Cognitive & Emotional Assessments
A cognitive and emotional assessment assists parents and teachers in better understanding a child/adolescentąs intellectual abilities as well as their emotional state. An in-depth understanding of both allows parents and teachers to better help a child/adolescent who may be struggling academically and/or socially.
The main tests used to measure general cognitive abilities are the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC) and the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence (WPPSI). The WISC is used for children/adolescents aged between 6-16years and the WPPSI for children of ages 3 years 0 months to 7 years 3 months. Both provide information about a childąs general IQ (or ?intelligenceą) as well as areas of intellectual strength and difficulty. It is the specific areas of strength and difficulty that reveal the most helpful information as opposed to just getting a general IQ score.
With regards to the specific areas of strength and difficulty, the WISC, for example, is comprised of four main areas: Verbal Comprehension (verbal abilities), Perceptual Reasoning (non-verbal abilities), Working Memory (verbal working memory) and Processing Speed (visuo-motor speed). These are combined to calculate a Full Scale Intelligence Quotient (IQ). The Full Scale IQ provides a measure of general cognitive abilities but is usually reported in a range rather than as a single figure. The reason being is that factors such as motivation, interest, level of tiredness on the day etc. may influence the results. The test accommodates for this by reporting the results in a range.
Ranges include below average range, average range, above average range and so on. A percentile rank may also be given and this represents the child/adolescentąs performance in comparison to children/adolescents of his/her own age. Thus a child/adolescent with the score at the 20thpercentile is superior to 20 % of children/adolescents within the same
age group. The WPPSI follows along similar lines.
Large discrepancies between the various subtests can indicate a developmental delay and helps to direct teachers and parents towards areas that may need extra assistance. Sometimes additional professional help might be indicated such as Occupational Therapy or Speech and Hearing therapy, for example. A cognitive assessment may also help to assess and understand fluctuations in concentration and attention levels.
The main tools used in an emotional assessment are projective tests, such as the Childrenąsą Apperception Test (CAT) for younger children and the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) for adolescents. Requests for drawings from the child/adolescent and a brief interview may also form part of the assessment. Projective tests assist in understanding the child/adolescentąs experience and perception of their world. It also helps parents and teachers to understand the child/adolescentąs feelings and hence their resultant behaviour.
Feelings influence ability and abilities influence feelings. A child/adolescent who is struggling with language difficulties for example, feels different from his/her peers who may be more adept at language based tasks. Self-confidence becomes affected and this in turn affects self-esteem. Conversely, a child/adolescent who is feeling depressed and preoccupied with worries is less likely to be able to concentrate in the classroom and achieve to his/her full potential. Therefore an understanding of both cognitive ability and emotional experience allows for a more comprehensive view of the child/adolescent.
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