Psych eval...To Do or Not Do?

Updated on April 30, 2015
J.K. asks from Los Angeles, CA
12 answers

My daughter qualified for mommy/me classes at our regional center (early intervention) because she scored low for social/adaptive development when we had her evaluated. She scored average or above for the other categories, except for gross motor for which she was a bit below average (she has low muscle tone). So she didn't qualify for any actual therapy services like occupational/physical/speech therapy.

During the last evaluation a few months ago, I mentioned that she is shy and tends to socially isolate. The regional center asked if we want her to do a psych eval. I'm wondering if I should or not. If I am to have her undergo a psych eval, I need to decide fast since they need to be booked in advance and before she turns 3 (she turns 3 in July). I just don't want to put her through unnecessary testing.

What exactly are psych evals? Are they evaluating what type of personality she has? If so, I don't need her evaluated because I already know that she's shy. Will they help address behavioral issues -- she does do certain things (unrelated to shyness/social isolation) I would like a professional to give me some insights on.

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answers from New York on

Ask about what's involved with evaluations. Usually for little kids they are just interactive play things. Personally I'd have it done because if they test and find she's just fine then you'll have the peace of mind knowing that. If they test and find an issue then they'll work out a program to assist in helping her plys give you things to work with her at home.

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answers from Portland on

A psych evaluation can determine why she had low scores when evaluated by the school. It can determine if she needs help in some areas. It does not determine personality types. A psych evaluation and coversations aftsrward will give you insights Into how to help her.

My daughter and two of my grandchildren have had psych evaluation. The results helped us know what each one needed. Based on the results, both grandchildren have extra help at school.

I do recommend getting one for her. Treatment for anything found early Has a greater success rate than when discovered after the child already has learning difficulty. A psych evaluation helps you to learn what she needs.

There are different reasons for a psych evaluation. If the school is providing an evaluation it will be toward determining if she will have difficulties learning. The evaluation will help determine if she will benefit from extra attention or work. Then the district will provide services that they are able to provide. Your daughter may benefit from services such as physical therapy that the school diesn't provide. My grandson, who is on the spectrum as well as having other needs, therapy was covered by insurance.

An evaluation will give insight into her behaviours. It will tell you what your daughter needs if she needs something. Think of it as a statistical report for where she is now.

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answers from Austin on

My daughter had a psych eval at age 2 and she's had several since.

There have been different suggestions depending on her age, and different strategies suggested, and different therapies or help. However, there has been one consistent thing throughout all the evals she has had, which has been invaluable, and which I'd like to suggest that you consider.

And that is: we, as parents, learned so much. When she had her first eval, we already had a son who was healthy and thriving and well-behaved and happy. We figured that as educated, loving, stable parents who weren't first-time parents, or completely inexperienced, or neglecting our kids, we pretty much knew the basics of parenting. We assumed that the same basics that applied to our son would also apply to our daughter. Sure, she had some issues that our son didn't need to deal with, but basic eating, teaching, sleeping, etc should apply to both kids, right?

How wrong we were! The first psychiatrist kindly acknowledged that our son was doing very well, and that we were doing everything right, but that sometimes, for some children, the rules just have to be changed, and what's right for one kid, or standard for most kids, just won't work in some situations. Standard parenting techniques that worked with our son just wouldn't help our daughter. We had to be receptive to the education that the psychiatrist was willing to give us. Our daughter's issues meant that we had to learn new ways of interacting with her, teaching her, helping her.

And we took his advice to heart. I really think we got more insight, advice, and understanding out of these appointments than our daughter did. Of course, she was young, but even today, psychiatrists have helped us gain a better understanding of her (she has medical issues, and anxiety and depression).

So, the testing is pretty painless, and at such a young age, the kids often see it as play, or fun. But the help that parents can get, if they're receptive, and willing to learn, can be invaluable. If you approach a psych eval as an opportunity to learn about your child, and an opportunity to fine-tune your parenting techniques, and an opportunity to gain some invaluable insight into the kind of child you have, and a way to help her have the best possible life with the best possible parents, then I suggest that an eval can be a great thing. She may not be shy, or she may not be what you think or already know. You might be surprised, and if you tell the psych that you're willing to learn, you might find that you have a great partner in the doctor, who's willing to help you.

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answers from New York on

It is not a big deal at all. They show your child photos and ask them questions, they play with blocks to see how they use them, etc. It really seems like play to your child.

My son who is now almost 16 needed special ed from age 3. He had speech problems, language based learning disabiliities and had problems attending (I had no idea what that meant and only after a few years did I realize it meant he had attntion deficit disorder). So in the school system he gets a psych evaluation every 2 or 3 years. He's 6'2", a computer genius, has a good circle of friends, has a grade point average of about 88 - and he just had his very last one and we got the report mailed home the other day.

