Comprehensive Educational Assessments in Adelaide for Learning Disorders or Behavioural Issues
Our assessments include an initial consultation, a comprehensive written report and a feedback session with the parent. With your permission, we can also liaise with your child’s school to assist in developing a personalised learning plan for your child. Since we make use of a reliable and comprehensive digital assessment system through iPads, our educational assessments also take less time and are more accurate and reliable.
Psychoeducational assessments are often used to identify various concerns that are linked to different learning difficulties or strengths.
A psychologist will use an Intelligence Test, Achievement Test and Adaptive Functioning Measure to assess for intellectual disability.
Comprehensive psychoeducational assessment of specific learning disorders such as dyscalculia, dysgraphia and dyslexia.
Comprehensive ADHD assessment to determine whether your child is suffering from ADHD and to rule out other learning difficulties.
Thorough diagnosis to determine if you have a specific learning disorder such as dyslexia, dyscalculia or dysgraphia, or other concerns such as poor working memory and processing speed.
Hello, I’m Michael, the owner of Waterman Psychology Services. We have over 20 years’ experience in helping children and adults with learning difficulties. With a focus on educational psychology, our goal is to help your child overcome challenges and reach their full potential. If we understand early enough that a child has a learning disorder, we can drastically improve their academic and general performance.
I’m the only psychologist in Adelaide dedicated solely to the diagnosis and treatment of intellectual disorders in children. I’m passionate about child learning/behavioural issues, but also about your family’s wellbeing as a whole.
Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurological disorder that affects in most cultures approximately 5% of children and 2.5 % of adults. I often have parents or teachers talk to me about concerns they have regarding their child’s/students’ ability to maintain attention and concentration, and most worry that their child/student suffers from ADHD. They will often discuss with me that they are unclear about the process involved in an assessment for ADHD and what the treatment options are if the child is diagnosed with this condition.
This four-part series will provide an understanding of ADHD and its subtypes as well as provide an insight into diagnosis and treatment available for attention difficulties. Children with ADHD often has poor inhibition, that is, they have difficulty in controlling inappropriate behaviour, thoughts and speech. They may exhibit, firstly, inattentive symptoms—characterised by wandering off tasks, lacking persistence, having difficulty sustaining focus and being disorganised. Secondly, they may exhibit hyperactivity symptoms, characterised by excessive fidgeting or tapping and talkativeness. Thirdly, they may exhibit impulsivity symptoms, characterised by interrupting or intruding on others as an impulse.
It may be that your child has some or a combination of all these symptom types. A child that is hyperactive or impulsive is unlikely to learn effectively without introducing intervention strategies; otherwise they will disrupts others’ learning process as well.
It is important to understand that for a group of symptoms to be suggestive of ADHD they must commence within childhood prior to the age of 12 years old and for a period of six months or more, rather than, say, two weeks. It is also necessary that the displays of inattention, hyperactivity or impulsivity have occurred in more than one setting; these displays would usually be at home and the school environment.
It is likely that if your child/student only demonstrates these symptoms in one setting, this may allude to other psychological concerns such as learning or relationship difficulties. ADHD in children is associated with reduced school performance and academic achievement. This can also negatively affect peer relationships.
In adults, consequences of ADHD are often associated with poor job performance and achievement. Therefore, if your child/student has some of these difficulties, an ADHD assessment completed by a psychologist must be administered as early as possible.
An ADHD test can assist you in understanding your child’s learning/behavioural needs. A reliable ADHD test can also provide recommendations and accommodations to assist them to learn in a more effective manner.
I often have parents discuss with me the confusion they feel regarding the diagnosis of a Specific Learning Disorder that their child may have and its impact on learning. One issue of potential misunderstanding is that Reading Disorder, Math’s Disorder and Written Expression Disorder are often referred to by alternative terms. A Specific Learning Disorder (with impairment in mathematics), in particular, is sometimes referred to as dyscalculia.
A key component of the diagnosis is that the learning difficulties are “unexpected” in that other aspects of your child’s development appear within normal range.
A Specific Learning Disorder can only be reliably diagnosed by a psychologist after starting formal education. If your child suffers from this disorder, they are likely to have difficulty understanding simple number facts or procedures. For example, they may have difficulty solving basic maths problems using addition, subtraction, multiplication or division. This may be as a consequence of them not remembering what the symbols mean or that they cannot remember the steps involved in the maths equation. For example, a teenager given a person’s four exams scores of 70, 75, 80, and 65 may be unable to determine the individual’s average test score. In other words, they may struggle to understand how to solve the problem. If given the steps to solve this equation, your child is more likely to be successful.
Alternatively, it may be that your child may be able to complete a maths addition problem but write the numbers in reverse so that instead of 61 they write 16. Lastly, they may have a poor memory for number facts such as knowing automatically that 7 times 7 equals 49. There are a number of ways we can assist a child with a Specific Learning Disorder (with impairment in mathematics) depending on their age and maths ability. For instance, research has demonstrated that cooperative learning is an effective way to reduce processing difficulties that are associated with maths anxiety. Therefore, it can be beneficial that your child has a classmate who can demonstrate how to arrive at the work-out answers so that they can see the steps that they go through to succeed in solving the problem.
Additionally, if your child has some of these difficulties, a learning difficulties assessment completed in an educational psychology clinic can assist you in understanding your child’s learning needs and providing recommendations and accommodations to assist them learn in a more effective manner.
I often have parents discuss with me the confusion they feel regarding the diagnosis of a Specific Learning Disorder that their child may have and its impact on learning. One issue of potential misunderstanding is that Reading Disorder, Math’s Disorder and Written Expression Disorder are often referred to by alternative terms.
