After a brief hiatus for restructuring, the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center (VKC) Learning Assessment Clinic has reopened with a new clinic director.
Rachel Hundley, Ph.D., has taken the helm as the Learning Assessment Clinic’s (LAC) director this summer. Prior to the transition, Hundley worked alongside former LAC director Sheryl Rimrodt-Frierson, M.D., in the Clinic’s operations before Rimrodt-Frierson accepted a new position with Texas Scottish Rite Hospital.
“The LAC was closed for a couple of months while we reorganized. The clinic reopened in September 2019, and we’ve had a great response from the community so far,” said Hundley. “I’m a clinical psychologist who has conducted psychoeducational evaluations for children and adolescents for 20 years, in a variety of settings. I’ve been a clinician in the LAC for eight years. As director of the LAC, I hold full responsibility for the clinic and for our patients’ experience. Being the director involves identifying the best faculty and staff to create a smooth experience for families as well as additional oversight of day-to-day operations.”
“We are delighted that the VKC Learning Assessment Clinic will continue under the direction of Dr. Rachel Hundley. Her experience and training are very beneficial to individuals and families looking for this service,” said Elise McMillan, J.D., director of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities.
Hundley and her staff are trained to assess children as young as 5 (if they are already in kindergarten) up to young adults age 25 for learning difficulties. They often see children and adolescents with a variety of developmental diagnoses and are experienced in working with students who may be twice exceptional, such as gifted students with learning disabilities, or children who have a prior diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) but may show additional learning problems.
“On the date of the assessment, one member of the LAC team interviews parents while the other team member conducts testing,” said Hundley. “The evaluation itself is tailored to the developmental level of the child and designed to address the family’s specific questions. We are creative and ready with a variety of behavioral supports to help students feel comfortable and do their best.”
Families then return for a follow-up visit approximately two weeks later to receive a comprehensive report as well as opportunities to have their questions answered. The report includes recommendations for ideal instructional environments, accommodations, and strategies. The LAC team member also provides families with current resources for learning more about their child’s concerns, any technology supports that may help, advocacy, and support.
“LAC evaluations begin with a careful history with information collected from both parents and teachers. We want to learn what has been done before and what has and has not worked for each individual learner,” said Hundley. “The assessment provides a comprehensive description of a child’s foundations for learning, including measures of thinking and reasoning skill, language, motor, executive function, and other social-emotional skills. If we notice other areas of concern during the visit, we will try to provide the family with additional guidance or places to seek support.
“Families receive an in-depth description of their child’s reading, written expression, and math skills, from standardized assessment tools that are appropriate to the child’s age, developmental, and grade level,” she added. “Families will learn how their child’s performance compares to other children of the same age and grade and what additional factors may be contributing to any learning difficulties. They will receive a clear diagnosis around learning problems, if their child meets those criteria. We also want to provide families with a sense of their child’s strengths as a learner and how those may be best drawn from to mitigate learning challenges. At the follow-up visit, families receive a report that can be shared with schools and other providers. We talk to families about working together with the school as a team and how best to advocate for their child when needed.”
The Learning Assessment Clinic is a fee-for-services clinic and does not accept insurance. Cost for an evaluation and follow-up debriefing is $1800 per student.
Families who are concerned about their child’s learning and have questions about LAC services can visit the LAC webpage for more information or contact the Clinic directly at (615) 936-6588 or LAC@vumc.org.
Elizabeth Turner is associate director of VKC Communications.