Learning Difficulties

 

What are Learning Difficulties?

Many children have difficulties at some point in their school career, whether it be a health related, behavioural or academic issue. These difficulties may affect a child's ability to access the curriculum, their academic performance and potential and/or their social - emotional well-being. Often it is difficult to clearly identify the cause and parents are advised to seek professional help, regularly being directed to their GP as a first step.

How I can help?

I see many children within my practice where such concerns have been raised. It is important to take a detailed developmental history and to exclude physical causes for a child's difficulties such as a visual and hearing impairment or a physical or behavioural difficulty.

It is common that behaviour and functioning at home and school can be very different. Sometimes the behaviour is only a concern at home and there is no perceived issue in school or vice versa.

With my advice and assessment consultations, I support parents in finding the root cause of their child's difficulties. Importantly, I then provide a support plan which parents can follow and use as a guide to engage the right professionals to provide the correct educational provision for their child, including providing the 'health advice' for Educational Health and Care Plans (EHCP) when required.

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Early Detection, whatever the difficulty may be, 'is crucial for initiating rehabilitation services and treatment as soon as possible. https://www.cps.ca/en/documents/position/evaluation-of-the-child-with-global-developmental-delay-and-intellectual-disability

Terminology can be confusing as it is often used interchangeably with the best possible intentions. Under the age of 5, global developmental delay is the term used for a child that is unable to meet age appropriate developmental levels in a number of areas of performance; such as gross and fine motor skills, speech and language, cognition, and social and personal skills.

At the age of 5, the term learning difficulty or learning difficulties is used instead of global developmental delay even though the assessment methods themselves do not change with such a specific age cut-off.

I offer the Griffiths III Developmental Assessment (for children up to 6 years old) to assess children with potential delay in one or more areas in their development. Areas assessed include:

  • Foundations of Learning - assesses critical aspects of learning during the early childhood years.
  • Language and Communication - measures overall language development, including expressive language, receptive language, and (to a lesser extent) use of language to communicate socially with others.
  • Eye and Hand Coordination - considers fine motor skills, manual dexterity and visual perception skills.
  • Personal-Social-Emotional - measures constructs relating to the child's developing sense of self and growing independence, interactions with others, plus many aspects of emotional development.
  • Gross Motor - assesses postural control, balance and gross body coordination, among other abilities.

I also offer assessments for specific behavioural conditions which may present as a barrier, such as autism and ADHD.

References:

  1. Canadian Paediatric Society
  2. National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE)
  3. DSM 5 Symptoms of Global Developmental Delay
  4. American Academy of Neurology (AAN) and Child Neurology Society (CNS) guideline on diagnosis of the child with global developmental delay

*Please note that I do not prescribe medication for ADHD on a private basis and I do not see children who have acute health needs.