Children

Is your child developing at a pace that appears quicker or slower than other children their age?

Identifying the best approach to foster their unique potential and to address any gaps can be guided by an assessment.

Given the plasticity of the brain, the younger the child when assessed, the more that can be achieved.

openI hadn’t even heard of an auditory processing disorder and can only imagine that if we hadn’t found out now, how miserable our son’s school life would have been.close
openI had no idea of her high potential and that her being naughty was related to her boredom. Getting the school on side to provide enrichment activities was fantastic.close

 

We conduct child assessments across a range of different areas, including:

  • Cognitive (psychometric) assessment, including IQ

  • Dyslexia

  • Dyspraxia

  • Auditory Processing

  • DisorderDysgraphia

Cognitive (psychometric) assessment, including IQ

Cognitive assessment can benefit a student of any age. It can be particularly useful for students who previously achieved average or higher results but begin to:

  • Experience difficulty maintaining grades
  • Engage in inappropriate or disruptive behaviour (both boredom and lack of challenge and difficulty in understanding the content can contribute to this scenario)
  • Demonstrate obvious writing and reading difficulties (it is our usual practice to ensure a comprehensive vision assessment with a behavioural optometrist is also undertaken in these cases)
  • Appear anxious or uninvolved with their peers
  • Engage in school avoidance
  • Shows low risk taking behaviour (e.g., avoid answering or asking questions)
  • Appear to be disorganised or forgetful or present written work of a standard that does not match the quality expected

Assessment can assist the transition from primary to secondary schooling, as well as identify and address whether the child is experiencing performance anxiety, for example in test taking and exam preparation or an underlying and undiagnosed difficulty. As low self-esteem and low confidence are often present in children with some learning difficulties an assessment can help to separate the issues, which might include difficulties with peer relationships and interactions, and shape the response and intervention(s) required.

Assessment can also help to inform the support required for a student who shows some difficulties in meeting parental and/or teacher expectations. The assessment can also help to target remediation, modification, tutoring and extension activities that might be suitable and to ensure that there is appropriate challenge for the student in the learning environment.

Dyslexia

Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurological in origin. It is characterised by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties are present in individuals with general cognitive abilities in the average (or higher) range. The cause of dyslexia is unknown and there are many theories that seek to explain it. Generally it is considered to have a high likelihood of a linkage to family history/genes. The emergent work in neuroscience that is providing new and exciting evidence of the developmental pathways for language acquisition and foundational skills is making a significant contribution to current understanding.

Common problems that are observed in children in the early years of schooling include difficulties with spelling, comprehension, reading and identification of words. This might include difficulties with:

  • Reading single words or sentences
  • Regular mistakes when writing certain letters, reversals and substitutions that are common include ‘d’ and ‘b’; ’m’, and ‘w’
  • Writing words backwards, e.g., writing ‘pot’ instead of ‘top’
  • An avoidance or dislike of reading and a positive experience when they are being read to

Assessment at any time during the school years assists the detection of possible difficulties, and positive potentials, and allows parents and teachers to provide appropriate support and encouragement early, with the best emphasis and focus to assist each child.

The assessment seeks to provide additional data for problem-solving by the student, their parents and teachers. Careful psychometric assessment by a skilled practitioner can assist by clarifying whether the student is experiencing difficulties in their learning environment due to emotional or cognitive factors. The assessment can then guide the strategy implemented to assist the student.

Early detection and intervention is important because the longer habits, behaviours and learning gaps exist-the more effort is needed for change and development. International research on learning and development consistently indicates that early detection is critical to the long-term outcomes for the child’s learning. This is why assessment in the early years of school can be of significant assistance in enabling the child to reach their potential.

Dyspraxia

Dyspraxia is a brain-based condition that makes it hard for the individual to plan and coordinate their physical movement in the presence of average (or higher) cognitive ability. Children with dyspraxia tend to struggle with balance and posture and may appear clumsy in gross motor activities such as walking, running and jumping and in fine motor activities, such as the hand movements needed to write clearly, to use scissors and to also manage the mouth and tongue movements required for clear speech. Dyspraxia goes by many names: developmental coordination disorder, motor learning difficulty, motor planning difficulty and apraxia of speech. Dyspraxia can also affect social skills development as the child misjudges space and the orientation of their body so that they unwittingly bump into, crowd or jostle other children in the classroom or playground. The child may have trouble grasping pencils and writing or drawing or have difficulty dressing themselves in comparison to their age peers, particularly struggling with buttons, laces and zips.

The cause of dyspraxia is unknown. Some evidence indicates that genetics could play a role and that dyspraxia may be caused by a problem with the nerve signals from the brain to muscles. The diagnosis of dyspraxia is usually confirmed through an occupational or physiotherapy assessment. A psychometric assessment with a psychologist can be of additional benefit to ascertain whether there are any cognitive delays or difficulties that suggest a differential diagnosis. There are often challenges for the child’s parent(s) over the course of the child’s schooling in gaining understanding from teachers as they seek to assist and support their child’s development. Assessment at any time during the school years means detection of possible difficulties, and positive potentials, and allows parents and teachers to provide appropriate support and encouragement early, with the best emphasis and focus to assist each child. As anxiety, low self-esteem and other conditions can co-exist; psychological assistance can also benefit the child.

