What is a Behavioural Assessment?

Is this normal? Is something wrong? Is this more than typical child- like behaviour? If you are parenting a child who may be exhibiting challenging behaviour then these questions may have crossed your mind a few times, or even a dozen times a day. Behavioural assessments are used to answer these questions, and examine whether or not this challenging behaviour falls outside the range of expected age- appropriate behavior.

These behavioral concerns may include but are not limited to; difficulties related to hyperactivity, aggression, maintaining attention span, social disruptions, or peer relationships. Like all children, they are influenced by a wide array of aspects of their world like: their environment, their peers, their brain chemistry, their family, their nutrition, and even their past experiences. Once you begin a behavioral assessment a psychologist will utilize a comprehensive variety of assessments in order to examine all of these different influences in order to get an idea of the “big picture” and ultimately provide the most effective treatment plan.

A standard assessment process will likely include clinical interviews with yourself, other caregivers, and even with your child. The assessment will include standardized testing, reports, and feedback provided from other care givers or practitioners when appropriate. Psychologists have a variety of tools and approaches that are effective in examining children at all age levels and developmental phases of life. Things like art therapy or play therapy may be utilized in small children whom may not be able to participate in a clinical interview.

If your child’s behavior falls outside of what is determined as “typical age appropriate behavior” they may be given a mental health diagnosis. Common diagnoses can include but are not limited to: Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Conduct Disorder (CD), and Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD). Psychologists may also examine to determine if any of these behaviors are due to intellectual disabilities. Receiving a diagnosis can have many benefits when it comes to receiving support for schools and even supportive funding. Diagnosis can be helpful when dealing with a variety of medical professionals (i.e. speech therapist, general practitioners, ect.)
A diagnosis can also come with stigmas and self limiting beliefs so it is important to understand the pros and cons of diagnosis before starting the assessment process.

If you are interested in speaking with a psychologist and learning more about the process of a behavioral assessment, book in a time to speak to a psychologist call us on (02) 6262 6157 or book an appointment online.

Related reading:

Diagnosed- The benefits of receiving a DSM-5 Diagnosis
How do I know if my child has Learning Difficulties?
How to choose a child psychologist

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