It's About Them

Young People … Our Greatest Resource

Consistency in Assessment of ODD



  Here’s a thoughtful question from the November, 2010 issue of the ODD Management Digest. Have you ever wondered the same thing?

(NOTE: To receive monthly complimentary issues of the ODD Management Digest, CLICK HERE.)

I have seen kids I believed to be marginally defiant hauled off to a doctor for a battery of tests. It ended with a psychological report that was more scary than helpful. On the other hand, I’ve seen youngsters who were seriously defiant NEVER receive any assessment or evaluation at all. In your opinion, Dr. Sutton, why is this?  


 This happens all the time. Some youngsters receive an assessment based on the observations, priorities and financial resources of the parents. Frankly, they can take their child to any doctor they choose, and do it any time they choose. My observation over the years is that a parental request for a psychological assessment, especially when Mom and Dad are paying for it, will result in a diagnosis of some sort.

 As for behaviorally-needy youngsters not getting an assessment, there could be a number of reasons.

1. For whatever reason, parents are not communicating with the school on the matter. 

2. Multiple stresses within the home put survival as the priority that trumps everything else. 

3. The parents can’t afford an assessment or don’t have adequate health insurance to help on the bill. (And they might be embarrassed to mention it.) 

4. The school hasn’t adequately expressed the need and made a case for an assessment to the parents. 

5. The school has been implementing interventions (RTI or PBS) in an attempt to resolve behavior and compliance issues. (This is as it should be, with an understanding that, at some point, a school psychological assessment might be helpful.) 

6. School psychologists and other assessment folks are overloaded and must work with students based on highest priority needs. 

7. The line between learning issues and behavioral issues becomes so “fuzzy” that one is addressed at the expense of the other.


This list isn’t even close to being complete; we could spend a day adding to it. Solving the assessment issue involves regular communication between home and school, strong longitudinal documentation, and successful efforts to involve the youngster actively in the problem identification-solving process. (This last one takes time and trust, but it pays big dividends.)

James Sutton, Psychologist

November 6, 2010 Posted by | Counselors, Difficult Child, Educators, family, Parents | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Humble Hero

Today I participated in the funeral service of a man that was a next-door neighbor to me and my family for 28 years and an active charter member of my 52-year-old church. He was a rock of support to others with a quiet wisdom that made him one much sought in times of difficulty.

He died four days ago, and I simply can’t shake the feeling of a deeply personal loss.  

If we’re fortunate, we have close to us folks around whom we can pattern a life. Intuitively, we know the day will come when we will part company with them in this life. “Sooner or later,” I would say to myself and my wife, “the men and women who were there for us will be caught up in the inevitable movement of time.” But in my heart I never thought “sooner.”

It was always “later.” Well, “later” came.

I knew he served in the Pacific Theater in WWII, and I knew he was involved in the re-taking of the Philipines, the liberation of our soldiers held prisioner there, and the occupation of post-war Japan. What I didn’t know, after knowing him for 50 years and living next door to him for 28 of those years, was that he was twice-awarded the Bronze Star for personal valour under fire.

In the end, humility was among the greatest lessons he taught me.   

James D. Sutton, Psychologist

November 3, 2010 Posted by | adversity, family, Healthy living, Inspirational, patriotism | Leave a comment