Would you like to know what makes me angry? When I learn that a child was brought to a psychologist for an evaluation because they had a reading problem—and the psychologist gives their favorite tests – and in the end doesn’t make a diagnosis or reach a conclusion that addresses the reading problem. Perhaps they don’t make a diagnosis because they don’t think the child’s scores are low enough, or they don’t have enough training in Dyslexia and other reading disorders, or they believe they have to wait until the child receives more instruction before they can be diagnosed. So, they just say to give it time and come back for a re-evaluation in a year.
At Rice Psychology, we know how devastating reading difficulties can be. They can take a terrible toll on self-esteem, feelings about school, future school performance and even friendships.
Early Identification and Intervention Is Key
If we know there is a reading issue from teachers and parents, and from watching and listening to a child read, we will choose a test that is sensitive enough to pick up on the problem. We know that different tests ask different kinds of questions. For example, when you have a leg injury your doctor might do an x-ray, MRI or ultrasound. Each test provides different information and is chosen to fit your specific problem. We recognize the strengths and limits of the tests we use and aren’t satisfied until we’ve captured the problem through our work with your child. We may ask the same question – let’s say, what’s the problem with reading comprehension – from a different angle. Reading comprehension problems can be due to trouble decoding words, understanding word and sentence meanings, remembering what you read at the beginning of the passage by the time you reach the end, or even understanding the literal and figurative meaning.
We recognize that we know that if a child has an underlying reading problem it is that we need to look at the underlying and associated skills not just the academic skills.
What To Look For
So, if you take your child for an evaluation of a learning disability in reading and they don’t look at phonological awareness and processing (being able to hear and manipulate the sounds in words), rapid naming, orthographic processing (i.e. how the child deals with text and symbols) and memory, then the psychologist is missing the boat.
Be sure that the psychologist:
- Assesses phonological processing and rapid naming
- Listens to your child read aloud
- Assesses both their oral reading accuracy and rate (how many mistakes they make and what their reading speed is)
- Tests their reading comprehension from MORE than one perspective…
If they don’t, go back and ask them to take another look or go to a different psychologist who has more expertise in diagnosing learning disabilities.
If a child has been struggling in school for several months, is achieving below their peers and general expectations—and the school has already done targeted small group instruction in an attempt to help without significant improvement—then your child may indeed have a legitimate and diagnosable learning disability.
I understand that good evaluations take time and sometimes are a bit more expensive than the ones completed in just one 2-3 hour session, but wouldn’t you rather have the answers you need to get your child help today rather than have a less than complete picture and miss the opportunity to help your child.
You might say this is a pet peeve of mine! I often read other psychologists reports and feel heartbroken for the child and the family who thought they were going to get the answers to the questions they had, but instead they got a bunch of scores in a copy and paste report without having their true questions answered.
Work with a Reputable Tampa Psychologist
If you want thorough answers to your questions about your child’s learning problems, please go to a psychologist who has tools beyond the Woodcock Johnson and the WISC-V. Make sure they understand and can tell you what Dyslexia is and if they’ve diagnosed it. Ask them how they assess for attention problems and how much time they typically spend with the children themselves. Ask if they will talk with your child’s school after the evaluation is complete to both explain the findings and create the best plan for your child.
Remember, go to somebody who has advanced training in psychological testing or neuropsychology. School and Clinical Psychologists are both great resources – but make sure they have specific interest and experience in assessing and diagnosing learning problems along with other child mental health and neurodevelopmental problems.
Here For You
Contact us to schedule an initial appointment or a free, 10-minute consultation. Our Tampa psychologists offer private online sessions via Telehealth and finally an increasing number of in-person evaluation and therapy appointments at our North and South Tampa locations.