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Specific Learning Disability Assessments

Specific Learning Disability Assessment Information

Learning disabilities affect the way a person takes in, remembers, understands and expresses information, and the ability to link information from different parts of the brain. Learning Disabilities can affect all areas of a person’s life, not just education.

Learning Disabilities are different to having a low IQ, hearing or visual problem, or lack of education. In fact, a child with a learning disability generally has an average to above average IQ, but they have difficulties with specific areas of academic achievement (e.g. reading, writing).

It is important to remember that not all low achievers are learning disabled. Some children are simply slower in developing certain skills compared with other children their age. Sometimes underachieving can be a result of other emotional or personal reasons. This is another reason why it is important for the psychologist to have so much personal information if making a diagnosis.

In making a diagnosis for learning disabilities, the underlying processes are specifically explored. This includes understanding the functions and abilities responsible for the observed difficulties, rather than just focusing on the observable symptoms or behaviours alone. This process may involve analysing and interpreting the assessment results, scale ratings, parent and teacher information and behavioural observations.

What is the assessment process for Learning Disabilities?

1. Review of Background Information:

The process starts with a questionnaire for you to complete about your child, as well as a teacher questionnaire. Information will be gathered regarding your child’s cognitive, academic, social, family and emotional history. This information ensures a more accurate interpretation of test results.

Depending on what is being tested, other specific information may need to be gathered using additional scales, clinical interviews and observations.

2. A Standardised Cognitive Assessment:


A cognitive assessment will be conducted to determine your child’s overall intellectual functioning and abilities, such as:

  • skills in understanding verbal information, thinking and reasoning with words, and expressing thoughts as words;
  • skills in solving problems without using words, sometimes using hand-eye coordination, and working quickly and efficiently with visual information
  • their ability to learn, attend to, concentrate and remember auditory and visual information

The following assessments may only be conducted depending on the results of the cognitive assessment.

3. A Standardised Achievement Test:

An educational test will be conducted to provide samples of your child’s academic skills in areas such as reading, spelling, written language, listening and reading comprehension, mathematics and oral language.

4. Other relevant Psychological Assessment Tools:

Not all low achieving children are learning disabled, therefore, further evaluation is required. The assessments used from this point forward depend on the areas that have been previously identified as problematic (e.g. phonological skills or processing visual information).

These tests help to measure many of the underlying processes that may be contributing to why the student is underachieving. This will help to pinpoint more specifically what the problems are, and assist with a diagnosis (if relevant).

5. You will receive a detailed Assessment Report

The report will consist of:

  • A summary of the background information provided
  • Testing observations
  • Explanation and definition of the tests used
  • Test results
  • Interpretation of results and diagnosis (if required)

6. Recommendations & Verbal Feedback

The assessment results can help to understand your child’s preferred learning style or approach to school. Determining their strengths and weaknesses shows where assistance may need to be provided, and ways in which their academic skills could be enhanced.

It is beneficial for teachers to teach to your child’s strengths, abilities and preferred learning styles (as everyone learns differently). The recommendations should be passed onto your school so you can start putting some strategies into action.

Recommendations are also provided for parents to help create a learning or supportive environment at home.

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