What is a Psychological Assessment?
A psychological assessment involves a series of tests, interviews and observations to help understand your child, their development and their needs. We conduct specialised psychological assessments in purpose built rooms at the SPELD SA Centre in Adelaide.
How can a psychological assessment help?
A psychological assessment can help identify individual learning strengths and weaknesses to find out if an identifiable learning difficulty exists. You can talk to our team to find out whether this may be appropriate for you or whether an educational consult or intervention may be the appropriate first step.
This assessment can determine if an individual has a Specific Learning Disorder, such as Dyslexia, Dyscalculia or Dysgraphia.
Psychological assessments for children and adults
We offer assessments for school-aged students who have completed (at least) most of their junior primary schooling, as well as adults up to the age of 24 years. For a formal diagnosis to be given, students must have completed at least 6 months of appropriate (evidence-based) targeted literacy intervention.
What does the assessment process involve?
The assessments we offer are sometimes referred to as psycho-educational assessments, learning assessments, or diagnostic assessments. There are several parts to the process.
1. Pre-assessment questionnaire: This quick questionnaire is used to check that our service is a good fit for what you need. If we feel that another service would be more appropriate, we will talk to you about your options.
2. Detailed background questionnaire: The next step is for you to provide detailed information about the child’s history. This is usually done via an electronic questionnaire a few weeks before the first appointment, but can be done via interview if preferred. We will contact you a week before the testing session to provide some more information and answer any questions.
3. Testing: The testing session takes 2.5 to 3.5 hours and is usually carried out in the morning. Our first priority is to make sure that children feel comfortable (and have fun!) during the process. Once the child has had time to ask their own questions and settle in, they complete tests that focus on:
- cognitive processes (including phonological awareness, and working memory, and intellectual abilities), and
- academic skills relevant to the current concerns (e.g. reading, writing, and mathematical skills).
Children take as many breaks as needed through the testing session.
4. Feedback and planning meeting: The week after testing, we will meet with you to talk about the test results, answer your questions, and help you consider the options for next-steps.
Before this meeting we will talk to you about whether to invite the student, or to set up a feedback session tailored just for them, or to provide you with some information that you can share with them at home.
It is usually possible to schedule the feedback meeting on the same day as the testing for families who travel in from outside of Adelaide. Please ask at the time of booking.
5. Report: A few weeks later, we will send you a written report, including detailed results, formal diagnoses (if relevant), recommendations and strategies.
What do I need to do before undergoing a psychological assessment?
Before a diagnosis of a specific learning disorder can be made it is important that a vision and hearing test is conducted to ensure another condition is not impacting learning. It is also essential that the person being assessed has received at least six months of targeted literacy and/or numeracy intervention. For more information on targeted intervention click here:
AUSPELD - Examples of High Quality Evidence Based Phonics Programs
What if a child needs a second testing session?
Occasionally, children (especially younger ones) have difficulty completing all the testing in a single morning. It is important that children feel comfortable and are able to work at their best, so when this happens, we will arrange a second testing session. Please let us know ahead of time if you think your child may need two sessions. There is no additional charge for this arrangement.
Our assessments are designed to explore Specific Learning Disorders. However, sometimes, we find that a child’s difficulties are more complex than we first expected. For example, we sometimes see signs that a child may have a second type of Developmental Disorder. If we identify that additional specialised testing may be helpful to get a full picture of a child’s challenges and support needs, we will discuss this with you. We will also let you know if there would be additional fees. Different decisions are right for different families, and whatever you decide, we will respect your wishes.
Who conducts the assessment?
Our Psychology Team includes 6 clinicians with a wealth of experience working with unique learners. One clinician will work with you throughout the whole assessment process. Sometimes another team member will assist.