It seems like every time I turn around another friend is telling me that their child has been diagnosed with ADHD or something that will give them extra time on standardized testing. It seems to be so commonplace these days. My child was always a good student but lately (middle school) seems to be less interested in school/homework/studying and has what may be “trouble focusing”. He stays out of trouble, has a good group of friends but maybe puberty brought on disinterest in school? I don’t want to just assume he’s like everyone else and put my kid on medication but instead want to do what is best for my child. I hear that testing is expensive and I’m not sure my husband would be willing to pay for it. Do you have advice for me on the cost, other suggestions, are these tests really helpful, how do the tests work, etc.?
Dear Concerned Mom,
Learning differences, impaired attention, executive functioning and developmental delays have always been present. Health care and educational professionals have a better understanding of those cognitive differences now than years prior. Through this understanding, we are better able to identify and treat. With the right interventions, we can improve quality of life and provide an appropriate education.
When concerns arise, comprehensive physical evaluation and neuro-psycho-educational testing is necessary to avoid misdiagnosis. Providing an appropriate diagnosis is mandatory to ensure there are not unidentified needs. Physical illness, mental health, learning disabilities, inattention, hyperactivity and developmental disabilities can present similar symptoms. Standardized evaluation differentiates possible causes.
There are a few ways to have access to neuro-psycho-educational testing. The first option is contracting a private psychologist to complete the testing. You can pay for this through health insurance (coverage for testing varies by plan), paying out of pocket or with your Healthcare Savings Account. The average cost of testing varies. Select your psychologist based on referrals that reflect not only testing that is comprehensive, but also on reports of measurable improvements after following the testing recommendations.
A second option for children in grade 12 and under is to request it through your child’s school. (Private schools typically do not have to provide this.) Request testing and document what your concerns are in writing to your school counselor. This is typically a lengthy process and testing depth can range from minimal to extensive.
Additional options include contacting local universities that offer doctorial programs in psychology. These programs frequently offer testing completed by students under the supervision of a licensed psychologist at discounted rates. Discounted rates may also be available through your local mental health center. Again, testing depth may range from minimal to comprehensive.
Do you have a question for Tatiana? Learn more about her weekly Aha! Advice column here.
Tatiana Matthews, LPC