News and Notes from The Johnson Center

10 Tips on How to Prepare Your Child for the Evaluation Process

JCCHD | Mon, April 15, 2013 | [Autism Treatment][Assessment Corner]

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Preparing your child for their evaluation appointments can help ease anxiety and set them up to feel more comfortable about the process.  Here are ten tips that can help you and your child have a successful experience:

1. Many children are anxious about going to a doctor’s office. Assure them that it’s not a “doctor’s” appointment, and they will not be getting any shots or other medical procedures. 

2. Tell your child that they will be meeting someone new with whom they will be talking, playing, and doing different activities.  Some of the activities will be fun, and some may seem more like schoolwork.

3. Encourage your child to simply try to do their best and assure them that they will not be punished if they don’t know an answer or if they feel like an activity is too hard. None of what they do will be for a “grade.” Explain that the purpose of the evaluation is to better understand how they think and work, in order to better eliminate obstacles to success.

4. If your child is notably anxious beforehand, inform the clinician so they can allow the child extra time to warm up to the testing environment. It can be helpful to tell the clinician in advance what some of your child’s interests are so they can use these to build rapport.

5. It’s important for your child to get a good night’s sleep the night before the appointment.  Re-schedule the appointment if your child is ill.

6. Inform the clinician if your child has any sensory sensitivity that could impact the testing environment, such as sensitivity to light or noise.

7. If possible, try to schedule testing appointments when your child is at their best. For example, some children do better in the morning than in the afternoon.

8. Plan meals or snacks before the testing time so the child is not hungry, and bring a drink and snack along for breaks.

9. Have your child dress in comfortable clothes, and pack a sweatshirt or sweater in case they get cold.

10. Sometimes it’s helpful to bring reinforcing items such as a favorite blanket or toy to the testing appointment. 

And there are many things a parent can do to be well prepared for an assessment. 

1. Bring along baby books or journals to help remember your child’s early developmental milestones.

2. Fax over any previous assessments or evaluations before the testing appointment so that the clinician has a chance to review them.

3. Remember to take care of yourself as well, and try to get a good night’s sleep the night before. Long developmental interviews can be tiring, and can even bring back some difficult memories. Pack yourself snacks, water, and a book or something to do while your child is in their testing appointments.

4. Be as honest as possible during the parent interview so the clinician can gather the most accurate information regarding your child—don’t be tempted to tell the clinician what you think he or she might want to hear, instead of the way things actually are.

5. Don’t be hesitant to follow up with the clinician if you remember something important after the assessment appointment.

Assessments are not only about getting an appropriate diagnosis for your child. The results from an assessment are a great tool to help you make objective decisions on education and intervention goals. Use these tips to make the most of this experience.