Schools and Students with High Functioning Autism

We provide autism diagnostic services in our Burnaby office and therefore we often help parents work with the school district to develop an IEP (Individual Education Plan) and curriculum.

Regretfully, over the past few years we are also seeing more and more students who, at age 18-19, are finished with school, will get their diplomas, but are unable to engage in an interview, work, refuse to leave their rooms, have no social support system other than their parents and suffer from anxiety and depression because they have become aware of their social deficits. These are all issues that should have been addressed by the student’s school in their IEP over the last several years.

I don’t have all the answers, but here I would like to at least provide some resources parents should be aware of. More important, your school should be aware of, making use of, and have practiced with over time.

Locally:Odin Books

108 E Broadway, Vancouver, BC V5T 1V9
Parents often ask about resources materials. Of course there are those available on-line from Indigo, Amazon etc. Locally we have one bookstore that focuses on educational materials, Odin Books. Most of the books listed below are available there, as are the series of books for children called “Superflex.” They have additional Superflex materials to like posters.  They also have all of the materials used in the Incredible 5-Point Scale Model by Kari Dunn Buron.

The Five Point Incredible Scale: Kari Dunn Buron
(These materials are available at Amazon and
I strongly suggest these materials- The 5 Point Scale - rather than the common 3 Point Scale and  “Engine” programs used in some schools as they include a variety of support materials often used for executive functioning issues, anxiety and depression, and have materials appropriate for teens and young adults using the same visual supports.  A great set of materials is “A 5 Could Make Me Lose Control,” used to tech about the spectrum of emotions and feelings rather than the problematic black and white/all or nothing thinking we often see. These materials can often be taught to the entire class. 

Social Thinking: Michelle Winner
Another major place for information and guidance:

This is the website for Michelle Garcia Winner, really the leading figure in the field of working with children and teens with autism, Level 1 (what we use to call high functioning autism of HFA. You will find curriculum materials here that are commonly used in schools in Canada and the United States. Michelle also has a large clinic in San Jose, CA and provides training workshops around the world. On-Line training is also available.

Every teacher in the field of autism should be familiar with some, if not all of these books. Social Behavior Mapping is used in small groups in the schools to teach social thinking. Think Social is a great first book for teachers, as is Thinking About You Thinking About Me.

Province Wide: POPARD
Provincial Outreach Program for Autism and Related Disorders (POPARD)
4746 57 St, Delta, BC V4K 4B5

Here in BC POPARD, the Provincial Program for Autism and Related Disorders provides consultants to schools throughout the province. They go to the school, do observations of individual students, help the school based team/parents write an intervention plan and provide workshops for the staff.  Most staff training in autism happens at their site in the Delta school district. 

Each school has a POPARD District Partner. The POPARD District Partner is the liaison between POPARD and school-based teams. He or she coordinates visits by the POPARD's Education and Behaviour Consultants, helps to prioritize the students who will be seen, and ensures that all members of the team are aware of any recommendations.

Other Websites: From POPARD

Autism Awareness Center

A Canadian organization that provides workshops and conferences across Canada on topics within autism

Autism Community Training-ACT

ACT provides information and support to parents, professionals and para professionals on autism-related issues as well as high quality workshops in Vancouver and throughout the province. To see their upcoming event schedule, go to 

Autism Society Canada

Autism Society Canada works across the country to reduce the profound impact of autism spectrum disorders on individuals and their families and to support the implementation of better surveillance, quality research and universally accessible, scientifically validated treatment and service delivery for all Canadians with autism spectrum disorders.

BC Ministry of Education

Special Education Review, "Teaching Students with Autism Resource Guide" (2000) in downloadable format, basic information on BC's education system.

Carol Gray and Social Stories


This site is a hands-on resource which is operated by the TEACCH program at the University of North Carolina. It has a multitude of interesting and useful visuals and ideas.

Tony Attwood

Articles by Tony Attwood, abstracts from research papers. Asperger Syndrome focus.

Geneva Center for Autism

Located in Toronto with information on conferences, book reviews and links.

Project Access

Good links page, has lots of downloadable articles on education/autism issues.


Websites for Parents and Teachers

Bringing ABA
This is a blog by Debra Leach, author of Bringing ABA into your Inclusive Classroom. This site offers tips, ideas, and strategies for bringing Applied Behavior Analysis into natural contexts to support children and adults with autism spectrum disorders and related disabilities. 

National Autism Center

The National Autism Center (US) has released the Evidence-Based Practice and Autism in the Schools Educator Manual. This comprehensive manual assists educators in the selection and implementation of the most effective research-supported treatments for ASD. In addition to providing important information about newly published research findings, it offers guidance on how to integrate professional judgement, family values, and preferences into treatment selection in order to build capacity and implement interventions accurately.

Autism Awareness Center

The Centre believes that education is the key to success in assisting individuals who have autism, Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), Asperger Syndrome and other disorders such as Tourette Syndrome, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). With numerous social, communication, and behavioral intervention methods and the more recent field of biomedical interventions, it is important to keep parents and professionals on the leading edge of new information. By hosting workshops across Canada and providing resource support both in Canada and abroad, the Autism Awareness Centre is committed to ensuring information reaches all communities.

