Dr. Stacey Whyne Berman and Dr. Ruth Slater offer psycho-educational assessments for children, adolescents and adults.

Psycho-educational Assessments

If you are concerned that you, or your child, are not able to optimally learn in a traditional academic environment, you may want to consider a psycho-educational assessment.

We have extensive experience in the assessment of Learning Disabilities, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Giftedness, and other factors (e.g., anxiety) that can affect learning. We complete the testing ourselves, and provide comprehensive feedback and reports with a strong emphasis on recommendations. This information, in turn, can be used by the local school board, college, or university, to put adaptations and/or accommodations in place that will enable more optimal performance.

A wide variety of accommodations and supports are available within both the Canadian public school system and at Canadian colleges and universities. Once a diagnosis of a Learning Disability or AD/HD is made, it becomes an individual’s human right to obtain relevant accommodations and supports. Recommendations stemming from the assessment findings can be used to guide academic and career choices and to develop learning strategies that optimize success, as improved self-knowledge is translated into emphasizing strengths and de-emphasizing, or working around, areas of weakness.

How do we diagnose Learning Disabilities?

  • A variety of intellectual, achievement, and processing-based tests (e.g., phonological processing, memory and attention, processing speed, language processing, perceptual motor processing, visual-spatial processing, executive functions) are administered to determine whether there is evidence of: 1) one or more areas of academic achievement that is/are significantly lower than expected in comparison to the individual’s assessed intellectual potential (thinking and reasoning abilities); 2) a clinically significant weakness in one or more of the specific areas of processing (as listed above) relative to the individual’s assessed intellectual capacity; and 3) a logical link between the academic deficit/deficits and the processing weakness/weaknesses
  • Consideration is also given to social-emotional and attention-based factors and their possible impact on learning and achievement; this information is gathered through clinical interviewing and the administration of social-emotional and behavioral inventories
  • A complete Learning Disability Assessment typically involves 8-10 hours of testing time spread out over a few days, as well as psychologist time to score, interpret, and integrate results and to develop a comprehensive written report with clinical findings and recommendations. This is followed by a feedback session in which results and recommendations are explained and a copy of the report is provided.
  • Following the completion of the assessment, arrangements can be made to provide support and advocacy at local school team meetings and/or Identification Placement and Review Committee (IPRC) meetings

How do we diagnose Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder?

  • Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder is primarily diagnosed by examination of historical information and current behavioural functioning through a combination of clinical observations, report card reviews, interviews, and behavioural questionnaires completed by the individual and one or more of his/her significant others (e.g., parent, spouse, teacher). Emphasis is placed on assessing difficulties with initiating focus, sustaining attention, distractibility, disorganization, disinhibition, restlessness, impulsivity, and a low tolerance for frustration and boredom. Intellectual, achievement and attention-based tests are also administered to examine the individual’s processing style and to rule out or identify any co-existing Learning Disabilities. Finally, social-emotional tests are frequently administered to assess whether social-emotional factors (e.g., depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress) may account for, or contribute to, attention-based difficulties.
  • A complete AD/HD Assessment typically involves 8-10 hours of testing time spread out over a few days, in addition to time for observations, interviews, scoring of tests, interpretation of results, integration of the variety of data obtained, and development of a comprehensive written report with clinical findings and recommendations. This is followed by a feedback session in which results and recommendations are explained and a copy of the report is provided.

How do we assess for Giftedness?

  • The individual is administered a standardized intelligence test -typically the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children – Fourth Edition (WISC-IV) for those 6-16 years of age, or the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale – Fourth Edition (WAIS-IV) for those 16 or above – to determine if their level of reasoning skills meets the criteria outlined by their school board for a Gifted designation. Scores are required to fall in the Very Superior range of intellectual functioning, though different school boards may have slightly different numerical cutoffs.
  • A few achievement-based tests (e.g., reading, math) are also typically administered to determine whether the individual’s academic skills are commensurate with their assessed intellectual ability
  • A Gifted assessment typically takes 2-3 hours of testing time as well as psychologist time to score and integrate results, and write up a report. This is followed by a feedback session in which results and recommendations are explained and a copy of the report is provided

Indicators of LD

  • Marked difficulty in reading, writing, spelling, and/or the use of numerical concepts in contrast to average or above average skills in other areas
  • Trouble understanding or following directions; becomes easily overwhelmed when given lengthy directions, or more than one direction at the same time
  • Confuses similar looking letters such as “b”, “d”, “p” and “q”; confuses the order of letters in words (e.g., “saw” for “was”, or “two” for “tow”)
  • Confuses similar numbers (e.g., 6 and 9, or 3 and 8) or alters the sequence of numbers (e.g., writes 37 in place of 73); has difficulty copying numbers accurately and keeping numbers accurately aligned in columns
  • Omits or adds words when reading aloud and/or in written compositions
  • Poorly formed letters, uneven spacing between words, handwriting has an inconsistent slant
  • Disorganization in space – confuses up and down, right and left, North, South, East and West, has trouble with directions and often gets lost
  • Poor co-ordination or clumsiness
  • Frequently misinterprets the subtleties of language, tone of voice, and social interactions

Some indicators of a potential Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder:

  • Is easily distracted by background noise or visual stimulation and has difficulty paying attention/sustaining attention
  • Has trouble starting tasks – initiating activity, and also has trouble completing tasks that have been started
  • Does not accurately assess time; typically underestimates the amount of time something takes and consequently often keeps others waiting, is late for appointments, and has trouble completing assignments in the allotted time
  • Trouble with organization – difficulty sticking to schedules, often forgets things, loses things or leaves things behind
  • Trouble with disinhibition - difficulty inhibiting words and behaviors – a tendency to act impulsively – to act before thinking
  • Excessively on the go or excessive need for stimulation, tendency to engage in high risk or high intensity activities/sports; drivers are more likely to get speeding citations and be involved in motor vehicle accidents

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