This is an assessment focusing on the learning ability of an individual and is used to identify whether a learning difficulty or disability may be present. This includes Intellectual Disabilities (Mild/Moderate General Learning Disabilties) as well as Specific Learning Difficulties (Dyslexia and Dyscalculia).
A psycho-educational assessment is usually requested when a parent or teacher is concerned that a student is struggling academically, despite the supports and interventions that have been put in place. The assessment is used to identify strengths and weaknesses across a learning profile. It examines whether or not a student is under-achieving or overachieving in a specific academic area relative to what you would expect for their age and level of intelligence.
PALS provides parents with a detailed psycho-educatioanl report, which can also be sent to other parties (such as the school) on request. The report will contain recommendations and activities that can then be used in conjunction with other information held about the student, in order for parents and school to put together an IEP (Individual Education Plan).
This assessment is suitable for individuals of all ages, however, we would recommend 7 years to be the youngest for Dyslexia/Dyscalculia assessments.
The duration of an assessment varies based on age and level of ability, a very young child with learning difficulties might only take 30 to 40 minutes, whereas a gifted adult might take over 3 hours. We generally hold a 2-hour slot for an educational assessment, including for feedback.
The assessment itself is in two parts, Cognitive and Attainment testing. For younger children, we normally describe the assessment (please do not use the word assessment or testing with the child though) as a bunch of games and puzzles with some boring stuff at the end (the attainment literacy and numeracy testing). It is not like school work, in that participants are not expected to know all the answers, it is designed to keep going until they reach their level, a bit like a computer game, and so are expected to get some of the questions wrong (which a lot of children can identify with, and helps to deal with the fear of failure).
We use the Stanford Binet 5 (SB5) as our cognitive assessment. The SB5 is an individually administered test of cognitive ability that measures the aptitude to problem solve and comprehend instruction in a standardised manner without support, help and explanation given in any way. The test measures the same five scales (Fluid Reasoning, Knowledge, Quantitative Reasoning, Visual-spatial, and Working Memory) in both the verbal and nonverbal domains, allowing direct comparison between each, and providing a verbal, a nonverbal, and an overall IQ score. This assessment is in the form of a series of games and puzzles that get progressively more challenging, moving on to new challenges once the individual's level of ability has been met.
For attainment testing, we use the WIAT-3, which measures Pseudoword Decoding, Word Reading, Reading Comprehension (not normally used for children with severe reading difficulties), Spelling, Numeracy, and Mathematical Reasoning (normally only for older individuals applying for DARE showing numeracy difficulties).
The scores gained from this assessment are representative of the individual's ability and performance at the time and date of testing.
In the case where an Intellectual Disability (General Learning Disability) is suspected, this assessment will also include testing of the individual's Adaptive Behaviour, in order to meet DSM-5 diagnostic criteria for such a diagnosis, but also to inform a more overall picture as to where the main difficulties are presenting. This is done by completion of the Vineland Adaptive behavior questionnaire by parent and/or teacher.
6 years or under (where too young to asses for dyslexia/dyscalculia): €250
Primary School: €300
Secondary School and Adults: €400