The many people—both children and adults– who come to the Stern Center for evaluations have differences ranging from mild learning problems to complex learning or social disabilities. This range includes:
- Learning style differences, including gifted learning styles
- Specific learning disabilities, including dyslexia, language-learning disabilities, and non-verbal learning disabilities
- Attentional difficulties including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Social or adaptive behavioral problems, including autism specific differentiated diagnosis
- Neurological handicapping conditions
If you are concerned about a learning or attentional difficulty, the Stern Center can provide a comprehensive evaluation, help you fully understand the results, and develop effective recommendations.
What Steps Are Involved In the Evaluation Process?
Initial Contact with the Stern Center
When you call, our Diagnostics Program Assistant will gather information regarding the student and areas of concern, explain the evaluation process, and schedule an appointment or evaluation. To help in the diagnostic process, we ask that parents or adult students complete informational questionnaires. For children, we also suggest that their teachers complete questionnaires.
On the day of the scheduled evaluation, the parents or adult student meet with the diagnostician to review relevant background information and clarify areas of concern. If appropriate, and at the request of the client/parent, the diagnostician can then also contact school personnel to obtain relevant information regarding the individual’s current school performance.
Because each student has special, individual needs and we provide a comprehensive assessment, we typically request that an entire day be set aside for testing. Evaluations are usually completed in five-to-six hours.
Following the testing, the student and/or the student’s parents meet with the diagnostician to discuss preliminary findings from the diagnostic process.
The evaluation includes a comprehensive written report to the parents or adult student detailing test results and recommendations. This report is completed within approximately three to four weeks.
Our reports often exceed the expectations of educational teams and often receive positive reviews. As one member stated, "This is an incredible report! I've been doing this for 41 years, and I think this is the best report I've ever read."
Types of Evaluations
These are comprehensive learning evaluations that assess student strengths and weaknesses related to academic achievement. They may include cognitive abilities, language, reading, writing, and math, as well as attention and executive function. They are essential for documenting student achievement, planning an effective instructional program, monitoring progress, and diagnosing differences in learning. Comprehensive psychoeducational evaluations provide educational recommendations that are individualized, research-based, and effective. These evaluations are recommended in the majority of cases.
These evaluations assess mental health, emotional, and social functioning. The results help answer questions as to whether attention, self-esteem, anxiety and/or impulse control may be affecting learning or quality of life.
Most children and adults who have neuropsychological evaluations have had a change in academic or everyday functioning due to impacts on brain function from one or many factors (e.g. a medical disorder, a disease, or inborn developmental problems, a brain injury, or birth trauma). Neuropsychological evaluations provide a global assessment of brain function related to attention, memory, language, sensory/motor, executive functioning, behavioral, social, and thinking skills. Results help with medical intervention, refine and increase the robustness of behavioral, educational and social programming, and monitor and inform return to learn and return to play for athletes.
Academic evaluations may document achievement in listening, speaking, reading, writing, and/or math. They are designed to provide information on student performance in school whether students be gifted, typical, or in need of support. Academic evaluations also screen for weaknesses in underlying skills that affect academic achievement.
This type of evaluation may be helpful in cases where the student has had recent cognitive testing through the school or has been previously tested at the Stern Center.
These evaluations examine abilities in social cognition and language functioning including: language-based critical thinking skills in conjunction with reasoning within contexts, social awareness, social communication, social motivation, theory of mind, joint attention, and perspective taking skills. Social cognition evaluations are helpful when family members or teachers are concerned about social interaction skills and relationship development.
Speech and Language
These evaluations are designed to provide a comprehensive assessment of communication skills. Evaluations focus on aspects of expressive and receptive language, as well as articulation, voice, and fluency. Evaluations may also focus on issues related to oral-motor skill and feeding.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
Children and adults on the autism spectrum often have unique abilities and challenges. We typically include a comprehensive review of medical, family and developmental history, caregiver reports of functioning across settings and the observation of social communicative behavior. Standardized assessments of intellectual functioning, social relatedness, adaptive behaviors and speech-language functioning are also included. Attention, mood or other aspects of mental health are examined as needed. Our ASD evaluations usually include the use of ADOS and ADI-R.
Oral Sensory-Motor Speech and Feeding Evaluations
Oral sensory motor speech and feeding evaluations are generally two hours in length. During this comprehensive evaluation, we analyze the oral structures as the child moves through his/her environment using a variety of food and non-food items to determine how sensory and motor deficits are impacting feeding skills and sound production. To learn more about this evaluation, please view our flyer.
A behavior support evaluation aims to identify underlying behavioral concerns that may be impacting a child’s performance in school. These school-based evaluations typically include a functional behavioral assessment (FBA) designed to examine why undesirable or inappropriate behaviors occur. These evaluations are individualized; they may include multiple observations, consultation with school personnel and parents, and possibly testing. They do not involve diagnosis of underlying mental health concerns but instead offer a detailed behavior intervention plan and suggestions related to monitoring and evaluating progress. They may result in recommendations for additional assessment. On-going behavior consultation is available for an additional cost.
These evaluations are for learners with a complex learning profile who would benefit from an evaluation delivered by a diverse group of experts.
Conducted by Dr. Julia Molson, clinical psychologist, in partnership with the University of Vermont College of Medicine, Department of Pediatric/Adolescent Psychiatry, and collaborating with school personnel and parents, we achieve the goal of optimizing the learner's instructional program to help them reach their full potential.
A limited number of evaluations will be available in the spring and the fall. Learn more by contacting us below.
Please be Advised
ADHD and Executive Function are not stand alone evaluations and cannot be addressed separately.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do we conduct learning evaluations?
To find out how a student learns in order to identify a learning profile, create individualized instruction plans, to determine whether special services are needed, and to monitor progress.
When should an evaluation be done?
Evaluations should be done at the first signs of significant challenge or struggle in school, at work or within social settings. All too often, evaluations are not performed until failure occurs, academically, professionally or socially. It is important to find out how an individual learns so parents and professionals can plan effective interventions, strengthen self-esteem and promote success.
Evaluations can take anywhere from a couple of hours to an entire day. Once the type of evaluation needed is determined, the time needed for it can be more specific.
Who should conduct an evaluation?
There are many different kinds of specialists who perform evaluations, including psychologists, special educators, neuropsychologists and speech/language pathologists. Someone who relates well to the student and can communicate effectively with parents and teachers is a must. It is also important for one individual to be responsible for integrating all of the evaluative findings so that diagnoses and recommendations are cohesive and coordinated.