Signs your child may need extra learning support

Many parents worry their child is not fulfilling their potential at school. Your child might be displaying signs of frustration around learning, or they might complain about having difficulty in reading or following instructions. For many children, these are typical protests and nothing to be concerned about, but for some, this may be an indicator that additional learning support is needed.

Angelique Foran, Clinical Psychologist and Director of Supported Minds Psychology says that the most common learning difficulties are in reading, spelling, and writing, as well as mathematical concepts.

“All children are unique, with specific needs,” Angelique says. “For parents who have concerns about their child’s learning behaviours, a Learning Assessment, for students aged between 6-16, can help adults and teachers understand why behavioural difficulties may be taking place and offer ways to overcome them.”

Before pursuing an assessment, it is advised to have your child’s vision and hearing checked to rule out any contributing factors. Families with a history of learning difficulties should be particularly attentive for signs that their child may need some extra support.

Signs for parents to look out for

Angelique says there are a few things that parents can be aware of that might indicate a learning difficulty, and therefore support the need for a Learning Assessment. These things include:

  • Difficulty in managing emotions
  • Behavioural problems at school
  • Difficulty in following instructions or processing information
  • Difficulty when breaking words into their sounds, i.e. B-A-T for bat
  • Finding it hard to complete reading tasks
  • Mispronouncing words

“Everyone develops at different times, but most parents will have a good understanding of how their child is coping and whether they need additional help,” Angelique says. “A good place to start is by talking with your child’s teacher. They will have some experience in this area and may even be the ones to initiate the conversation.”

What can a Learning Assessment uncover?

A comprehensive Learning Assessment, carried out by a psychologist, can assess for:

  • Specific learning disorders such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia
  • Developmental delays or intellectual disability
  • Behavioural disorders
  • Autistic spectrum disorder
  • Gifted and talented
  • Planning for high school
  • Special provisions for SACE

“Needing to undertake a Learning Assessment does not mean your child is not smart,” Angelique says. “It just means they may learn differently and may need different structures around to support them.”

What does a Learning Assessment entail?

A Learning Assessment is carried out by a psychologist and usually takes place over two sessions.

Session One: The first session involves gathering a history of the student. This is often provided by the parent and brings together any concerns from the school.

Session Two: A cognitive or IQ assessment is then carried out, as is an Educational Attainment assessment. The psychologist will look for a gap between the results to determine if the student might have a learning difficulty.

“If the tests show that the child has a typical IQ, but has a younger reading age, then we can see there is a delay in the development of their reading skills,” Angelique says. “The Learning Assessment is a tool that allows us to better understand how the child learns, and how we can best support them.”

A standard Learning Assessment for Health Partners members is $1260 (includes a 10% discount off the list price). It includes the initial assessment, gathering of information, an IQ test and Educational Attainment test, and a feedback session and report.

Outcomes of a Learning Assessment

Understanding how your child may learn differently from other students allows you and their teacher to better support and encourage your child.

“In many cases, a diagnosis via a Learning Assessment offers an explanation for parents about why their child is behaving in certain ways,” Angelique says. “It then allows parents to help their child and gain a better understanding of what they are going through. Teachers can also benefit by better setting their expectations of how the child will perform and engage with the work.”

Health Partners members can take advantage of exclusively reserved Child Learning and Psychological Assessment appointments at Supported Minds Psychology at 101 Pirie St, Adelaide. To book an appointment call 08 7081 5855.

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Posted: Apr 13 2023


The information contained here is of a general nature and does not take into account your personal medical situation. The information is not a substitute for independent professional medical advice and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or used for therapeutic purposes. Should you require specific medical information, please seek advice from your healthcare practitioner. Health Partners does not accept any liability for any injury, loss or damage incurred by use of or reliance on the information provided. While we have prepared the information carefully, we can’t guarantee that it is accurate, complete or up-to-date. And while we may mention goods or services provided by others, we aren’t specifically endorsing them and can’t accept responsibility for them.

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