At Azza's clinic, we treat each case with the best attention and care. In order to investigate the child's emotional, behavioural, social and learning development, further standardised assessments are sometimes recommended and administered with the child. Because each child is an individual and thus each presenting case is different, the assessments recommended may vary. Parents or carers are able to discuss what assessments may be suitable for their child with the clinical psychologist during the initial consult.
All assessments include the following steps:
- An initial clinical interview with parents/carers: gathering information on child's developmental history and environmental factors
- Clinical child observation: based at the clinic or child's preschool or school
- Standardised assessments: booked for 1-2 separate sessions with the child.
- Feedback session with parents/carers: discuss outcomes and future recommendations.
Standardised Quality & Affordable Assessments include (but are not limited to):
A cognitive assessment is also known as a "Psychometric" or "IQ" assessment. Measuring a child/ adolescent's cognitive ability helps psychologist to identify the overall intellectual ability or the child's overall ability to learn when compared to peers of the same age level. It also helps psychologists identify the strengths and weaknesses across a range of areas. The two most common measures used are the: Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence (WPPSI), which is administered for children between the ages of 2 and 5 years old, and the; Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC), which is administered for children and adolescents between the ages of 6 and 16 years old.
There are a number of reasons why a cognitive assessment is administered. It is usually administered to assist with the following areas:
- Identifying whether a child may be 'intellectually gifted"
- Identifying the presence of any weakness or strengths in learning
- Providing information for kids presenting with behavioural difficulties
- Determining the level/ severity of children with possible developmental issues (e.g., Intellectual disability, Autism spectrum disorders)
When a child is reported by his teachers or parents to present with a learning issue, an educational assessment is recommended to determine whether the child/ adolescent may present with a significant learning issue, or specific learning disorder. This assessment involves a combination of a measure that assesses the child's cognitive assessment and academic achievement.
The most common measure used for this is the Wechsler Individual Achievement Test, which includes a number of subtests assessing the individual's performance on Reading, Maths, Writing and Oral Language. The individual's performance in then compared to the same age/ year level. It is an assessment that can be administered to individuals between 6 years and university level. There are other learning assessments that can be also used including the Neale Reading Analysis, Wide Range Achievement Test and Woodcock Johnson III.
There are many other measures that can be used to determine learning performance. Educational assessments provide information of the individual's level of academic achievment. They are usually administered when there is evidence of a number of difficulties which include, but are not limited to:
- Evidence of poor academic results
- Evidence of behavioual difficulties (e.g. restlessness, poor listening, aggressive behaviour)
- Evidence of poor attention and concentration when attempting school work
- Evidence of disengagement in tasks, or poor performance but high ability
Apart from determining the level of academic ability in comparison to peers, an educational assessment may also reveal information regarding:
- Specific Learning Disorders such as a Reading Disorder (or Dyslexia)
- Discrepancy between intelligence and academic abilities
- Individual's strengths and weaknesses in academic areas to assist in formulating specific educational support plans
A comprehensive developmental assessment entails the assessment of various areas of child development including: cognition, language, motor, adaptive and socio-emotional development. A developmental assessment is ideal for use when delays or problems in early development are suspected to determine whether further assessment is required. It indicates strengths, weakness and competencies so that parents and professionals can properly plan for the child.
The Bayley Scales of Infant Development, Third Edition (Bayley-III) is recognised internationally as one of the most comprehensive tools to assess children from as young as one month old. With Bayley-III, it is possible to obtain detailed information even from non-verbal children as to their functioning.
The Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development is used to identify deficits in very young children across five major developmental domains:
- Cognitive: ability to reason with verbal and nonverbal concepts
- Language: assessing verbal understanding (receptive) and verbal expression (expressive)
- Motor: assessing gross and fine motor skills
- Adaptive behaviour: assessing independent functioning (e.g. practical skills, personal care etc.)
- Social-emotional: assessing social and emotional development
Some of the reasons why using The Bayley-III might be helpful:
- Identifies infant and toddler strengths and competencies, as well as their weakness
- Provides a valid and reliable measure of a child's overall abilities, and whether intervention is required
- Provides a comparison data for children with clinical diagnoses.