An assessment seeks to provide additional data for problem-solving by the student, their parents and teachers. Careful psychometric assessment by a skilled practitioner can assist by clarifying whether the student is experiencing difficulties in their learning environment due to emotional or cognitive factors. The assessment may then guide the strategy implemented to assist the student.

Early detection and intervention is important because the longer habits, behaviours and learning gaps exist-the more effort is needed for change and development. International research on learning and development consistently indicates that early detection is critical to the long-term outcomes for the child’s learning. This is why assessment in the early years of school can be of significant assistance in enabling the child to reach their potential.

Auditory Processing Disorder

In recent years, there has been an increase in the awareness of Auditory Processing Disorders, also referred to as Central Auditory Processing Disorders (CAPD) in the general public and across professional groups. In its very broadest sense, Auditory Processing Disorder refers to how the central nervous system (CNS) uses auditory information. The brain and associated CNS is involved in all other functions relevant to learning, such as memory, concentration and attention, and language development, among others. It is important to understand that APD is an auditory deficit that is not the result of other higher-order cognitive, language, or related disorder that can affect a person’s ability to attend, understand, and remember information.

Children with Auditory Processing Disorder may exhibit a variety of listening and related complaints. For example, they may have difficulty understanding speech in noisy environments, following directions (especially when they involve multiple steps), and discriminating (or telling the difference between) similar-sounding speech sounds. They may behave as if a hearing loss is present, needing repetition or clarification of the request and might be seen as being naughty as they do not do as they have been asked (by a parent, teacher, other adult or child). The variability of their understanding in different settings contributes to a view that they ‘can hear/do but choose not to’. In school, children with Auditory Processing Disorder may have difficulty with spelling, reading, and understanding information presented verbally in the classroom. Often their performance in classes that don’t rely heavily on listening is much better, and they typically are able to complete a task independently once they know what is expected of them. These same types of symptoms may be apparent in children who do not exhibit Auditory Processing Disorder.

An assessment with a psychologist can identify whether other cognitive difficulties are part of the underlying picture and to measure the student’s academic performance and to understand their overall areas of strength and weakness. Auditory Processing Disorder cannot be diagnosed from a symptoms checklist and careful and accurate assessment by an audiologist is a key component to confirm the diagnosis.

Assessment at any time during the school years means detection of possible difficulties, and positive potentials, and allows parents and teachers to provide appropriate support and encouragement early, with the best emphasis and focus to assist each child. As anxiety, low self-esteem and other conditions can co-exist and as many compensatory strategy approaches teach children with Auditory Processing Disorder to take responsibility for their own best listening and learning style and to be an active participant in daily listening activities psychological assistance can also provide significant benefit to the child as they progress through their schooling. Treatment of Auditory Processing Disorder generally focuses on three primary areas: changing the learning or communication environment, recruiting higher-order skills to help compensate for the disorder, and remediation of the auditory deficit itself.

Dysgraphia

Dysgraphia is a specific learning disability that affects written expression and is a neurological disorder that generally appears when children are first learning to write. It can present as difficulties with spelling, poor handwriting and with trouble putting thoughts on paper, especially when the child is able to verbally respond. Dysgraphia can be a language based, and/or non-language based disorder. Whilst many people have poor handwriting, dysgraphia is more serious. The cause of dysgraphia is unclear with some theories suggesting both genetic (family) linkage and brain based developmental causation. Early identification and treatment can help remediate difficulties and reduce the likelihood that the child will develop problems with confidence or self-esteem as parents, child and teachers work to address/remediate concerns and effectively manage the learning environment.

Writing requires a complex set of motor and information processing skills. It requires the ability to organise and express ideas in the mind, as well as the ability to get the muscles in the hands and fingers to form those ideas, letter by letter, on paper. Often the writing is low in content and word count, is illegible, contains unfinished words or incomplete sentences and can be slow and laborious with cramped hand position and complaints from the child that they are ‘tired’ when writing. A person with dysgraphia may write their letters in reverse, have trouble recalling how letters are formed, or when to use lower or upper case letters. They may struggle to form written sentences with correct grammar and punctuation, with common problems including omitting words, sequencing them incorrectly, and using incorrect verbs and pronouns. Children may present as anxious when asked to write and might engage in inappropriate behaviour – acting out or withdrawal – to avoid the task.

A psychological assessment involves a series of tests to identify whether difficulties are due to dysgraphia or whether there are other underlying factors to consider. The assessment seeks to provide additional data for problem-solving by the student, their parents and teachers. Careful psychometric assessment by a skilled practitioner can assist by clarifying whether the student is experiencing difficulties in their learning environment due to emotional or cognitive factors. The assessment may then guide the strategy implemented to assist the student.

Assessment at any time during the school years means detection of possible difficulties, and positive potentials, and allows parents and teachers to provide appropriate support and encouragement early, with the best emphasis and focus to assist each child. As anxiety, low self-esteem and other conditions can co-exist and as many compensatory strategy approaches teach children with dysgraphia to take responsibility for their own best learning and writing style and to be an active participant in daily classroom, activities psychological assistance can also provide significant benefit to the child as they progress through their schooling.