Is three too young for a psy­cho­log­i­cal as­sess­ment?

Irish Independent - Health & Living - - PARENTING -

MY three-yearold daugh­ter was di­ag­nosed with a global de­vel­op­men­tal de­lay when she was about one. We have gone pri­vately for early in­ter­ven­tion for oc­cu­pa­tional ther­apy, speech and phys­io­ther­apy.

YOU have a num­ber of ques­tions ex­er­cis­ing your mind with re­gard to psy­cho­log­i­cal as­sess­ment. I can only imag­ine the ex­tra chal­lenges you face in bring­ing up your daugh­ter, given the de­vel­op­men­tal de­lays that have al­ready been iden­ti­fied. You have trav­elled a hard road, hav­ing to en­gage with dif­fer­ent pro­fes­sion­als in or­der to try to give her the best help in these early years.

I won­der how her “global de­vel­op­men­tal de­lay” was first di­ag­nosed? I’d guess that some dif­fi­cul­ties were no­ticed ei­ther by you, or by your PHN, at her sched­uled de­vel­op­men­tal checks. Most ar­eas in the coun­try have early in­ter­ven­tion teams (EIT), which com­prise most of the pro­fes­sion­als — oc­cu­pa­tional ther­a­pist (OT), phys­io­ther­a­pist, speech and lan­guage ther­a­pist (SLT) and psy­chol­o­gist.

Hav­ing a team ap­proach to as­sess­ment and in­ter­ven­tion with chil­dren of­ten of­fers the most com­pre­hen­sive ser­vice to chil­dren and fam­i­lies. It can be re­ally help­ful when the dif­fer­ent spe­cial­ists can eas­ily meet to talk

The speech ther­a­pist is rec­om­mend­ing I get a psy­cho­log­i­cal as­sess­ment for my daugh­ter. Since my daugh­ter has a de­lay, is she too young for an as­sess­ment and will she just fail it? If we go ahead, I want to make sure the as­sess­ment is done prop­erly to give us a cor­rect as­sess­ment — so how do I choose a psy­chol­o­gist? and dis­cuss chil­dren and their needs, and it usu­ally leads to the most ac­cu­rate di­ag­noses be­ing made.

For that rea­son, I’d sug­gest that in ad­di­tion to any pri­vate ser­vices you choose to en­gage for your daugh­ter, that you also ei­ther en­gage for the first time, or reen­gage with your lo­cal EIT. At the very least, you may get the an­swer to your fi­nal ques­tion, as that team should have a psy­chol­o­gist on board and that per­son will be ex­pert in as­sess­ing the needs of young chil­dren.

Even if you choose not to go back to your EIT, you can still ask them, or the other pro­fes­sion­als in pri­vate prac­tice that you have met, who they would rec­om­mend to carry out a psy­cho­log­i­cal as­sess­ment of your daugh­ter. As this sug­gests, I do think that you should take the guid­ance of the SLT and pur­sue an as­sess­ment.

Your daugh­ter is not too young for for­mal psy­cho­log­i­cal as­sess­ment. The kinds of tests that are used at her age are de­signed to show what a child is able to do, rather than to set them up to fail. The psy­cho­me­t­ric tests use ma­te­ri­als that are de­signed to in­ter­est and en­gage young chil­dren. They are quite short tests (tak­ing about 45 min­utes to an hour in to­tal to do) and they mea­sure a range of ver­bal and non­ver­bal skills, as well as giv­ing an in­di­ca­tion of short-term mem­ory abil­ity.

Given that your daugh­ter has a sig­nif­i­cant speech de­lay, the psy­chol­o­gist may choose to use other tests that don’t rely on many ver­bal in­struc­tions, or may only choose to ad­min­is­ter the non-ver­bal, or vi­suo-spa­tial el­e­ments of the tests. These kinds of as­sess­ments are de­signed to be able to be car­ried out with chil­dren who have a range of de­vel­op­men­tal is­sues. Ob­ser­va­tions from you, her preschool teach­ers and oth­ers that know her may also be in­cluded to get a full pic­ture of her.

Some of the ar­eas that a psy­chol­o­gist may be as­sess­ing will cross over with ar­eas that an OT or SLT may also have as­sessed. This shouldn’t con­tra­dict any in­for­ma­tion al­ready gath­ered, but rather just add to the in­for­ma­tion about your daugh­ter that is avail­able. The goal of hav­ing this ex­tra in­for­ma­tion is that it can as­sist you and oth­ers in help­ing your daugh­ter.

As­sess­ments also need to be con­sid­ered a snapshot in time. They help to give us a pic­ture of what a child is able for at a par­tic­u­lar stage in their lives.

That is why re­assess­ment at some fu­ture point is also im­por­tant as we can then see in what ar­eas they may have im­proved and where a child still may need sig­nif­i­cant sup­port.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.