Setting Students Up for Success

August 04, 2023

Setting Students Up for Success

Did you know that JF&CS’ Horwitz-Zusman Child & Family Center offers a full range of psychoeducational testing for students? The evaluations help families gain an understanding of their child’s strengths and areas of growth, and provide recommendations to meet their needs at home and school.

Lori Wilson, Ph.D., has been with JF&CS for 24 years and is the Lead Psychologist at the Center.

“I really enjoy helping students and their families,” says Dr. Wilson. “We see clients from elementary to college age, and it’s so rewarding to see these clients over the years and learn of their success and progress over time.”

Psychoeducational testing at the Horwitz-Zusman Child & Family Center is unique in that when testing is completed, the center has a number of other professionals in the same building. This allows for close collaboration with other professionals including therapists as well as a Pediatric Neurologist, Parent Coach, and Executive Functioning Coach.

How Do I Know My Child Needs Help?

“Most often, a psychoeducational evaluation may be recommended to parents by their child’s school or teacher, or other professionals who see that a child may be struggling more than would be expected,” says Dr. Wilson. “For example, we might work with a kindergartener or first-grader who is having a hard time developing beginning reading skills. The struggle may come from difficulties with inattention and focus that are getting in the way of availability to learn; other times, it is a learning disability that puts extra demands and challenges on a child’s ability to sustain attention. Sometimes, it’s both.”

A formal diagnosis of ADHD, learning disability, or other issue is made based on the pattern of weaknesses and their severity. Whether the testing identifies a formal learning disability or a pattern of strengths and weaknesses, Dr. Wilson and her team provide recommendations and next steps to help treat areas of concern, build on areas of weakness, and cultivate areas of strength.

When it comes to the process of testing, “we really work hard to make a student feel at ease and motivated to do their best work,” says Dr. Wilson. “Whether a student is 6 or 16, we want them to feel like they’re part of the process, and that this is something they are actively a part of, rather than something that is done to them.”

How Do Learning Differences Present Among Age Groups?

While there is a wide variation of concerns across age levels, there are some common patterns. Students in early elementary school may have difficulty in acquiring beginning learning skills for reading and writing. They can also struggle with regulating attention, activity level, impulsivity, behavior, and emotion. They may be experiencing some anxiety or difficulty with social skills.

For middle and high schoolers, there can be struggles with more advanced reasoning and inferential reasoning, reading comprehension, executive function skills, and study skills. During high school and college, students can struggle with strong demands on attention, executive functioning skills, and memory functioning.

For late teens and young adults, Dr. Wilson will often conduct re-evaluations when needed to measure a student’s progress and reassess their current needs as they continue their education. Across all these age groups, difficulties with anxiety, depression, and social interactions may also be present.

What Now?

If you suspect your child might be struggling, psychoeducational testing is a roadmap to identify difficulties and intervene. “Identifying concerns early helps parents make decisions about school placement as well as the types of additional supports that may be needed,” said Dr. Wilson. “When learning disabilities are identified early, it can help prevent or minimize a student’s frustration in learning. When attention issues are identified and treated, it can lead to increased availability for learning. Additionally, providing your child’s school and teachers with this information helps your child’s school and teachers know how your child learns best.”

At the Horwitz-Zusman Child & Family Center, we are here to help the whole family. To schedule an appointment, email or call 770.677.9474. For more information on Psychoeducational Evaluations at JF&CS, visit our website here.

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