BCAAN Autism Assessment Program. 

Information on how children in B.C. are diagnosed.

BCTF Parents' Page 

Links to the British Columbia Teachers' Federation website. Designed to help parents understand the roles and responsibilities of teachers, teaching assistants and schools.

SET-BC (Special Education Technology British Columbia) 

Information on technology resources available to BC students, and procedures for service delivery

Something Completely Different That Makes You Feel Good About Parenting

Dr. John Gottman has a wonderful DVD and book called Raising An Emotionally Intelligent Child.      This is a wonderful DVD, I’d watch it. You might find it through the local library, or through the Gottman Institute. But here is a short section of the video:

These resources are just a few. If you are a parent of a child with ASD most importantly I would try to meet other parents and develop a support group. They will be the best resource you can find.

On-Line Screeners for Autism Spectrum Disorder: Children, Adolescents and Adults

I have been asked again to provide some useful on-line screeners for parents. There are only a few that are really worth using. Below are autism screeners for children, adolescents and adults:

Autism Screening Tool for Children ages 3-11

For children ages 3-11, I would suggest The Childhood Autism Spectrum Test (CAST)  Here is a link to an on-line version:

Autism Screening Tool for Teens ages 12-15

For teens I would suggest The Adolescent Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ). Here is a link to an on-line version:

Autism Screening Tool for Adults Ages 16+

For adults I would suggest the The Adult Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ)

Please visit our web page for information on our autism testing for children, teens and adults.

Adult Autism Spectrum Disorder: Diagnosis and Interventions. A Personal Story.

This is a short video of an adult with Autism Spectrum Disorder.  Many of the adults I deal with in my practice are not just "high functioning" in terms of the autism spectrum, but also "high functioning" in terms of life in general. Employment, Friendships, Academics, Creativity.

While I know some individuals on the spectrum don't like the term "high functioning," this is the term in general practice. Here it's referred to Autism 1, something many people may not have heard of. This designation is based upon the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the manual we use here in Canada to diagnose most mental health issues) which includes several levels of support the individual needs. ASD-1 would be the least support.

As you can imagine the diagnosis on such a high functioning individual is not easy, and often I hear from patients that they are worried because of their particular attributes 

(women, minorities, indigenous) that they will not be able to be assessed.  Often this difficulty is because mental health practitioners have little experience with these populations, using the diagnostic tests (many doctors diagnose ASD without the use of normed tests!) or a lack of time. The procedures takes from 3-5 hours, plus time to score and review the answers, do the diagnosis and write a report. So I don't blame medical doctors for not having the ability to do such a diagnosis. It's difficult, time consuming and often insurance doesn't cover the cost.

I hope this video is useful. Other resources I often suggest include the website of Michelle Garcia Winners (, especially for younger adults and teens.

We provide ASD assessments in our office in Burnaby. The office is located right on the SkyTrain at Production Way Station. It is handicapped accessible. While it is occasionally difficult to reach us because of the volume of phone calls and emails we get every day, once we connect we are usually able to arrange for an initial interview within a few weeks (2-3).  The full assessment, if we decide it is appropriate, is usually completed soon after and we provide a written report and feedback session as soon as possible after that. 

The cost of an autism assessment is $2,400.00  This includes the costs of the initial session, the testing and diagnostic process, and the feedback session. If you are going to college or university we may also need to complete a psychoeducational assessment, but not always. That's determined by the college or university you are attending.

Please read our webpage at before contacting us so that you will have an understanding of the process, costs etc. You are then welcome to contact us either through the webpage, which has an email contact form, or by emailing  In the subject line of the email please put "adult autism assessment' so that we can prioritize your inquiry. Because of the lack of services in this area we try to see patients, especially adults, with concerns about autism spectrum disorder first.

Do I Procrastinate Because of ADHD? Well, sort of. The treatment for procrastination might surprise you.

In my practice we see many individuals for issues relating to attention, focus, planning and most of all, procrastination. Often this is when we see an individual who suspect they have ADHD. Especially an adult. While all of these other symptoms are closely related to ADHD and deficits in executive functioning, procrastination is a different animal entirely.

Patients are often surprised why I don’t suggest a book about ADHD, or one about scheduling, to help. Instead I set up a very basic intervention that helps them do a few of the things that they have been procrastinating about. That’s where we always start. This intervention is usually related to using a timer and one change in their daily routine. Yes, ONE CHANGE that they work on for a while. It’s a complicated process because it’s more about anxiety and mood than anything else. The research has been clear for a long time that procrastination is more about mood than we would think, but you seldom see intervention programs that focus on this issue. We use one of the oldest, and most effective, interventions for anxiety and mood problems: exposure therapy.

This week the New york Time’s published a wonderful article about just this issue. Its plain english will make it easy to understand, and help you understand what we are doing in treatment. Because the real problem is there is no pill for fixing procrastination. Please, click the link below to go to the NYT website and read. It’s a short article. Later this week I will post another method we use to address procrastination using techniques from Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey’s book: Immunity To Change: How to Overcome it and Unlock the Potential of Yourself and Your Organization.

