Consultations / Assessments

CONSULTATIONS

Anyone wishing to arrange an initial 35 to 45 minute consultation, with one of our Psychologists or Speech Pathologists should phone DSF to make an appointment. For individuals who are unable to attend an appointment at the DSF clinic, a telephone consultation can be arranged. Consultations provide an opportunity to discuss concerns about: academic achievement; language development; difficulties with learning; self-esteem issues; further education; or, career prospects. A consultation is generally recommended prior to booking an assessment. The purpose of the consultation is to explore available options. It is not possible to make clinical judgments or provide a diagnosis from a consultation alone. After the consultation, parents and adults will be provided with (or sent) an Action Plan detailing appropriate support strategies or recommendations for follow-up.

Children under the age of 15 are not required to attend. Prior to a consultation, parents and adults are asked to send in copies of school reports, writing samples and previous reports.

ASSESSMENTS

An assessment is generally requested to identify a person’s learning strengths and weaknesses, and to ascertain whether an identifiable learning or language disorder exists. Individuals attending the DSF Clinic for a psycho-educational assessment have usually struggled with one or more of the core academic skill areas (e.g. reading, writing, spelling, mathematics) for an extended period of time. The degree to which they struggle is often unexpected given their apparent capabilities in other areas and the educational opportunities they have been provided with. It is also generally the case that attempts to remediate the difficulty have not been successful (or at least have been less successful than would have been expected). Those individuals attending the clinic for a speech and language assessment may also be struggling to achieve academically but will also have apparent language-related issues.

All assessments are conducted by a registered Psychologist, with clinical experience in the field of educational psychology or a registered Speech Pathologist, with experience in speech and language development. All DSF Clinicians have extensive knowledge in literacy learning and development. All information gathered remains confidential and only appropriate and approved professional assessment tools and methods are used. Most people (including children) find the various assessments tasks quite interesting and generally quite enjoyable.

The questions asked change according to age so that people will not be asked many questions that are too challenging. There are usually opportunities to do practice items before each test so that people know what to expect. There is always time, both before and after the assessment, to ask the Psychologist or Speech Pathologist questions.

DSF Clinical Services offers a number of different psycho-educational assessments specifically developed to investigate learning strengths and difficulties, and a single, or extended, speech and language assessment.

A 10 to 12 page report is provided approximately three weeks after the assessment with details of the individual’s strengths and weaknesses in literacy, evidence-based strategies for remediation, and suggestions for accommodation (if warranted), included.

Functional Assessment of Literacy (FAL) and Functional Assessment of Numeracy (FAN)

The Functional Assessment of Literacy examines an individual’s reading, spelling and writing skills, in addition to their phonological processing skills, working memory ability and processing speed. The Functional Assessment of Numeracy examines an individual’s underlying mathematical skills including number sense, computational skills, mathematical thinking and recall of number facts.  A short measure of intellectual ability is also undertaken in both the FAL and the FAN. All assessments are conducted by a Registered Psychologist.

In most cases, the FAL or FAN will provide enough evidence to determine whether a specific learning disability (such as Dyslexia, Dysgraphia or Dyscalculia) is evident and this assessment can also provide valuable information regarding an individual’s response to intervention or areas in need of further development. (In some situations, further assessment by the psychologist or a DSF speech pathologist may be recommended.)

Full Assessment

The Full Psycho-Educational Assessment examines the factors affecting an individual’s performance at school, or in the workplace, in greater depth than in the FAL or FAN. It is useful for children or adults where more intensive investigation into the individual’s unique abilities and specific difficulties may be required.

Additional testing may include (where appropriate) the assessment of attention, executive function, memory, visual perception, behaviour and adaptive functioning. A more comprehensive assessment of intellectual ability will also be undertaken.

This assessment is most suitable when there are additional factors that may be affecting the individual’s academic performance. A full assessment is typically completed over two, 2 hour sessions and a more comprehensive report is provided.

Diagnostic Review Assessment

In some situations, a diagnosis of a specific learning disorder or specific language impairment cannot be determined at the time of the assessment. In cases where a child or adult has previously completed an assessment at DSF, and a diagnosis was not made due to the need for more intensive intervention or where further assessment or information has been requested (such as speech pathology or occupational therapy), DSF offers a Diagnostic Review Assessment.

This is a shortened assessment of approximately one hour in length and it is designed to evaluate the effectiveness of intervention and to review whether an individual’s profile appears to be consistent with a specific learning disorder or a specific language impairment.

Cognitive Assessment

When requested, DSF is able to conduct simple cognitive assessments. These assessments are approximately 90 minutes in length and a comprehensive assessment of intellectual ability is completed. The assessment of literacy or academic skills is not included in this type of assessment.

Early Literacy Assessment

The Early Literacy Assessment is conducted by a Speech Pathologist and is designed to profile a students’ areas of strength and difficulty in their literacy skills. It focuses on foundational skills such as phonological processing. It also evaluates their letter-sound knowledge and their skills in reading, spelling and written expression. It is not possible to receive a diagnosis of a Specific Learning Disability through this assessment (diagnoses can only be made by a Psychologist following a Functional Assessment of Literacy or full Psycho-educational Assessment). However, this assessment is of most value when it appears that the student’s literacy skills are not progressing as expected and additional information is required to determine an appropriate course of action both at school and home.

The Early Literacy Assessment is completed in one 1½ to 2 hour session(time varies depending on age).

Speech and Language Assessment

The Speech and Language Assessment is conducted by a Speech Pathologist and focuses on an individual’s expressive and receptive language skills, including comprehension (e.g. following instructions), vocabulary (how many words they can understand and use), and use of grammar (i.e. sentence structure). Where appropriate, this assessment can also evaluate an individual’s articulation (speech sounds), fluency (stuttering), social use of language, or higher-level language and problem-solving abilities. This assessment is designed to highlight areas of strength and difficulty in an individual’s speech and language skills, and may determine whether or not a language impairment is present.

The Speech and Language Assessment is completed in one 1.5 to 2 hour session (time varies depending on age).