10 Reasons for a Summer Psychological Assessment for Kids and Teens
written by Dr. Erika Vivyan
A Psychological Assessment is often a critical component of one’s journey toward mental well-being. These evaluations provide information about a person’s cognitive, academic, executive, social, and emotional functioning. Psychological Assessments are frequently used to evaluate for diagnoses such as Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Specific Learning Disability (SLD), or even to differentiate between different types of anxiety disorders. Here are a few great reasons to have a Psychological Assessment completed over the summer:
1. Psychological Assessments take time.
Typically, a full Psychological Assessment can take anywhere from 4 to 8 hours of in-office testing. For some children with anxiety and/or attention difficulties, it may take two separate days to complete the full set of psychological tests. Once the testing is completed, the psychologist needs to score each of the measures, interpret and summarize the information, and prepare a report to explain the results and recommendations. This process can take up to several weeks, particularly if there are multiple days of testing and many questionnaires to collect from parents and teachers. Scheduling a Psychological Assessment during the summer months allows this process to occur while your child or teen is not experiencing ongoing difficulty at school.
2. Your child won’t be missing school.
Psychological Assessments typically occur during regular business hours on weekdays. For many students who are having difficulty with academic or social functioning, missing school is often the last thing that child needs. Having the flexibility to schedule a Psychological Assessment while your child or teen has a break from school is a great way to avoid further absences.
3. Your child (hopefully) made progress over the school year.
If your child or teen is already receiving Section 504 or Special Education services, now might be a good time to check on the impact that these services are having. For many children participating in a reading or mathematics intervention, their skills in these areas may improve significantly over the school year. The summer is a great time to assess any areas that have improved or may need further attention.
4. Your child will be less stressed/anxious.
Most children have reduced stress levels and lower anxiety during the summer months. This often means better performance and less negative emotion about completing a set of psychological tests. Especially if your child or teen has expressed worry about a Psychological Assessment, summer may be the best chance to get a good look at their current level of functioning.
5. You won’t be caught in the back-to-school assessment rush.
Many professionals who provide assessments experience a big rush and a long wait list at the start of the school year. By completing a Psychological Assessment during the summer months, your child will already be done with the assessment process and won’t be delayed in receiving services.
6. Your child’s accommodations can start as soon as school is back in session.
If your child’s evaluation indicates that Section 504 or Special Education services may be useful, a summer Psychological Assessment may put your family first in line for an Annual Review & Dismissal (ARD) meeting this fall. This can prevent the difficulties that may arise in the first weeks and months of school since your child will already have some services in place.
7. Licensed Specialists in School Psychology (LSSP) usually don’t work over the summer.
In Texas, LSSPs typically complete educational testing for school districts. Most LSSPs work only during months when school is in session, so their assessment services are not available during the summer. Licensed Psychologists, however, tend to work year-round, allowing for assessment (and therapy) services to occur when school-based services may not be available.
8. You and your child will know what to expect in the coming school year.
Having an in-depth look at your child or teen’s brain before school starts in the fall can help the whole family know what to expect. A Licensed Psychologist can help walk you and your family through the process of assessment, diagnosis, and treatment before the stress of the school year sets in.
9. Your child’s teacher(s) will have updated information about your child’s strengths and weaknesses.
A Psychological Assessment provides a thorough explanation of your child or teen’s current strengths and weaknesses. It also provides information about any new or updated diagnoses that may affect your child or teen’s school performance. This information can be particularly useful for teachers who will be working with your student this fall.
10. You will learn so much about your child’s brain!
For many parents, a Psychological Assessment is an opportunity to learn about your child or teen’s brain in an in-depth, scientific way. You will learn what your child or teen might be best at or worst at. You will learn if your child or teen fits diagnostic criteria for any areas of concern. Best of all, you will learn about strategies and resources that can help your child or teen feel successful at home, at school, and in life. That sounds like a summer well spent.