Dr. Ahern answers: “People (children, teens, and adults) are usually referred to me for testing by a doctor, teacher, or therapist/counselor when they are struggling with something. That might be something academic, something to do with behaviors or emotions that are hard to control, or maybe social problems and difficulties making friends. Sometimes it’s all of those things. Often, they have tried lots of the usual things to solve the problems that are happening, but those things aren’t working. They want to find out why these things are so hard and what they can do about it.
As an evaluator, I gather information about all aspects of that person’s life and specific information about the concerns that brought them to me. I do this by asking a lot of questions. They, their parents, their teachers, and sometimes their peers or significant others complete questionnaires about their behavior. This allows me to determine if their behaviors and feelings are typical or more problematic for them than for others their age. I also do some specific tests that allow me to see how the person processes information – how their brain works, how they learn, and how they demonstrate their learning.
After gathering all the information, I use the data and my clinical training to make a diagnosis (if appropriate) and recommend treatments that we know work based on research. However, I also like to provide a detailed picture of how that person’s brain works and how they learn – what are their strengths? What are areas that need remediation or accommodations so they can better demonstrate what they’ve learned?
I write thorough reports describing the results and providing recommendations and resources. Reports can be given to medical providers, therapists, teachers, etc. to help them develop a treatment or intervention plan or to help them gain access to accommodations.
In the case of giftedness or early Kindergarten entry, I provide a similar testing process with the added goal of determining whether the person meets criteria set forth by schools or gifted services in order to qualify for their programs.”