You're too ADHD to assess kids for ADHD
September 29, 2017 3:40 PM   Subscribe

I have ADHD. I am in a clinical psychology graduate program. As part of the program, I have to learn to administer an intelligence test. I just had my first practice assessment and failed miserably, but all of the things I messed up were things I knew, and recognized as errors immediately after. How do I prepare for my next assessment when my problem is executive functioning and attention, not lack of knowledge of the material?

The way the practice assessment is conducted, you lose points for every error you make. You can only lose 2 points and still pass. I lost 6.5. I knew by the end of the assessment I had completely failed, because every time I made a mistake I recognized it a couple of seconds to a minute later, but there's no way to correct for those mistakes once you've made them.

I've been dealing with ADHD and executive functioning issues my whole life, and I've had a pretty strong handle on them before this. It hasn't really impacted my school career until now because every task I've been asked to complete, I always had the ability to go over and correct for mistakes before turning it in. Since I'm a fast reader and because I usually knew 95% of the material and could fly through, I always had time to go over tests and check them for errors. Projects and papers were always finished ahead of time so I would have time to go over them for mistakes.

I don't have that luxury here, and I'm not sure what to do to address it. I got feedback on what I did wrong after the assessment, and absolutely none of it was a surprise to me. This is all stuff I knew, and recognized as an error right after I made it. The trouble with the assessment is you have to do different things based on the age of the person you're assessing, and based on how they answer questions. That was always where I lost points--I failed to adjust appropriately. I know a large part of this is I do not process things as quickly as other people do. I especially process auditory information a lot slower than most people. I tried to go slowly on the practice assessment to try and minimize mistakes, but I still had trouble adjusting at the right places and keeping in mind the right information. I also frequently processed information wrong, and often would say things wrong even though I knew exactly what to say.

I have to redo the practice assessment in a week and I really don't know what to do to prepare for it. Practicing with other people really hasn't seemed to help because again, it's not that I don't know how I should respond in each situation, it's that I have trouble keeping multiple things in my head at once and get easily mixed up and distracted trying to juggle all the things I have to do. Long-term solution is "actually get proper therapy for my ADHD" but in the short term I'm not sure what to do.
posted by brook horse to Education (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I assess kids professionally; the more you do this the easier it gets. That's why we do lots of practice assessments before we get to write an assessment that will ever be used.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 3:47 PM on September 29 [1 favorite]

What about letting your professors know that you have ADHD and are subsequently struggling with administering the assessment as a result? They should be open and willing to advise you on strategies that will enable you to work with or around the executive function stuff preventing you from performing the way you want and need to.
posted by Hermione Granger at 4:42 PM on September 29

I have ADD. I have some board exams I am taking. I have some ritalin, I don't take it on a daily basis because I can function on a daily basis, like you, go back and check my work. There isn't time on these exams, and I seem to mis-read things when under pressure. So, I take a mild dose of ritalin before an exam. It seems to work.
posted by rudd135 at 5:27 PM on September 29

Assessments really do require lots of practice, and it is common to make adjustment mistakes. It is really complicated, but in many ways assessments are formulas that's why they can be graded so percicely.

First, focus on what you do right and well. Acknowledging this can reduce your cognitive load to focus on what you are having problems with.

Practice question readings AND responses over and over and over aloud until the wording is memorized. It sucks, but 100 percent nessisary .

Try to do some of the adjustment planning in the beginning if you have any information on your client to reduce what you are thinking about in the moment.

Take pauses.

Be honest with your supervisors. You will get through.
You will improve.
posted by AlexiaSky at 7:42 PM on September 29

Hi! I’m a school psychologist, so a large part of my job is assessing kids for special education. I too struggle with ADHD/executive functioning issues. Can you give an idea of what cognitive test you’re practicing right now? I go between several for my job, and each one is slightly different with regards to start points, ceilings, reversal rules, etc. For me personally, having an idea of which one you’re currently practicing would help me to give you better suggestions.

Are you able to go through a protocol before your next practice assessment?

In general, some things that have helped me in the past:
• Going through the protocol before I start administering the test and marking the start point for each subtest based on the age of the student.
• Marking or highlighting the administration directions in the protocol regarding start points, ceilings, reversal rules, etc.
• Laying out all of the materials for a subtest next to me when I start each one. That way, if I need to adjust because of the student’s responses, I have the materials right in front of me. I typically do this when I’m administering an assessment that requires a lot of manipulatives.

When you say that you would “… say things wrong, even though I knew exactly what to say,” can you elaborate on that? Do you mean with the administration directions that you’re supposed to give the examinee? Do you mean when reading the question?

If you don’t want to give too many details here, feel free to MeMail me if you’d like! I love the assessment aspect of my job, so I would be happy to talk about it. :)
posted by yeahyeahrealcute at 9:00 PM on September 29 [2 favorites]

I'm a psychologist and used to do assessments. Do you have all of the materials at home so you can practice with people you know? It's not the same to go over the materials by yourself. As others have said, repetition until it's second nature for you, but using real people. It doesn't matter if you're doing the WPPSI with a 30-year-old. You just want a body there to do their part. And don't expect perfection. Maybe your grades won't be great until you get the hang of it.
posted by DMelanogaster at 5:09 PM on September 30

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