In my last Tip we reviewed ADHD, Learning Disabilities, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and an introduction to psychological testing. This week we will discuss some of the advantages conferred by psychological testing, tell you the story of Jeremy and the impact of these assessments on his life, and provide you with tangible steps to take if you or a loved one may be suffering from ADHD or other learning difficulties and wish to seek accommodations in school or the workplace.
Advantages Conferred by Psychological Testing
Dr. Wu goes on to share “Every person can benefit from better knowing themselves and their own strengths and weaknesses. Therapy and medication management is one way in which people can gain greater insight into their own behaviors and tendencies. Psychological testing can also be beneficial as a complement to the other two methods, as it can help unlock a person’s understanding of their own potential.”
Jeremy was nineteen years old when he first came to see me for treatment. He was struggling academically in community college and becoming increasingly agitated. He shared that he wanted to “feel normal” and would frequently feel bewildered, commenting, “I just don’t know what is wrong with me. I will be sitting in class and I am not comprehending the information fast enough and I get into this mindset where I feel stupid but I also feel trapped. It’s hard to explain. I just want to run out of class but I don’t want people to think I’m weird and so I just sit there but I feel like that makes it worse, and makes me feel so inadequate”
As our sessions continued, we uncovered that Jeremy had difficulty noticing and understanding social cues, and would often feel depressed and angry with himself. The feelings of inadequacy continued to build within him and worsened his other symptoms. Psychological testing revealed that Jeremy had a mild deficit with non-verbal communication, moderate dyslexia, and high levels of social anxiety. As a result of these findings, treatment recommendations included sitting in the back of the classroom so that there was an exit nearby and anti-anxiety medication. Our work together helped him to regulate his emotions in public settings and made him feel more confident in his academic abilities. The test results also enabled him to be granted additional academic accommodations, including time-and-a-half (150% time) for exams and term papers. For the first time in many years, Jeremy began to feel normal.
Begin to Untangle through Psychological Testing
There are a large number of psychological assessments that can assist in the diagnosis and treatment planning for individuals with learning disabilities, attentional disorders and other mental health concerns; which can be custom-tailored to answer specific questions that you may have about yourself or a loved one; and provide the necessary documentation to receive accommodations at school or in the workplace. Here are some steps to get you started.
- Step 1: Seek out a professional that is certified to administer psychological assessments and schedule an initial consultation. This will provide the evaluator and you the opportunity to get to know one another and discuss your concerns in detail.
- Step 2: Ask the evaluator to recommend assessments will best suit your needs and goals, by bringing them a list of your objectives.
- Step 3: Recognize in advance that assessments may be time-consuming and expensive, and be certain to ask your evaluator to provide specific guidance as to the time commitment and cost.
- Step 4: Once the test results have been analyzed, review the diagnostic impressions and implications with your evaluator. Ask for a copy of the report for your records.
- Step 6: Discuss the findings and recommendations with the evaluator and your individual therapist, and/or psychiatrist, and develop together a comprehensive treatment plan. This will provide you the greatest possible return-on-investment.
- Step 7: If your child has been diagnosed with ADHD, seek academic accommodations through their school guidance counselor, or their college’s office of disability services, by submitting a letter of request and psychological assessment results from their doctor.
Accommodations might include one or more of the following:
- Extended time during examinations, 150% – 200% of the allotted time.
- Taking exams in a quiet room that is free from distractions.
- Spread out exam schedules as much as possible.
- Being granted priority registration for college classes.
- Receiving extended time to complete term papers.
- Permission to use a computer for essay examinations.
- Receiving nutritional counseling.
- Sessions with an ADHD coach, to develop routines necessary for success.
- Obtain a detailed syllabus in advance, and be granted sufficient time to complete reading and writing assignments, at times negotiating extensions with teachers or professors.
- The use of a laptop computer and a during lectures, and selectively recording lectures with a digital recorder or a Smartpen. In addition, copies of lecture notes and PowerPoint presentations.
- Regular office hours with teachers or professors in courses where they are struggling. Able to work with graduate students or teaching assistants to obtain extra tutoring.
- To minimize distractibility, assigned seating in the front of the classroom away from windows and doors.
If you or someone you love may be suffering from ADHD or learning disabilities and would like to seek accommodations at school or in the workplace; or simply want to learn more about underlying psychological strengths and weaknesses; then psychological testing may be just what the doctor ordered!
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