Q&A with Educational Psychologist Simon Kitson
1-minute summary. Educational Psychologist Simon Kitson shares his experiences of assessing ADHD in school settings and on using QbCheck to add objectivity to assessments. Simon has found that QbCheck enables him to be more objective, and also helps with the reporting of the data because of its graphical nature. In this blog you can listen to the full interview or read a condensed summary.
For over 20 years, Simon Kitson of EDGE Psychology has worked as an Educational Psychologist helping parents, students, and teachers better understand the needs of children in an educational setting, with a particular specialty working with children with ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). His experience has given him an insight into how to approach a potential ADHD diagnosis with children from a wide variety of backgrounds.
In this interview, Simon shares his journey toward working as an Educational Psychologist, how he uses QbCheck to add objectivity to his assessments, and how research-backed ADHD care can change the lives of children as well as adults. Read the condensed interview below.
I started off as a teacher, as most Educational Psychologists do. I was a deputy head teacher of a Primary School and then completed further studies to become an Educational Psychology. That is the path that people used to take. It has now changed to a doctorate program, but it is essentially the same kind of format. I’ve worked for local authorities for about 20-odd years.
I was asked to do so many assessments privately, so I thought I would pursue my interests in the area, which are autism and ADHD.
ADHD in school settings
ADHD includes attentional difficulties and hyperactivity and impulsivity. So it is more than just a child who finds it slightly difficult to concentrate or is a bit fidgety. There are compulsions, and ADHD is typified by things like working memory and processing speed difficulties. So this kind of lack of educational attainment is because children aren’t able to concentrate or they’re not able to sit still.
But a lot of times it’s masked because people think it’s just ‘poor behavior’. Obviously we don’t really like to use the term poor behavior.
ADHD assessment process
Generally I work with parents. I might work with a few schools or organizations that are responsible for support for children, not necessarily an education establishment. It’s generally at the end of a long road for people because obviously they’ve tried lots of things.
And, you know, I appreciate that. There is a lot of work that is involved in the whole assessment process.
If I look at ADHD, I’m not simply looking at the ADHD. I look at the cognition, I’ll look at the emotional and social, I look at the behavioral, I look at the attainment. So I sort of peel back all the layers of an onion to find out what the difficulties are.
And I use all the information at my disposal, not just the parents’ information, not just the school’s information, but the data that I collect as well. So it is fairly rigorous. I like to think of it as a scientific process.
People contact me and say, “I want an educational psychology assessment.” I talk to the parents a little bit about the background and then if I see fit, I will say, “Oh, are you concerned about levels of attention? Are you concerned about, you know, levels of activity?”
What I’m looking for is a match between the results of the cognitive assessment, the results of the QbCheck, and the results of the clinical instruments that I use, which is the ASEBA, a 112 item checklist that is completed by parents, schools and children over 11.
I used to find myself saying “Oh, I’ve got a very strong feeling that there are attention and activity issues.” But it wasn’t until I started using the QbCheck that I was able to say, “Well, look here, here is the standardized objective measurement of inattention, impulsivity and levels of activity.”
It has really focused my practice and enables me to be more objective, and also helps with the reporting of the data because it’s so graphical. It’s a really very informative reporting system which is generated by QbCheck and then gets sent back to me. And I then have a really good way of reporting the data.
It is quite stark because you get a sample case, which is what a typically developed young person would do at the same age. And then you have the subject section reported graphically and you can see the contrast between the two subjects.
I take particular account of the results of the cognitive assessment and then move that across to see what the QbCheck says. So if there is a deficit in working memory and processing speed and everything else seems average or above average, then we know that those two features are highly indicated for ADHD.
QbCheck is useful because it is not like a checklist that somebody will complete. It feels like a stable assessment.
Learn more about using QbCheck in your practice.
Please note: QbCheck is not meant to be a standalone tool for diagnosing ADHD. Instead, it has been designed to be added to the assessment process along with a clinical interview and rating scales.