Careful evaluation of a child’s particular areas of strength and weakness is necessary in order to make an accurate diagnosis, as well as to plan appropriate strategies for helping the child. It is only by this kind of evaluation that certain conditions may be identified.
The evaluation of a child’s particular areas of strength and weakness requires individualised testing by an experienced educational psychologist using a battery of standardised ‘psychometric’ tests. They have been carefully devised to compare an individual child’s skills to those of his or her contemporaries. In this way one can determine whether a child is advanced, delayed, or age-appropriate in different areas of development.
The results of the tests should be regarded as only part of the child’s assessment and need to be interpreted in the light of reports of his or her abilities at other times and the results of any previous tests.
Intelligence tests assess general intelligence. Many are very well suited to children with learning difficulties because they do not involve any reading or writing. They can, therefore, test intelligence irrespective of academic achievement. Intelligence tests not only establish the child’s level of general intelligence, but also give valuable information about individual components of intelligence, such as short-term memory and sequential processing.