At RMPS we offer a wide variety of psychological assessments such as learning assessments, attention and emotional assessments, behavioural assessments and developmental assessments. Regardless of the type of assessment, the goal is always to better understand the individual, and then use that information to develop a plan for improved functioning Assessments are a formal way of measuring how well a person is functioning compared to others their age. It can zero-in on how a person’s brain works and how this may be affecting their overall functioning.
Assessments are often requested to assist with concerns related to school, but assessments can also be used to shed light on behavioural, emotional or relational problems that are impacting the person in the home environment or in other settings such as clubs, sports, or other settings. To ensure accuracy in diagnosis, lots of information is gathered during the assessment and may include (depending on the assessment plan and purpose of the assessment): standardized test results, clinical observations, questionnaires completed by various people from various contexts in the individual’s life, and interviews with people who know the person well.
At RMPS, we offer a wide variety of psychological assessments, such as learning assessments, attention and emotional assessments, behavioural assessments and developmental assessments. Regardless of the type of assessment, the goal is always to better understand the individual, and then to use that information to develop a plan for improved functioning.
Assessments are a formal way of measuring how well a child is functioning compared to other children their age. It can zero-in on how a child’s brain is functioning and how this may be affecting their overall functioning. Families often look for assessments to help address concerns related to school, but assessments can also be used to shed light on behavioural, emotional, or relational problems that are impacting the child in the home environment or in other settings such as clubs, sports, or daycare. To be accurate, information about the child is gathered from various people and settings. We combine information from parents/guardians with clinical testing, input from teachers, and clinical observation to create a complete picture of the child.
Common Referral Issues
- Learning Difficulties/Learning Disability identification (e.g., reading, mathematics, written language, processing challenges, etc).
- GATE (gifted and talented) or other programs requiring assessment for application (e.g., Westmount Charter School, Foothills Academy, Calgary Academy)
- Attention Challenges (ADHD)
- Autism or social challenges
- Academic achievement problems
- Behavioural Challenges
- Adjustment Difficulties (anger, anxiety, depression)
- Difficulties with independence
- Transition to post-secondary education and needing accommodations
- Transition to adulthood and needing supports (e.g., functional and capacity assessment to apply for AISH or PDD)
Why is my Child’s School Recommending a Psychology Assessment?
Teachers will sometimes recommend a psychological assessment (also referred to as a psycho-educational assessment) when they have noticed that a child seems to be demonstrating different behaviour than other children in the class. This could be:
• difficulties with focus and attention
• learning challenges (e.g., struggling with learning to read or write or do math)
• difficulties understanding and following instructions
• finding work too easy and not being challenged by the curriculum
• difficulties working as quickly as the other students
• behavioural concerns (e.g., not listening to the teacher, high activity levels, disruptive in class)
• emotional concerns such as anxiety
• social interaction difficulties
• printing challenges
A psychological assessment will usually include the following components:
• gathering background information via clinical interview
• completion of standardized assessment measures to address the reason for referral
• observations and input from parents, teachers (or others who know the client well) and the client
• review of the data and writing of a report by the psychologist
• sharing of the results with the client (older teens and adults) and/or parents
• Recommendations to help the child at home and at school
How does an assessment help my child and their education?
Sometimes school have put strategies and supports in place to help a child but they are finding that the child is still struggling and they don’t know what else might help. Other times schools may recommend an assessment because having a child’s issues formally identified may mean that the school has the opportunity to access additional supports and resources. Psychological assessment can also help to direct what treatment services and specialists are likely to help the child both at home and at school.
Components of Assessments
In developing an assessment plan, we consider which components are appropriate. Your assessment may include any or all of the following three components:
How a person reasons, their memory, problem-solving, thinking with words or visual information, their vocabulary and processing efficiency.
Reading, writing, math, and oral language skills. These measures are part of identifying learning challenges or exceptionalities.
How emotional issues such as anxiety, depression, or other issues such as attention regulation or difficulties with social interaction or independence can impact school, work, or daily life.
When a student is designated as a student who is “gifted and talented” by Alberta Learning, they qualify for individualized program plan (IPP) and are said to have a “code” (Code 80). Alberta Learning uses codes to identify students who require individualized program plans in order to meet their needs. In order to identify students who are intellectually gifted and talented, standardized testing can be completed by a psychologist. This includes intelligence tests and some programs also require individualized academic achievement tests.
