Childhood and adolescence is a time of excitement and exploration, but for some youth, issues with how they understand the world, learn new information, and relate to others causes significant difficulty during this period. For these youth, a psychoeducational assessment may be one way to better understand them and identify the best ways to offer support.

Timmy is an 8-year-old boy in grade 3. He has trouble with reading and has behaviour problems at school in English language arts and social studies. Timmy becomes nervous right before ELA class. While reading, he often throws his book on the floor. When asked to read in front of the class, he runs out of the classroom.

A psychoeducational assessment involves learning more about an individual by evaluating their abilities in a variety of areas. Standardized testing is completed with the youth to look at the ways in which he or she solves problems, uses language, processes information, and learns academic material. At times, it is important to complete a school observation or look at factors like their memory, attention, planning, and organization. Each new piece of information adds another piece of the puzzle as we work to understand the youth and their particular challenges. Importantly, results are always considered in the context of their environment and emotional state. This process can be essential for CASA youth as they often struggle with both emotional difficulties and academic challenges. Our team works to help families and schools recognize the ways in which mental health and academic functioning are highly intertwined.

Due to his behavioural challenges, Timmy sees a therapist at CASA. The therapist thinks that Timmy would benefit from PAC services to find out more about Timmy’s abilities and needs. Timmy and his parents meet with a PAC psychologist and discuss Timmy’s experience of reading at school. Timmy does some activities with the psychologist, including tasks that look at the way Timmy thinks and reasons and how well he is doing in his school subjects.

There are many benefits of obtaining a comprehensive psychoeducational assessment, including identification of appropriate school programming, recognition and remediation of academic issues, and individualized recommendations that outline how caregivers and school staff can support the youth. Our Psychological Assessment and Consultation team (PAC) focuses particularly on how a youth’s strengths and areas of difficulty impact the ability to participate and succeed in treatment at CASA. We work collaboratively with the youth’s family, school, and the multidisciplinary team in this endeavour. The flexibility of our clinic allows for more comprehensive assessments that offer a level of understanding that surpasses assessments typically completed in schools or private clinics. In this manner, we are able to offer the highest level of care to the wonderful families serviced by our organization.

The PAC psychologist has a feedback meeting with Timmy’s parents to discuss how Timmy’s anxiety is getting in the way of learning to read. The parents feel they gain a better understanding of Timmy’s strengths and challenges, and they discuss strategies and resources parents and teachers can use to help Timmy at school. Now, Timmy is happier and feels like his parents and teachers know how to help him better in the classroom.