As a registered psychologist at Wildflowers Therapy, I receive all kinds of questions from parents on a daily basis. The parents that I work with are often concerned about their child’s learning and/or behaviour, and they want to make sure that they are doing their best to support their child.
The focus of my work is psychoeducational assessment, which is a comprehensive assessment that measures a client’s cognitive, academic, and behavioural functioning. Psychoeducational assessments may result in a diagnosis of Specific Learning Disorder, Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), or Intellectual Disability, and can help guide appropriate supports at home and school. Registered psychologists who work in other areas (e.g., counselling/intervention) would likely have a different list of questions from parents.
Here are five of the most common questions I receive from parents throughout the process of completing a psychoeducational assessment with their child:
Question 1: How do I explain a psychoeducational assessment to my child?
Answer: When explaining a psychoeducational assessment to your child, consider your child’s age and temperament. I often encourage parents to be honest, but keep it lighthearted. For example, “You are going to see a psychologist next week, which is a person who does activities with children to learn about their brains. Some of the activities will be fun, like working with blocks and looking at pictures, and some of the activities will be similar to what you do at school. All you have to do is try your best and have fun!”. Try to avoid the word “testing” because this may lead your child to believe that they can pass or fail the assessment.
It may even be helpful to show your child photos of their psychologist and the Wildflowers Therapy clinic, which can be found on our website www.wildflowerschild.com.
Question 2: Can you diagnose dyslexia?
Answer: Yes! Dyslexia is an alternative term for Specific Learning Disorder, and it is used to refer to a pattern of learning difficulties characterized by problems with word recognition, decoding, and spelling.
Question 3: Should I tell my child that they have a learning disorder/ADHD?
Answer: You know your child best, so this is a choice you can make as parents. However, I often encourage parents to be as open with their child as possible. Many children with learning or attention concerns already know that school is more difficult for them than their peers, so it may actually bring some relief for your child to know that there is a reason for their struggles, and that it is not their fault. You may consider reminding your child that everyone has strengths and weaknesses, but in some cases, people’s weaknesses can make learning really tough. When we identify the problem, it makes it easier for parents and teachers to help!
Question 4: Does my child need medication?
Answer: Medication may be a part of treatment for your child’s condition; however, this is not something that will be determined through a psychoeducational assessment. In most cases, psychologists will recommend speaking to a trusted physician or a psychiatrist about medication.
Question 5: What is the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist?
Answer: Psychologists and psychiatrists both work in the field of mental health, but their education, training, and roles in treatment are different. Psychologists have an advanced degree (i.e., Masters or PhD) in psychology, and may be trained in a number of different areas including assessment, psychotherapy, and consultation. Psychiatrists have a medical degree with a specialty in psychiatry, and may provide therapy, medications, or other treatments for significant mental health concerns.
It is normal for both parents and children to have questions for their psychologist about the psychoeducational assessment process; don’t be afraid to ask! Your psychologist will do their best to answer your questions, and if they do not know the answer, they might be able to help you figure it out!
Written by Rachelle MacSorley, Registered Psychologist with Wildflowers