02 Jul INTRODUCING OUR TELEMEDICINE SIGNATURE ASSESSMENT FOR LEARNING DISABILITIES, ADD/ADHD AND MENTAL HEALTH DIAGNOSES

How did COVID-19 affect services at Possibilities?

When the COVID-19 pandemic began affecting Ontario, Possibilities transitioned all in-person appointments to secure video sessions to protect the safety of our clients and our community.  We were able to continue most of our assessments and treatments over secure video appointments, providing uninterrupted help throughout these difficult times. Video sessions have allowed most of our services, such as ADD/ADHD assessments, coaching, medication consultations, clinical therapies and tutoring services to continue to be provided, right from the safety of your home.

Learning Disability testing—the portion of our comprehensive Signature Assessment that examines learning and cognitive abilities—has not been offered in the last few months, as the usual protocols for this type of assessment have typically involved in-person testing over many hours and sessions. Over the last few months, we have consulted peer-reviewed research, and clinicians involved in the development of standardized tests, to determine how Learning Disability tests and associated cognitive measures could be adapted for secure video sessions while maintaining accuracy and safety.

Some clinics are doing in-person psychoeducational testing. Why isn’t Possibilities doing this yet? 

We recognize that some clinics have started providing in-person psychoeducational testing. However, because of the extended time needed for the psychoeducational component of our Signature Assessment, plus the back-and-forth sharing of booklets and other testing materials, we have concluded that in-person testing for Learning Disabilities at this time does not meet our highest standards for protecting your safety. Our team includes medical doctors—psychiatrists, pediatricians and family physicians—and our opinion currently is that the medical risks of in-person testing simply do not outweigh any hypothetical benefits. Whatever can be done safely and remotely, should be.

Why do you include medical doctors on your team, and psychiatrists in the assessment process?

Our Signature Assessment combines an ADD/ADHD Assessment, a Mental Health Assessment, and a Learning Disability/Psychoeducational Assessment in an integrated package. If you’re familiar with the concept of a Psych-Ed, or a Psychoeducational Assessment, you can think of our Signature Assessment as a Psych-Ed MD Assessment, or a Psych-Ed Plus Assessment. Why? Because a psychiatrist is always part of the Assessment Team—and that means attention and mental health will also be examined, in-depth, in addition to the learning needs assessed by a psychologist. Attention, mental health and learning needs often go together. It’s essential to examine all of them so nothing gets missed.

So does your decision not to do in-person testing right now mean clients can’t be assessed for Learning Disabilities at Possibilities?

No. We have a solution and are ready to move forward. We recognize that delays in psychoeducational testing may mean denial of essential services, or uncertainty in how to intervene to improve learning with timely and effective treatment. For these reasons, we’ve been working hard to adapt our psychoeducational protocols to a video testing model. We’ve already been providing ADD/ADHD and mental health assessments over video. Starting in July 2020, Possibilities will add Learning Disability testing over secure video sessions, as well. Now clients can access our full Signature Assessment that covers Learning Disabilities, ADD/ADHD and mental health diagnoses through telemedicine. With our new Telemedicine Signature Assessment Protocol, we can provide services to anyone with a computer and a high-speed Internet connection anywhere in Ontario—from Windsor to Kingston, Toronto to Barrie, Oakville to Ottawa, Oshawa to Thunder Bay, London to Sudbury, and Hamilton to Kitchener-Waterloo.

Is a Telemedicine Signature Assessment any different than an assessment done in person?

We are confident that our Telemedicine Signature Assessment Protocol will continue to support our high clinical standards and diagnostic accuracy. Like before, our diagnostic accuracy comes from our comprehensive approach. We never do Learning Disability Assessments in isolation—and that won’t change with video testing. Our Signature Assessment will always look at more than just attention, or learning, or mental health alone. In fact, our Signature Assessment is a combination of an ADD/ADHD Assessment, a Mental Health Assessment, and a Learning Disability/Psychoeducational Assessment all rolled into one. All our assessments are also done by a Multidisciplinary Team that includes psychiatrists, psychometrists and psychologists with expertise in a range of diagnoses and treatments. Offering assessment services remotely doesn’t change our skill, or expertise, in diagnosis and treatment. Multiple experts on the Multidisciplinary Assessment Team will continue to consider all the information you provide, and the data we receive from testing, to make accurate diagnoses and scientifically-sound recommendations.

Are there any advantages to the Telemedicine Signature Assessment compared to in-person testing?

Yes! First and foremost, remote testing minimizes your risk of exposure to COVID-19. Being assessed in your own home might also be more comforting and reassuring to you or your child than being tested in an environment that is completely unfamiliar. Being tested in person these days—when the examiner and the examinee are separated with plexiglass and wearing protective equipment as assessment materials being exchanged are diligently disinfected—would likely be distracting and disconcerting, to say the least. Our remote testing offers a solution where these distractions and worries are not a concern.

Are there any disadvantages to the Telemedicine Signature Assessment compared to in-person testing?

Making adjustments for video testing has not meant compromising the depth or breadth of the assessments that we offer. However, video assessments may not work for everyone. We have been able to conduct ADD/ADHD assessments successfully over video with very young children. The portion of the Telemedicine Signature Assessment that examines whether a Learning Disability is present is more extensive and requires multiple testing sessions, however. Our examiners will do their best to accommodate any challenges and help testing proceed. If we feel that accuracy is compromised during the course of a video assessment, and that in-person testing may be beneficial and necessary, we’ll discontinue the video assessment. Often we can discern from the first part of the Signature Assessment—when attention is being tested in a shorter video session—whether the longer Learning Disability portion of testing over video will be possible.

What if the Telemedicine Signature Assessment is not right for my needs? 

If testing for Learning Disabilities using our Telemedicine Signature Assessment Protocol is not right for you or your family member, you still have options. You may proceed with the ADD/ADHD testing at our clinic, along with medical consultation around ADHD treatments. These are shorter assessment and consultation sessions offered over secure video appointments. Therapies with psychology, social work, speech and language pathology, and occupational therapy can also be accessed at Possibilities, again through a secure video connection.

If you would prefer that the Psychoeducational component of testing be done in-person, we cannot provide you currently with a definitive timeline for in-person testing at Possibilities. If you need the psychoeducational component completed more immediately than we can provide, we recommend that you seek out clinics that have decided that in-person testing is currently safe enough. We recommend you contact the Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario to find alternative providers.

I’m interested in finding out more? How do I start?

Please call to speak with our Care Coordinators at Tel: 1-833-482-5558, or Mailto: info@possibilitiesclinic.com for more information. We look forward to exploring possibilities with you!