For Reading Disorder, in particular, there is confusion regarding what defines disordered reading levels from a child with some reading difficulties. The Specific Learning Disorder (with impairment in reading) is often referred to as dyslexia. A key component of the diagnosis is that the learning difficulties are unexpected since other aspects of your child’s development may appear within normal range.
For a diagnosis of the disorder, a child’s reading and/or spelling accuracy must be substantially lower than their same-age peers. If your child suffers from this disorder they are likely to have significant difficulty with word reading accuracy, reading rate or fluency (appear to struggle to get their words out) or reading comprehension (understanding what they have read).
Furthermore, they may struggle to spell words accurately and may have a tendency to spell words as they sound rather than understanding the spelling rules such as spelling “right” as “rite”. Alternatively, they may also have difficulty with decoding skills such as understanding how to reproduce familiar and unfamiliar words. This often leads to your child having difficulties with reading accuracy.
There are a number of ways we can assist a child with a Specific Learning Disorder (with impairment in reading) depending on their age and readings ability. If your child has difficulties with reading fluency, this is likely to interfere with their ability to understand what they are reading. In other words, your child is likely to be so tired from just reading the paragraph they retaining information they have read will be improbable. In this instance a useful recommendation can be to encourage your child to re-read the book, the first read through is to work out the actual words, the second read through is for understanding the story.
Alternatively, if your child suffers from reading accuracy a number of accommodations could be instigated. For example, the teacher can save your child the ordeal of having to “read aloud in class”. Ensure reading is reserved for a quiet time with the class teacher. Secondly, your child will require more time to read questions and answers when completing assignments or tests. Lastly, a learning difficulties assessment can assist you understand your child’s reading ability and provide recommendations to assist them fulfil their reading potential.
Dyslexia testing may be administered for your child in an educational psychology clinic.
A psychoeducational assessment is conducted by a qualified psychologist that investigates the learning potential and academic skill development of your child.
It is common sense to assume that your teenager with average intelligence will be average for their age-group within maths and English domains. However, students often demonstrate that they have strengths and weaknesses in certain areas. There are many reasons why educational assessments in Adelaide are beneficial for your teenager at year 10 level. In South Australia, this period is often seen as a transition year for students, and many schools provide special programs for students as this level to assist them with subject choices and study skills. Therefore, understanding their strengths and weaknesses at this stage is an important part of the process. For example, if your child demonstrated through psychological testing that they were particularly strong in practical skills it may be that they would be better suited to selecting subjects and career choices that were “hands on” in nature. In year 10, students are often preparing for potential work experience opportunities which can be assisted if they are already aware of their own areas of strength.
Educational assessments can also answer specific questions regarding your child’s learning and academic success at school. For instance, you may have noticed that your child does poorly on exams and timed tests. You may feel that your child is underachieving and wonder why this is occurring.
Educational assessments can assist the teacher to decide whether your child would be better suited to verbal-based or practical-based subjects and therefore determine the best learning style for your child. In combination with this, psychoeducational assessments can determine in which subjects your child is likely to have success; this information will assist them with planning for relevant subject selection. It will also highlight if your child learns more effectively when information is presented either visually or verbally.
Lastly, psychoeducational assessments can be useful in determining if your child has any short-term memory issues or problems with the speed of processing information which is negatively affecting their learning. Learning difficulties assessments could identify that your child suffers from a specific learning disorder that could be affecting their process at school. If such is the case, recommendations can be provided to ensure that your child is provided with the specific assistance they require.
In summary, psychoeducational assessments can provide you and your child with invaluable information regarding their strengths and weaknesses which will greatly assist subject and career selection.
When children or teenagers present for a psychoeducational assessment, sometimes it is discovered that they are suffering from learning difficulties known as a Language Disorder. A Language Disorder often affects a child’s ability to use words to convey what they want to say. In other words, your child may have trouble processing and understanding the meaning of what other people say. It is acknowledged that 5 to 6% of school-aged children suffer from either a speech or language problem though this can vary considerably depending upon the region.
If your child has a Language Disorder they may have difficulty following instructions or have short-term (auditory) memory problems and/or have a reluctance to ask questions. They may also be reluctant to contribute to classroom discussions. In the classroom, academically, your child may struggle with reading rate or have difficulty understanding what is meant in the paragraph they just read. This would be because children with a Language Disorder have a reduced word knowledge and understanding of how the words are used. It makes sense that if there are some words within a sentence that your child does not understand, it will be difficult for them to fully appreciate the underlying message within the text.
I have also often had parents who are concerned with their child’s behaviour which may in fact relate to them having a Language Disorder. For instance, your child may have poor organisational skills and concentration or attention span. The teachers have often advised that the child has difficulty following verbal instructions and appears to fail to listen when spoken to. While all these symptoms are related to having a Language Disorder, parents often attend for psychologist session for alternative concerns such as attention deficit disorder, dyslexia or intellectual disability, since some of the symptoms present in a Language Disorder—such as slow reading rate—could present in dyslexia or intellectual disability. Children who have attentional or organisational problems may be suffering from attention deficit disorder. If you believe that your child may be suffering from any of the symptoms described, it is recommended that a multi-disciplinary approach be taken. A Language Disorder is normally diagnosed by a Speech Pathologist in combination with a psychoeducational assessment completed by a psychologist.
A psychoeducational assessment by a psychologist can assist in eliminating other causes for your child’s academic difficulties such as dyslexia, intellectual disability or attention deficit disorder. A multi-disciplinary approach will assist you in achieving the most effective therapy for your child.
If you suspect that your child has behavioural issues or learning disorders, you should have them diagnosed in an educational psychology clinic immediately. Early assessment is the key to helping them achieve their full potential. The sooner you have a comprehensive psychoeducational assessment in hand, the better equipped you will be to help your child succeed — in school and in life.