Assessing and treating learning difficulties

A learning difficulty occurs when one or more of the basic cognitive processes involved in understanding, remembering or expressing information are affected. It can be defined as problems people encounter in learning that affect achievement and daily life skills. The most common form of learning difficulties is in reading, spelling, spoken language or mathematics. Individuals may present with a specific difficulty in one or more of the aforementioned areas and have an average or above average performance in other areas.

Signs of a learning difficulty

  • The first sign of a learning difficulty may be observed in the child’s skill development around language (spoken), attention and learning in the early years (e.g., short attention span, memory problems), or at school during specific learning areas (e.g., reading, oral language or mathematics).
  • In adults, it may arise as the result of vocational assessments or other forms of language-based evaluations.

Cognitive Assessments

What is an IQ test?

Psychologists use intelligence tests to assess an individual’s cognitive functioning and general intelligence. There are a variety of IQ assessments that can be used, 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 may 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 choose to complete an IQ test?

IQ test using  IPAD
IQ test using IPAD

IQ assessments are commonly used to help understand a variety of mental abilities and attributes, including achievement, intellectual giftedness, intelligence strengths, learning difficulties and aspects of neurological functioning. IQ assessment can help improve areas of learning difficulty by  guiding educational support plans and future academic decisions.You’ll gain valid and reliable results that represent your unique strengths and weaknesses which can help you reach your potential.

The results of psychological tests used in combination with clinical assessment information provide invaluable information to understand psychological problems. Scores from the IQ test can provide helpful feedback about treatment strategies or rehabilitation needs required to address identified learning difficulties.

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’s normal to be anxious before taking a test when you’re uncertain about the results. The best way to combat this is to view the testing process as a challenge and to give your best effort.

Is there anything that can be done to improve my performance during a test?

It is recommended that you are well rested on the day of testing and have a nutritious meal beforehand. You can use breathing, relaxation or mindfulness exercises leading up to and during the testing process to help calm nervousness.

What happens after the assessment?

The results of the IQ test are scored and interpreted into a professional written report, which usually takes two weeks to finalise. You can then meet with your psychologist to discuss the results and raise any questions you may have. An additional benefit of knowing your results is being able to discuss strategies to improve any areas of weaknesses that have been identified.

Individual support

We help students to develop the skills necessary to participate more effectively in school and home settings. Similar support is provided for adults for home and work settings. This may include developing an individualised education program to meet your child’s educational needs. It may also include teaching strategies to limit the impact of your child’s learning difficulty. For example, children with writing difficulties may be allowed to make oral rather than written reports. Children with attention problems may be seated closer to the teacher.

Remediation strategies can also be used to strengthen the “weak links” in your child’s learning process. This may include tutoring in specific areas like math or reading or more general areas such as study skills. Working on these areas with your child at home can be very helpful. Psychological treatment is also recommended for non-academic difficulties that often accompany learning difficulties. This may include intervention for behavioural problems, social difficulties and/ or emotional problems such as anxiety, depression and low self-esteem.

School support

We may work with the child’s teacher and school to make specific recommendations that will facilitate learning and behaviour management. This is to promote an environment that will allow the child to integrate successfully in the school community and improve academic outcomes. This may include: environmental adjustments, assistance with organisation, behaviour management, modification of instructions, changes in work load, and delivery of teaching material.

Parent training

Parents are trained to apply specialised learning techniques for addressing learning difficulties and supporting strengths and interests. Training assists parents with a set of approaches to effectively teach their children and/or teenagers, and promote coping strategies. Family counselling may also be used to help family members learn the skills necessary for optimum family interactions. It involves training in communication, interpersonal relations, and conflict resolution.


Considerable research since the 1970s indicates that learning difficulties may be caused by neurological dysfunctions. This manifests in abnormal brainwave patterns associated with a reduced ability of the brain to allocate resources between the frontal lobes and the parietal cortex, resulting in attention deficits, poor impulse control, fidgetiness and/or hyperactivity. Neurotherapy enables individuals to normalise their brain’s electrical activity and improve symptoms, in a similar way that exercising increases physical fitness.

Neurotherapy can train individuals to regulate their brain waves. Since abnormal brainwave patterns can be related to problem behaviours and learning difficulties, normalising these patterns has been shown to significantly improve these symptoms. Neurotherapy training can be implemented at home or in clinic. Unlike medication, Neurotherapy has no side effects and outcomes are expected to be permanent.

Nutritional Support

The clinic also provides biomedical assessments to investigate underlying nutrient deficiencies. We may make recommendations for Dietary and Nutritional intervention that may improve learning and mental health. Please see the nutrition section for more information.