When we began special ed for my son my neighbor kept trying to talk me out of it - saying it would be "on his permanent record" and would affect him the rest of his life. My response was - if my kids needs a leg-up why would I not offer that to him? He got speech therapy for free for 2 years before he began kindergarten. Then in 1st grade he was determined to be the very slowest reading learned in his grade (80 kids) and he got one-on-one reading help for two years, in addition to speech, and group help. The level of help he got was reduced as the years went by and his skill increased. It was the best thing I could have done for him. He'll graduate in 2 years with almost a fully semester of college credits in IT (information technology - computers), be fully certified in certain networking and software and have had a paid internship. I don't know that he would have been able to do all of that or have the confidence had had not started with that simple psych evaluation before age 3.

Go mama. Take whatever they'll give you to help your child.

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answers from Springfield on

A psych eval is fairly painless.

We were given questionnaires to fill out ahead of time. They asked questions about how our son behaved in various situations, how he reacted to things, what he was good at, what he struggled with, etc. There was also a form for a teacher to fill out - could be a preschool teacher or daycare worker - just someone who sees him in a school type setting, away from Mom and Dad.

When we saw the doctor, he talked to us for a few minutes. Asked us about our concerns, asked follow up questions. If there were areas we didn't cover, he asked questions to cover those areas. Then he spent some time with our son. He talked to him for awhile and played some games with him.

Finally, he talked to us again. He talked to us about his observations, what he learned from talking to our son, what he learned from playing games with him, etc.

Our son has seen the psychologist 4 times. The first time he was diagnosed with Social Pragmatic Communicative Disorder (it's just like Aspberger's). The next couple of times it was just to observe how the therapies we were doing had impacted him. At his most recent visit he was diagnosed with ADHD - something the doctor had suspected all along but wasn't quite ready to diagnose.

This is not something that is going to be stressful for your daughter. It could be stressful for you :-) But it really shouldn't be for her. I would encourage you to not think of this as putting her "through unnecessary testing." It won't be a big deal for her. It might even be fun!

You could have her tested and find out that she's doing just fine and is a well-rounded little girl. Wouldn't that be very reassuring?!?

You could also have her tested and find out there are a couple of things you could work on with her that would really help her out and ultimately make things easier for her. Wouldn't you like to know if there is anything you can do?

Without a doubt, I would have her tested. Knowledge is power, and that's really what we're talking about here - knowing and understanding your little girl a little bet better.

ETA - Oh my gosh! Love, love, love Elena B's response! So true!!!
We have periodic meetings with our son's therapists, and they really do help us understand our son better and help us learn ways to help him more. They also help us separate things he might be doing that are completely age appropriate. That can become difficult when you're in the midst of trying to help them learn and grow.

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answers from Norfolk on

She's 2.
They don't play with others yet and she won't until she's closer to 4 or even 5 years old.
They sit side by side and parallel play.

I don't know what all this evaluating is for but our son pretty much stayed on my lap - his choice - in social situations until he was 3 1/2 yrs old.
Once he was older he was much better at running around with his friends.

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answers from New York on

She is young. Shy? Is that problem? Socially isolated? IMO does not warrant a psych evaluation. She may be shy her whole life. The more she plays with kids the more interactive she will become. Maybe she just doesn't like groups. Give her time.

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answers from Portland on

One of my kids had one as part of an overall assessment. They just observed him, played with him, asked him some easy child-friendly questions, and just interacted. Then they talked to us, and we treated it as a morning with some new people playing with some new toys. Wasn't phased in the least.

I don't think it would hurt, but if you have questions, that's what they are there for. Usually they give you the run down so you're prepared anyways.

I would think if you are concerned about the other behavioral issues it could be helpful anyways. They give you an opportunity to talk to them and if you do have questions, they will answer them.

My kids are all reserved/quiet. I don't use the word shy around them because people always think shyness has to be overcome, whereas my kids have been quiet and thrived anyhow.

Good luck :)

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answers from San Francisco on

Can't you just call the regional center and ask for more info and details, find out exactly what to expect?

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answers from Miami on

What I would want to know is if this is something different than a pyschological educational evaluation. I know what THAT is. They did that for my son because he had special needs, was in speech therapy and OT, and we were a bit concerned that he had ADHD. They gave him this testing when he was in kinder.

I would want to know more about this test before having it done. What kind of help could you get for her based on the test's findings? That kind of thing...

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Yes do the eval. It will be age appropriate if they feel she is getting stressed they will stop or change to a different part of the eval

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answers from Atlanta on

I know is a very common and "painless" procedure these days, but I don't really think it is necessary at all in your case. You little one is just two years old, almost three. There will be many, believe me, many changes over her first years of life. They will always find something that your child doesn't have, and from there you will face more "problems" to fix something she doesn't have. If you take her to a specialist, be careful, ask lost of questions BEFORE they do something, and ask for additional opinions. In your case, I wouldn't take her to an "expert".
Shyness is not a disorder is just a personal trait. I have been shy all my life, and I ended up having the most fulfilling life with the help, patience and love of my mother.
Good luck!

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