Understanding Your Child’s Report
After your child was tested, chances are you received a very detailed report with your child’s history, testing data, and a long list of recommendations.
The assessment professional likely spent hours writing this report, and may have walked you through each of the tests and what they mean.
Still, even with all this information from a kind and skillful assessor, many parents leave the assessment process wondering…
The truth is, all this data can be very overwhelming. It’s tricky to figure out what the data means in real life and which step to take first.
When I work with families after an assessment, often our first step is to translate their child’s report into:
- Clear take-homes for understanding their child’s profile
- What the diagnosis means for their child
- Actionable first steps
Here’s how we do it!
Translating Your Child’s Report
“A Brain Under Construction”
While your child’s report contains a lot of important data, it can be challenging to connect all these data points to everyday experiences.
To help, I like to use the metaphor of a brain “under construction.”
This allows us to think about how your child’s brain works best, what areas they are building, and what tools will be most helpful.
In other words, we can organize the data from the report into 4 key areas:
- Highways (strengths)
- Construction Zones (areas for growth & support)
- Diagnosis/Eligibility Category (what it means for them)
- Tools & Construction Crew (recommendations)
To follow along, download this printable handout to write in your own ideas, or share the handout to your child’s assessment professional to ensure you get the most out of your child’s report.
1. What are my child’s highways?
The brain is made up of cells called neurons. These neurons connect to each other like billions of tiny roads.
When things come easily – either naturally or with practice – we can think of them as our highways!
While your child was tested because something is hard for them, the evaluation will have revealed their strengths as well. These strengths – or highways – can help your child get to where they need to go!
To this end, the first thing we want to know is:
What did my child do well?
What are the ways that they learn best?
Your child’s strengths may be listed in the Summary section (often at the end of the report), or under an Observations section.
Write these down using your own words under “Highways” on the handout. If you’re not sure, ask your child’s assessor the questions above!
2. What are my child’s construction zones?
Just as your child’s highways are the things that come easily, your child’s construction zones are the challenges, or the skills and strategies they are building.
While I love a long list of highways, it may be most helpful to think about 1-3 of the most important construction zones.
In the Construction Zones box on the handout, write down:
What are the top 3 things my child is working on?
What would these look like in everyday life, at home or at school?
Again, this information can often be found in the Summary section of the report. However, if you’re not sure, reach out to your child’s assessor for clarification.
A summary of your child’s highways and construction zones may look something like this:
3. What is my child’s diagnosis or eligibility category?
A diagnosis is simply a short-cut for summarizing the highways and construction zones you listed above.
Similarly, in Special Education there are “eligibility categories” that serve the same purpose.
If the diagnosis or category is not clear, you might ask your child’s assessor:
Is there a name for my child’s profile?
If I were to Google something to find out more about what will help my child, what words should I use?
One way to understand your child’s diagnosis or eligibility is by putting together their highways and construction zones like this:
For your child, [diagnosis/eligibility] means their brain was built in a way that makes their highways come easily and their construction zones much more challenging.
- For my child, ADHD means their brain is built in a way that makes coming up with ideas come easily and writing them down much more challenging.
- For my child, dyslexia means their brain was built in a way that makes drawing and story-telling come easily and reading stories much more difficult.
- For my child, autism means their brain was built in a way that makes details and deep dives into their interest come easily and coping with change much more difficult.
Write down what feels most important to know about your child’s diagnosis in the Diagnosis/Eligibility box on the handout.
4. What are the top 5 tools to help my child?
It can be helpful to think of the evaluator’s recommendations as your child’s tools and construction crew to help them build their brain.
Tools are the materials and strategies your child will need for their brain to work best.
The construction crew is made up of the educators, coaches, therapists, and family members helping your child with their construction zones.
Many evaluators will provide looooong lists of recommendations. It may be helpful to circle 5 that feel most important to start with.
Yep – just 5.
This will help you (and your child) prioritize what is most important right now.
If you’re not sure where to start, it may be helpful to ask your evaluator:
If I could only do 5 of things on your recommendations list, which would those be?
Assessment to Action
Now that you’ve answered all 4 questions, your summary of your child’s assessment may look something like this:
Using this summary, many families find it much easier to:
- Show teachers what will be most helpful to their child
- Share information with family members
- Get started on the most important next steps for helping their child
You may also find it helpful to bring a blank copy to your next meeting as a way to take notes and make sure you are walking away with clear information and next steps.
I hope you’ve found this helpful. As always, let me know what else you need!
Feel free to reach out with any questions using the link below.