Psychological assessments for learning difficulties

March 7, 2024
Psychological assessments for learning difficulties
If you’re concerned about your child’s learning, you may be considering a psychological assessment (a psychoeducational assessment). Working out what you need and where to go can be confusing!

Here are some things to think about:

Does this psychologist have expertise in the area I am concerned about?
Some clinics focus on specific areas. For example, some have particular expertise in assessing Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), ADHD, or Specific Learning Disorders, while others mainly provide therapy. Check the website. Ask the clinic if their primary focus is a good match for your concerns. 

Is an assessment necessary? How will it help?
A thorough psychological assessment can pinpoint why a child is experiencing difficulties and identify strategies that will help. A psychologist can record a formal diagnosis like Dyslexia or Intellectual Developmental Disorder if applicable, which may provide access to additional services/supports.

Will it be stressful for my child?
Experienced psychologists put children at ease and make the process fun. They can incorporate games and movement breaks for children who experience anxiety or need to move around. When feedback is handled well, children gain a better understanding of themselves and leave feeling more empowered and optimistic about their future. Ask the clinic how they work with children. Raise any concerns before you make a decision.

What is involved?
An assessment might include some, or all, of the following:

  • Questionnaires for you/your child’s teacher
  • A meeting to discuss your concerns
  • Testing session(s) with your child (e.g. an assessment to investigate the causes of reading difficulties might include tests to measure IQ; reading and other academic skills; phonological awareness, and other mental processes)
  • Feedback meetings with you, your child, and/ or their teacher
  • A written report
  • Some assessments are more comprehensive than others. Ask the clinic what is involved.

Can I get a rebate?
Most psycho-educational assessments are not eligible for Medicare reimbursement. Some private health insurers offer a small rebate if the psychologist has a Medicare provider number.
Ask your private health insurer, and ask the clinician if they have a Medicare provider number.

SPELD SA offer psychological and educational assessments for school aged children. Their team has a focus on the assessment and management of specific learning difficulties,

Dr Skye McLennan

Dr Skye McLennan, Clinical Psychologist, SPELD SA