Challenged Hope

Grandmother raising Grandchildren with FASD in Hamilton Ontario Canada

A Psycho-Educational Assessment

When my mentally disabled grandchildren showed obvious signs of developmental delays, at the age of school entry they were required to complete a Psycho-Educational Assessment, which was repeated several years later when they switched from a private Christian school to public school.

According to the website: torontopsychologicalservices.compeople may seek psychological assessments for many reasons: learning, injury, behaviour, health, emotional problems or development concerns to name just a few. A psycho-educational or educational assessment is simply one kind of psychological assessment…. An educational assessment investigates learning potential and academic skill development… An educational assessment can promote greater understanding of academic performance and achievement. Also, an educational assessment can identify the underlying issues such as a learning disability that may be preventing a person from achieving his or her academic potential….

During their initial testing, when they were much younger, I was allowed to attend the assessments of my grandchildren but was expected to observe the testing through a two-way mirror. Given their ADHD, each child struggled with the length of time it took to complete the two consecutive sessions. But their fidgeting and short attention spans were part of the assessment and taken into consideration when the final report was compiled. The later assessments were completed with each child alone over approximately four sessions, after I initially spoke with the assessor regarding my grandchildren’s strengths and struggles. When each assessment was complete, I met with the assessor for a follow-up discussion around the results. Then, my two eldest grandchildren were assigned IEP’s (Individual Education Plan) and subsequently placed in a specialized school program which emphasized life-skills over academic achievement, while the youngest stayed in a regular classroom but was assigned an EA (Educational Assistant) and an IEP was developed appropriate to her learning disability.

Unfortunately, people in the medical field often assume that parents have a lot more knowledge about health programmes than we do, and therefore overlook giving adequate information about the child’s needs and why he/she is being tested in the first place, and what the outcome of the testing could possibly be. It really is up to us caregivers to ask as many questions as possible and not be embarrassed by the fact that we don’t automatically have all the answers. From personal experience, I know my lack of information around mental health isn’t from stupidity, but rather by the fact that when someone suggests my grandchild receive specific help I find myself instantly opting into nervous mode around his/her expected behaviour during the programme, like: “Oh, goodness, will he be able to sit through the testing? Will he yell or act out? What if they can’t get a proper reading – what will happen then? What if he refuses to go to the appointment – will he get another chance?” etc., which doesn’t allow for clear thinking when being informed about the programme itself.

That’s why I now scour the Internet for information before attending my grandchildren’s actual medical appointments. Being enlightened on a specific health concern is key to understanding our children’s needs, and why certain referrals might be made by the consultant overseeing the child’s mental health. It also helps us to know what questions to ask.

If you feel your child would benefit from a Psycho-Educational Assessment talk to the resource teacher, or staff at your child’s school, or ask your doctor for details.


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