Why assess cognitive abilities and educational skills?

There are several reasons why a cognitive and educational assessment can be valuable.

An evaluation tells us how well a child is learning. It offers a standardised measure of a child's intellectual abilities, educational progress and their academic potential. This means that we can work out whether a child's scores are age appropriate (or otherwise). It also allows us to identify areas of strength and limitation. This informs expectation and if necessary, enables strengths to be fostered alongside facilitating education planning.

The assessment may enable specific learning difficulties to be identified (such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, inattention). This may also help us understand aspects of a child's behaviour and why they may be behaving in certain ways. The assessment highlights areas of internal conflict being experienced by the young person. Identifying difficulties can offer substantial relief for the young person, particularly when they are told what can help promote change. Again, this informs parenting, support for learning, understanding and expectation.

An assessment enables areas of underachievement to be identified with precision, which enables support to be mobilised. Recommendations offered are empirically informed. This means that research findings are used to enable change to be promoted effectively.

An assessment also allows us to measure change over time. If required, subsequent evaluation ensures that progress is made in key areas.

Why assess for autism spectrum disorder?

There is not a medical test to diagnose ASD. Screening rests are not an alternative to a multi-disciplinary assessment. There are many factors that can affect a child's development. Characteristics of ASD vary enormously between individuals. We encourage parents to trust their instincts about their child. It is easy for some professionals who are not familiar with diagnosing ASD to dismiss concerns, which in some situations delays appropriate and necessary interventions.

There are multiple reasons as to why an assessment of social communication or autism spectrum disorder can be important. Most importantly, an assessment helps understand the child and if appropriate, their ASD. It identifies their strengths and needs, whilst enabling a precise treatment plan to be considered.

Understandably, some parents are fearful about their child being 'labelled' and worry that others will lower their expectations as a result. Lucy is highly committed to highlighting the way in which many children (particularly those with subtle features of ASD) often have areas of real strength and potential that need support to be realised.

What does an assessment involve?

Before the assessment appointment, we obtain information about questions and concerns from parents. Lucy prefers to access further details from the child's school to enable a collaborative assessment process. This is always subject to parental consent and your child's school will not be contacted without your permission.

Standardised measures are used to enhance the reliability of information collected. Communication with other professionals involved may also take place, again with parental consent.

Please allow plenty of parking time and arrive promptly. If you are coming by Tube, the nearest stations are Bond Street, Oxford Circus and Great Portland Street.

Lucy always does her best to run to time. Sometimes complex issues arise and if any extended delay is anticipated, you will be told as soon as possible to avoid unnecessary waiting.

The length of the assessment varies according to the questions posed. The entire process typically lasts two to three hours, but sometimes longer (as in ASD assessments). In some situations it may be possible to offer some feedback immediately after the evaluation process, with a fuller analysis being provided by way of a formal written report. Multi-disciplinary discussion is always available after an ASD evaluation.

If your child wears glasses or they have a preferred writing instrument, these should be brought to the appointment.

What should I say to my child?

You may well want to explain to your child that although they will be seeing a Doctor, there will be no injections or physical investigations. They will be seeing Lucy to work out precisely which areas they are good at. If there are areas of difficulty, we will spot these to help them with their learning and those questions raised. Your child should be told that Lucy will ask them some questions and they may need to wait separately for a short period if she needs to speak with parents to understand issues further.

You can let them know that they will be asked to complete a range of tasks which may involve words, puzzles, looking at diagrams and pictures, alongside doing some reading, maths, spelling and writing. Everything starts at a very easy level. The assessment will always be set up to ensure they experience success. They are only asked to do their best. It is not possible to prepare for the evaluation.

On the day of the assessment the most important thing is for your child to arrive feeling positive, relaxed and refreshed. Please ensure they have had a healthy and full breakfast with a good night sleep.

It is helpful to bring a favoured activity with them, so when Lucy is talking with parents, they can occupy themselves happily for a period of time in the next door waiting room. They may need a snack or treat for the end of the assessment.

What should I expect following an assessment?

Immediately following the assessment, it may be possible to give you a brief summary of your child's results. In the case of an ASD evaluation, this is always possible.

After additional analysis of the result, a detailed report which outlines the results, conclusions and recommendations for school and home is provided. This takes up to two weeks.

Liaison with the child's school is always preferred and this is considered with the parents.

How long does it take to be seen?

We receive a large number of requests from parents, schools and professionals requesting an appointment.

More often than not Lucy has more referrals than she is able to see quickly. We operate a cancellation list, which means that if we should ever get a cancellation or postponed appointment, we call those on the list immediately.