Assessing and Treating Learning Difficulties

A learning difficulty consists of difficulties with one or more basic cognitive processes involved in understanding, remembering, or expressing information. Learning difficulties often cause academic underperformance and problems in daily life. The most common learning difficulties are in reading, spelling, spoken language or mathematics. It is possible to have a specific difficulty in one of the theses areas but have average or above average performance in others.

Signs Of A Learning Difficulty

  • Learning difficulties are often first observed in a child’s early years. The signs include language (spoken), attention and learning difficulties (e.g., short attention span, memory problems). In many cases deficits are also observed at school during specific learning activities (e.g., in reading, speaking or mathematics).
  • In adults, learning difficulties are often detected in vocational/work-based assessments or other forms of language-based evaluations.

Cognitive Assessments

What is an IQ Test?

Psychologists administer intelligence tests to assess an individual’s cognitive functioning and general intelligence. There are a variety of IQ assessments, depending on the age of the individual.

  • The Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence (WPPSI-IV) is intended for use with children aged 2 to 7 years.
  • The Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC-V) is intended for use with children aged 6 to 16 years.
  • The Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS-IV) is intended for use with adults aged 16 to 90 years.

Psychologists can also assess an individual’s achievement ability. This assessment measures academic achievement in the areas of reading, writing and mathematics.

  • The Wechsler Individual Achievement Test (WIAT-III) is intended for use with individuals aged 4 to 50 years.

Why Would I Complete an IQ Test?

IQ test using  IPAD
IQ test using IPAD

IQ tests are commonly used to help understand a variety of mental attributes and abilities, including academic achievement, intellectual giftedness, and strengths, learning difficulties and aspects of neurological functioning. IQ tests can help improve areas of learning difficulty by providing a framework for educational support plans and helping the individual make future academic decisions. An IQ tests provides valid and reliable results regarding your unique strengths and weaknesses. This, in turn, can help you reach your full potential.

Psychological tests are best used in combination with other clinical assessments. This is because IQ test scores provide helpful feedback about the effectiveness of therapy and can inform an individual’s rehabilitation needs in the context of their deficits.

An IQ assessment typically takes one to two hours to complete.

Are There Any Concerns or Risks Involved in IQ Testing?

There are no significant risks involved in psychological testing. However, it is normal to be anxious before taking a test when you are uncertain about your results. The best way to combat this anxiety is to view the testing process as a challenge and give it your best.

Is There Anything That Can Be Done To Improve My Performance On A Test?

It is important that you are well-rested on the day of the test and have a nutritious meal beforehand. If you are anxious, you can use breathing, relaxation, or mindfulness exercises in the lead up to (or even during!) the test to help calm your nerves.

What Happens After the Test?

IQ test results are scored and interpreted by a psychologist. They are then formulated into a written report, which usually takes two weeks. Once the report is finalised, you can meet with your psychologist to discuss the results and ask any questions. Being familiar with your results gives you the opportunity to discuss strategies to improve any areas of weakness.

Treatment of Learning Difficulties

Individual Support

At BNC, we are experts in helping students develop the skills necessary to participate effectively in school and home settings. We provide similar services to adults in home and work contexts. Our services may include developing an individualised education program to meet your child’s educational needs. We also teach strategies to limit the impact of your child’s learning difficulty. For example, children with writing difficulties can be supported to complete oral, rather than written reports, in the classroom. Children with attention issues may benefit from sitting closer to the teacher.

Remediation strategies may also be used to strengthen the ‘weak links’ in your child’s learning. They may require tutoring in specific areas, like mathematics, reading, or general study skills. It is helpful to work on these skills at home. Psychological therapy is recommended for non-academic issues that can co-occur with learning difficulties. Therapies include interventions for behavioural, social and/or emotional difficulties (e.g., anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem).

School Support

In some cases, it is necessary to work with the child’s teacher and school to make specific chnages to facilitate learning and behaviour management. It is paramount that your child works in an environment that is conducive to learning and allows them to integrate successfully into the school community. Recommended changes include environmental adjustments, assistance with organisation, behaviour management, modification of instructions, changes in workload, and the delivery of teaching material.

Parental Training

We train parents to teach their child specialised learning techniques that promote strengths and interests. Parents can effectively teach their child coping strategies. Family therapy involves promoting positive family relationships and interactions. It involves training in communication, interpersonal relations, and conflict resolution.


Research since the 1970s indicates that learning difficulties may be caused by neurological problems that can be detected in abnormal brainwave patterns. Brain patterns indicate the reduced ability of the brain to allocate resources between the frontal lobes and parietal cortex, resulting in attention deficits, poor impulse control, fidgetiness and/or hyperactivity. Neurotherapy enables individuals to normalise their brain’s electrical activity to improve symptoms (much like exercise increases physical fitness).

Neurotherapy trains individuals to regulate their brain waves. Since abnormal brain activity can be related to problematic behaviours and learning difficulties, normalising these patterns can improve symptoms. Neurotherapy can be implemented at home or in the clinic. Unlike medication, Neurotherapy has no side effects and positive outcomes are often permanent.

Nutritional Support

BNC provides biomedical assessments to investigate underlying nutrient deficiencies. Based off these assessments, we may make dietary and nutritional recommendations to improve learning.

Please see the nutrition section of this website for more information.