In order to have an accurate picture of how a person learns, we must have a thorough assessment of cognitive and motor functions. This assessment will identify strengths, weaknesses and likely contributors to their learning, language or sensory difficulties – a relieving discovery to both child and adult clients.

Phase I Assessment

At the Morris Center, we utilize a Two-Phase assessment process. Phase-I involves a thorough assessment of a client’s medical and developmental history by a Ph.D. Nurse Practitioner who has been specially trained in conducting neurodevelopmental assessments. This neurodevelopmental assessment provides a broad screening of language, learning, memory, motor and attention systems.

Also, part of the Phase-I assessment is a thorough diagnostic interview by a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist. Initial testing of attention (standardized tests and questionnaires) and broad cognitive abilities is also included in the Phase-I assessment.

From the Phase-I assessment findings, a preliminary set of diagnoses are provided and a detailed plan of Phase-II assessments are outlined and explained to the family or adult client. There are two overall goals of the Phase-I evaluation:

  1. Document whether or not there is a diagnosable attention disorder; poor attention can affect a client’s performance during Phase-II testing.
  2. Identify other cognitive, sensory motor and/or behavioral areas of general weaknesses that warrant specific testing during Phase-II – Phase-II tests are individually selected to aid definitive diagnosis and, most importantly, individualized treatment planning.

The Team

  • Nurse Practitioner or Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrician
  • Clinical Psychologist or Pediatric Psychiatrist
  • Consultation with the Director of The Morris Center and the Speech-Language Pathologist

Neurodevelopmental Evaluation

  • Medical and Developmental History and Exam
  • Screening of all brain systems including neuromotor, perception, learning, attention, speech, language, memory, motor planning and cognition
  • Nutrition, sleep, behavior, allergies, medical, etc.

Psychological Diagnostic Interview

  • Psychosocial background
  • Educational background
  • Behavioral background
  • Family history

Phase II Assessment

The Phase-II assessment is an individually selected series of tests that may cover intelligence, language, memory, sensory and motor processing, and achievement testing. The primary purpose of the Phase-II testing is provide a specific picture of the clients individual profile of strengths and weaknesses. This information is essential for accurate diagnosis and for specific treatment planning.

Completing the Phase-II assessments usually requires several sessions over a period of 1 – 2 weeks. The total hours of family and child or adult client assessment may range from 6 to 20 hours. The duration depends on the severity of the client’s difficulties, the time it takes him/her to complete the testing, and whether previous assessments have been recently completed.

If prior assessments conducted elsewhere are recent and consistent with nationally recognized standardized tests, then we will try to use this outside testing for part of Phase-II evaluation. We select assessments on an individualized basis and only administer tests essential for thorough diagnosis AND treatment planning. Assessment data should guide planning for individualized treatment(s). A diagnosis alone does not identify the essential “what” and “how” of treatment.

At the conclusion of the Phase-II assessment, the entire assessment team (listed below) meets together for a diagnostic staffing meeting. Here the team reviews the assessment data from all disciplines. Uniquely, The Morris Center’s team of professionals practice interdisciplinary interpretation of assessment data, diagnosis and treatment planning. Interdisciplinary means that all professionals compare and contrast their assessment findings based on common theoretical models. The interdisciplinary nature of The Morris Center uniquely provides individualized assessment and treatment services.

This team includes:

  • Clinical Psychologist/Neuropsychologist
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Speech Language Pathologist
  • Educational Specialist
  • Nurse
  • Psychometrist
  • Consultation with the Psychiatrist, Nurse Practitioner and the Director the Morris Center

The Following Tests May Be Conducted Based On Phase I Assessment/Interpretive:

  • Attention/Intention
  • Intelligence/Cognition
  • Oral Language
  • Memory
  • Sensory and motor processing
  • Written Language
  • Mathematics
  • Behavioral Observations

Is there a tool to give self assessment?

Learning difficulties do NOT go away with age or time. Children do not “outgrow” learning difficulties. Without the proper treatment, children with learning difficulties can grow up to become adults with learning difficulties. Only the proper treatment can change their weaker learning or academic skills into strengths; commonly our clients have strengths in other skills too. Our unique interdisciplinary team and treatment program can dramatically improve learning, language, sensorimotor, attention, behavior and academic skills. Our individually-tailored treatment programs are highly successful regardless of whether our client is 4 years old or 78 years old; the brain’s ability to develop or improve skills follows some consistent principles at all ages and new scientific evidence supports that the human brain is able to develop or improve abilities at all ages.

Warning Signs

There are warning signs for parents and individuals who suspect that they or someone they care about has a learning disability.

Ages 1 to 4
Trouble with articulation, mispronunciation of words; using correct verb tenses, plurals, pronouns
Trouble appreciating rhyming, sound or word games
Word finding
Knows colors, but can’t name them when asked
Difficulty telling an event/story in order
Auditory Memory
Difficulty holding multi-step directions
Fine Motor Skills
Has difficulty learning to cut with scissors, tying shoes, blowing nose
Clumsy, messy eater
Sensory Processing
Overreaction to some senses (light touch, different textures, smell, sounds, lights)
Ages 4 to 8
Mispronunciations, slow word finding; grammatical errors earlier have diminished
Phonological Awareness
Cannot appreciate the individual sounds in words heard, spoken, or read
Reading and Spelling
Difficulty learning to sound out words for reading and spelling – relies on sight words, reading is slow and effortful
Errors when reading – was for saw; telling an event order
Auditory Memory
Has difficulty holding multi-step directions
Awkward pencil grip, presses hard on the paper
Trouble concentrating/wears out before a task is done
Begins to experience failure and frustration
Ages 9 to Adult
Mispronunciations and slow word finding
Auditory Memory
Has difficulty holding multi-step directions; holding alphabet in head for phonebook, and dictionary use
Slow, avoids it; relies on sight words; guesses
Poor carryover after spelling tests
Avoids it; when he has to, sentences are short
Effortful, messy, awkward grip
Language Expression
Has difficulty getting ideas in words and sequencing appropriately
Foreign Language
Hard to learn
Trouble concentrating; wears out before a task is done
Achievement Tests
A discrepancy between performance in math versus reading
Increasing frustration and poor self-esteem