Cognitive assessments: what, why and how?

Children Speakin

I know my child has a lot of potential, so why are they still struggling?

My child has difficulty following instructions.

It seems like my child struggles to remember things or to process information.

My child is struggling to learn.

Is my child gifted?

My child’s language and verbal skills are highly advanced, so why are they still struggling at school?

My child is feeling frustrated because of their struggles at school.

What is a cognitive assessment?

Cognitive assessment (or intelligence testing) is used to determine an individual’s general thinking and reasoning abilities, also known as intellectual functioning or IQ. Intelligence testing can assess various domains of your child’s cognitive capacity. An assessment and therapy clinic may test for the following:

  1. Verbal comprehension: understanding verbal information, thinking in words and expressing thoughts in words
  2. Perceptual reasoning: ability to organise and reason with visual information, and to solve visual problems
  3. Working memory: ability to retain and manipulate verbal information
  4. Processing speed: ability to scan, process and identify information accurately.

Usually, the average score for IQ and various domains is between 90 and 109. Higher scores represent higher cognitive functioning and lower scores represent poorer cognitive functioning. However, when the scores between domains varies greatly, individual domain scores may provide a more accurate reflection of an individual’s cognitive ability than the overall IQ score.

Why might a cognitive assessment help my child?

There are many reasons why your child’s psychologist may suggest a cognitive assessment. For instance:

  1. To obtain an accurate profile of an individual’s overall intellectual functioning or IQ level
  2. To identify an individual’s cognitive strengths and weaknesses
  3. To assist in exploring an individual’s learning difficulties
  4. To assist in developing learning strategies and recommendations
  5. To assist in the examination of:
    • Intellectual giftedness
    • Specific learning disabilities
    • Intellectual disability
    • Autism Spectrum Disorder
    • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. 

How is a cognitive assessment usually run?

A cognitive assessment for children usually includes:

    1. Gathering comprehensive background information through interviews with the child, parents and school teachers
    2. The administration of standardised tests by trained psychologists
    3. A feedback session (& provision of a report) to explain findings, provide recommendations and opportunities to clarify information.

Here at Kids At Max, we provide cognitive assessments for children aged 2 ½ years to 16 years. The standardised tests that we use are the Wechsler Intelligence Scales for Children – Fourth Edition (WISC-IV) and the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence – Fourth Edition (WPPSI-IV).

For further information, to book for a cognitive assessment with one of our Melbourne-based child’s psychologists or simply to discuss if a cognitive assessment could benefit your child, please contact Kids at Max on (03) 9702 4447.

Written by Kids At Max Psychologist

© 2017 Kids At Max