“I know my child is very bright. In fact, I would say that his intelligence is above average. There are some really outstanding things he can do. But I feel there is a gap somewhere, especially in relation to his learning, but I can’t quite put a finger to it.”
This is the general perception of a parent whose child may have a specific learning difficulty – where the child displays a significant delay in one or more areas of learning, even though their intelligence level may be average or above average.
These are usually diagnosed in school and become evident as more rigorous academic work is required. The affected areas of learning can be divided into two broad groups:
• Academic skills including arithmetic, spelling, reading, writing and comprehension/ expression of language.
• Other skills – organisation, social aptitude, coordination of movement, organisation, impulse control, persistence.
If you have concerns about your child’s learning,
1. Discuss this with his class teacher to see how he is performing in school, and whether the teacher shares your concerns.
2. Arrange a comprehensive assessment with an educational psychologist/ paediatrician or other professional specialists – experienced and qualified in this area of work.
This generally involves
• Tests of intelligence
• Tests of academic achievement – reading, spelling and mathematics
• Tests of other special abilities: movement and coordination (physiotherapist); sequential organisation visual perception, auditory discrimination (psychologist); language (speech therapist).
Following the assessments, you would be presented with a report of their findings and have the opportunity to clarify any aspects which you may consider unclear, and confirm whether you consider their recommendations appropriate for your child.
3. Once the plan has been put in place, it us useful to review regularly. If the problems are resolved, then further action may not be required. However, if the difficulties persist, further assessments should be carried out to ensure that the child’s needs are met, and to monitor progress.