Recommended Questions When Looking for a Specialist

Recommended Questions When Evaluating a Specialist

How much will it cost?

In our area (Baltimore & DC ), a comprehensive evaluation tends to range from $2,600 to $4,000.  It is important to recognize that these evaluations may be quite different in their scope and degree of detail. For this reason, I recommend that parents ask a range of questions to ensure that they obtain the evaluation that is most appropriate for their child.

How much time will be spent evaluating my child?

Depending on the complexity of the question, testing could take anywhere from four hours to several days.

How will your evaluation help answer the questions we’re struggling with?

I think that it is important to identify concrete questions that you would like to have addressed by the evaluation.  There should be some practical value to the testing, beyond simply obtaining a diagnosis.  For example, if you are hoping to understand what kind of strategies will help your child succeed in school, make sure that the evaluator will include recommendations that address this.

Do you do your own testing or do you use a Psychology Associate (a trained assistant) to administer the tests?

Some psychologists prefer to have a trained assistant administer the tests and then the clinician writes the report using these results or, in some cases, the Psychology Associate may actually write the report. Personally, I find that I learn a tremendous amount about the children while I’m testing them and watching them work. Often there is qualitative information that tells you a lot about why the child is struggling that can’t be captured by the test results.  For this reason, I do my own testing, rather than using a Psychology Associate.

I do work with Psych Associates, all of whom have completed their masters degree and passed the Maryland Ethics exam.  They are in the process of completing their doctorates and often I have them sit in while I'm doing the testing for training purposes; however, I am always present.

What kinds of testing will be included?

In order to receive services through the schools for learning issues, children need to have a cognitive evaluation (IQ testing) as well as academic testing.  These two areas cover the most basic testing type of evaluation.  Frequently, these are the two areas that are assessed by the school system.  However, there are also many other types of tests that look at the underlying skills that contribute to successful learning, such as memory, executive functioning, processing speed and attention.  In my evaluations, I look at each of these areas in order to understand exactly where the child’s strengths and weaknesses lie.

Will I receive a written report and how long will it take for you to complete it?

There are some professionals who offer oral feedback but do not provide a written report unless it is formally requested (always request it. You will need it for schools and you will not be able to remember the details of the oral feedback without a written report). Some clinicians could have a completed report within a week or two. Others can take several months.  Typically, I am able to complete a written report within about two weeks.  My reports are 15-20 pages long and they include a discussion of the results of the testing, a summary of how all of the results related to one another, how they are impacting your child on a practical level and recommendations for helping your child.  If your child meets the criteria for a diagnosis, one will be provided within the report.

Will you meet with me and/or my child to review the testing?

I have worked with many children and adolescents who have spent hours being tested, yet never hear the results of the evaluation.  In my experience, it can be extremely useful for them to meet with me and have a chance to learn about their own strengths and weaknesses.  I meet with parents first and then schedule a session to meet with the children to go over the results.

Will you help me communicate with my child’s school about the results of the testing?

The testing process is quite complex and it is often difficult to explain the findings to school personnel.  I have had a great deal of experience meeting with school teams to review my testing and to help develop an educational plan that will meet each child’s needs.