Children and adolescents sometimes experience problems that affect normal growth and development. Accurate diagnosis and early intervention are essential.
Professionals who work with children and adolescents want to address the problems as soon as possible to increase a child's chances for successful development in the future. Psychological testing can make crucial differential diagnoses.
Here are some examples when professionals might refer a child or adolescent for testing:
Case I: The Out of Control Child
A boy shows impulsive and agitated behaviors in the classroom and is failing his classes. Several teachers complain. In addition to medical etiologies, the child could be suffering from a disorder of mood, anxiety, or thought; "ADHD"; trauma; drug abuse; learning disabilities; or relational problems. By adding neuropsychological and psychological testing to the standard medical work-up, caregivers may rapidly distinguish psychological contributions from neurological, pharmacological, or other medical etiologies.
Case II: The "Bad Kid"
An adolescent who has angry outbursts and suddenly starts doing badly in school is experiencing a great deal of conflict with his parents who think that he is abusing drugs. Psychological testing can distinguish between adolescent depression (a leading cause of teen suicides), normal adolescence, drug abuse, child abuse, and the development of anti-social or other personality disorders. Appropriate intervention at this crucial developmental stage is the best in preventative care.
CASE III: The Non-English-Speaking Immigrant Child
Teachers are concerned about a five-year-old immigrant who is not learning English at the expected rate and is not adapting well to school. The child could have an adjustment disorder, separation anxiety, acculturation problems, depression, sensory deficits, or a learning disorder. Psychological testing can help to differentiate these potential diagnoses. Early effective interventions enhance achievement capacities and prevent the child from developing permanent self-esteem problems.
CASE IV: The Quiet Infant
A couple worries about their quiet, compliant two-year old who is just pulling herself to standing, who has a poor appetite and aversion to many foods. This child might have undiagnosed sensory deficits or sensory integration problems, severe cognitive impairment, trauma, or an underlying seizure disorder. Specialists in infant development and testing can target interventions for infants and their families.
CASE V: The Word-Salad Teen
The speech of a17 year-old adolescent makes no sense. He could be experiencing a schizophrenic break, receptive aphasia, closed head injury, drug induced psychosis, or delirium. Adding psychological and neuropsychological testing early in the decision tree can prevent possible long-term neurological damage, and obviate the unnecessary use of expensive diagnostic imaging while ensuring diagnostic accuracy.
CASE IV: Custody Battle Over A Child
Child advocates know how daunting it is to represent the best interests of the child in divorce cases. Psychological testing can provide psychometrically sound documentation about a child's vulnerabilities and strengths. At BAPTA, skilled clinicians can interact therapeutically with all parties and provide the court with expert recommendations for child placement and visitation issues.
CASE VII: The Aggressive Child
The 12-year boy was just removed from his third group home for threatening a staff member. The boy needs objective measures of his potential for violence. In conjunction with collateral information, multiple tests will help determine how best to understand, manage, and treat his disturbing behaviors and detect underlying conditions such as attention deficit disorder and learning disorders.
CASE VIII: The "Spacey" Child
An eight-year-old girl who seems to be daydreaming in school much of the time. A thorough psychological and educational assessment including classroom observation, will determine if there is an underlying learning or language disorder.
When used judiciously, psychological tests have high levels of diagnostic accuracy. For example, the reliability of the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-III, used to measure cognitive strengths and weaknesses, ranges from an impressive .91 to .96. Accuracy is enhanced by observational expertise and through the psychologist developing the appropriate battery of tests to answer specific diagnostic and personality questions.
BAPTA, because it is a specialty clinic that solely focuses on psychometric assessments, ensures that the highest levels of predictive accuracy are made available. BAPTA distinguishes itself from the generalist psychologist by maintaining an exclusive focus on testing and by employing specialist examiners. State-of-the-art neuropsychological and psychological diagnostics, individualized treatment recommendations, and expert testimony are the hallmark of BAPTA's excellence.
Psychological Testing Associates
Copyright 2002, Bay Area Psychological Testing Associates