Common Questions Parents ask about Cognitive Assessments

What are Cognitive Assessments? Does my child need one?

You may be the parent of a child and have received a recommendation that a cognitive assessment or psychometric assessment be obtained.  These assessments help identify a child’s mental capability and behavioural styles in how they best fit into everyday life and the academic system. It also allows families, teachers, and other professionals to gain an understanding of your child’s cognitive and learning difficulties, academic strengths and weaknesses, and school readiness. 

Is this the same as an IQ test? What does IQ mean?

This is a common question asked by many parents of children who have been recommended by schools or others to identify how they can best fit into the everyday academic system. The IQ test, which stands for Intelligence Quotient, is only one part of a battery of test that helps identify a child’s mental capabilities and behavioural styles. The purpose of these tests is to identify the strength and weaknesses of your child which you can implement at home or start a conversation with your teachers and other professional on how best to support your child in the near future.

These assessments can identify:

  • Cognitive and learning difficulties and how to help them,
  • Diagnose intellectual difficulties and disabilities,
  • Differentiate between emotional and cognitive difficulties, and
  • Intellectual giftedness.

Why might a cognitive assessment help my child?

There are a multitude of reasons why a cognitive assessment may be recommended for your child including:

  • To identify a child’s cognitive strengths and weaknesses.
  • To obtain an accurate profile of an individual’s overall intellectual functioning or IQ level.
  • To assist in developing learning strategies and recommendations
  • To assist in the examination of:
  • Intellectual giftedness
  • Specific learning disabilities
  • Intellectual disability
  • Learning difficulties
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

The psychologist will also provide recommendations after the evaluation on how to proceed with the outcome of the assessment.

I’m not sure if my child is ready for School. How best can I support them when they start?

A cognitive assessment or intelligence test is used to determine a child’s learning capability by identifying their cognitive strengths and weaknesses. The results from a cognitive assessment can provide a profile which can assist with the development of individualised learning plans and intervention.  

What is involved in these assessments?

These assessments can involve a short battery of tests conducted to suit a child’s general and academic functioning in the context of their everyday life. At Play Therapy Melbourne, our assessments are run by a Clinical Psychologist. Having a clinical psychologist allows for a multifaceted evaluation of factors that affect the child’s general and academic functioning including emotional, environmental, physical, and cognitive factors. Understanding these factors will lead to a comprehensive report that details the outcome of the assessment, how to apply the appraisal process day-to-day, and provide future general and academic goals for the child.

 An assessment at Play Therapy Melbourne is usually structured across a few sessions:

Interview session: A parent/caregiver-only session that involves answering questions relevant to the child’s psychological and medical background and relevant school history.

Cognitive assessment: After the interview session, a standardised battery of tests involving both quantitative and qualitative measures can span across two-to-three sessions. Each assessment can last from up to 90 minutes, with adequate breaks and rests provided to the child tested.

Feedback session: The feedback involves discussing the overview of the assessment and a future treatment recommendations or necessary referrals to help with the child’s ongoing functioning.

Some questionnaires may be given to the family to pass on to the school or other associated services related to the child to get a thorough and extensive reflection of the child’s capacity.

What does a cognitive assessment measure?

At Play Therapy Melbourne a registered psychologist completes a comprehensive initial interview with parent(s) to gather background information and discuss the reason for referral. A cognitive assessment is then completed with the child to assess abilities such as:

Verbal Reasoning
Ability to use and understand words and being able to apply them to form a verbal concept, expression and reasoning.

Visual Spatial
Ability to take in visual details and understand their relationship in a space or how they are constructed. Understanding of the relationships between parts and a whole and integration of visual and motor skills.

Fluid Reasoning
Ability to see the relationship between visual objects and apply the concept.

Working Memory
Ability to hold visual and auditory information in mind while working on other tasks as well as demonstrating attention and concentration.

Processing Speed
Speed and accuracy of visual scanning and identifying visual objects, short-term memory, and visual-motor coordination.

Who can be seen?

At Play Therapy Melbourne, anyone, including children 4 to 17 years of age, with known or suspected cognitive, attentional, or learning difficulties can be referred for assessment. We also see children to assess for giftedness. 

These assessments are run by our psychologist Sian, who has experience and an interest in helping families and schools better understand and work with their children’s gifts and challenges.

If you have any more questions about cognitive assessments, we would be more than happy for you to call us to discuss your situation on (03) 9439 2450.

Christine Harkin
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