5 Signs Your Child Needs a Psychoeducational Assessment

Alison Bellevue, Psy.D. | Director of Child, Adolescent, and Family Services

Congratulations! You have successfully gotten your child or children into the swing of the new school year! Hopefully, everyone has settled into their nighttime and morning routines, has adjusted to new teachers and academic expectations, and continues to feel connected to school friends and previously enjoyed activities. If you are reading this and thinking, “Oh no, we have barely settled in! Things seem much harder this year!” Don’t worry. Transitioning from summer to school is no easy feat and every child and family adjusts to the transition differently. There are many reasons your child may be having greater difficulty adjusting back to school this year: shift in social group, new school, difficult fit with teacher’s personality and/or teaching style, increased academic pressure.

If there is no obvious reason to explain your child’s difficulty, you may consider having your child undergo a psychoeducational evaluation. What is that, you ask? A psychoeducational evaluation, or “psychoed eval.” is a comprehensive group of standardized tests that measure your child’s intellectual, academic, and social/emotional functioning. This evaluation is used to determine if your child has a specific learning disability that is impeding her academic achievement and if so, what school accommodations your child needs in order to demonstrate her true abilities.

How do you know if your child would benefit from such an evaluation? Here are some common, but not exhaustive signs you may want to initiate the process for your child:

1. Expressing reluctance to go to school or disliking school: Yes, this is a common thing for kids to do, but may indicate a deeper problem if you have noticed an increase in the frequency or intensity of their protests. If your child has become more forceful about her disdain for school, a specific teacher, or class, get curious! See if you can figure out what has changed or if there is something specific they are avoiding.

2. Decline in grades or increase in missing assignments: This may indicate that your child is having difficulty organizing assignments or is having difficulty learning in the way expected by his new teacher.

3. Working very hard and not obtaining expected results: If your child spends more time than his classmates or siblings on his homework or studying and earns the same or lower grades, this could be a sign that there is an underlying learning disability interfering with your child’s success.

4. Behavior problems: Have you already received several calls or e-mails from school informing you that your child is calling out or disrupting the class in some way? This may indicate that your child is bored, lost, or frustrated by the pace or difficulty of the presented work.

5. You have “that feeling”: You know your child better than anyone. If you think your child is having difficulties in school that are not easily explained by the typical changes that come with a new school year or how adults at school are framing the issues, trust it.

If you are observing one or more of these signs, your child may benefit from participating in a comprehensive psychoeducational evaluation. If taking this step seems too big too fast, try these things first: First, get curious about what is going on and speak with your child. See if you can gain insight into the observed behavior and try to problem-solve. Second, contact the school and find time to meet with your child’s teachers or the school’s learning specialist. Describe your concerns and see if informal steps can be taken to address the problems. Third, allow time for these informal interventions to work. If you follow through with these steps and see no or minimal change after one-to-three months, take steps towards initiating a psychoed eval for your child.

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