Parents may decide to have their children tested as a result of a variety of events. In some cases, the school counselor or a teacher may suggest it. In other cases, the parents themselves suspect that their child needs to be evaluated. Parents often report that they just “know” that their child is brighter than their schoolwork demonstrates, or that something just “doesn’t add up.” Oftentimes, what parents and/or teachers have determined is that something is affecting the child’s ability to perform in school, that the challenge is not simply a lack of effort on the child’s part. Similarly, there may be a suspicion that a child’s “acting out” stems from a certain frustration.
Typically, learning issues do not appear suddenly and they do not impact just one area. Learning issues can often be traced back several years. If you suspect that your child may be experiencing learning issues, it is important to document the problems in order to help determine whether there is a pattern of difficulty. It is crucial to recognize that not all students who are struggling academically need to be tested. Prior to having a child undergo a formal evaluation, parents should work with their child’s teacher to try alternative learning strategies. The child’s response to these interventions can provide clues about whether further assessment needs to be done. Most frequently, students who are having a hard time in a subject are able to work through the issue with extra help or with non-traditional approaches. When a child continues to struggle despite the additional help, this may be an indication that there is a neurologically-based learning disability, requiring a formal evaluation.
Testing may be suggested for one or more of the following concerns:
- Early speech and language delays
- Difficulty putting their thoughts into writing
- Poor performance in one specific area or subject
- Poor spelling
- Poor reading comprehension
- Difficulty remembering what he or she has been studying
- Difficulty remembering basic math facts
- Poor performance on tests despite the fact that they have studied
- Difficulty finishing work or tests in the allotted time
- Difficulty identifying what information is important when they read or study material
- Difficulty with long-term projects or follow-through
- Poor organization
- Poor attention in class/excessive daydreaming
- Anxiety and lack of school success
- Poor self-expression and its effect on school performance
Parents may have reservations about having their child evaluated. Common concerns include: a fear of having their child labeled, concern that they will be pressured to put their child on medication and anxiety related to the stigmas attached to certain diagnoses. There are times when parents may just need additional time to process the idea that their child may have a learning issue. The possibility of finding out that there is something “wrong” with your child can be a scary one.
On the other hand, the benefits of having your child tested are enormous. Over time, children with untreated learning challenges frequently come to believe that they are “dumb” or that they just CAN’T learn. This may impact their self-esteem, coping behaviors, and their relationships with friends and family. Many of these issues can be resolved if an assessment is conducted and an appropriate course of action is identified.
Dr. Rebecca Yun-Lee is a licensed clinical psychologist and certified school psychologist who specializes in the treatment and diagnostic evaluation of children and adolescents from the age of two. Her areas of expertise include: adult and children’s attentional disorders; Autism spectrum disorders and other pervasive developmental disorders; learning difficulties; Depression, Anxiety, and disruptive behavioral disorders; as well as disruptions in emotional and personality functioning.
Dr. Yun-Lee is our Psychologist who administers testing, interprets a course of action and answers all concerns. Do not hesitate to contact us at 201-894-5800, ext. 102. Ruth