All children experience difficulties in school from time to time, but when they continue to struggle consistently in specific areas, they may need more support than what you or their teacher can currently provide.
Often, academic challenges can present as emotional or behavioural challenges as your child attempts to overcome the frustration they are feeling.
Through an assessment, we can help clarify their unique strengths and identify areas where they would benefit from support.
Formal assessments are valuable tools to understand how your child learns, thinks, and processes visual and verbal information.
They are designed to measure your child’s cognitive reasoning and processing abilities including logical problem-solving, attention and memory, and to assess their abilities in core academic areas.
With this information, we can provide recommendations and strategies to make learning more effective and enjoyable for them.
Learning disorders, also called “Specific Learning Disorders,” are related to how a child’s brain develops. They affect how a child takes in and understands information. This doesn’t mean a child struggles with all learning, but they might find specific school subjects, like reading, writing, math, or oral comprehension, more challenging.
Often, these challenges show up early on, but sometimes they’re only noticed in higher grades when schoolwork gets more demanding.
If a child has trouble in one area, like reading, they might also find other subjects hard, like math or writing. Additionally, about a third of these kids also struggle with attention and focus, which can make classroom learning even more challenging for them.
We look at how your child thinks, problem solves, and processes information to determine their natural strengths, including whether they are a visual or verbal learner.
This provides a comprehensive understanding of how your child is doing within core academic areas (reading, writing, and math). Each of these academic areas is broken down into different skill areas, which helps to determine exactly where your child is struggling (e.g., reading decoding, sight reading, reading fluency, reading comprehension).
This assesses skills that are necessary for your child to navigate the demands of daily life. This may include leisure, communication, social skills, and practical skills such as their level of independence on age-appropriate tasks.
Each of these areas provides insights into your child’s world, allowing us to offer strategies that aim to foster your child’s best learning potential.
We will take some time before the assessment to answer all of their questions (and yours!) to make sure that both of you feel comfortable and informed throughout the process.
Before coming to the clinic, it can be helpful for them to understand what to expect. Here is a gentle, understandable way to explain the assessment process to your child:
“It’s like a special puzzle that helps us understand how you think, learn, and feel. It’s a way for us to discover what you’re really good at and where you might need a little extra help. Just like everyone is unique in how they look or what they like, everyone has their own way of learning and understanding things. This puzzle helps us see your unique way!”
To help give us a comprehensive overview of your child’s history and challenges, bring along any previous assessment reports and report cards that you have.
If they are taking any medications, have them take them as they normally would before the session.
For the session itself, they don’t need anything special. Dress them in comfortable clothing, and if they wear prescription glasses, please make sure they are wearing them for the assessment.
We know that sometimes it’s easier said than done, but as much as possible, make sure that your child gets a good sleep the night before the assessment to give us an accurate picture of their cognitive functioning.
We believe therapy is part of living a healthy life; you don’t have to be in crisis or facing an emergency to seek support. Our practice is built on long-term connections and we walk with you as you navigate the different phases and challenges in your life.
While working with children and adolescents is what we’re best known for, we extend our specialized assessment and therapeutic support services to parents, adults and couples who are on their own path to healing and living a life they love.
We gather information about your child and how they are doing in all relevant areas of life. We complete parent and teacher interviews and obtain information directly from your child. We also review relevant educational and medical records.
The assessment takes 3 hours, over 1 or 2 sessions, depending on your child’s attention and comfort level. We use tools such as behavioural observation, standardized tests, and questionnaires to determine how your child is doing relative to same-age and grade-level peers.
After the evaluation, we provide a comprehensive report that summarizes all the information, provides a diagnosis if relevant, and lists specific recommendations that are tailored to your child’s unique learning style.
Specific academic learning disorders occur when there is an unexpected underachievement in one or more core areas of academics (reading, writing, or math); more than what would be expected given your child’s age, intelligence, and the educational instruction they have received. These neuro-based learning differences create difficulties in a child’s ability to acquire and apply keystone academic skills. That means their brains process information in different ways, which makes learning and retaining certain core academic skills more challenging. For instance, their brain struggles to make sense of written words, language, or numbers. Dyslexia (a learning disorder in reading) is the most common type.
These difficulties can range in severity (i.e., mild to severe) and start early, though they are sometimes not recognized until later grades, when the academic demands exceed their ability to cope or use compensation strategies.
Those with academic learning disorders have struggles that are specific to academic learning rather than global learning struggles. However, children and teens with academic learning differences can struggle outside of school as well. Many have difficulties in areas of cognitive processing (working memory), despite having good general problem-solving and reasoning skills. They may also struggle with confidence, self-esteem, and anxiety when they don’t have the appropriate support.
If your child or teen has an underlying learning disorder that is contributing to their academic concerns, they won’t simply “outgrow” it. However, with the right support in place, they have a good chance for success in the future. These supports may be school, community, or home-based and may also include a support plan as they transition from school to college or university.
A Psychoeducational Assessment consists of a variety of tests and observations conducted by a Psychologist. It includes cognitive tests, academic evaluations, and sometimes social-emotional assessments to provide a comprehensive understanding of your child’s learning profile.
Common assessment measures that are used to identify children with academic learning disorders are:
These standardized assessment tools gather comprehensive information regarding how your child is performing relative to a Canadian norm group of children the same age and in the same grade placement. Together, these tools help to determine whether your child is demonstrating areas of unexpected underachievement relative to their potential (i.e., cognitive functioning). They also provide insight into underlying areas and factors (e.g., working memory difficulties) that may be impacting your child’s academic skill development.
We summarize all the information obtained into a comprehensive written report. Based on that information, we provide a diagnosis, if relevant. Whether your child meets criteria for a formal diagnosis or not, the report will provide a detailed list of recommendations that aim to capitalize on their learning strengths and support any areas of concern. This might mean advocating for additional time on tests, a modified or adapted curriculum, using helpful tech tools, or suggesting teaching methods that suit them best.
Recommendations can also help to tailor their learning practice at home in order to help them feel more successful in academic or learning activities.
After a few weeks, we will go over this report with you and answer any questions you may have. This report can also be shared with your child’s school. We’re happy to help navigate this process and explore what supports may be available for your child.
If you’re looking to get started with J. Gordon Psychology Group, get in touch! You can email, call or submit a message using our contact form.
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