When evaluating children and adolescents for treatment, at a minimum, do all of the following as part of the assessment process:
- Whenever possible, observe the child in multiple milieu. Children may behave different in social situations when compared to their actions in school or at home.
- Obtain input from collateral sources (teacher, coach, child care provider) to help confirm what you observe. Assessing and evaluating children appropriately is a team effort.
- Conduct extensive interviews with the affected child and at least one parent. Children respond to cues and exercises, which although important, may not be enough to confirm your findings. Responsible parents are your de-facto specialists as they observe, interact and listen to the child every day.
- Do a thorough review of the child’s medical history. Undiagnosed medical disorders may be driving the undesirable behaviors exhibited by some children. Think ruling out medical issues first in general, but particularly do so when the child’s behavior is violating the rights of others or accepted social norms.
- Obtain a thorough family history of psychiatric disorder. Co-occurring conditions are the rule rather than the exception when assessing children, so genetic predisposition issues can potentially be a major ally for you.