Click here for the New York Times article:

In our practice in Burnaby we provide children, adolescents and adults with diagnostic assessments for Attention/Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Autism Spectrum Disorder, Learning Disabilities and Psychoeducational Assessments, among other services. Please check us out at

New Report on ADHD Medications for Children with ADHD

Today a report came out about a major ADHD study in the Lancet Psychiatry journal. It was reviewed in the British press, and covers medication choices for both children and adults. It's a report your doctor should be familiar with.  

You can find the Guardian review here:

The Lancet study itself can be found here:

The authors of the study say that methylphenidate, of which Ritalin is the best know brand, is the most effective and best-tolerated treatment for children, while amphetamines work best for adults. The Guardian article states that, just like in Canada, most children in need of treatment do not get treatment for as long as two years.  Actually, the Lancet article is reviewed in a very brief and clear way, and it's very readable to most people. It's a good example of what a scientific study should look like.

What's important in this study is the clear statement that "monotherapy," meaning medication alone, is never the treatment of choice. Successful treatment includes psychoeducation (learning about your cognitive and behavioural strengths and weaknesses, classroom and home based environmental modifications/accommodations, and specific behavioural skill training are all necessary to ensure a child, adolescent or adult deals successfully with ADHD.

While some research states that over the long run students receiving medication do no better academically than those who do not, those studies do not include students who receive appropriate accommodation, classroom supports and skill training. Too often these studies are used as an excuse not to provide support.

Parent and teacher education is imperative. Teachers seem no better trained to support students with ADHD than do parents. When your school develops an individualized education plan (IEP) for your child, always ask, "what kind of training have the staff received to support my child with special needs?"

An excellent resource is Taking Charge of ADHD, The Complete, authoritative Guide for Parents by Russell A. Barkley (or his book, Taking Charge of Adult ADHD for adults), as well as the various training videos he has available for teachers.

At RelatedMinds Educational and Psychological Services we provide comprehensive assessments for ADHD, so that we can differentiate different cognitive strengths and weaknesses, as well as understand personality and behavioural issues that may effect treatment, as well as comprehensive psychoeducational assessments for children, adolescents and adults. Contact us through our webpage at

We also provide testing for learning disabilities, dsyslexia, behavioural disorders, and autism spectrum disorder for children over 6, adolescents and adults.


Psychoeducational Assessment: Vancouver, Burnaby, Coquitlam

PSYCHOEDUCATIONAL ASSESSMENTS AT RELATEDMINDS EDUCATIONAL SERVICES: Psychoeducational Assessments Completed by a Professional team of school and clinical psychologists familiar with schools, teaching and the classroom.  RelatedMinds Psychoeducational Services. Full information is available on our main webpage:

Psychoeducational assessments are completed by a multidisciplinary team. Team members include Dr. Jim Roche, our senior psychologist, Sheena Cholewkas-Smyth, MS, and James Tanliao, MS.  Dr. Roche has over three decades of experience in education. He has worked as a classroom teacher, school psychologist, director of behaviour management services and as a provincial consultant for autism spectrum disorder. In California he was a trainer-of-trainers in the CAL-PENT program, serving as the consulting psychologist for several districts in the Bay area providing teacher training, teacher consultation and was the trainer for districts that were dealing with difficult cases involving multiple handicapping conditions.

James and Sheena are both certified school psychologists (Certified Members of BCASP - The British Columbia Association of School Psychologists), James is a NASP (National Association of School Psychologists) Certified School Psychologist as well. Both have extensive experience working in the schools, consulting with parents, students and teachers in the classroom. This is perhaps the most important difference between the psychoeducational assessment services that our team provides as compared to others: we all have extensive hands on experience in the schools.

A psychoeducational assessment is a detailed look at your child’s cognitive, academic and social-emotional status.It is used to qualify children for special education and support services, and is used by your child’s school based support team and classroom teacher to develop an educational intervention program based upon your child’s skills, strengths and weaknesses.

In general every psychoeducational assessment covers at least the following:

General Intelligence (Problem Solving Skills and General Knowledge)
Language skills  (Listening, Verbal and Reading, ranging from spelling to comprehension)
Memory (Working Memory, Short Term Memory, Long Term Memory, Visual Memory, Verbal Memory etc.)
Executive Functioning including attention, focus, planning, extended effort, cognitive flexibility, concentration
We screen for ADHD, and if appropriate, we can fully assess for ADHD and provide a diagnosis and treatment interventions for the home and school
Reading (phonetic skills, word reading, reading comprehension)
Writing (from sentences to essays)
Academic fluency (speed of reading, writing, calculating)
Listening comprehension
Behavioural issues as well as social and emotional functioning
From the data we gather during this assessment process we then, if appropriate, make a diagnosis of a specific learning disability, ADHD and social-emotional issues.

We always start with a 1 hour intake in our Burnaby office. This allows us to review your concerns, and information you may have from the school or previous assessments, and determine the exact nature of the exam.

