A Parent’s Complete Guide to Psychoeducational Assessment

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Psychoeducational assessment can be really confusing to figure out for parents. In fact, these phone consults tend to last the longest given all the questions that folks tend to have about them. I hope this post helps clarify the most commonly asked questions we get asked about psychoeducational testing and serves as a helpful resource to our Miami-Dade community.

What is psychoeducational assessment?

A psychoeducational evaluation is a type of testing that helps detect mental health conditions that may be resulting in poor school performance or poor standardized testing scores. 

What questions does psychoeducational assessment answer?

This type of psychological testing aims to answer whether someone’s academic difficulties are the result of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, an undiagnosed learning disorder (e.g. dyslexia, dyscalculia, etc.), or an anxiety or mood disorder. It also answers questions about the person’s preferred learning styles, strengths and weaknesses, and provides specific recommendations for helping the person improve.

This testing can also determine if the person has Autism Spectrum Disorder if the psychoeducational evaluation included developmental and adaption functioning testing. 

When is a psychoeducational evaluation needed? Isn’t a diagnosis from my pediatrician or psychiatrist enough?

Psychoeducational evaluations help explain how any mental health conditions detected impact the person’s academic functioning. Being able to explain this connection and its impact on the person is what will qualify the person for academic accommodations in school or on standardized exams. 

Yes, pediatricians, neurologists, psychiatrists often diagnose learning disorders, intellectual disability, or ADHD but it’s usually on the basis of a screening questionnaire like the Vanderbilt Scales. But this doesn’t explore whether the person’s difficulties are the result of something else.

For example, a child may struggle with focusing while reading. A doctor may conclude this is due to ADHD after talking to the child, their parents, and their teacher. But it may be that the child is struggling with reversing letters which makes reading comprehension hard for them. This is taking extra brainpower from the child which impairs their ability to focus; this is consistent with a reading disorder, not ADHD. Or perhaps the child has racing thoughts they can’t control making it difficult to focus on reading because their parents are divorcing – that then sounds more like anxiety instead of ADHD.

A diagnosis from a pediatrician, neurologist, psychiatrist, etc. does not explain the extent to which the condition impacts learning.

Learning requires attention, planning, organization, and memory through both visual and auditory streams. A well-done psychoeducational evaluation explains the person’s deficits and how these deficits hurt their ability to learn in the classroom and keep them from performing their best on standardized exams. This is important information because it helps determine which accommodations can be granted to help the person perform to their potential.