Differential Diagnostic Evaluations for Attentional Problems

Children can display problems with attention, impulsivity, and high activity levels for a number of different reasons. Often the origin of these problems is misdiagnosed or complicating issues are not identified. It is not uncommon for a child to be diagnosed with ADHD after a brief meeting with a physician or mental health professional and the review of behavior checklists; however, many other types of problems can “mimic” the symptoms of ADHD or coexist with it complicating treatment. Depression, anxiety, behavior problems, and learning disabilities, can all look like ADHD or can complicate the treatment of ADHD. For a child to be appropriately diagnosed with ADHD, these other conditions need to be ruled out as the only cause of a child’s difficulties. We provide a comprehensive assessment of these issues in order to determine the true cause or causes of an individual’s problems with attention, impulsivity, and/or hyperactivity. These evaluations include interviews with caregivers and the child, rating scales completed by parents and teachers, individually administered IQ and achievement tests, a continuous performance test, a screen for visual-motor integration difficulties, and measures of emotional and behavioral functioning administered to the child that vary depending on the child’s age. Evaluations are also available for older adolescents and adults and include measures of personality functioning. A comprehensive written report is part of each evaluation and includes recommendations for addressing any problems that are identified.

Learning Disability Assessments

Children who struggle with learning can sometimes have specific learning disabilities that cause their struggles. Many children are evaluated for these problems by their local school district; however, sometimes parents wish to have an independent evaluation conducted or a child is determined to not be eligible for an evaluation by their school, but their parents remain concerned about their child’s learning. At these times, a private evaluation can be sought. Our assessors are experienced in conducting evaluations for learning disabilities, which include the administration of individual intelligence and achievement tests. If any significant discrepancies exist between a child’s performance on these measures, then a learning disability exists. A full written report including specific recommendations for remediation of any difficulties that are identified completes the evaluation.

Psychological Assessments

While some children experience difficulties with learning, others demonstrate problems with their behavior or emotions. These issues can be mild in nature or more severe. Many adults also experience problems with their interpersonal functioning and mood. Sometimes, a thorough evaluation of an individual’s emotional and behavioral functioning is needed in order to determine the cause of their difficulties and to guide therapeutic interventions. Our assessors are experienced in providing thorough psychological assessments of children, adolescents, and adults. A number of different assessment methods can be utilized, including rating scales assessing behavior, anxiety, and depression, as well as objective and subjective measures of personality and emotional functioning. The areas of concern and the age of the individual being assessed determine the methods used in each case. Once the evaluation is concluded, a complete written report is provided. The report includes diagnosis and specific recommendations.

Gifted Students: Identification and Learning and Emotional Needs

Intellectually gifted students have special needs and those gifted students who have multiple diagnoses, such as learning disabilities or ADHD, frequently go unidentified due to their heightened abilities in other areas. Our assessors provide evaluations of students whose parents or teachers believe may be of high intellect, but have not met traditional criteria in order to be evaluated by their local school district. In addition, students who have already been identified as of gifted intelligence, but who do not seem to be able to meet their full potential, can be evaluated to determine the cause of this underachievement. Some gifted children may also have difficulty coping with their complex emotions. Evaluations can include assessment of the student’s learning, attention, and/or emotional functioning.