Some Recent Examples of Assessment Work

A nine year old boy came to see me.

A nine year old boy came to see me. His mother had told me prior to the assessment that Sam (not this real name) had been experiencing difficulty at school for a number of reasons, one being his inability to tolerate noise. He frequently moved to a quiet table at the edge of the classroom during the school day and he found being in the music room at times intolerable and had to sit outside the classroom as the lesson continued. He had a history of speech and language difficulty and he still mispronounced some words. He said when asked on the day what his major difficulties were at school, I can’t spell and I can’t do comprehension.’

The assessment showed that Sam did indeed have low average spelling skill and he also wrote at low average writing rate. But contrary to Sam’s opinion of his reading comprehension, the tests produced average results. This must be partly due to Sam having above average verbal ability in terms of his receptive and expressive verbal ability. The sub-tests in the verbal ability tests are untimed, which is relevant.

The assessment produced below average phonological processing skills scores across the three areas tested: Awareness, Memory, and Rapid Symbolic and Object Naming skill. Rapid Symbolic Naming skill is an assessment of the participant’s speed of reading non-sequential letters and digits. Sam read the letters at a below average rate equivalent to the 5th percentile. And the Rapid Object Naming tests, in which Sam was asked to name a set of non-sequential colours followed by a set of different objects, produced a a well below rate, equivalent to less the 1st percentile. Sam said ‘I know the words, I just can’t get them out of my mouth.’

Sam achieved an above average Standard Score of 124 for the Maths Test in the assessment, which is clearly totally disparate to his well below average ability to recall and name objects, which is also disparate to his above average General Verbal Ability of Standard Score: 119.

Read ‘The impact of auditory processing disorder on life at school’ on my Blog for a description of what happened as a result of Sam’s assessment.

A twelve year old boy with violent outbursts.

A 12 year old boy had spent all his earlier primary education having to be coaxed through the school gate every morning. And since being at secondary school his behaviour at home had deteriorated so much that he was having such violent outbursts, his father had to restrain him for his own safety. This was often triggered by the thought of having to tackle his homework. When he was at school he frequently said he felt ill and his mother was asked to go and collect him. She had asked for help throughout all of his time at school without ever getting anywhere.

Fortunately when assessed, this friendly, likeable child, opened up and described why he disliked going to school so much. He found it very hard to concentrate and attend whilst in class and it meant he lost the thread of every lesson and he became very bored. He fiddled with a toy throughout the three hour assessment period and picked it up immediately if he dropped it. He said ‘unless my hands are busy I can’t focus at all’. The assessment highlighted the fact that aspects of his attention and concentration skill were at the 2nd percentile. Studies carried out by Texas University in 2006 found that ‘a specific difficulty recalling digits and letters in reverse order is distinct to children struggling with ADHD, ‘combined’ type, this refers to children who display hyper activity as well as being inattentive’. (Rosenthal, Riccio, Gsanger and Jarret, 2006).

This engaging child also has Dyslexia (delineated in his assessment) and Hypermobility (previously assessed) so it is not surprising that he did not want to go to school and if there, he wanted to go home. Armed with the assessment, his mother was able to convey precisely why her son was so unhappy at school, and also receive help, via her GP from a paediatrician who after confirming the diagnosis, recommended the correct ameliorative support for his ADHD. Last reports were that her son and his school were working well together, the causal factor now being established, the boy had an explanation as to why he hadn’t previously coped well and the school were sympathetic and keen to help. And the whole family were benefitting from no longer having to cope with the outbursts which had blighted all their lives for years.

Two Eighteen Year Olds.

I assessed two eighteen year olds, one after the other, from different parts of the country, who had both achieved good BTEC results that enabled them to get into University. Both boys had struggled at school due to being severely dyslexic and despite applying themselves had not fared as well as they had hoped to in their GCSE examinations. Neither of the teenagers, or their parents, gave up. Both teenagers took BTEC courses whilst in their sixth forms. BTEC courses are vocational courses that include practical work, and are equivalent to ‘A’ levels. Both the teenagers studied Countryside Management enabling them to get outside, and study subjects such as land conservation. Now studying Farm Management at university they are thoroughly enjoying their courses; their confidence boosted by doing well, when given the right circumstances. Their diagnostic assessments, diagnosed their severe dyslexia and thus their eligibility for a ‘Disabled Students Allowance’ which will pay for 1-1 study support, vital to both students, and it also gave them the means to buy assistive software to help them both construct essays.

A 27 year old woman.

