Children and Psychological Testing

Psychological testing assesses a child's current level of functioning. It provides an objective, standardized measurement of current performance compared to other children of the same age throughout the country. Taken together with other information, test results help you and others plan appropriate steps to address difficulties.

Psychological testing helps to answer those questions you haven't otherwise been able to resolve. Specific tests are selected to provide information and formulate a plan.

Psychological testing is conducted as part of a broader evaluation. Other parts of the evaluation include collecting background information from you about your child's development, medical history, family history, behavior, progress in school and social-emotional well being. Parents and teachers may also fill out questionnaires and checklists as a way to provide helpful data. Observations throughout the evaluation and an interview will also contribute valuable information.

The tests chosen for your child depend on the questions posed. Your questions may have to do with learning difficulties, behavior problems, emotional struggles, sensory-motor control or intellectual development. The common tests used are:

  • IQ tests to assess current learning potential
  • Academic achievement tests to assess reading, writing and math
  • Visual-motor integration tests to assess fine-motor coordination
  • Continuous performance tests to assess attention and impulsivity
  • Projective tests to assess social-emotional functioning

Who conducts psychological testing?

Psychological testing may be conducted in Michigan only by Licensed Doctoral Level Psychologists (L.P.) or by Limited Licensed Master's Level Psychologists (L.L.P.) under the supervision of a Licensed Psychologist.

In the schools, a multicisciplinary team consisting of a certified school psychologist, a teacher consultant and your child's teacher most often conducts evaluations. Other specialists, such as speech and language therapists, physical therapists and occupational therapists join the group as needed.

Where should I go to have my child tested?

The schools will conduct a comprehensive educational evaluation if other interventions have not been successful in addressing the needs and educational problems of the child.

Privately, you may seek psychological evaluations from psychologists in the community or from a hospital team. You may wish to contact your child's pediatrician for referrals to psychologists. The school staff psychologist, social worker, counselor or principal may also be able to recommend several local private psychologists.

What outcome can be expected?

After your child has ben tested, a meeting will be set up with the psychologist to discuss test results and recommendations. The information you receive should relate directly to questions you posed when arranging the evaluation and guide the interventions. You can take this opportunity to ask questions and seek the psychologist's assistance. Later, you should receive a written report of the psychologist's evaluation.


When to Seek Professional Consultation

Often the problems experienced by children or adolescents can be addressed by the family; but many do seek out professional help at some point. They do so when they or the school observe the child exhibiting emotional, learning or behavior problems that interfere with his or her adjustment, success and self-esteem. A consultation with a psychologist can help to clarify the situation, determine if professional assistance is needed, and develop a plan of action. Depending on the issues, services such as prent guidance, individual child therapy or family counseling can be very helpful. Psychological testing can pinpoint the nature of a child's learning problems; follow-up parent guidance can help develop an apprpriate plan of educational intervention and support.