Consultation is a form of assessment in which previous evaluations, school records, current scores on tests and forms, a developmental history and parent interview are synthesized to formulate recommendations for future assessment, interventions in the school, community and home, for home schooling, and for counseling or psychotherapy.
At least one face-to-face contact session with parents and child is preferred. Because knowledge obtained is limited to observations and the conclusions of others, and brief contact with parents and child, only certain types of questions can be considered. Further assessment will be needed to give an opinion on what might be the cause of a particular problem especially if the parents do not agree with the results of previous evaluations. Consultation is not second-guessing the evaluations of others, and it is not a cheaper way of getting a full evaluation. What consultation does help to do is to raise questions that still have not been answered and give direction to how parents might go about finding out the answers to those questions.
Types of Consultation Available
These consultations are available on a limited basis to discuss general problems with a child. Phone consultations require that reports of previous evaluations, school reports and an extensive history be collected and reviewed. Based on these and on questions parents raise, recommendations can be made about whether aspects of previous evaluations need further analysis. However, since complex issues require complex analysis of cause and plan for remediation, extensive counseling is not available by phone.
These consultations are available for children who have been assessed or treated in therapy at the Gifted Resource Center of New England. Consultation can include going to a school and meeting with school personnel, designing a program to meet a child's needs, suggesting alternative resources, designing enrichment activities, and planning for acceleration in some areas. Consultation can also include teacher in-service for specific schools on specific topics related to gifted children.
Short term evaluation including several visits with a child and parents, use of psychological forms, history taking, short term testing and review of past assessments can provide specific recommendations for interventions at schools including acceleration, enrichment, and using outside resources to augment programs. For children with disabilities as well giftedness, general consultation can provide some recommendations for accommodations, remediation and out of the box thinking on the needs of these 2e (twice exceptional) children.
General consultation will not provide extensive recommendations since it is not a substitute for a full evaluation but can provide a supplement when other testing has addressed some but not all of the concerns, for example, the assessment addresses the disability but not the giftedness.
Parents who are home schooling children can also receive consultation on how to provide for gifted children’s needs within a home school environment. Some parents use a standard curriculum; others use their own ideas. Combined with assessments of cognitive and academic strengths and weaknesses, consultation can provide parents with ways to think about their gifted child’s needs. These can include recommendations about what to emphasize, how to engage a reluctant learner in a subject that is an area of weakness, how to move ahead quickly but not leave gaps in learning, how and when to allow the child to dictate what is to be learned, how to develop formats to show what the child knows, how to find other homeschoolers, how to deal with social and emotional needs and when to involve professionals in remediation of deficit areas.