Are you thinking about getting psychological testing for your child? Here’s everything you need to know about it, including what it is and what it isn’t.
Change is the only constant thing when it comes to raising children. As they progress from infancy to toddlerhood and beyond, parents can expect to see significant changes in their child’s overall development. This is because children are constantly acquiring new skills as they grow: be it physical, cognitive, or social-emotional.
As these changes take place, you may also notice certain behavioural changes in your child. It’s true that some challenging behaviours are to be expected (tantrums, biting, hitting, etc.), and each child may differ in how fast they master certain cognitive skills. However, overly aggressive behaviours and obvious cognitive developmental delays can raise red flags.
When these happen, you may consider sending your child for a psychological test or evaluation. This can help you find out if your child’s development is on track, or if there’s a genuine cause for concern. If the latter is the case, a psychological test can also help you gain a better understanding of the challenges your child is facing. Following that, strategies and an action plan may be proposed to help you support your child.
The prospect of getting a psychological test may sound a little overwhelming (and somewhat daunting). When done with qualified and supportive professionals, you may find that it’s the exact opposite! We put together a simple guide (in parent-friendly terms) on what psychological testing for children is, what you can expect, and how it may add value to your child and family’s life.
Psychological testing for children 101
What exactly is psychological testing?
Psychological testing refers to a series of assessments used to observe and measure a person’s cognitive abilities, behaviour, emotions, and thoughts. The assessments are conducted by a trained psychologist, and are used to diagnose and treat a person’s mental health condition or learning difficulties. Think of it as a visit to the doctor’s, where your symptoms will be examined to determine the type, causes, and treatments needed for your illness.
What types of issues can psychological testing detect in children?
This will depend on the types of assessments used during psychological testing. According to Promises Healthcare’s Senior Clinical Psychologist S. C. Anbarasu, psychologists can detect emotional or behavioural problems, delayed learning (writing, spelling, maths, or reading), dyslexia, presence of autism, and signs of Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder through psychological testing.
IQ Testing and Academic Testing are some of the assessments used in psychological testing. IQ Testing measures a child’s intellectual abilities and potential (memory, processing, reasoning skills, etc.); whereas Academic Testing measures a child’s performance in academic school work (spelling, reading, numeracy skills, etc.). When used together, these assessments can provide families with great insights into a child’s overall potential. Assessment findings can shed light on a child’s cognitive strengths and areas that require support, academic needs, and even preferred learning styles.
Is psychological testing only to diagnose disorders and disabilities?
Not necessarily! In fact, the assessments can be used to test giftedness. Gifted children may exhibit challenging behaviour (tantrums, distractibility, etc.) at home or in school due to under-stimulation. This could happen because they can grasp concepts faster than their peers, or have thoughts and solutions that are beyond what’s expected of their age group. It’s also observed that gifted children may have unique social-emotional needs. When these needs are not met, a child may “act out” or display negative behaviour.
Does my child need psychological testing?
Promises’ Senior Educational Psychologist Tan Su-Lynn recommends parents consider psychological testing for their child should they demonstrate difficulties with learning or behaviour despite the additional support provided (eg. enrichment classes, tuition, etc.). The severity of these difficulties – if it affects the child’s functioning at home and school – should be taken into consideration as well.
What happens during psychological testing?
For starters, the psychologist will conduct an initial assessment with both you and your child. Based on the presenting concerns and in order to ascertain your child’s overall profile of needs, the psychologist will arrange for your child to take the IQ, Academic, and other relevant tests. It’s important to note that psychological testing cannot be done within one session. You may need to set aside some time (approximately six to 12 hours) for your child to complete the tests, which will be spread across two or more sessions. It’s also advisable to space out the tests to avoid fatigue and stress for your child.
If that sounds terrifying – rest assured it’s anything but! Most children actually enjoy the testing sessions as it involves unique and fun tasks. There will also be breaks in between, where your child can rest and play with toys and games. As long as the tests are conducted by a qualified and trained psychologist, you can be assured that your child is in good hands.
What kind of result or report will I get after my child’s psychological testing?
Upon completion of the tests, the psychologist will integrate the test scores, historical information, parents’ information (as well as feedback from teachers, if required), and other relevant information to produce a report.
The psychologist will present the report by highlighting your child’s strengths and areas where they face difficulties. The report will also provide recommendations and intervention strategies that can be implemented at home and in school. In the event that additional support services are required (eg. occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, etc.), these will be referenced in the report as well.
Throughout this session, you will have the chance to clarify and discuss your child’s condition. You can also find out more about the available support, treatment, and academic pathways that are suitable for your child.
Is there a ‘minimum age requirement’ for a child to go through psychological testing?
The earlier the better. While it’s never too late to be assessed, doing so earlier means that your child can benefit from suitable support earlier as well. Su-Lynn shares that the lower primary schooling age is best as your child has started formal schooling. Children this age would usually already have received additional support (eg. enrichment, tuition classes) as well. Should your child still be experiencing difficulties despite the support, psychological testing is recommended.
On the other hand, children displaying difficulties associated with autism, slow learning, or cognitive difficulties may exhibit these symptoms from an even younger age. Assessments for these would be best done in their preschool years. This is so that parents can access early intervention, or seek recommendations on school readiness and placement. Promises provides psychological testing for children who are in preschool age.
There are value and benefits in psychological testing
A stigma often associated with psychological testing is that there is something “wrong” with a child. That is not the case. Psychological testing provides children and families with a comprehensive evaluation of a child’s full potential. It also points out the areas where a child may need extra support, which allows for early intervention when required.
Psychological testing also adds immense value by identifying a child’s preferred way of learning. This precious piece of information allows us as parents to make important educational choices: from finding suitable academic pathways and picking a curriculum that fits them best. Not only will this enhance your child’s learning experience, but it will also let them thrive and be the best versions of themselves.
Promises Healthcare offers psychological testing for children, conducted by highly experienced and trained psychologists. You can find out more about the assessments, fees, and detailed information on its website.
This post is in partnership with Promises Healthcare.