Waterman Psychology Services aims to help children understand and overcome the challenges of behavioural and attention disorders, as well as learning disabilities. Our goal is to help them reach their full potential, through providing recommendations to improve their behaviour and wellbeing.


Specific learning disorders, such as dyslexia, dyscalculia, or dysgraphia, can severely hinder learning and studying, enjoyment of work, and the educational experience. Waterman Psychology Services aim to improve this experience and guide you on the path to career and study success.


Every child learns differently, especially when they have a learning disorder such as dyslexia, dyscalculia, or dysgraphia. Here at Waterman Psychology Services, we are committed to your child’s wellbeing and want to help you understand their needs, guide them on the path to educational success and unlock their potential

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Intellectual Disability

What does an Intellectual Disability look like?

Intellectual disability appears in the developmental period of life, which is before the age of 18. In most cases people are born with an intellectual disability.

Intellectual disabilities can affect a child in the following ways:

  • They may take longer to learn things.
  • They may have difficulty reading and writing.
  • They may have trouble communicating.
  • They may have difficulty understanding language and general conversation.
  • They may have difficulty maintaining eye contact.
  • They may demonstrate difficulties in planning and problem solving.
  • They may experience extreme difficulties in understanding abstract concepts.
  • They may have trouble adapting to new or unfamiliar situations.
  • They may present well, but actually have difficulty understanding real-life concepts.
  • They are likely to have difficulties with attention.
  • They may have difficulties learning the range of skills that will be needed to live and work in the community.
  • They may have trouble seeing how things or events relate to each other.

Diagnosing an Intellectual Disability

When assessing for Intellectual Disability, a psychologist will use:

  • An Intelligence Test using the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children Fifth Edition (WISC-V)
  • An Academic Achievement Test using the Wechsler Individual Achievement Test Third Edition (WIAT-III)
  • Adaptive Functioning Measure using the Adaptive Behaviour Assessment System 3rd Edition (ABAS-3)

For a confirmed diagnosis of Intellectual Disability, the child will score a Full Scale IQ of 70 or under on the WISC-V. The child will also show significant difficulties in one or more areas of adaptive behaviour.

Adaptive behaviour is the collection of conceptual, social, and practical skills that are learned and performed by people in their everyday lives, such as:

  • Conceptual skills – understanding money, time, and number concepts; and self-direction.
  • Social skills – the ability to follow rules/obey laws, perceiving social cues, communication, and the level of risk of being manipulated (gullibility).
  • Practical skills – being able to undertake daily living activities (personal care), occupational skills, healthcare, hygiene, travel/transportation, schedules/routines, safety, use of money, use of the telephone, etc.

What to do after a diagnosis

Following a diagnosis of an Intellectual Disability, a child will need certain types of structure and support. For instance, within the school system they will need an individualised learning plan, as they will need to work at a different pace to their peers. There should also be an emphasis on learning living skills such as shopping, cooking, life skills, and mathematics (such as using money, calculators, and timetables). Furthermore, the child should get assistance to develop life skills in literacy, including reading road signs and shopping labels.

If you believe that your child has significant intellectual difficulties and may have an Intellectual Disability, a psycho-educational assessment can help you understand your child’s ability and provide recommendations to assist them in fulfilling their intellectual potential.

How can someone who lives with an Intellectual Disability find employment?

It can often be difficult for someone to obtain employment particularly if they live with a disability such as an Intellectual Disability or significant learning issues. To help, a psychological assessment can be arranged through a Disability Employment Network. This assessment can assist the employment consultant in understanding the disorder and be better informed about what employment type and conditions will suit them best.

For instance, someone with a mild intellectual disability may have difficulty remembering basic living skills such as showering without prompting. However, if experiencing difficulties within this area, they will require assistance with these skills prior to being deemed job ready.

Alternatively, they may be able to undertake a position but require extra assistance from a support worker while attending the job location. For example, they may need ongoing assistance to travel to the employment location as they may have map reading difficulties or be unable to understand public transport timetables.

In some situations, they may require attending a supported employment setting so they can receive ongoing support from a suitably qualified disability/employment support worker in order to maintain their employment goals. This is important for someone who takes longer to learn and remember tasks related to their employment type, as well as someone who requires significant intervention with obtaining and maintaining relationships with others in the workplace and understanding social cues.

It is extremely important that the person is engaged in appropriate employment, as well as it is important to understand that having employment in some form is a beneficial factor in maintaining mental health for a variety of reasons, such as providing social interaction and a feeling of accomplishment and structure within the day.

A psychoeducational assessment can therefore be important to provide invaluable information regarding strengths and weaknesses which will greatly assist a disability employment network to determine how much support will be required to obtain and maintain employment.