Let’s face it, having your child assessed can be a scary time for both parents and children. Regardless of the reason or the type of assessment that your child will have, there are a few things that you can do to help ensure that the process is successful.
How you prepare your child for an evaluation is important after all therapists want to see your child at their best. Therapists need accurate information so that they can get a good understanding of where your child’s strengths and challenges are, so that they can develop the best treatment plan and recommendations.
So, what can you do to help prepare your child for their assessment?
Make sure your child is well rested.
Don’t skip a nap or keep your child up all night. Instead, do ensure that they are well rested as this will increase the likelihood that they will be cooperative during the assessment and will easily engage in presented tasks and activities. This will help clinician’s get a true picture of your child’s abilities and areas of need.
Avoid negative words.
When prepping your child for the evaluation, avoid using words that your child may associate with the doctor’s office. After all, their experience at the doctor’s office might be unpleasant. They may associate the doctor’s office with undressing, being cold, or getting a shot.
Instead, use words and phrases such as “fun!”, “you get to go play!” Think about your own emotions and how you are feeling about it. Children are very intuitive and often pick up on our emotions. So, if you are feeling concerned or uneasy about the evaluation, chances are your child is too.
If your child is older, try to avoid the word “test” which can add extra pressure or cause anxiety. Instead, try to frame it in such a way that they may view the experience as something fun. Sometimes testing involves activities such as puzzles, looking at books, storytelling or “playing” with blocks. If your child likes these kinds of activities, you can highlight them as it might help to alleviate their concerns.
Make sure they aren’t hungry.
Don’t bring your child on an empty stomach. Make sure they have had a meal beforehand, and if the assessment is going to cut into a mealtime, or take a long period of time, consider packing a snack.
Make sure your child is comfortable.
The temperatures in clinics vary, so dress your child in layers so that clothing items can easily be added or removed. If your child is too cold or too warm, it may make engaging and participating challenging for them.
Bring some of your child’s favorite toys.
Waiting times before an assessment varies, as do options in clinic waiting rooms. Consider bringing a few of your child’s favorite toys to help pass the time. Having access to a few of their favorite toys can also go a long way in helping your child feel comfortable in the testing environment and can also be useful to occupy them at the end of the assessment when you are talking to the assessor.
As they say, knowledge is power. The more you understand the results of the assessment, and the recommendations being made, the more empowered you will be as far as making decisions about what supports your child may need. By understanding their strengths and challenges, you can create opportunities to practice skills at home.
Remember, children generally are super adaptable, and it is likely that they probably won’t even remember the experience down the line. So, as the parent, take a deep breath! We know that this process can feel intimidating as you await results, so make sure that you are taking good care of yourself too.
Let us know in the comments below, what strategies you have used to prepare your child for an assessment.