From time to time, the Pathways Institute receives questions about assessments that many people would like to know the answer to, so I thought it would be helpful to publish some of these questions and answers on my blog. This question was answered by our testing expert Jason Arkin, PsyD.
My son was referred for psychological testing? Does this mean there is something wrong with him?
First off, there are many reasons why your son may need psychological testing. A child can be referred for testing because he or she is having interpersonal difficulties, be depressed, not be able to sustain attention in class, or have trouble with academics as a result of a learning issue.
It may be the case that your son is struggling with a kind of internal turmoil that psychological testing can help to clarify. While there might not be a severe problem with him currently, getting psychological testing can help ensure that he gets the help he needs so that future difficulties can be minimized. Good psychological testing should include highlighting strengths, clarifying difficulties, and increasing self-advocacy.
While it can be a difficult and potentially expensive process, it is important to be aware that the overall goal of testing is to provide preventative and proactive support. This does not guarantee that your son will not experience difficulties, but it can help to minimize academic, biological, and emotional barriers for the time being and even for the long run.
There are other types of testing that may be relevant to your son. If it seems as though an academic issue is the root cause of their emotional distress (i.e., difficulty with schoolwork, leading your son to have negative self-talk that results in depressive symptoms), academic testing may be recommended. If the testing reveals that your child has a learning or attention difference, early intervention can help to alleviate some of the emotional turmoil your son may be experiencing. It is also extremely helpful to have early diagnosis and intervention documented for later when they are needing additional accommodations such as more time on standardized testing.
Regardless of the type of testing, be it psychological or academic, the goal of testing is to understand your son better, and to provide recommendations and strategies to help him flourish and succeed.