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Behavioral Health Clinic’s Testing and Assessment Services Help Create a Continuity of Care for Children, Adolescents

His stomach ached. His head throbbed. Tears streamed down his cheeks.

Little Aiden cried to his mom. He felt icky and wanted to stay home from school – again. Aiden missed lots of days at his elementary school and always for the same reason. So, what was going on?

Aiden's pediatrician found no physical problems that would cause frequent abdominal pains or any of his other complaints. But the pain Aiden felt was real, and he was an anxious child, especially about school. That's why the pediatrician recommended that Aiden have a psychoeducational evaluation at the Boys Town Central Florida Behavioral Health Clinic.

For the past year, the clinic has provided psychological and psychoeducational testing and assessment services for children and adolescents. These comprehensive evaluations involve a combination of tests and measurement tools related to intelligence, cognitive abilities, memory and behavior. They are administered to school-aged youth, from kindergarteners to college students, to gain greater insight into their educational abilities as well as their emotional and behavioral strengths and weaknesses. 

When a child like Aiden struggles in school, academic testing and assessment can help pinpoint whether the underlying issue is related to a reading problem, such as dyslexia, or an attention problem, such as Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Likewise, if a child struggles with friendships or family relationships, the assessment can determine whether the child is experiencing emotional disorders, such as anxiety or depression.

"Evaluation and assessment allow us to get a deeper understanding of a child's underlying academic, social and emotional functioning," explained Dr. Jason Gallant, clinic director. "This information is used to customize treatment to meet the unique needs of the child."

In Aiden's case, the assessment revealed a bright child who had a significant reading problem. Aiden was trying so hard to compensate for his poor reading skills that he made himself sick. His family was able to use the results of the evaluation to advocate for the appropriate services at Aiden's school, which significantly reduced his anxiety and the stress, strain and embarrassment it caused. 

Casting a wide net and looking at the whole child is key to pinpointing exactly where a child is struggling, said Dr. Katrina Stone, the clinic's assessment psychologist. So a typical assessment involves parent and teacher interviews, reviews of relevant records and one-on-one interactions with and observations of the child.

"When I do an evaluation, I gain an understanding of the biggest challenges a child and family face. This leads to tangible next steps and interventions that can put everyone on a more successful path going forward," said Dr. Stone. 

With the addition of assessment and evaluation services, the clinic is now a one-stop shop. This is especially helpful when assessments reveal the need for therapeutic interventions. Having assessment services and therapists under one roof guarantees greater coordination, collaboration and continuity of care, delivering more efficiency and better outcomes to children and families.    

The clinic is currently working toward expanding its evaluation services to include comprehensive autism assessment for youth who have or may be at risk for autism spectrum disorders.

The Boys Town Central Florida Behavioral Health Clinic has been serving children in the greater Orlando area since opening in 2012. To learn more about the clinic's testing and evaluation services, and other services, call 407.853.7704.