Spend time becoming familiar with the child prior to formal testing.
Perhaps one of the most important parts of the assessment process, from
the perspective of parents, is preparing for the assessment by learning
as much as possible about the student prior to the evaluation. One father
stated that the very first step of an evaluation should be to get to know
the child and what his or her likes and dislikes are. Another child's mother
pointed out that people who don't have contact with her daughter on a regular
basis don't understand what she is saying.
Be patient and take time to do the evaluation. When evaluating deaf-blind children it is essential to take enough time to give them a chance to succeed. It may be useful to conduct the evaluation over more than one session.
Include the family in the evaluation process. Ask parents for their input. Parents favored evaluations in which the practitioner took the time to contact them directly. Also take into consideration how cultural factors such as different racial backgrounds may affect the assessment process.
Include clear, easy-to-understand recommendations in the written report. The report should include suggestions for future goals and specific concrete interventions that can be used at school, at home, and in other settings. One parent commented that a helpful feature of her son's evaluation report was that it listed goals that weren't solely related to therapy, but could be used in everyday life. Avoid the use of jargon or excessively technical language. Parents may feel overwhelmed by the use of professional jargon in reports or during meetings.
Make sure that the information in the written report is accurate. Some parents indicated that while parts of their children's reports were satisfactory, other parts could be misconstrued or contained incorrect information. For example, the copy of a report one parent received stated that her son had bronchitis, but the parent had told the evaluator that her son had meningitis.
Make sure the parents receive a copy of the written report. On more than one occasion, parents indicated that they had never seen a copy of the report or they were unaware that an evaluation had been conducted.
How can psychoeducational assessments be used by parents?
Comments from parents focused on ways that psychoeducational assessments
could support them at home. One parent indicated that she would like to
have progress reports made available to her on a regular basis and felt
that she would benefit from guidance about how to help her daughter at
home. Others also felt it would be useful to receive training to help them
work with their children to promote their independence and ability to communicate
and interact in natural environments.
Results from this study can be used to bridge the gap between what parents and professionals know about psychoeducational assessment. The meetings and interviews conducted by this project have resulted in a greater awareness of parents' perspectives regarding the assessment process and can be used to broaden professionals' understanding of psychoeducational assessment. Based on what parents are saying, a psychoeducational evaluation must go beyond merely conducting a test or writing a report. Assessments should include parents as members of the team, and professionals should be experienced in working with individuals who are deaf-blind. Assessment also should focus on communication. It should use appropriately adapted materials and should result in meaningfully written reports that emphasize purposeful and functional interventions.
Psychoeducational Assessment of Students who are Deaf-Blind: A Decision-Making Model for School-Based Practitioners (Grant #H025D60011) is a three-year funded project from the U. S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs. This article was prepared by Nancy Sall. The contents do not necessarily reflect the position of the U. S. Department of Education.
The authors gratefully acknowledge the contributions and support of the families who participated in this study. We also wish to express our sincere thanks to Carrie Masten of NFADB for her help with the survey.
This article was published in the Deaf-Blind Perspectives - Winter 1999-2000 Volume Seven, Issue Two.