The outcome of the stressors and challenges of childhood and adolescence is often manifested as academic failure, acting out behaviors, anger, frustration, disrespect to teachers and parents, oppositional behavior, discipline problems at school, social isolation or withdrawal, or any combination thereof. A comprehensive evaluation is necessary to assess not only the manifestation of the problem, but the etiological reasons beneath the surface. A comprehensive evaluation includes an assessment of intelligence, executive functioning, academic skills, and social-emotional functioning, as well as a developmental and social history. The outcome of such a diagnostic evaluation is a comprehensive delineation of the individual's strengths and needs in order to develop and implement the most appropriate program of intervention to improve their overall functioning. Such evaluations are available through Pathways for children and adolescents from the elementary grades through college.
An evaluation of intelligence and cognitive abilities includes an in-depth assessment and analysis of verbal reasoning, acquired knowledge, perceptual organization, fluid reasoning, working memory, non-verbal reasoning, and processing speed. This primary component of a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation is critical in identifying an individual's learning style as well as their strengths and needs in information processing and overall intellectual ability. It provides the baseline of intellectual ability and expectation.
An evaluation of executive functioning includes an in-depth assessment and analysis of self regulation capacities used to direct or cue that which an individual perceives, feels, thinks, and does. These executive function capacities include (but are not limited to): organization, cognitive flexibility, planning, time, self monitoring, prioritization, and emotional control. Along with other assessments, this important component of a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation is vital in the development and implementation of effective programs of intervention and/or educational therapies.
An evaluation of social and emotional functioning involves an in-depth assessment and analysis of interpersonal and intrapersonal factors that may impair a major life function. Such an evaluation may begin with a functional behavioral analysis, leading to a consideration of how social interactions and emotional issues impact an individual's behavior, culminating in a positive behavior support plan for school and/or home. Other avenues of assessment may follow a combination of standardized measures with diagnostic counseling, leading to a program of individual counseling.
An evaluation of academic ability involves an in-depth assessment and analysis of academic skills. Such an evaluation will provide a detailed description of the individual's ability in reading (e.g., phonological awareness, decoding, fluency, comprehension); math (e.g., numeracy, basic facts and calculations, time, measurement, money); and written expression (e.g., letter formation, conventions, paragraph writing). This component of a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation is needed to identify areas of strength and needs in order to develop effective interventions for academic support in school.