While a child’s teacher or tutor may be able to screen for possible difficulties in any given academic area, it is important that the actual diagnostic process be undertaken by a specialist in the area. This involves a psychologist (preferably with educational and/or developmental training) in the identification of specific learning disorders.
When considering other developmental disorders that can impact on learning, occupational therapists can investigate and support students with handwriting and coordination difficulties; whereas speech pathologists are best suited to assess and support individuals with speech and language-related weaknesses.
It is important that the diagnosis is made by a practitioner who is qualified to administer the range of standardised assessment tools required to make a clinical diagnosis. Depending on the assessment required, these tests may include standardised measures of: intellectual ability and cognitive skills; expressive and receptive language ability; underlying processing strengths and weaknesses; and, academic achievement across a range of domains; assessed under a range of conditions (e.g. timed versus untimed). In order to administer these tests, expertise in test administration and registration with a regulatory body, such as the Australian Health Practitioners Registration Authority, is required. The diagnosis of a specific learning disorder cannot be made by someone who assesses vision, hearing, movement or any other skill in isolation.