Psychological assessment is intended to provide a structured, organized, and succinct description of current psychological functioning including cognitive abilities and emotional experience. The purpose of it is to obtain a complete picture of the child by examining the following resources: intelligence, language, adaptive skill and motor skill development, cognitive achievement, learning style, attention level, social development, and emotional maturity.
The most common reason for referring children for a psychological assessment is that there are concerns about children having difficulty acquiring age-appropriate academic skills, or controlling their behaviors. A full psychological assessment will establish a child's strengths and weaknesses and will help in planning an effective teaching program. An assessment will also provide a detailed diagnosis of dyslexia or related difficulties and the psychologist will be able to give recommendations as to what can be done to help, when appropriate.
It may be that the child's difficulties are not regarded as severe enough to recommend assessment with an educational psychologist. However, we feel that children who are experiencing difficulties at school will benefit from an assessment, in order to ascertain the reasons for their difficulties and to ensure that the right kind of help is received as soon as possible.
It is prudent and appropriate practice to re-evaluate young children frequently. Young children demonstrate a great deal of variability in their rates of maturation and acquisition of skills, and especially in their attention and motivation during testing. Since the resulting predictive validity of preschool tests is quite weak, frequent reassessment is needed to provide a current picture of the young child's functioning. In addition, if a young child has been receiving intervention services, the developmental picture may be changing rapidly.
Psychological assessment is not limited to children with problems. Parents who have desires to help their children fulfill their fullest potential can use psychological testing to find out their children’s strengths, weaknesses, and learning styles so as to tailor learning experiences to best suit their children’s unique needs.
Types of Psychological Assessment
1. Intelligence test (IQ)
This is probably one of the most familiar test to the lay person. Intelligence test attempts to measure the child’s intelligence, or his/her basic ability to understand the world around him/her, assimilate its functioning, and apply this knowledge to enhance the quality of his/her life. Intelligence is a measure of a potential, not a measure of what the child has learned.
2. Achievement test
What is not common knowledge is that IQ score in and of itself is not useful. Achievement test is needed to supplement it to obtain a more complete picture of the child. Achievement test attempts to measure either how much the child know about a certain topic (i.e., achieved knowledge), such as mathematics, reading, or spelling. It provides useful information as to the child’s specific strength and weakness in various academic tasks. It also tells us whether the child is performing below, within, or above his/her ability as measured by the IQ test.
3. Adaptive and Developmental Behavior Assessment
This test attempts to measure the child’s development in non-academic/cognitive areas. Usually 4 areas of the child will be assessed. a. Communication: how speaks and understands others, read and write; b. Daily living skills: practical skills needed to take care of self; c. Socialization skills: skills need to get along with others as well as their play activities and leisure time; d. Motor skills: important physical skills
4. Behavior/Emotional Assessment
This type of assessment can help identify whether the child has any behavior or emotional concerns that may benefit from therapeutic or medical intervention. E.g., ADHD, Anxiety, Depression, Autism, etc.