At RMPS, we are fully aware of the Alberta Learning requirements for students who may be applying for Code 80 (Gifted and Talented) and we also ensure that our assessments will meet requirements for applications to programs such as GATE and Westmount Charter School.
Comprehensive Learning Assessment
A comprehensive learning assessment (also called a psycho-educational assessment) focuses on understanding the whole child and investigating areas of strength and challenge that are affecting your child’s learning.
Understanding your child’s cognitive profile helps you and teachers to better understand how a child learns. When a child is struggling or is demonstrating behaviour problems, it is important to “dig down” to understand the underlying reasons for the challenges. A child may receive a poor grade on a test for a variety of reasons: not understanding the material, difficulties with writing the answers, difficulties with understanding the question, challenges with paying attention to what the question is asking, or losing track of what the question was while attempting to create an answer. A Comprehensive Learning Assessment will help to determine the underlying reasons for a child’s struggles and provide specific recommendations for parents and teachers.
Sometimes parents, teachers, medical doctors or others may suspect that a child or is not developing at the same rate as his or her peers. Or, for adults, it may be suspected that the person is struggling with social interactions or relationships, having difficulties with managing adult responsibilities such as job or finances to the same extent as other adults. A developmental assessment is designed to help understand how a person is progressing with respect to cognitive, social/emotional, and behavioural functioning.
Developmental Assessments can identify:
*Autism or social interaction challenges
*Difficulties with managing adult responsibilities (ability to financially support oneself, decision-making capacity, or independent living).
Sometimes parents, teachers, or medical doctors may suspect that a child is not developing at the same rates as his or her peers. The RMPS developmental assessment is designed to help understand how a child is progressing with respect to cognitive, social/emotional, and behavioural functioning. This type of assessment can be appropriate when a child is struggling to meet developmental milestones at the same rate as his or her peers, when a child is struggling to socialize with others, or when a child has difficulties with learning skills for independence (e.g., toileting, dressing, feeding) compared to others.
Reasons requiring developmental assessment
Parents, educators, medical doctors, or other professionals may suggest a developmental assessment if there are concerns such as the ones listed below.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
Global Developmental Delay
Social interaction challenges
Difficulties with performing daily living skills
The assessment plan for evaluating for Autism is individualized based on the person’s age, other information or assessments that have already been done, and the impact of the presenting concerns. For a young child, the assessment will include interviews with parents or caregivers, evaluation of the child’s cognitive and language abilities, as well as evaluation of their social interaction skills using standardized assessment measures. For teens and adults, the process will include an interview, standardized assessment measures of social interaction, and interviews with spouse or partner and possibly others who would have known the client as a child.
How are the results communicated?
Results from assessments are communicated verbally during a meeting with parents/guardians (feedback conference) and a report is provided. The report is confidential and parents/guardians are encouraged to share the information with relevant professionals including medical doctors, schools, tutors, speech pathologists, etc.
How old does my child need to be for an assessment?
The age at which it is appropriate for a child to complete an assessment varies by referral issue and the purpose of the assessment. For instance, some programs require assessments for entry (e.g., Westmount Charter School, Program Unit Funding, Family Supports for Children with Disabilities). Schools typically require assessments in order to create Individualized Program Plans (IPPs) when a child is needing additional support or enrichment.. If a child is struggling at school, an assessment can be appropriate at any time from preschool through high school or beyond.
Therefore, it is not a child’s age that determines whether an assessment is appropriate. Instead, it is whether the information from completing an assessment would be helpful and beneficial to the child’s life and functioning. If you are unsure whether your child may benefit from an assessment, you could book a consultation with one of our psychologists to discuss your concerns and determine whether an assessment would meet your child’s needs.
How often can assessments be done and why do they need to be updated?
Typically, it is recommended that assessments be updated every 3-5 years (or sooner for younger children). Updates to assessments are recommended as individual’s progress through different phases of life as their strengths and weaknesses may change or shift. Old treatment strategies may no longer be relevant and the individual may have different needs and priorities. Updated assessments help parents/guardians, schools, and the individual client with determining next steps in treatment planning.
How much does an assessment cost?
The cost of an assessment varies depending on the type of assessment being completed.