How to assess a child with learning disability, ADHD or ASD?
Renowned London-based Prof. Ricky J Richardson – on how to correctly evaluate children with learning disabilities, ADHD or behavioral problem. How to match a child with school where a child with ADHD or learning disability can thrive?
So if we turn attention to the children with learning disabilities and behavioral problems, which is one of your major interest areas in pediatrics. What factors are most important in assessing the children with learning disabilities and behavioral problems, and autistic spectrum disorders to select the optimal therapy for them? Well, I suppose the first thing is to get the right diagnosis and that requires a specific series of specialist investigations and assessments of speech and language, of their motor skills, to see if they are not dyspraxic, doing a psychometric profile, which is a cognitive skills analysis, to see what their IQ is like, etc. We also focus very much on the family, we do a psycho-emotional assessment, which looks specifically at the child’s relationship with his or her mother and father, and other carers. And unusually, we have senior educationalists on our team. When we finish a multidisciplinary assessment, we then ask the educationalist to come in and translate what comes out of the assessment into practical guidelines for the school where the child is being educated. And in some cases our recommendation is to change schools because the child may be unable to cope, for example, with the mainstream schooling setup where there are 40 – 50 children in the class. There are some children with vulnerable learning difficulties, who can only manage if there are 8 or 9 children in the classroom, making it much more one-to-one attention. So that may result in our advice to change schools, and then our educationalists help the family to find an alternative school, more suitable for the child’s particular vulnerable areas. So assessing the children from the educational perspective together with the family that is the most important aspect, in order for them to integrate into the education system better? Absolutely! It is something that’s often forgotten. In the past, people used to focus on the medical aspects of the condition, forgetting that the medical aspects need to be woven into the educational planning, because, after all, every child goes through an education, getting the education right and the educational methodology tailored for the need of a particular child based on a deep understanding of that profile is absolutely critical.