Examining Current Strengths Through Child Assessments
At Seven Stars, all students receive clinically advanced, assessment services to determine strengths, rather than challenges. Examples of assessments your child might receive include: psychiatric, medical, neuropsychological, speech and language, diet & health, social skills, strengths-based, occupational therapy, psychological testing, educational and academic.
At Seven Stars, we utilize two kinds of assessments, Formal and Functional.
Formal assessments are administered in a distinct timeframe and usually involve the administration of standardized measures. A multidisciplinary approach to assessment is the best way to help students with neurodevelopmental disorders like ADHD and ASD.
Functional assessments typically involve behavioral observation over time, the application of selected treatments or interventions, evaluation of intervention effectiveness, and are aimed at describing a student’s functional levels with recommendations for continued behavioral, social, emotional, academic and treatment progress.
“Why is assessment so important?”
Seven Stars’ students tend to be very complex in terms of neurodevelopmental, psychological and psychiatric needs. Complex cases require sophisticated understanding and focused expertise. Our formal and functional assessments are individualized and extremely helpful in understanding your child’s needs, including short-term and longer-term treatment planning. Increasing diagnostic clarity is a primary goal of the Seven Stars team. Accurate diagnosis facilitates more effective treatments. At Seven Stars, a big part of our success has always been based on individualized understanding of each student. The multidisciplinary approach is crucial for this process. We understand each student, from many perspectives, as an individual with unique patterns of strengths and weaknesses. Treatment and recommendations are most effective when targeted for each individual student and based on accurate observation and assessment.
“What does the Seven Stars assessment process look like?”
Before and after entering the program, our team reviews previous assessments. After getting to know the your child from early observations, we discuss assessment needs and recommendations with parents and create an individualized assessment plan for each student. Timelines vary. The end result is a final, integrated multidisciplinary report that includes all formal and functional assessments.
“What if my child has already had an evaluation?”
Because students come to Seven Stars with a variety of recent assessments, Formal assessments are offered A La Carte, as needed, and are provided by independent professional evaluators who are not employees of Seven Stars. We make sure these professionals are experienced and appropriately credentialed and have a very collaborative working relationship with them. Independent evaluations are often helpful when a parent presents assessment results to third parties for school district or special education purposes. Though they are independent professionals, we collaborate and communicate closely and they are an important part of the Seven Stars assessment process.
“What are the costs of these independent evaluations? And what about insurance?”
Some independent professionals travel to the campus to complete these assessments and some require us to transport the student to an off-campus location. The professionals who provide these assessments typically bill parents directly for their services and make payment arrangements directly with parents before commencing the assessment.
The Seven Stars team will help you understand and make the arrangements for these assessments. The fees charged by these independent professionals cover coordination with the Seven Stars treatment team, communication with parents and the team, and inclusion of the report in the Seven Stars final report. These independent professionals will also provide you with necessary documentation for submission to your insurance company for potential insurance reimbursement. Note: Seven Stars does not receive any compensation for these independent evaluations.
We will review previous assessments and discuss our recommendations with you prior to initiating assessments by an independent professional.
“Can you tell me more about the multidisciplinary assessments?”
Our team evaluates each student from different perspectives. The multidisciplinary approach provides a more holistic understanding of the student and their individual needs. Often, co-occurring problems interact in complex ways. Successful treatment of these intimately interconnected problems is only accomplished through sophisticated and coordinated understanding of the whole person, taking into account all mental, social and behavioral factors, rather than just a particular disorder, behavior or symptom.
Psychological and Neuropsychological evaluation: Psychological Testing facilitates understanding of cognitive, emotional and behavioral functioning. Neuropsychological Testing involves measurement of attention, memory, language, visual, and executive function. Comprehensive psychological and neuropsychological assessment (including Autism specific assessment) is often a foundational necessity in understanding our complex students. This is typically a very involved process taking many hours. This testing is typically conducted by an independent neuropsychologist and psychometrician on campus. Neuropsych measures are often conducted over more than one session in an effort to reduce fatigue and improve the accuracy of the results. We may recommend a limited range of neuropsych assessments meant to supplement previous assessments or we may recommend a full, comprehensive neuropsych evaluation. Because teens change so much over time, comprehensive assessments are usually recommended if a student has not had a thorough psychological and neuropsychological assessment in the past 18 months.
Speech and Language assessments and treatment: Our students tend to have difficulties in a wide range of speech and language functions and these difficulties can significantly impact their social, emotional, behavioral and academic function. Social skills and pragmatic language are usually a focus in these assessments. Ongoing treatment based on the SLP assessment is also available.
Audiology assessments and treatment: Our students often have auditory processing issues such as Central Auditory Processing Disorder, which are undiagnosed or poorly understood. Audiology assessment and accommodation can often dramatically improve classroom function and academic performance as well as behaviors and social interactions. Ongoing Audiological treatment and assistive equipment are also available.
Occupational Therapy assessments and treatment: Seven Stars students often struggle with sensory processing issues. Adolescence often seems to trigger an increase in previous or even new sensory issues. We have seen that, often, sensory issues are a primary contributor to academic, emotional, behavioral and social issues. Identifying sensory processing needs, teaching sensory modulation strategies and practicing them in the Seven Stars environment is often a key to improved functioning during and after Seven Stars. Ongoing OT treatment is available after the assessment.
What kinds of assessments are available at Seven Stars?
- These functional assessments are included in the cost of the Seven Stars program:
- psychiatric assessment, medication management, response to medication
- academic/classroom observations and interventions
- behavioral observations and interventions
- social skills observations and interventions
- understanding of emotional and therapeutic needs and response to individual, group and milieu interventions