We then schedule a time for the testing process, which can at anywhere from 2-3 two hour sessions. We also ask you to complete a number of forms and clinical assessment tools. Some of these you will do in the office while your child is being assessed, some may be sent to you to complete on-line, and some will be given to you to complete at home. Older students are often asked to complete self-reports.

Teachers are also asked to complete a number of assessment tools. We sometimes send these home with you, or can send them by email. Often we conduct a phone interview with at least one teacher.
You will be asked to pay $200 for the initial session, and then 50% of the remaining fee before the first 2 hour session. The remainder at the end of the assessment process.
After testing is complete we usually need a week to 10 days to score the tests, analyze the information and write a report. This often involves more than one team member and takes several hours.
When the report is complete we schedule a feedback session with the parent(s) to discuss the findings of the assessment and almost always we ask to review the report with the student/child. Psychoeducation - understanding your cognitive and psychological strengths and weaknesses, and understanding our plan to make learning easier, is something every student should participate in.

COST: $2,400. total.

An autism spectrum disorder assessment can also be completed, however, this is a separate assessment process. We can discuss this issue at our initial meeting.

The best way is to both call and email. We will get back to you as soon as possible.

Our email contact is on our website at
You can also email us at: RelatedMinds(at)

We know that some agencies have waiting lists that are several months long, and that waiting lists for schools can take years. Once we start the process we usually complete everything in a few weeks. Overall we usually see a new student within 3-4 weeks. We do not schedule out more than a month.

For more information about services we provide please click here:


Psychoeducational Assessments - Burnaby/Coquitlam/Vancouver

At RelatedMinds Educational Services we provide psychoeducational assessments, testing for autism spectrum disorder, learning disabilities, ADHD and legal/forensic and neuropsychological assessments. We provide these for children, adolescents and adults. Visit our main page at

I have been asked many times about waiting lists for psychoeducational assessments. Our waiting list is never longer than a few weeks. The reason is simple: Others seem to have waiting lists going out several months. People on these lists spend time searching for a quicker provider, and often fail to inform the practitioner of their changed plans. We try to keep it much simpler, and schedule out only a few weeks. Usually we are able to see someone within 10-14 days.

The assessment takes some time to complete. We have an initial session to review your history and current complaints/symptoms. We do this because often times a psychoeducational assessment might not be the best choice, sometimes another assessment needs to happen first, or perhaps an intervention should be attempted for a period of time before we do an assessment. Additionally, sometimes other disorders can look like a learning disability, such as anxiety or depression, and we want to address those issues before we test.

Testing almost always takes two visits for a total of 5-6 hours, sometimes more. After the testing is done we are scoring the tests and looking through other data we have collected. A written report is then prepared and we meet to review the results, answer questions, and develop an action plan.

Everyone working at RelatedMinds is either a Registered Psychologist or School Psychologist. Every case is supervised by Dr. Roche, who in addition to being a Registered Psychologist is a school psychologist and former teacher of special education. Everyone working with us has direct experience in schools and in classrooms, which is unique. Often clients come to us after receiving a psychoeducational assessment because the practitioner simply had no experience in the schools. We are able to advise you on what works, and what teacher's are willing and able to do. We also often provide home based ideas and interventions.

We see students from schools in Coquitlam, Vancouver, New Westminster, Maple ridge as well as many who travel from more isolated parts of the province.

We are also able to complete assessments for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or "Aspergers."

The cost of a psychoeducational assessment is never more than $2,400. While MSP does not cover this expense much of it is often covered by an individuals extended health care. Please check with your provider, as each plan is different.

Finally, a reminder. We need permission from BOTH parents before proceeding with an assessment of any child. And yes, we do assessments for young adults in college or university, and adults having difficulty in the workplace.

Academic Accommodations for College and University Students

Academic Accommodations for Students with Learning Disabilities in the Lower Mainland

We provide assessments / testing for students seeking academic accommodations due to specific learning disabilities, ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), depression, anxiety, and other psychological or neuropsychological problems. These assessments are also appropriate for those in the workplace seeking workplace accommodations.

Comprehensive assessments for ADHD cost $800, and full Psychoeducational Assessments run between $1,800 (if you have a more recent assessment that needs updating) to $2,400.00.  Be aware these costs are not covered by BC MSP, but may be covered by your extended health care plan. Some schools will assist students in paying for this type of assessment. You need to contact the school directly. As far as insurance goes, you need to check with your own plan, as each plan is different and we have no way of knowing the extent of any individual’s coverage.

Assessments include testing, collecting a psychological and medical history, scoring of the tests, the determination of a diagnosis, if appropriate, and a final written report ranging from 5-15 pages, depending upon the type of report.  We spend about one hour with you to review the findings and make suggestions as to skill development, suggested accommodations, possible tutoring and study skill that would be helpful.

We are often involved with students after their testing providing tutoring and study skill training.

Each local college or university has different requirements for obtaining assistance, support  and accommodations. 

