Does my child need to be assessed?
By Dr. Brandi Eijsermans
When your child is struggling emotionally, behaviorally or academically parents and teachers seek clarity to help the child get on track with their development. When you are outside your country of origin, as a parent, this process can become emotional and confusing. You might wonder “Is this due to our relocation or is this just part of their age or is there something going on I need to do something to help.” Culturally and socially you may fear your child is being labeled or conversely missing the support they need. Others might consider moving schools or even countries due to this discomfort. Before you do so consider that 10-20% of students have learning difficulties. These difficulties can be supported, at times remediated, with early intervention. Gaining a deeper understanding of what is going on through psychodevelopmental assessment may reveal the insights needed to know with confidence how to support your child’s development.
What is psychological assessment?
Psychodevelopmental and psychoeducation assessment are a specialized method for accurately understanding what the problem is that the child faces and how it is impacting their development. Psychologists are trained to collaborate to gain background information on your child from you and their teacher(s), standardized measures, and information from their school performance to evaluate what is going on for your child. They are also trained to provide clear and specific feedback for schools and parents to create an individual program of learning support. With bilingual and polylingual children it is important to find a psychologist with linguistic and cultural competencies in the area of bilingual language development to avoid inappropriate diagnosis. A data-based identification of attention deficits, learning disability, under-challanged giftedness and other issues can assist you in providing the right tools for the success of your child. Parents have a specially mandated right to explore the possibility of a learning difficulty for their child.
Behavioral & Psychosocial Evaluations – Behaviors have a wide range in typical development of children. However, at times behaviors can interfere socially, academically and even with development itself. Behavioral and psychosocial assessment provides evaluation of the behavior(s) within the perspective of the child’s development across environments of school, home and social settings. Behavioral and psychosocial evaluations can be helpful for individual knowledge and growth in therapy, as well as providing useful psychoeducation to the family for strategies with the behavior to better support the individual struggling with the behavior. Schools and pediatricians can often also benefit from this information to provide a consistent strategy for support of the individual to overcome problematic behaviors.
How do I explore getting my child assessed?
If you or your child’s teacher notice behavior or emotional changes in your child or specific difficulty with language, mathematics or memory close monitoring of this change is advised. At the start of the new school year is a great time to lay the foundation of collaborated communication with your child’s education team of teachers, administrators and staff. Start the conversation and exchange your insights as you review your child’s progress. Some schools will be able to provide preliminary screening for specific learning difficulties. Consult your school, pediatrician or developmental psychologist whether an assessment could provide clarity for early intervention, if needed. Don’t be afraid to advocate for your child, they need your voice. It is important to take action in a timely manner as delays can undermine your child’s confidence. It is vital that if you child learns differently they learn approaches that help support their development instead of internalizing their difficulties as a reflection on who they are as a person.
Once you have an assessment it can be used to establish and Individual Learning Plan with targeted interventions. Interventions will need to be monitored and modified as needed. When changing schools this assessment will help the new school become informed on what is needed to effectively support learning and social/emotional development of your child.
Seeing your child struggle is difficult whether living in your country or origin or host country but finding resources and support doesn’t have to be. If you have concerns reach out for specialized help.
About Dr. Brandi Eijsermans, Optimal Wellness Global
Dr. Eijsermans is a native English speaking, international developmental psychologist. She offers assessment and therapy with science-based practices of well-being, to promote thriving skills, resilience, happiness, compassion and connection for a meaningful life. To learn more about Dr. Eijsermans and her practice go to www.optimalwellnessglobal.com. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.