and any other professionals who have seen your child in the past. If you do not receive such a request, it is a good idea to ask the professionals who have seen your child to provide you with reports so that you can show these to the psychologist and paediatrician when you take your child for assessment.

The psychologist and paediatrician will also want to ensure that your child has adequate vision and hearing. It is a good idea to have both of these things checked prior to the assessment. This should be done even if vision and hearing seem to be good in everyday situations, as minor difficulties are easily missed and may play a role in a child’s difficulties. Your family doctor will be able to arrange a referral to an ophthalmologist (a doctor specializing in eye disorders) and an audiologist (a technician trained to test hearing). If this cannot be organized before the assessment, the paediatrician who carries out the assessment will arrange for such testing to be done after the assessment.

At the assessment

It is best if both parents attend the assessment. This enables both of them to give their views about the child, and to hear the results and recommendations first hand.

The psychologist and the paediatrician will collect information about your child. They will want to know your concerns about your child, his progress in the past, and your future plans for his education. They will ask you for your views on your child’s problems. They will also be interested in information about any special help he has received. They will rely on you to provide a picture of the skills and behaviour that he demonstrates at home and when out. They will ask questions about his health. Information will also be collected on any relevant health or developmental problems in other members of the family. All of this information, together with reports from other professionals who have seen your child, form an essential part of the assessment.

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