Academic Accommodations are put in place to mitigate the functional impact of a student's disability in the educational setting.  These supports are intended to promote access for students with disabilities without compromising the integrity of the learning environment. Accommodations are determined based upon medical documentation and in consultation with the student.
Please contact us at RelatedMinds Educational Services:
Our phone number and an email contact form can be found on the website.
Examples of Academic AccommodationsThe following list is a sample of available academic accommodations. It is not all inclusive:
Assignments:•    Alternate format/assignment
    •    Interpreter
    •    Notetaker
    •    Preferential seating
    •    Use of adaptive technology
    •    TypeWell transcription
    •    Extra-time
    •    Separate setting
    •    Use of a computer
    •    Use of adaptive technology
    •    Reader
    •    Scribe
    •    Alternate format for course materials/text books (e.g. mp3, e-text)    
Here is a sample agreement letter to record lecturers:

More detailed information on the specific requirements for local colleges and universities can be found below:

Simon Fraser University (SFU)

University of British Columbia (UBC)

Douglas College


Langara College

Vancouver Community College

University of the Fraser Valley

ADHD Assessments for Children, Adolescents and Adults

As a registered and licensed psychologist I have been working with patients with ADHD| ADD for over 30 years. I have worked with children and adolescents in school settings as well as their homes, and provided adults with ADHD treatment to address problems in the home, with relationships, school| college and in the workplace. I have served as the neuropsychologist on community based rehabilitation teams and worked closely with occupational therapists, social workers and other psychologists to develop rehabilitation and general intervention plans.

Unlike others who work with individuals with ADHD I have worked with individuals across the life span. My experience as a hospital based psychologist, school psychologist and teacher of special education has prepared me to develop intervention programs that make sense for the settings they are used in. I know what's possible, and not possible for a teacher to do, and what makes sense in a workplace or home.

I provide ADHD assessment and intervention services in my offices in Burnaby, BC, Vancouver, BC and Seattle, WA. ADHD assessment services include comprehensive testing, not just collecting symptoms. I work to first, make sure your issues are ADHD related, work to rule out other possible causes of the symptoms, and work to try to understand any co-morbid disorders that might be making ADHD even more difficult to deal with.

As a psychologist I do not prescribe medications but instead work with your physician to 1) develop a comprehensive assessment plans to do the best we can to make the right diagnosis, 2) I do further testing to make sure we understand the exact nature of the problems ADHD presents in your case. This means some academic, cognitive and neuro-spychological testing, in addition to the simple collecting of symptoms many use to make a diagnosis of ADHD.

Psycho-educational Assessments are sometimes needed to help a school make a determination about how ADHD is effecting you, and what types of school based information they might need to provide appropriate services and accommodations. 

A comprehensive ADHD assessment starts with an initial appointment to review your history and make sure we are right to be proceeding with an assessment. Together, if appropriate, we then proceed to gathering a history and observations from others. Then we finish the assessment with a day of testing to provide further and deeper insight. The cost of the initial appointment in my Canadian offices is $175. The comprehensive testing costs $600 and if you need a psycho-educational assessment for school, college or university the cost of the psycho-ed is approximately $1,600-$1,950.  In this case the cost of the ADHD assessment component is included.

For further information on ADHD testing / assessment, diagnosis and treatment of ADHD in children, teens/adolescents or adults, please contact me on my web page at,PhD,CAGS,RPsych,RMFT_Burnaby_British+Columbia_70682

Psychoeducational Assessment

Psychoeducational Assessment (Burnaby, Vancouver)

Dr. Jim Roche is a Registered (BC) and Licensed (CA, WA, NY) Psychologist specializing in treating ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, Aspergers disorder in children, adolescents and adults, learning disabilities, behavioral disorders and severe mental health issues. He also provides mental health assessments and individual, couple and marriage therapy. You can find more information about his practice at the websites below:

At Psychology Today:
At Psyris:
At Autism Community Training:

Key Words
ADHD | ADHD coaching | workplace coaching | Anxiety and Stress | Autism and Asperger's Disorder | Individual Counselling | Child Therapy | Testing and Assessments and Learning Disabilities | Couples Counselling | Depression | The Angry Child | Anger Management | Pain Management and PTSD | Forensic Services | Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder | Vancouver | Burnaby | Coquitlam | New Westminster | Maple Ridge | Port Moody | Child Psychologist | Psychologist | Learning Disability | Assessment | Testing | Psycho-educational Assessment | Neuropsychological Assessment | Psychoeducational Testing

Salish Court at Bell (google map) (yahoo map)

ADHD Self Help Books ..ADHD Coaches ...and everything else

I am often asked to recommend books for children, adolescents and adults with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Most of the time my primary recommendation is one of the ADHD books by Dr. Russell Barkley, for whom I have great respect. Dr. Barkley is one of the major figures in the ADHD field and should be read by every professional in the field. His books about ADHD with children and adults are also highly useful.

If your reading this post you have probably been reading  several recent articles in the news about the increasing number of ADHD diagnoses, as well as the impression many people have that ADHD is OVER diagnosed. This may or may not be true in certain settings. Until very recently we did not diagnose a teenager or adult with ADHD. If you hadn’t been noted to have the symptoms of ADHD at an early age it was assumed you didn’t have ADHD. More recently we have seen how the effects of the executive deficits that are core to ADHD might only become serious when there are specific developmental demands you might not be confronted with until you are 15, 18 or even 25 (and got that promotion that require a new, higher level of organizational and planning skills).

