Identifying Specific Learning Difficulties – Is an assessment needed?

Psychological Assessments

Length of assessment

What You Need to Bring

Cost of Assessment at SPELD SA

Book an Assessment at SPELD SA

Identifying Specific Learning Difficulties - Is an assessment needed?

Based on Understanding Learning Difficulties: A guide for parents, p.10

The decision to seek professional advice and a possible assessment to determine whether or not a student has a learning difficulty is a complex one. It should only occur after a number of other steps have been taken – including a period of observation and collection of relevant information.

Firstly, a child’s teacher is well-placed to observe whether there is a specific area of concern. Schools frequently collect data through screening, observation and regular in-class assessments. They will be able to make suggestions for appropriate strategies to be adopted at school and at home.

Secondly, prior to the psychological assessment, students need to be provided with explicit, systematic and cumulative instruction that forms part of intervention for at least 6 months. One of the criteria for the diagnosis of a learning disability is how well the student has responded to quality intervention over an extended period of time. Examples of intervention programs that are evidence-informed and are therefore recommended by AUSPELD can be found here

Thirdly, information gathered over this period of approximately 6 months will assist the practitioner conducting the assessment, in providing background information to better inform decision-making about on-going levels of support.

The “Understanding Learning Difficulties: A guide for parents” contains more information about identification and intervention.

 What to do next: A Decision Making Chart for Parents may help you in deciding whether you want an assessment for your child.

Psychological Assessments

Assessments at SPELD SA are conducted by a registered psychologist, who specialises in learning difficulties, such as dyslexia, dysgraphia and dyscalculia. Assessments are for school-aged students (aged from 6 1/2 years after 6 months of quality intervention) and adults up to the age of 24 years 11 months.  

Psychometric–Educational Assessment

The psychologist conducts a series of tests that investigates the child’s intellectual abilities, identifying strengths and weaknesses in their cognitive functioning. Academic assessments are then conducted to investigate specific areas of learning difficulty (as required), such as reading, written expression, spelling or mathematics. When considering the needs of a child and the length of the assessment process, all assessments are limited to either literacy concerns or numeracy concerns.  Should parents have concerns with their child's literacy and numeracy development, additional fees (and an additional day of testing) may apply.  A Psychometric–Educational Assessment should only be performed once in a 12month period.

On the initial consult with the psychologist, learning history and learning difficulties will be discussed. The psychologist will then decide on and run a battery of tests including:

  • WISC-V IQ assessment – an assessment of intellectual ability looking at areas of verbal language, visual problem solving, working memory and processing speed.
  • WIAT (pronounced WHY-IT) – academic achievement tests with subtests chosen depending on need (e.g. Literacy - reading, spelling and writing or Numeracy).
  • Selected tests measuring the underlying processing skills linked to literacy or numeracy.  
Assessment follow-up.

A written  report is provided approximately four weeks after the assessment with details of the individual’s strengths and weaknesses, evidence-based strategies for remediation, and suggestions for accommodations (if needed). Recommendations to consult with other professionals, such as a speech pathologist, an occupational therapist or a paediatrician may be made. Tutor support may also be recommended.

A Psycho-Educational Assessment update may be required as the child moves through their schooling, for instance when moving from primary to secondary school or applying for SACE and University accommodations.

Literacy Review Assessment

Some clients choose to return for a Literacy Review Assessment, twelve months or more after a Psycho–Educational Assessment, to review the child’s progress.

Choosing a psychologist or other professional.

Psychologists at SPELD SA specialise in learning difficulties. For concerns regarding disorders such as ADHD, Autism, Sensory Processing or Oppositional Defiant Disorder, SPELD SA can suggest other professionals who may support you. Phone 8431 1655 for recommendations or to make an appointment.

For more information about other professionals who may become involved in supporting you and your child go to Who to contact if you have concerns about your child .

Length of Assessment

A Psycho-Educational Assessment involves a number of steps and can take approximately 2.5 to 3 hours.

  1. Pre-assessment consultation to discuss the reasons for the assessment – approximately 10mins.
  2. Assessment with the child – 1.5- 2 hours. The time involved depends on which tests need to be administered as discussed in the pre-assessment consultation.
  3. Post-assessment follow-up – provided after the completion of the report - approximately 30mins. This can be competed in person or via the telephone.


A Literacy Review assessment takes 1.5 – 2 hours.

Please allow half day for the assessments and ensure that your child is well rested.

A Carer’s Note can be provided upon request.

What You Need to Bring

  • Your child’s glasses (if applicable)
  • Samples of your child’s school work (unaided and unedited)
  • Recent school reports
  • Any other professional reports (e.g. speech pathologist, psychologist, audiologist, optometrist, O.T.)
  • For children completing a Psycho-educational assessment, a water bottle and a small snack is also recommended.


Cost of an Assessment at SPELD SA

For the current cost of the Psycho-Educational Assessment and Literacy Review Assessment, please contact the office on 8431 1655.

Concession rates - A limited number of concession assessments, for Health Care Card holders, are available per year. Conditions apply. Please contact the office for further details.


Claims for Psycho-Educational Assessments cannot be made to Medicare. In some instances, it may be possible to claim a portion of the cost through some private health funds, depending on your cover. Contact your health fund for more information.

Book an Assessment at SPELD SA

Contact SPELD SA to book an assessment for either literacy or numeracy concerns on 8431 1655. After booking an assessment you will be asked to complete a client information form and to send in work samples.  An additional form detailing what supports are in place at school will also be provided and should be given to your child's classroom teacher. All paperwork, including the school form, must be returned prior to the assessment to allow enough time for the assessing Psychologist to review your child's file prior to attending the assessment. Delays in returning paperwork could result in the need to reschedule your appointment or delays on the day of assessment.

Once you have an appointment, you will be contacted three weeks before your child’s assessment by both phone and email to confirm your appointment. Your assessment will be reallocated to another client on our waiting list after 48 hours if you are unable to be contacted.

A deposit will be required on booking to confirm the appointment. Cancellations required 14 days notification prior to your appointment. In the event we are unable to reallocate this appointment, a cancellation fee will apply.

SPELD SA is generously supported by

thyne reid foundation Education Logo CMYK H Large australian executor trustees

SPELD SA would like to acknowledge the support of the Douglas Whiting Trust in the development of this website.

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