Psychological Assessment

An Overview of Psychological Assessment

At The Calming Suite Psychology, Dr Alissa Knight provides a range of assessments to
 both Adults and Children to help determine whether they meet diagnostic
criteria for a range of developmental disorders, such as: Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity
Disorder (ADHD), Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Oppositional Defiant Disorder
(ODD), a Specific Learning Disorder (e.g., Dyslexia), Personality Disorder, or Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia.

An assessment provides insight
into the child’s behaviour, as well as guided information about what types of support
and services could significantly improve their everyday functioning and
developmental trajectory. The assessment may also identify, and be used for, eligibility
to access funded early intervention services and other supports (e.g., NDIS).

Our team of psychologists at The Calming Suite psychology, including Dr Alissa Knight, Jaclyn Heinrich (with a dual degree in Law), and Neuropsychologist Bianca Belevski are all very experienced in conducting psychological assessment, expert forensic reports for courts, schools, and have received great recognition among fellow psychologists and clients for their level of dedication, attention-to-detail, accuracy, and commitment to parents/guardians, schools, courts, workplaces, and other healthcare professionals in assuring all concerns and questions over an adults or  child’s psychological functioning are answered beyond a level of doubt. 


Does my Child Need an Assessment?

A School Teacher, GP, or other Healthcare Professional has made a Recommendation

If a teacher, or someone else has suggested to you that your child might benefit from a psychological assessment, you may feel a little overwhelmed and perhaps confused about the need for one. This is understandable given how much you love your child. Children are often referred for a psychological assessment for a variety of reasons. Among other things, they may be showing signs of depression or anxiety (separation anxiety among younger children is common), have attention or behavioural problems at home or in school, be subjected to bullying, or have an intellectual disability or specific learning disorder (e.g., Dyslexia). Often when kids are struggling in school or seem to be behind their peers developmentally, a teacher will recommend the child undergo a psychological assessment.

How to Make an Informed Decision

To decide whether an assessment is necessary, it is important to determine if the problem is recent (less than six months in duration), whether there has been a change in the child’s life (which might account for the observed problems), if the child is exhibiting the problems in all areas of his or her life, and how severe the impact of the problem is on the child’s successful functioning on a daily basis.  

If your child is exhibiting any of the above, a comprehensive psychological assessment with a psychologist who specialises in child and adolescent development may be beneficial.  Cognitive assessment allows the psychologist to determine if the child is achieving as well as he or she could be. If any problems are identified (e.g., a significant delay in reading), then standardised psychological tests are used to explore in more depth those areas and skills (e.g., phonological processing and visual sequencing), which are the processes involved in reading. This provides insight into the precise nature of the learning disability for that particular child. 


How to Recognise When a Child may be Struggling due to a Developmental Disorder as opposed to just 'acting out' Defiantly

Often, children with learning disabilities, behavioural or attention problems become so discouraged at home or at school by their difficulties that they lack the motivation to try. They often feel targeted, isolated, alienated, and become frustrated with themselves and other people. This often leads to eventually ‘acting out’ behaviourally at home or in class at school, as this is their way of expressing that frustration. A thorough assessment is vital because what may present as defiant behaviour at home, or inattentive behaviour in the classroom could be due a verbal memory problem, a language processing disorder, anxiety, emotional preoccupation (e.g., the child is focused on a recent death in the family), neurologically-based attention problems, or may mask a learning disability.

Without a comprehensive assessment, an inaccurate diagnosis could be made and the child’s needs not appropriately met. This same rationale is important in differentiating between many different childhood problems that have some similar symptoms. For example, a very common diagnostic mistake in children is distinguishing true defiant/disobedient types of behaviour as seen in children with Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), to that of children with Social Anxiety Disorder. They can appear very similar in terms of symptomatology, but have vastly different implications. 


How will my Child Benefit from a Psychological Assessment?

How it will Benefit the Child

Psychological assessment is a great way for your child to understand how they learn best.  When your child understands how their brain works best, they then have the power to advocate for themselves as they go through their life in school. Most importantly, above and beyond all, when a child learns that the struggles they have been battling with are common, other children are going through the same thing, they are not “bad children”, just frustrated and impacted by their issues, this gives them back hope. They learn they are not alone, not weird, or strange, but a beautifully unique child who has been trying their best with the difficulties they have.

“Every day, he sits and watches all his peers flying high in the beautiful blue sky. He wonders “why me”, with a frown and sense of not belonging. And then one day, his whole world changes and he is given his wings, and my gosh you watch that child transform into a beautiful butterfly and fly high!”

How it will Benefit the Parent

How it will Benefit the School

If your child is struggling at school, it is in his or her best interest to inform the school so that they find supports to help them thrive. With the right guidance, a teacher will be able to recognise the struggles a child may be having, as opposed to thinking it is just defiant behaviour in the classroom. They will also have strategies for how to best help your child.  While schools may be limited in their ability to diagnose your child, once there is clarity, most schools are able to provide straightforward, practical, appropriate help to your child.

How it will Benefit the Siblings

Often when a child in the family is battling with mental health difficulties, it can become very confusing and burdening for their siblings in the house, who often have to listen to, and deal with behavioural confrontation that occurs. This can be incredibly difficult and impacting upon siblings. Psychological assessment may identify strategies that can help improve the culture within the family home, and help to repair relationships between siblings.  

More Information on Each Assessment Click Below

ADHD Assessment

ASD Assessment

Learning Assessment

Adult Assessment

Forensic Assessment

  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
  • Specific Learning Disorder (previously known as Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, and Dyscalculia)
  • Adult Assessments in Schizophrenia; Personality Disorders (e.g., Borderline Personality Disorder [BPD]); ADHD; ASD; Bipolar Disorder

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