Frequently Asked Questions

Here Are Answers to Common Questions


1. What are the different assessment types offered at Smithsfield Clinic?

The most common assessments we carry out include:

  • Cognitive Assessments – These assess one’s overall intellectual ability (sometimes referred to as their ‘intelligence quotient’ or IQ). It is usually used to determine whether someone is intellectually disabled or gifted, or if there are areas of functioning that may be impaired so as to warrant learning supports or specialist placements. This assessment is also often necessary to rule in/out global intellectual disabilities when another professional is trying to determine if a person might be presenting with other difficulties, such as dyspraxia or Developmental Language Disorder.
  • Educational and Psycho-Educational Assessments – These assessments use standardised tests to ascertain one’s IQ score, as well as reading, spelling, and numeracy abilities. The results are then used to determine whether or not a person is attaining at predicted rates, or if they meet the criteria for a specific learning difficulty (SLD), such as dyslexia or dyscalculia.
  • Emotional and Behavioural Assessments – This assessment requires parents or other close family members — and sometimes teachers — to complete behaviour checklists and participate in clinical interviews. Depending on the age of the person attending, they would also be administered measures/checklists/interviews to determine whether or not they might be presenting with an emotional/behavioural difficulty. This assessment type can be very broad or very specific, depending on the nature of the referral question. Some families are very clearly querying whether or not their child/other family member is presenting with anxiety and others may have a concern around attention or concentration skills. Where there are numerous learning and emotional/behavioural concerns, this assessment is often combined with either a cognitive or psycho-educational assessment, as described above.
  • Intellectual Disability
  • ADHD
  • Autism
  • Bespoke Assessments

2. How do I know if someone requires an assessment?

  • For some, parents have had concerns for many years and would like clarification on whether or not their child has a definitive difficulty or if they just need some more dedicated practice in a specific area of difficulty.
  • Many times, people book assessments due to concerns raised by their child’s school in relation to any area of learning, emotions, behaviour, or socialisation.
  • In some instances, another professional (speech and language therapist or occupational therapist, GP, mental health professional, public health nurse, etc) may have expressed concerns in another area of your or your child’s development. In these cases, we can first discuss whether or not further assessment and what type of assessment is needed. We can then decide how to proceed.
  • Other children may have been diagnosed with an SLD and parents may return for an assessment themselves because many of the child’s presenting difficulties echoes struggles they themselves had in school.

In short, people come for an assessment if the family, school, or the young person/adult themselves are concerned that they might have a learning or emotional/behavioural difficulty that they might need support for.

  • Many people also come with a specific question, for example:
  • ‘Is my child eligible for an exemption from Irish?’
  • ‘Will I be able to access the Disability Access Route to third level Education (DARE)?’
  • ‘Is my child eligible for Reasonable Accommodations on state exams (RACE)?’

All these questions can only be answered following the completion of an assessment.

3. How do I arrange an assessment?

All the clinic’s services can be booked by phoning the clinic on 086 324 7060, or by emailing us at

4. Where do assessments take place?

In most cases, assessments will take place in one of the private offices in the clinic building. Assessments taking place under the SCPA scheme take place on school grounds. In certain other specially arranged exceptional circumstances, assessments can be arranged to take place in a person’s home or school setting.

5. What is the procedure for an assessment?

Before the clinic assessment:

  • You will be provided with a clinical policy and consent form to review, complete, sign, and send into the office by post or email.
  • Before meeting you/your child, we will request some specific information from yourself and the (pre-)school and will review all the documents you organise for submission to us.
  • We may also send out some additional checklists and/or additional referral information forms to guide the assessment process to be completed by you and the teacher prior to the clinic appointment.
  • Questionnaires returned from parents and teachers will be scored — the information received will guide the planning for the clinic session.

The day of the clinic assessment:

Both parent and child (or whoever is being assessed) should arrive at the clinic at the scheduled time.

  • The attending clinician will introduce themselves and give a brief outline of what the assessment will entail to both the parent(s) and the child.
  • Following this, parents in attendance will be asked to leave the assessment room, except in exceptional circumstances where if parents wish to stay, this will need to be discussed with the attending clinician the appropriateness of parents staying in the room.
  • Following the approximately 2-hour assessment, the person being assessed will be asked to wait out in the waiting room or in their car if they prefer while the attending clinician analyses the data. Some clinicians will give preliminary data on the day. Dr Cassidy tends to give full feedback on the day of the assessment. However, please note that many clinicians prefer to schedule a separate feedback session on a different day. But please also note that if you have a full feedback session on the day of the assessment, you will not have a separate feedback session on a later date. However, for ADHD and Autism assessments, there is always an additional feedback session to discuss the results on a different day to field any additional questions on more complex assessments.
  • The parent(s) will then be called into the attending clinician’s office to discuss the preliminary results of the assessment (the child will remain in the waiting room during this time).
    • This can take between 30 minutes and an hour. On very rare occasions, the child will be allowed in with their parents, though this is deemed inappropriate in most instances.
    • For older teenagers and adults, it is usually entirely appropriate for the one being assessed to be present for the results. This is determined on a case-by-case basis.

After the clinic assessment:

A formal written report is produced, which analyses the test results and identifies the
child’s learning pattern, strengths, and weaknesses.

  • The report will also delineate the information gathered during the observations and interviews which support any conclusions drawn.
  • We also include relevant individualised recommendations.
  • Report writing is approximately a 6–8-week process; we spend considerable time on this as it represents your child, so we want it to be as accurate and useful as possible.