But back to recommending books, especially self help books. One of the problems I see in recommending self help books for teens or adults with ADHD is that almost all of the good books – those based on firm scientific grounds – are just too long!  The one I’m going to recommend right now, The Energetic Brain: Understanding and Managing ADHD by Cecil Reynolds, Kimberly Vannest and Judith Harrison is just over 400 pages. If you have ADHD it seems a little stretch to me that you’re going to not only finish  but understand – underline, take notes, pick out the parts that are meaningful to the book!  This is why self help books for ADHD (as well as for high functioning autism/ASD and Aspeger’s Disorder) often need to be used with some help – an ADHD coach, therapist or counsellor.

The Energetic Brain: Understanding and Managing ADHD is, despite its length, a really excellent  book. Cecil Reynolds, one of the authors, is a highly respected writer, researcher and test developer.  Many of the assessment tools I use were developed by Cecil Reynolds. This means that the book is based not upon anecdote and myth, but instead is based upon “exacting scientific evidence and uses data-driven interventions to manage the disorder.”  As the foreword points out, you are able to benefit from not just good and what appears to be practical advice, but from the authors “collective expertise in neuropsychology, psychology, education, and behaviour...”  For those with children or adolescents with ADHD in school  the authors also address the critical issue of PBIS (Positive Behavioural Intervention Support).  While a lot of the materials about schools is addressed to public school law in the United States, I thinks it’s a good idea for those in Canada to take a look at how things SHOULD be for a student in school with ADHD. Note: We DO have laws, regulations about ADHD, and the provincial ministry as well as individual school districts have policies and procedures about students with ADHD. They simply fail to implement them.

Overall this is a great book. I usually have it in my office for patients, along with Barkley’s books. These two sources of information make a good starting point for anyone dealing with ADHD.

One of the things I am reminded when reading these books is the need for some sort of ADHD Coaching, and the need for this ADHD Coach to be someone with real training in the field. I’ve discussed this issue with several colleagues and there are two points of view: 1) Than a coach is a coach, and that the skills they are going to teach and support are the same as with any one of their clients; and 2) You need an ADHD coach who is familiar with all of the issues relating to ADHD – neuropsychological, psychological (depression, anxiety), education (being familiar with the requirements of the school setting – from elementary to graduate school) and the work setting (experience with workplace rehabilitation issues). The first coach is going to cost you $50.00 an hour. The second $175.00 and up.  But I’ve seen too many clients work with coaches who do not have the knowledge of neuro-psycho-social issues and waste their time and money. If nothing else I would suggest using a coach who is associated – supervised by a licensed professional such as an MD or PhD. Looking over the ADHD coaching sites in this area I find mostly individuals who do not have the appropriate background, and often have little life experience themselves. Locally there are two coaches who as far as I can tell have no other successful work experience and simply decided they had ADHD, had read a lot of books about it, and therefore would make good ADHD coaches. When looking for a coach, at a minimum, ask for their resume and ask for a couple of professional references if they are not a professional themselves (What psychologist or medical doctor have you collaborated with?).

Regretfully during the past few years ADHD has become a way to make money for a lot of people. They approach the field as, “I’m going to open an ADHD business” rather than being a professional who focuses on ADHD. It reminds me of someone who opens a business whitening teeth. They aren’t a dentist. But lots of people need to have their teeth whitened. Why not do that? There is little to learn, some training when you get the tools you need or sign the contract for a franchise. But my dentist, who WOULD charge more also checks for many other issues.

Check out the book, and if you think you have ADHD and wonder, see a licensed/registered professional for a comprehensive diagnosis. Do not diagnose yourself. ADHD looks like a lot of other issues, and a lot of other mental health issues and learning deficits can look just like ADHD. A comprehensive assessment is the best way to go.
(In British Columbia only a medical doctor or registered psychologist can make a diagnosis of ADHD. “Counsellors,” registered, licensed or certified,  cannot. The same holds true in Washington state and California. )

For more information on my practice please visit my website at or  I am licensed and practice in British Columbia, Washington State and California (San Francisco).


Key Words
ADHD | Anxiety and Stress | Autism and Asperger’s Disorder | Individual Counselling | Child Therapy | Testing and Assessments and Learning Disabilities | Couples Counselling | Depression | The Angry Child | Anger Management | Pain Management and PTSD | Forensic Services | Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder | Vancouver | Burnaby | Coquitlam | New Westminster | Maple Ridge | Port Moody | Child Psychologist | Psychologist | Learning Disability | Assessment | Testing | Psycho-educational Assessment | Neuropsychological Assessment

Learning Styles Don't Exist

Again, I find myself confronted by a teacher who talks..and talks..and talks about "learning styles." Learning styles are the ONLY issue she is willing to discuss when it comes to providing supports for a student with a specific learning disability and ADHD that I have diagnosed and provided a psychoeducational assessment for. What we need are classroom modifications and a simple reinforcement system, things that we have used in classrooms for years and are backed by science. Why not instead consider the issue of "learning styles?" Watch this video to understand. And if your teacher start talking learning styles...have the teacher watch it!

