How does the assessment process work for children at an Occupational Therapist?
Here at Senara, we understand that embarking on your journey towards getting your child the support they need can be, at times, baffling, confusing, perhaps even a little nerve-wracking. That’s why we try to take the mystery out of what we do. We want to make it an accessible, easy and, hopefully, enjoyable process for you and your child.
One of the key questions we get asked is regarding the assessment process.
What kind of assessments will my child undergo? Can they fail assessments?
Do we, as parents, have to complete loads of forms?
How can I prepare my child for endless tests and a lengthy diagnosis process?
Before we begin, we want to say that there is no fixed assessment or diagnostic process. As you know, your child is unique, and so are their needs. There is no “one size fits all” approach or test.
It is also worth noting that there are no tests to be passed or failed; wherever possible, we try to do our assessments in a way that your child won’t even notice they are being assessed!
At the heart of our practice is an emphasis on play and on having fun. We believe that through play and fun, your child will be encouraged to learn and develop.
We use this approach in our initial assessments too. Much of what we do is non-standardised. We use observations and play to motivate the children to show us how they interact and how they move. Through play, we learn what they do well and what they find a little bit harder.
Your role as a parent or caregiver
We find it helpful to ask those who know your child best to support us in evaluating a child’s strengths and needs.
One assessment tool we use is the Sensory Profile 2, a set of questionnaires to be completed by caregivers and teachers to evaluate a child’s sensory processing patterns at home, in school, and out in the community.
We do use some standardised assessments, usually alongside our non-standardised, play-based assessments.
The Ayres Clinical Observations allow us to understand sensory difficulties, strengths and goals.
Much of the evaluation is based on play; children are motivated to try things because they have so much fun, which is lovely to see!
The Movement ABC-2 is another standardised test that helps us identify movement competence in children 3-16, where there may be delays or impairment in motor development. Again, it is a task-based assessment that encourages children to have fun and explore through play.
You can see a brief explanation of this assessment here.
We also use the Beery VMI, which helps us to screen for visual-motor problems in children.
There are also several tests to support children who may be struggling with specific concerns, like dyslexia or dyspraxia.
For example, the DEST-2 test (of the Dyslexia Early Screening Test 2) is one such assessment that allows us to quickly and easily assess your child and determine whether they may struggle with certain elements known to be affected in dyslexia.
A final thought…
Please don’t worry about remembering any of these test names, acronyms or any of the jargon. That’s our job!
But we hope that by opening up our doors to some of our processes, we will ease the assessment process and leave you feeling more reassured about what you can expect.
And remember that if you do have any worries, thoughts or concerns, we are always here to chat them through with you.