- Results can be used to assist in deciding on intervention goals, intervention progress, evaluation and monitoring
At times, parents may have concerns about the child's social skills development when compared to their peers. They could have problems making friends, keeping friends or generally experience difficulties in conversing with others of the same age. This may be due to a number of factors including the child's cognitive ability, verbal ability or overall development. When the child's history involves language delay, or social difficulties from a young age, it is worthwhile seeking an opinion from a specialist who works closely with children with autism spectrum disorder, social communication disorder or Asperger's Syndrome.
It is important to note however, that Autism Spectrum Disorders are not only about the child's social interactive difficulties, and thus a comprehensive assessment may be warranted in such cases. A comprehensive assessment is required to determine whether a child or adolescent may be presenting with significant traits consistent with an autism spectrum diagnosis.
Since there is no ONE test for autism, it requires a number of measures, clinical evaluation and multi informants. In order to assist clinical evaluation, a number of assessments may include (but are not limited to):
- A clinical interview with parents/ carers
- A clinical preschool/ school observation
- A clinical child interview
- Cognitive Assessment (see above)
- Specific Measures which contribute to information gathering
- A meeting with the preschool/ school teacher
- Information gathered through our specifically developed questionnaires
- Autism Diagnostic Assessments:: the ADOS: Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule, and the ADIR: Autism Diagnostic Interview- Revised
In order to determine whether a child presents with significant traits consistent with an Autism Spectrum Diagnosis (including Asperger's Syndrome), the young child or child's presentation and severity is also evaluated in terms of the diagnostic criteria set out in the international guidelines of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – FifthEdition (DSM-5).
Many families we work with have sought opinions from various professionals regarding whether or not their child presents with an Autism Spectrum Diagnosis. It is essential that an experienced professional administers a comprehensive assessment, as presentations may vary- No two individuals with Autism or Asperger's are the same. Presentations vary according to a range of factors including; cognitive level, language level, personality, executive functioning skills, interests and learning ability. It is therefore vital, when in doubt, to seek an expert opinion in order to assist your child in optimising their social, emotional and overall development.
A Neuropsychological assessment entails a comprehensive assessment of your child or adolescent's memory, learning, attention and language abiltiies, if concerns are raised in such areas or there has been evidence of 'sudden changes' in behaviour.
One of the most common assessments is the NEPSY-II which is a neuropsychological battery that can be tailored to measure specific cognitive abilities for ages 3 to 16. Other specific scales include the Children's Memory Scale and Wechsler Memory Scale.
A Neuropsychological assessment may include a combination of standardised and computer based assessments which provide a comprehensive profile of your child's strengths and weaknesses in the following areas:
- Memory and Attention
- Language abilities
- Learning Skills
- Verbal intellectual skills
- Visual/nonverbal intellectual skills
- Higher order cognitive level/ or executive functioning skills (i.e. problem solving, planning, reasoning, impulse control)
- Processing skills
- Social Skills & behaviour
- Mood & Personality
This information is useful in the diagnosis, evaluation or monitoring of various presentations which may include (but are not limited to):
- Specific Learning Disorders
- Executive Dysfunction
- Attention Deficit Disorders
- Language Disorders (i.e. Expressive Language Disorder, Mixed Receptive-Expressive)
- Autism Spectrum Disorders
At Azza's clinic, we are recognised in the administration of comprehensive assessments to determine the nature of the challenging behaviours displayed by young people including; defiance, oppositional behaviour, conduct/ delinquent behaviours, attention deficit, emotional disturbances, etc. through utilising a combination of expert clinical differentiation and standardised assessments.
Behavioural assessments in combintaion with other assessments can be administered to diagnose conditions such as:
- Attention Deficit Disorders
- Oppositonal Defiance Disorders
- Conduct Disorders
Despite the excitement that kids experience prior to starting primary school, for many families, sending off their little boy or girl to their first year in Primary School can be a very anxiety –provoking experience. One main question that is frequently asked by many parents is: IS MY CHILD READY ??????
As Child Professionals who work with children of various abilities, there are a number of skills that are deemed as necessary regarding child development:
- Gross and Fine Motor Skills
- Speech & Language Skills
- Social development
- Emotional regulation
- Behavioural presentation
At Azza's clinic, we work with you to assist you in deciding whether your child is ready to attend the school environment. This may involve the combination of the following:
- Parent and Child Interview
- Developmental and behavioural checklists
- Formal assessments of child development and/or Intelligence
- Preschool/ child care observation to evaluate child's abilities
- Consulation with pre-school or child care centre staff before
- Reccomendations regarding suitable schools for child's learning and development.