What is different about How I Learn?
At How I Learn, we ‘dive deep’ into the world of your child in order to understand them and their needs. The way we work with you, and therefore our prices, reflect what is unique about our service, the depth of our assessments, the time we spend focused on each individual, and the specialist skills we offer.
Some of the assessments we do, such as educational assessments, are also offered by ‘Level C assessors’ who come from a range of backgrounds, not always psychology. They are often former teachers who have undertaken a training course to use one particular assessment tool, in order to diagnose Specific Learning Disorders such as dyslexia. Many of these assessors are unable to use other assessment tools, or make any other diagnoses.
As psychologists, we have a broad range of assessment tools and clinical expertise at our disposal, which allows us to respond flexibly to the individual, and to the results we see emerging during an assessment. If needed, we can change and adapt the assessment along the way, potentially making an alternative, more appropriate assessment or diagnosis to the one initially considered.
Examples of Assessments
Tim is a 10 year old boy who is struggling with maths and is starting to refuse to do his maths homework. He reads and writes without difficulty, and other parts of his life in and out of school are going well - he has lots of friends and hobbies. His assessment includes a cognitive assessment, and an in-depth assessment of each maths area to work out which are more difficult for Tim, why, and how he might be helped.
Maia is a 15 year old girl who has always struggled with reading. She did Reading Recovery in Year 2, but reading has remained a difficult area, and she tends to avoid it when possible. Her parents are concerned about NCEA coming up, and how she will manage. Maia has been getting quite down, and doesn’t seem her usual self. Her parents aren’t sure if this is only about school being hard, or is a broader issue. Maia’s assessment includes a cognitive assessment that includes examining phonological awareness skills, and other aspects that underpin the reading process. Then, as well as a reading assessment, we will take a look at Maia's oral language skills to work out whether all language tasks are difficult for Maia, or only the printed word. Writing is also useful to assess when reading is so hard, as reading difficulties can affect spelling and other aspects of writing. An application for Special Assessment Conditions will be done, if the results indicate Maia is eligible. A social-emotional assessment is also done to understand Maia’s worries, how severe they are, and whether they need some professional follow-up. This may involve Maia’s parents, a teacher, and Maia herself, and could include questionnaires being completed, and interviews or chats with those people.
Nikau is a 13 year old boy who has just started high school. He has always had a bubbly personality, but lately teachers are concerned that some aspects of Nikau’s behaviour are interfering with his schoolwork and friendships. He is finding some of his schoolwork difficult, like writing, but it’s unclear whether this is because paying attention is so difficult, or whether the work itself is too hard. Nikau finds it hard to focus on his schoolwork and to organise himself, he gets distracted easily, he often loses things, and he forgets what you’ve told him if it’s more than one thing. The decision is made to do an educational assessment that includes a cognitive assessment and all the academic areas (reading, writing and maths, as well as a look at oral language) to get a full overview of Nikau’s abilities, and to do a clinical assessment of his attention, focus, and organisation to determine how much these issues are interfering with Nikau's life, and whether a diagnosis of ADHD may be appropriate. The clinical assessment will include a discussion with Nikau, interviews with his parents and a teacher, questionnaires being completed by Peter, parents and teacher, observation of Nikau in the assessment and if he is willing, in the classroom. A report will be written that will cover the cognitive assessment, all three academic areas, results of all aspects of the clinical assessment, a summary and formulation, diagnosis if appropriate, and a set of recommendations. When the report is completed, a feedback session will be held with Nikau’s parents and with Nikau himself if requested.
Sometimes parents aren’t sure what’s going on, they just feel that “something isn’t right”. Often, these parents are reluctant to call us as they feel silly, or like they’re over-reacting. Sometimes, they’ve been told “it’s fine, that’s just what boys/girls are like at that age”. You don’t have to have the right words to explain what you think is going on, or what you are worried about. We will ask you a range of questions and advise you about whether we think an assessment would help. If we don’t think an assessment is needed, we will say so - and we will point you in the right direction for other advice or supports. If a longer conversation is needed beyond the usual 10-15 minute intake phone call, we will suggest you come in for a face-to-face session. Then, we can go through your concerns and make a plan of ‘where to from here’. The cost of a single session is $160.