6. How long does an assessment take?

This varies based on the type of assessment booked, but most assessments take approximately 3 hours including your feedback session. Autism assessments take 2-3 separate clinic visits and take longer because there are more parts to this assessment and generally 2 clinicians are required to carry out some parts of the assessment.

7. What actually happens while my child is being assessed?

What actually happens during the assessment process varies depending on the type of assessment taking place, but rest assured that many people taking part in these assessments actually enjoy the assessment process. Many people think that having an IQ test is scary but this is simply not the case. Whilst it is totally normal for a person to feel a bit nervous coming into a new setting and possibly knowing that they are being “tested” for something, the assessment is actually a very helpful and information process. This process should not be upsetting or distressing in any way and in fact, we will endeavour to do our best to make it as fun and low-key as possible, whilst getting all the information we need to determine how best to support each person in their environments.

Many children enjoy the assessment process, as IQ tests are set up as a series of games and tasks broken up into short segments. Many will involve them looking at puzzles or pictures, and figuring out what goes with what, or what comes next in a pattern. Some tests will examine memory, others at verbal comprehension — some will even look at their understanding of social and moral norms. The IQ test is usually followed by some tests of attainment, which will likely look at your child’s ability to read, write, and do arithmetic, but they may be restricted to only the area of concern.

Emotional and behavioural assessments may involve the process described above for the IQ testing and psycho-educational assessments, but will usually also include some behaviour checklists to be completed by knowledgeable informants such as parents, teachers, or partners/family members of the person being assessed.

ADHD assessments are similar to the emotional and behavioural assessments described above in that they generally include an IQ test and some behavioural checklists, but also include a much wider range of additional checklists to from multiple perspectives to determine if attentional difficulties occur across multiple settings.

Autism assessments generally involve 2-3 clinic visits and vary depending on what level of assessment each person needs. The autism assessments will involve one play-based assessment with 2 specialist clinicians, one extended developmental interview with 2 clinicians or 1 clinician and one Assistant Psychologist, and depending on the needs of the person being assessed, may also include IQ testing or additional checklists as above.

OCD and anxiety/NECOA assessments involve a two-hour assessment with one of our NECOA team. This is an extended interview and depending on the number of areas of concern may require more than 2 hours. Families should allow for more than the 2-hour assessment here and additional administration time is billable based on the clinician’s standard consultation rate.

8. What are some of the benefits of bringing my child for a psycho-educational assessment?

While the testing process can be a time-consuming and expensive endeavour, it’s also an extremely informative one, and can be very empowering for parents and young people. For example, assessments can help you find out:

  • Your child’s individual strengths and weaknesses.
  • Whether they are stronger visual or auditory learners.
  • What their spatial or receptive and expressive language skills are like.

Remember that while an IQ score is only a number, it represents a composite of various skill sets your child presents with and it is also ranked in relation to what would be expected for your child’s age group. Therefore, knowing the areas your child is strong or weak in will enable you to help them learn better. Similarly, knowing whether your child’s decoding skills are much weaker/stronger than their reading comprehension skills will enable you to tailor their literacy support, if needed, precisely to where their difficulty lies.

At the end of the assessment process, you will also get a whole list of recommendations outlining what you should do next to best support your child’s needs.

Though some people object to IQ testing as it measures only one type of intelligence (i.e., conceptual intelligence, this process is generally empowering rather than limiting. An assessment should be conducted, not with the sole purpose of labelling a child, but with the purpose of helping them to reach their potential.

9. What are some of the benefits of other types of assessments conducted at Smithfield Clinic?

There is a huge amount of debate around labelling in Ireland. In our view, this debate is often misguided. Most people that have neurodevelopmental differences or any type of learning or emotional, behavioural or mental health difficulties are usually labelling themselves anyway. Unfortunately, they are usually labelling themselves in ways that are unhelpful and even harmful to their sense of self and their motivation to do their best. We feel strongly that assessment is a collaborative process whereby we help the person attending us to understand their experience of the world and to access appropriate supports, in all domains, based on what we find. In practical terms, an assessment and subsequent diagnosis, where appropriate, often enables a person to access support services that are appropriate to their ways of being in the world.

10. When do I get my results?

This largely depends on the type of assessment that you have sought.

You will receive a verbal preliminary result on the day of the assessment. While the results analysis can sometimes take longer than the time available on the day of the assessment, the child’s performance will be discussed in detail with the parents. All concerns and observations will be outlined in great detail to parents, guardians, and/or other relevant parties.

11. When do I get an official report containing the findings of the assessment?

Official psychological reports detailing the outcomes, findings, and recommendations that have arisen from the assessment are typically completed within a month of the assessment. You will typically receive them between four and six weeks post-assessment. In some instances, this time frame can be somewhat longer, for example:

  • When we are waiting for behaviour checklists to be completed by third parties (e.g., teachers, social workers, parents who were unable to attend the clinic on the day).
  • When it is decided on the day of the assessment that some additional testing is needed.

There are also times of the year when reports are in high demand (e.g., immediately before all school breaks) and this can create a somewhat longer wait time for reports. However, the clinic endeavours to complete reports within 6-8 weeks of the time the full assessment was completed.

12. Who is Dr Sarah Cassidy?

Please click here to learn more about Dr Sarah Cassidy.

13. How much do the clinic’s services cost?

Please click here to find our service price list.

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Fosterfields, Athboy
Co. Meath, C15 A9P3

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