These are four very important questions. Whether or not your child actually has a learning difficulty can only be answered when some kind of assessment is conducted. Parents frequently report a “gut feeling” about their child’s reading or learning and may say things like “my husband…or I, had similar difficulties at school”. However it is only by having assessment done that the concern will be confirmed.
Parents often pose the following questions.
- “Does my child have a learning difficulty of some kind?”
- “Should I have my child assessed?”
- What would assessment give me?”
- “Who should assess my child?”
Indeed, if some kind of difficulty is being reported by the class teacher, or if you have that gut feeling, then you really should have your child assessed.
Why? Only assessment will provide you with an informed understanding of the nature and extent of the problem with learning. Achievement and ability testing will provide vital information about the nature and extent of the difficulty and this can then be used to help the teacher and you, to support your child. Given the complexities and importance of education, the earlier this occurs, the better.
So who should assess your child? Assessment can be sourced from a number of different providers. Psychologists can provide cognitive assessment. Special education teachers will focus on achievement testing in the different learning areas such as literacy and numeracy. Speech pathologists will take a language and phonological awareness perspective. In fact, all of these perspectives can provide important information about children’s’ learning.
An all inclusive perspective is best. If the different assessment components can be sourced from the one provider, this is an advantage, both educationally and financially for you. Children have real problems, in real situations. A learning difficulty, whether it is a reading difficulty, language based learning difficulty or broad based academic underachievement needs to be understood from each of the perspectives – ability, achievement and potential. There also needs to be an appreciation of the child’s strengths and weaknesses in the context of the child’s ‘real’ world.
Marg Young of Young Advantage has over thirty five years of experience as a speech pathologist, primary trained teacher and special education teacher. Her postgraduate qualifications in education include both learning difficulty and gifted education. She is able to offer the comprehensive approach that is required to determine the nature of all types of learning difficulties, as well as to work through a solution with you.