A number of conditions need to be met for a diagnosis of a Specific Learning Disorder (SLD). Difficulty with reading, writing or maths does not, in and of itself, indicate a learning disorder. For example, children who show below average comprehension, not just when reading a story but even if the story is read to them, are not likely to be dyslexic. Similarly, those struggling with maths may for various reasons have missed key concepts at the time they were first taught at school, and do not necessarily suffer from dyscalculia. Although these children may still need remedial tuition, the cause of their difficulties is likely to be identified as something other than an SLD. For that reason, if a specific learning disorder is suspected, it is best to first carry out a screening test - this is both significantly less costly, and substantially quicker, than a full diagnostic assessment.
Assessment for an SLD in reading or writing (dyslexia or dysgraphia)
The Woodcock-Johnson IV (WJIV), a comprehensive and well-known assessment tool, is used for full cognitive-educational assessments. Its three batteries, which have been standardised on Australia and New Zealand data, cover cognitive ability, oral language ability, and academic achievement. Testing generally takes 5 to 6 hours, usually divided into two sessions. The tool's diagnostic software identifies academic strengths and weaknesses, along with any underlying cognitive issues. Findings, which include recommended interventions and accommodations, can be used to guide tuition.
In the case of application for Special Assessment Conditions (SAC), reports may include recommendations for a reader, writer, or extra time, as appropriate. Similarly, reports generated for adult students provide strategies for learning or for the workplace, depending on requirements.
Assessment for an SLD in maths (dyscalculia)
Assessments for dyscalculia utilise the WJIV Cognitive and Oral batteries, and KeyMaths-3, which is a comprehensive measure of mathematical skills for individuals aged 4 years 6 months through to 21 years. KeyMaths-3 provides extensive, in-depth coverage across a broad range of mathematical concepts and skills taught in primary and secondary school, ranging from rote learning and counting in the early years, through to factoring polynomials and solving linear equations. Testing generally takes 5 to 6 hours, usually divided into two sessions. An analysis of results identifies specific areas of weakness, and recommends relevant remedial intervention.
Note that if you are concerned about your child's progress in maths, KeyMaths-3 can be administered on its own, independent of a diagnosis of a specific learning disability. This will permit the identification of any gaps in knowledge.