Autism Spectrum Disorder and Psychoeducational Assessments

I have been asked by several parents about the difference between a psychoeducational assessment and an assessment for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or Aspeger's Disorder. There is some confusion out there, and several parents have arranged for the wrong kind of assessment in order to obtain the services they need. So I'll try to explain when you need each of these types of assessments: Psychological Assessment, Psychoeducational Assessment and Autism Disorder Assessment very briefly.

An Initial Psychological Assessment
In British Columbia parents are often sent to a registered psychologist by their school or physician when autism is suspected. Initially you should be arranging an appointment to have the psychologist meet you and your child and do a brief psychological assessment. This usually can be done in one session. You may be asked to complete a number of forms, such as the SNAP-4, some behavioural forms, and maybe an adaptive behavioural assessment form (ABAS).  These can sometimes be sent to you before the examination and returned so that the psychologist is ready to meet you. The psychologist will interview you, observe your child and take a comprehensive history. Form this a determination can usually be made about what is the best way to proceed. Often what looks like autism spectrum disorder or Asperger's can be something else, such as ADHD or a developmental disorder. Perhaps anxiety, or a specific learning disability. The psychologist can then help you proceed down the correct path.

A Diagnostic Assessment for Autism
If autism is suspect, or Aspegers Disorder, your psychologist will then proceed to complete a comprehensive assessment for autism spectrum disorder. This includes two critical examinations that are necessary for funding in British Columbia. These are the Autism Diagnositic Rating Scale (ADOS) and the Autism Diagnostic Interview (ADI-R).  There are a number of other autism tests and tools out there, but these are the two that are necessary for funding from the ministry in British Columbia, and for services through any school district. If your child goes to public school in Burnaby, Vancouver, New Westminsiter, Coquitlam...anywhere in the province, the psychologist who completes the assessment must be trained in using these tools and use them for the diagnosis. Nothing else will do. Sometimes parents go to a professional who uses other tools and completes this assessment in another way. If they do the assessment will not qualify, so make sure you see someone who uses these tools for the autism assessment.  These are not the only tools he or she might use, but these are essential. For children under six years old a separate assessment by a speech pathologist and medical doctor need to be part of the process as well. If a full psychoeducational assessment is not being done, usually some sort of intelligence/cognitive testing is necessary to rule out other possible disorders.

The Psychoeducational Assessment
Along with the autism assessment most schools require a comprehensive psychoeducational assessment. This assessment looks at bith intelligence and academic ability. Children from age 3 up can be given a psychoeducational assessment, although in British Columbia schools seem unwilling to assess younger children due to financial constraints. It is best practice and done throughout most of North America, but not common here. The two components of the assessment, the intelligence and academic parts, are then compared and from that information we can make determinations about specific learning disabilities. Most children with ASD have a comorbid learning disorder. Nearly 50% of children with ADHD have a comorbid learning disorder. And without understanding the cognitive strengths and weaknesses of a child it is difficult to develop an Individualized Education Plan.

These are the three main types of assessments children and adolescents go through in order to develop an educational and behavioural plan. You often hear of a neuropsychological exam as well. These are highly specific examinations of brain processes that help with both diagnostic questions and developing education plans. Most of the time a good psychoeducational assessment and autism assessment (if necessary) are enough to move forward with.

Costs? Full psychoeducational exams can cost from $2,200-$3,600 depending on who you see and what tests are completed. Your school can and should be providing this exam for free, however here in BC there are very long waiting lists. An Autism Assessment runs around the same, but the two can often be done together. Again, the Provincial government can provide these services, for free, however there is again a waiting list, and some parents prefer to have an autonomous outside professional see their child rather than the ministry.

I hope this information is valuable. My best advice is to make sure the professional you see is a registered psychologist, that they have experience with children or adolescents, and have experience working with the schools. Understanding the system is as important as understanding the tests.

For information on services that I provide please visit my web page at:
I provide autism and Aspergers assessments not only for children and adolescents, but for adults as well.

Psychoeducational Assessments, ADHD and Autism

After a few weeks away from the office things are back to usual ...almost. Office hours are available in both the Burnaby and Vancouver locations for assessments, including Psychoeducational assessments, neuropsychological assessments, diagnostic assessments for both Autism Spectrum Disorder and Aspergers Disorder (which meet the Ministery requirements in British Columbia for private assessments of ASD) and related diagnostic work. Please feel free to contact the office, however the schedule is still rather full and it can often take until the weekend before youer call is answered. An initial contact through email is welcome at, however if you do contact the office through email please do not include any personal information you would not want shared. People make mistakes emailing, sometimes emailing to the wrong address, so make a more general inquiry first.

A number of people want to kniow how quickly a psychoeducational assessment can be completed. Usually it takes 2 days of face to face testing with the student. There are additional items to be completed, however those can often be done on line or at home. So, two days of actual testing. Usually 3-4 hours each day. The report is usually done within the next ten days. This is a much shorter time than you will find elsewhere.  Appointments can usually be made within the next 2-3 weeks.

