A few months ago I began offering full neuro-psych evaluations for ADHD and other learning disabilities as part of my service.  Since that time my schedule has been filling quickly.  Austin is one of the fastest growing cities in the country, and that means there is a growing number of students who potentially need evaluations.

Even though it’s only mid April, I’m already looking ahead to summer and scheduling evaluations for June, July and August.  Although many of us associate neuro-psychological testing with school, summer is actually a perfect time to have your student evaluated.  Today’s post will discuss the advantages of testing during the summer.

1.  Students do not have to miss school

The school year presents many challenges when it comes to scheduling.  Chief among these is that students typically have to miss at least a portion of the school day in order to fit in all the assessments necessary.  Summer gives the opportunity to test during the day without the fear of missing classes and falling behind in school.  For students who are at the point of getting tested, falling behind in school can lead to a vicious cycle of academic difficulties.

2.  There are no competing academic activities

A full neuro-psychological evaluation requires a lot of brain power.  When students have competing academic activities (studying for tests, doing homework, paying attention in class), they often times don’t have enough “juice” to make it through the testing.  This is true even more so for students who have ADD or ADHD, as they tend to lose focus and attention throughout the day.  Undergoing an evaluation during the summer may lead to a more accurate assessment of the student’s neuropsych status and, hence, a better chance of a successful outcome.

3.  Scheduling is more flexible in the summer

This may be more of an advantage for me, but it does seem to be easier to schedule students during the summer.  Since I am a high school counselor, I have about six weeks off in the summer in which I don’t have to be at school during the day.  This allows me to fit in many more students throughout the week.  Having more options for appointment times is particularly beneficial for students who have summer plans, such as camps or vacations.

4.  You can set up 504 accommodations before the new school year begins

This may be the most important reason for having an evaluation over summer.  Whether your student is in elementary, middle, or high school (or even preparing for college), you will likely need a valid testing report to receive accommodations.  Furthermore, receiving accommodations usually requires an in-take at your school.  Only after this in-take happens will your student receive accommodations.  Many schools do provide in-takes over the summer, and this enable your student to set up his IEP (public school term) before the first day of school.

5.  There is time to test different medications

Although I am not a huge proponent of medication for ADHD and ADD, often times it is the best course of action for a student.  In cases where medication is warranted, there are many options.  Different medications have different effects, and even different dosages of the same medication will have varying effects.  In order to be most beneficial, medication should be dialed in just right.  This may require a trial and error process to see what works best for a student.  This can be a challenging process during the school year, but summer time does allow for a more forgivable period for experimenting.  You should consult with your student’s pediatrician if you are considering medication or a different dosage.

These are only a few of the advantages to having your student evaluated for ADHD, ADD, or other learning disabilities during the summer.  I wholeheartedly believe that kids need a break from school over the summer, but conducting an assessment during this time can pay huge dividends down the road.  The goal of testing is to set students up for success, and planning ahead for the start of the new school year is the first step.