Assessments for learning disabilities
Before pursuing a psycho-educational assessment, be sure that your child visits his or her family doctor or pediatrician for a full check-up. This will give the physician a chance to rule out any underlying medical conditions that may be affecting the child’s learning. As well, be sure that the child has had both a vision and hearing screening to rule out or treat any impairment.
It is important to keep your child’s family doctor or pediatrician informed about your child’s learning challenges. Your child’s physician may be directly involved in the treatment process. He or she will be able to refer you to specialists if your child’s needs appear to be more complex.
Who conducts assessments for learning disabilities?
Properly trained psychologists and psychological associates usually perform psycho-educational assessments for learning disabilities. Ideally, psychologists performing psycho-educational assessments should have a background in Clinical Child Psychology or Educational Psychology, and they should have experience working with children. He or she should also be licensed to practice psychology by your province’s Psychological Association.
If your child is not absolutely fluent in English/French, it may be wise to seek a psychologist who can perform the assessment in your child’s first language.
What are the costs?
Publicly funded assessments for learning disabilities are available through your child’s school board (accessed through the school’s principal), or through your local children’s mental health agency. However, waiting lists tend to be very long for these services. It may be wise to place your child’s name on these waitlists and inquire about any services offered to children with learning differences.
Expenses for private assessments can range between $1,500- $2,500 depending on the length of time the assessment requires (4-8 hours, 1-3 visits). These assessments can be initially expensive but can pay off in early identification of both the disability and the strategies required to manage it.
Psychology services are not usually covered by provincial health plans. However, you may want to check with your extended health coverage to see if psychological services are covered.
After the assessment.
The assessing psychologist should provide a written report after the assessment. This should outline what tests were administered, a statement of test results, explanation of interviews conducted, conclusions and recommendations. The assessment should indicate your child’s needs and their areas of strength. Your child’s school and school board should receive a copy of the report in order that special academic provisions can be made for your child. This information is vital in order that your child gets the help and support they deserve.
For more information on assessments for learning differences, visit the following websites:
Learning Disabilities Resource Centre
Learning Disabilities Association of Canada (LDAC)
This information is provided for general informational purposes only. It should never replace consultation with a professional. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified person with any personal, medical, emotional or financial questions