Costs of psychoeducational assessments average around $2,400.00, but can be more if additional testing needs to be donne.  Payments are usually made as follows: Payment for the three  hours of testing time scheduled is made before an appointment for the assessment can be made. Cancellations must be made 72 hours in advance, as a large block of time is scheduled. At the initial session 50% of the fee is due, and at the time you recieve the report the remaining 50% is due. Payments can be made in the office by Mastercard or VisISA, or on line using other credit cards or a back card. Checks are also accepted.

Assessments for Autism Spectrun Disorder. The cost of an ASD asseswsment ranges from $2,600.00 to $3,200. The final cost is dependant upon what the assessment calls for. Some children need both an ASD assessment for diagnosis (using the ADOS and ADI-R) AND a Psychoeducational Assessment in order for the school to set up an appropriate Individual Education Plan. You need a Psychoeducational Assessment before an IEP can be completed. Sometimes the school can or already has provided that service. With younger children a medical doctor's report and a report from a Speech and Language Pathologist  must be part of the assessment to meet the needs of the Ministry. Those are obtained seperately and are then used as part of the final process by the psychologist.

Getting an assessment does not automatically lead to a diagnosis of ASD, nor does it automatically lead to Ministry funding. Just as getting a Psychoeducational Assessment does not necessarily lead to an IEP or services from the schools.

Finally, often parents and adults are seen for ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) assessments. These vary in cost, as they may include a psychoeducational assessment, or may not. These are arranged individually.

If you are exprecting to use any assessment in a legal situation (often adults with ADHD want an assessment due to work difficulties) the assessment process is different. It requires using different tools, and gathering additional information. You need to be clear on the purpose of the assessment from the start.

I aklways suggest that parents write out what they want an assessment to do. What should it provide? Assessments are always done in order to answer a question. "Why doesn't John read as well as he thinks?"  "Why can't Nancy write? She reads above grade level but can't seem to write out answers to questions?" It's always good to spend time thinking out these questions.

ADHD assessment and treatment also need to address specific deficits and needs. An assessment is much better at answering how best to reach a goal, rather than asking what goals should we have.

Dr. Jasmes Roche

Offices in Burnaby and Vancouver

Psychoeducational Assessments

Dr. Jim Roche
Registered Psychologist

Psychoeducational Assessments
Dr. Jim Roche is a Registered (BC) and Licensed (CA, WA, NY) Psychologist specializing in treating ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, learning disabilities, behavioral disorders and severe mental health issues. He psychoeducational assessments,  mental health assessments and individual, couple and marriage therapy. You can find more information about his practice at the websites below:

ADHD | ADHD coaching | workplace coaching | Anxiety and Stress | Autism and Asperger’s Disorder | Individual Counselling | Child Therapy | Testing and Assessments and Learning Disabilities | Couples Counselling | Depression | The Angry Child | Anger Management | Pain Management and PTSD | Forensic Services | Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder | Vancouver | Burnaby | Coquitlam | New Westminster | Maple Ridge | Port Moody | Child Psychologist | Psychologist | Learning Disability | Assessment | Testing | Psycho-educational Assessment | Neuropsychological Assessment | Psychoeducational Testing

North Vancouver school district discriminated against dyslexic boy, Supreme Court rules

North Vancouver school district discriminated against dyslexic boy, Supreme Court rules

It's about time! Parents bring their children to me every day who are waiting, 1, 2, 3 or more years  just for an evaluation of a learning problem...while other programs at schools go on. School districts tell parents that testing and evaluating students needs to wait, and that there is  policy against early testing even though this is standard care throughout most of North America. No assessment, and then, no treatment. Teachers can't provide appropriate education due to a lack of skill and support. Students with ADHD are told to do home schooling, or join out door programs because teachers have no skills in dealing with these students in British columbia schools. Just ask your school district for a list of what was offered to teachers last year during there days of "professional development" training. How many workshops were scheduled focused on ADHD, learning disabilities, classroom management? You will be shocked to see the lack of support available for teachers.  Students with attention deficits, which could be addressed in the classroom through environmental adaptions are told to take medication or on-line classes. Because teachers don't get the training and support they need. (Most BC schools will not even classify -code- a student with ADHD so that they could qualify for support!) In the mean time teachers attending SFU and other graduate programs in education are required to take little if any training in classroom management, working with children who have learning disabilities, or any other skills focused training. Go on line and check out the requirements for these school district based degree programs. There is lots of focus on "reflection" but little on skills development and practice. If your plumber got licensed by focusing on "self reflection" as much as teachers do we would all drown in our homes. We need skill development, classroom management training, school psychologists to assess our children and well written IEPs that are followed by teachers who know what to do with students with special needs.

Just a few kilometres south, in Washington State, a parent or teacher may ask for an assessment and you can expect it to be completed within 50 days - by law. Then you can expect an education plan to be written that directly addresses the specific needs of the student. Finally you can expect your child's teacher to implement this plan because they have the training and support they need. Why can't we do better?