A 27 year old woman took the opportunity to come for an assessment whilst visiting relatives in England as she had felt that she had always found reading easily difficult, and wondered whether she may actually be Dyslexic. It transpired after the full set of assessments were used including phonological and memory tests, that her slow reading pace was actually due to her undiagnosed ‘Amblyopia’ which was the result of an astigmatism thought to have been resolved via eye patching and eye exercises in childhood, which was actually unresolved leading to just one of her eyes doing all the work. This was a very interesting assessment as placing a blue overlay over text and writing on a blue ground greatly increased the speed of her processing. This apart from anything else was a great temporary solution to her reading issues, armed with an overlay at least she could read on the plane back to the States without getting a headache! It actually took away the blurring effect which happened when she moved her gaze up or down across text which she had struggled with for years. My recommendation was to visit a Behavioural Optometrist as soon as possible. She had to battle snow covered roads through the mountains of Washington State to get to one; but she is now having eye exercises, leading to having a prism in her lenses to bring both eyes together taking the strain off the sole eye doing all the work. Result! So if you know any people out there with Amblyopia who have lost their glasses, tell them to using a blue see through plastic overlay over text or change the background tint to pale blue on their lap top until they get their glasses back! Or live dangerously and use them both together…

An anxious ten year old boy.

A ten year old boy had become extremely anxious about going to school although being at a very happy school with good support found to be not just Dyspraxic (as had already been diagnosed) but also to have significant sensory neural deafness at high frequencies which will affect his ability to hear certain speech sounds and will have caused confusion, exhaustion and frustration all through school.

Rugby Playing nine year old.

Delightful rugby playing nine year old who ‘enjoys’ Maths achieved a score for the standardised Maths test in the assessment at the 99th percentile. He correctly and effortlessly worked through algebraic equations not yet covered in his school curriculum; he just thought he’d ‘have a go’. He achieved a standard score in the top .4 % for the Backwards Digit Span aspect of the Test of Memory and Learning 2 (TOMAL 2) thus he has an outstandingly good mid-term working memory and visual spatial awareness which partly explains his effortless Maths.

Felt stupid for years.

The assessment of a 33 year old woman helped her to feel less defeated by her inability to repeat phone numbers and recall all messages correctly at work. Her profile of scores indicated underdeveloped aspects of her working memory and phonological weakness that indicated that she is actually Dyslexic. Laws protect her need for recognition of this by her employers and the need for supportive software. The best thing that came out of the assessment was her determination to conquer maths using ‘inchworm’ techniques; taking the strain off her working memory. She said she had just ‘felt stupid for years.’

Determined and conscientious.

Very determined and conscientious Dyslexic 10 year old trialled the effect of using my new book ‘How to Read and Spell Words with Double Vowel Sounds’ by working through it over a couple of months and passed the entrance exam to the public school he was determined to get in to. He had previously scored zero in his prep school’s mock examination comprehension test. He created his own list of homophones whilst working through the book, as it highlights them naturally, as in; piece or peace? Hence the genesis of my third book: Homophones, Zebras Extra.

Severely hypermobile.

10 year old boy recognised as being severely hypermobile as a result of his assessment, is given remedial equipment and recognition of the fact that he writes slowly partly because it is painful for him…. now working on getting him an EHC to support him through his secondary school career as he is also Dyslexic.

Given extra time.

Teenager given extra time in exams due to very subtle phonological processing difficulty affecting specifically writing speed and quality…This was identifiable partly by using the new version of the Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing 2, which has an extended set of phonological awareness tests, coupled with his slow writing speed. Also suspected he was hypermobile, confirmed by GP, so he now knows to protect his joints playing rugby…. as if!

Denied extra time.

18 year old was told she was to be taken off the special needs register therefore denied need for extra time in exams, her assessment successfully overturned this decision in time for her crucial final exams….

Spatial skills.

Assessment helped to secure a wonderful, hard working 16 year old Dyslexic teenager an apprenticeship with a world leading car manufacturer; he is on his way to a great career ideally suited to his very high visual spatial skills quantified during the assessment…..

Passed entrance exam.

Pupil worked very hard indeed and despite being severely Dyslexic and Dyspraxic passed the entrance exam to his chosen Public School and could not be happier about it, as am I.

A boost in confidence.

Noah aged very nearly 10 years old, on being given a lemon overlay to place over text, smiled broadly and said,

“It traps the words so that they don’t muddle around anymore.”

Noah is also Dyslexic, but the huge help a lemon overlay gives him immediately boosted his confidence and his reading speed increased noticeably. He can’t wait to have spectacles with lemon lenses because he described words jumping around on the white board at school as well. Noah finds that lemon paper is a better ground than white for him to write on and a written coding test produced higher results when printed on to lemon ground paper, emphasising the basic visual difficulty that Noah has been experiencing throughout his schooling to date.