When a child is struggling in the classroom, learning turns from fun to frustrating for students and parents alike.
To help, psychology professor Michelle Carro and her team of doctoral students at the UNLV Psychological Assessment and Testing Clinic provide a much-needed, low-cost service to the community.
The clinic's team serves kindergarteners through adults by evaluating cognitive and academic skills such as reading, math, processing speed, problem solving, attention, and memory. Testing for these areas can also help determine whether an individual has attention deficit disorder, autism spectrum disorder, or a learning disability.
We recently talked with Carro, associate director of clinical training, about what the clinic does and how to get help for your child.
How does the clinic serve the Las Vegas community? We have wide community reach. The testing clinic is open to anyone in the community, and our clients range from 5 to 60 years old. There are only a handful of psychologists in town who can do assessment in learning disabilities and attention deficit disorder. Most insurance companies do not pay for psychological testing, and what we offer is a sliding scale option based on income. While schools offer testing for children, there can be a long wait.
What are some signals that an adult might need testing? If adults feel like they struggle academically, particularly in one area versus another, they should ask themselves: "Is there a pattern here?"
If university students had accommodations in elementary school, and now in college they're realizing this is more than they bargained for, it's important for them to know help is available. It's important they get evaluated.
There's nothing to be ashamed of. Everybody has different learning needs. You could be a student who is going to class, taking notes, and being diligent about studying, but maybe you just can't "get it."
What signals should parents look for that indicates their child is having trouble in school? For parents who are worrying, pay attention to two things. First, listen to teachers. If teachers are saying that, compared to other children they've worked with, they see your child struggling, then be open to that feedback. Second, listen to your gut. If you think your child is putting in a lot of time but you are not seeing results, or you seem perplexed by your child's inability to learn -- for example, you try to teach them something but they forget it the next day -- then it's time to consider an evaluation.
It's important to understand your child's learning needs early -- the earlier the better to prevent children from developing low academic self-esteem.
What happens after testing is completed and assessments are made? We'll help clients understand what is causing them the most trouble. We find ways to build up or work around weaknesses, as well as leverage strengths.
After the results are available, we sit with clients for a feedback session and make recommendations. If it's a college student, we work with the Disability Resource Center to accommodate the client. If additional therapy is needed, we refer them to our on-campus community mental health clinic, the UNLV Center for Individual, Couple, and Family Counseling. We also refer UNLV students to Counseling and Psychological Services.