Testing and Assessment for Troubled Teens

Psychological & Neuropsychological Testing

The quality of any placement varies in direct proportion to the quality of information about the child. A fat file does not necessarily tell us enough, or the information may be incomplete or out-of-date. Proper psychological assessment uses standardized testing instruments and techniques to evaluate the student's cognitive, academic and emotional functioning. Ideally, a complete test battery will include:

  • Cognitive assessment: measurement of strengths and weaknesses in areas of verbal comprehension, spatial and nonverbal perceptual reasoning, memory and concentration, and cognitive and motor processing. Taken together, these scores help parents and their advisors establish reasonable academic expectations for each child. The addition of neuropsychological testing often gives a better understanding of the student's brain structure and function. This information may provide further insight into questions of impulsivity, developmental progress, seizure activity and other program planning parameters.
  • Academic functioning: Achievement testing helps determine whether the student is performing at grade level across a range of disciplines. One quickly sees whether the student is meeting expectations. Achievement testing also can indicate specific learning disabilities which may help explain the student's struggles in school. Awareness of academic deficiencies and their causes enables advisors to make recommendations and suggest remedies.
  • Emotional function: Clinical interviews, projective testing and self-administered questionnaires often help identify emotional vulnerabilities and assess behavioral risk. Understanding more about the client's emotional substrate is an essential part of the planning process.

Brief Diagnostic Placements

Once in a while it is necessary to bring a child to a secure medical facility for comprehensive assessment. Stays can range from a few weeks to a couple of months.

Here the diagnostic process will extend the scope of formal analysis to include individual and group therapy, 24/7 observation, and, when indicated, "fine tuning" of psychotropic medications. The process will be directed by a medical doctor who will work with the facility's team, the parents, and the educational consultant to come up with very specific longer-term treatment and placement recommendations after the comprehensive assessment is completed.

 
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