The process involves a series of different activities designed to help identify an individual’s specific learning style, as well as their strengths and weaknesses.
When taking your teen for a cognitive assessment, it is important to bring a copy of all past assessments, in order to let the psychologist know about previous results and recommendations.
Moreover, it is essential to note that there should be a two year period before re-testing. For example, if a teen is assessed by a psychologist or school guidance officer in June 2011, they will have to wait until June 2013 to be re-assessed using the same measuring tool.
Reasons for Testing
The assessment gives an insight into an individual’s cognitive abilities and learning potential, generating two types of results: an index, as well as a general IQ score. Cognitive assessment is often used with students experiencing different kinds of difficulties at school. Common concerns expressed by parents/caregivers may include:
- My teen is struggling academically;
- My teen seems to be behind his/her peers;
- Teachers believe that my child should be tested;
- My child does not appear interested in learning things.
While the assessment results are important, the clinical observation of the teen during testing sessions is paramount, as it gives valuable information on why they are struggling, how they are behaving, their ability to concentrate on the task, and their anxiety level during the assessment.
In fact, how an individual performs tasks is as important – and often even more so – than the actual scores.
Gifted or Talented?
If you believe that your teen might be gifted; s/he may also benefit from having a cognitive assessment done. This will give greater understanding of their cognitive abilities, and will enable the psychologist to make recommendations in order to inform the school for example. If a child is bored at school, s/he may show their frustration by being disruptive. Studies have shown that gifted students often present with behavioural and academic issues, and may underachieve in order to better fit with their peer group.
Types of Assessment
For older children and adolescents (up to the age of 16 years and 11 months), the WISC-IV is the scale of choice in many countries when trying to understand a child’s thinking and reasoning abilities. They provide information about Verbal Comprehension, Perceptual Reasoning, Working Memory and Processing Speed abilities. The individual will obtain scores for each of the four indices. It is also crucial to look at individual items within subtests as these can provide a rich source of information on the types of error the individual might be making.
Cognitive assessments are conducted in a specially appointed room, allowing good testing conditions and reduced noise for the client. The word “test” will be avoided as much as possible and replaced by a non-threatening one such as, activities or games. There is no pass or fail, but different results that will enable the psychologist to put together a profile for your child and write a report with recommendations and suitable actions.
The aim of such a process is to better understand the student’s difficulties; I like to ensure that their abilities are also highlighted. Results and recommendations are usually explained to the family during a ‘’feedback session’’, where teenagers can usually be invited to attend.
Depending on the reasons for undertaking this assessment process, a WISC-IV, may give enough information to obtain a clear picture about your teenager’s cognitive abilities.
Other Types of Assessment
However, further assessments may also be suggested, using a more specific tool like the WIAT II (Wechsler Individual Achievement Test); or the CMS (Child Memory Scale). Psychologists often need to compare measurements obtained in two different tests (for example, WISC IV and WIAT II), to assess any kind of learning disabilities.
The WIAT II assesses the academic achievement of the child. It examines specific abilities and comprises a range of subtests assessing the person’s abilities in Reading, Mathematics, Written Language and Oral Language. By using the WIAT II in combination with the WISC IV, it is possible to identify potential learning disabilities; and it can also be used to determine a child’s level in comparing his results to the norm established for his age.
The CMS (Child Memory Scale) is used to assess learning and memory function in children aged 5 to 16 years old. It gives valuable information on the child or adolescent’s Visual Memory, Verbal Memory, Attention and Concentration, as well as Learning abilities. It can be a useful tool in assessing Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), or memory issues after a brain injury.
If you would like to find out more about arranging psychological assessment for your teenager, please call 1800 877 924 or book online for an initial consultation with Meggy Delaunay.
- Cognitive assessment, Intellectual abilities (from $990) – 1 to 2 sessions for the assessment itself – 1 feedback session – Scoring, interpretation and report.
- Assessment to determine eventual learning disability (from $1650) – Cognitive assessment (assessment, scoring, interpretation and report) Plus: – 1 to 2 more sessions for assessment – Scoring, interpretation, feedback session, and report.
Author: Meggy Delaunay, PG Dip Psych Practice, PG Dip Dev Psych, M Genetic Psych, B Psych, MAPS.
Meggy Delaunay is a psychologist whose main area of interest is the treatment of children, adolescents and young adults. She is a registered Psychologist in Australia, New Zealand and France, and can provide therapy sessions in English and French.