Cognitive testing assesses an individual’s intellectual strengths and weaknesses related to verbal comprehension, nonverbal abilities, memory, attention and processing speed. This information provides the foundation for understanding other areas of functioning, including academic, attention and emotional.
Academic / Psychoeducational Testing
These evaluations can be useful in providing academic/career direction based on an individual’s learning style and cognitive strengths and weaknesses. Psychoeducational assessments can also determine whether a learning disability in a specific area exists that might merit accommodations, special education or 504 services.
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD/ADHD) Testing
Evaluations aimed at determining whether a possible diagnosis of ADHD/ADD exists, assess areas including attention, concentration and impulsivity. It is important to remember that there is no definitive test to diagnose ADHD. Additionally, a variety of other disorders and conditions, including depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, slow processing speed and stress, amongst others, can have a negative impact on an individual's attention and concentration and need to be ruled out before a diagnosis of ADHD is given.
Symptoms related to ADD/ADHD include inattentiveness, distractibility, impulsivity and in some cases, hyperactivity.
In children, you may notice the following behaviors:
- Difficulty sustaining attention
- Careless mistakes and failure to pay close attention to details
- Difficulty organizing tasks or school assignments
- Avoidance of tasks that require sustained mental effort
- Difficulty following through with instructions
If symptoms associated with hyperactivity are present, you may notice the following behaviors:
- A tendency to fidget with hands or feet or squirm in the chair
- Difficulty remaining seated when expected
- Excessive running or climbing
- Difficulty waiting one's turn
- A tendency to interrupt others
In adolescents, you may notice some of the following behaviors:
- Poor follow-through on tasks
- Needing excessive directions
- Engaging in risky behavior
In adults, you may notice some of the following behaviors:
- Underachievement in work and/or academic settings
- Difficulty with organization
- Difficulty getting started on tasks
- Impatience, low tolerance for frustration
- Impulsivity, either verbally or in action
- Sense of insecurity; chronic problems with self-esteem
- Mood swings and irritability
- Need for highly stimulating behavior
- Tendency to blurt out whatever comes to mind, often interrupting others
Psychological / Emotional Testing
A comprehensive evaluation of personality features and current emotional and behavioral concerns can often provide a more in-depth understanding of underlying emotions to guide you in finding the best solutions to your current struggles. In the case of children, emotional testing can help parents better understand their child’s inner functioning, including feelings of depression, anxiety and low self-esteem as well as reveal information about a child’s ability to problem-solve and cope with stress. Oftentimes they can also provide valuable information about the underlying feelings and emotional struggles that may be causing certain behaviors (e.g., poor school performance, self-harm, acting out or noncompliance).
Psychological assessments can often include screening of intellectual and academic abilities, in addition to standardized questionnaires and tests to clarify diagnoses and personality features. Some of the procedures involved in evaluations of individuals experiencing emotional and/or behavioral challenges include a clinical interview (and parent interview in the case of a child), behavior checklists, self-report (and parent-report) measures of personality and behavior and projective measures (e.g., drawings, sentence completion, story telling and inkblots).
Cognitive Disorders related to Age and/or Medical Conditions
Sometimes changes occur in a person’s thinking and daily functioning in relation to their age, the onset of dementia, and/or as a result of a medical condition. Some of these changes may be temporary and reversible, but others are more permanent and related to changes in the brain. Sometimes these changes appear suddenly and other times you may notice a gradual onset. A physician may recommend an evaluation of your or your loved one’s cognitive, emotional, and behavioral functioning as part of diagnosing and treating particular disorders. This evaluation may include an assessment of independent living skills and safety as well. If you notice any of the following changes in yourself or a loved one, it is important to contact a physician.
- Inability to learn or remember new information
- Difficulty with planning and organizing
- Difficulty with coordination and motor functions