Assessment: Scary or Informative

One of the things that we do at Ashkin Counseling are evaluations. Sometimes it’s for a child who is just not meeting their milestones. Their peers are walking or talking or learning to potty train and they are just not. At times the parents have been told by a pediatrician to have their child evaluated, so they come to us looking for answers. Other times despite other people not really seeing a problem, they just feel it. Something is just not okay. For those parents a diagnosis often brings relief and a path. They know what they are dealing with, and they are up for the challenge. For others a diagnosis brings fear or denial or both.

Other times the children we test are a little older. Some parents feel that their children are just not being challenged enough and they fear that boredom will lead to a lack of success. Other children are misbehaving at school, but the teacher has suggested that it might be because they aren’t motivated because the work is too easy. We test for giftedness which means their IQ is over 130 and parents now have an option to place them in a more challenging program. A yes brings joy and a no might bring disappointment, but it’s short-lived.

Sometimes children have skirted through until the school years progress and they start to fall off the curve a little. They used to excel in math or reading or writing, but now it’s a struggle. So we test for a learning disability that might be getting in their way. Other children just can’t stay focused, and they seem to space out all of the time, and despite being smart and pretty obedient, they don’t get things done. So, we assess for an attentional deficit with an inattentive presentation, which means they are not hyperactive. The other side of the coin is the child who is constantly on sensory overload so they can’t possibly focus, because they are all over the place, all of the time. Their minds and bodies are in constant motion. Other children have been able to make it through the social norms until the demands of socializing and communicating exceed what their neurodivergent brain can handle. So, we assess for autism. Answers for these children and parents often bring understanding and relief. So, they aren’t lazy. So, they aren’t just unmotivated. So, they weren’t trying to be annoying.

Sometimes the children grow up to be adults and because society didn’t even know to look for it or their parents just didn’t, they have suffered silently for so long. And now at 21 they realize that there has to be a better way than the way they have been doing this, and they are failing their classes and they really want answers. Or at 47 their marriage is falling apart because they can’t hold a job, they are jumping from position to position because they are bored. They just found out their child has ADHD, and they think they know where it came from. Or at 67 they continue to feel socially awkward and they don’t understand why people are mad at them half of the time, and they just want to know once and for all, am I just messing up or is there a reason why.

Sometimes a child brings their parent in for an assessment. The neurologist may have suggested it, or they are noticing changes in their mom or dad. They can’t remember directions when they were the one who was always in charge of navigation. Or they can’t remember how to get home even though it’s a place they’ve driven to a million times. Or they are having mood swings that are just not like them. A diagnosis brings answers, not the answers maybe that they hoped for, but answers to help them to figure out next steps.

I really love and appreciate the value of getting definitive answers when life seems to be throwing things at you that you don’t really understand. But I also know that tests are scary, and answers are not always the one’s you want to hear. If something rings out and calls your name here, don’t be afraid to get answers. I can’t guarantee what we will find, but I can guarantee we will walk beside you through the journey.

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