PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSESSMENTS IN IRELAND
If you have concerns regarding your son/daughter’s learning you should first approach his/her teacher and/or learning support teacher and the principal of the school. Once the child’s general health has been checked, for example hearing and sight, it may be decided to have an educational assessment done. An assessment by an educational psychologist may be arranged with one of the following:
An educational psychologist working for The National Educational Psychological Service. (NEPS)A psychologist working for the HSE.
An educational psychologist in private practice.
The National Educational Psychological Service Agency (NEPS) provides psychological services in public and private primary and post-primary schools in Ireland. The NEPS Agency is funded by the Department of Education and Science (DES). Parents will be required to sign a consent form and once the assessment has taken place the psychologist will meet with the parent(s) to discuss their findings, explain the recommendations and given them a copy of the report.
If the school arranges the assessment for your child there is no cost for the assessment. However, remember that in Ireland each school has a limit as to the number of assessments carried out per year, which is relative to the number of children enrolled. Therefore it may result in having to employ a private educational psychologist to assess your child. For a full list of Registered Educational Psychologists visit www.education.ie , click on the NEPS button. Otherwise click on the following link to the Psychological Society of Ireland: www.psihq.ie/FIND_PSYCHOLOGIST.ASP
What happens at Secondary School?
If your child has been assessed while at primary school, secondary schools will request an educational psychologist’s report that is less than two years before considering extra resources for your son/daughter. This should be forwarded to the secondary school well in advance of the child’s start date. Even if the report suggests or recommends extra help at secondary school, the Department of Education and Science is not obliged to provide extra teaching. Most school principals/SENO (Special Education Needs Organiser) will try to provide some extra help so it is most important that parents request that their child needs this help.
Exemption from studying the Irish Language
Children may be exempted from studying Irish if their reading and spelling levels in English are in the bottom ten percent of their age group. Parents must make a written request to the School Principal and must provide a copy of an assessment report from a Psychologist. This report must be less than two years old and the Psychologist must recommend the granting of an exemption. If the school authorities grant the exemption, then a certificate is given .If the student has received an exemption from Irish at primary level the exemption is accepted at second level and the student will be excused from having to study Irish. A copy of the "Certificate of Exemption" will be requested by the second level school before the student is excused from Irish classes.
Reasonable Accommodation during State Exams in Ireland
The State Examinations Committee (SEC) has responsibility for ensuring the proper conduct of State examinations in Ireland. The option for reasonable accommodation are as follows:
- Reading assistance
- Tape Recorder
- Word Processor
Exemption from spelling and grammatical components in language subjects (waiver
At Junior Certificate Level An educational psychologist's report is not needed to apply for "reasonable accommodation" for Junior Certificate examinations. Second Level schools can now apply for reasonable accommodation using the child's educational history as evidence of the need. The SEC will normally accept the school’s recommendation for reasonable accommodation. There is no requirement for an educational psychologist report and such a report does not automatically result in any special entitlements.
Leaving Certificate Level
Even if an accommodation has been approved for Junior Certificate, the student does not automatically qualify for reasonable accommodation for the Leaving Certificate. A fresh application must be made by the school with the parents/guardians permission. An up-to-date (less than two years old) psychological report is not a prerequisite but should be included if available. All requests will be reviewed by the school NEPS psychologist, who may look for further information and will request to meet the student, before a decision will be made. Will the reasonable accommodation be recorded on the results certificate?When "reasonable accommodation" has been granted an asterisk will appear next to the subject on the student's Junior or Leaving certificate results. A supplementary report will be included on the back of the certificate explaining what help the student received.
The main characteristics of Dyspraxia are as follows:
Gross Motor Skills
Difficulty in planning and executing large movements such as walking in a straight line, running, riding a bike, hopping, skipping, batching a ball
Tripping frequently, having poor posture, bumping into things, being accident prone
Fine Motor Skills
Difficulty in planning and executing finer movements such as handwriting, sewing, typing, using a knife and fork, holding a pencil, tying shoes laces, brushing teeth, using scissors, closing zips or buttons
Poor spatial awareness showing confusion between left/right, back/front, b/ds p/qs,
Visual perceptual difficulties that result in difficulties with reading fluency, copying and writing
Auditory perceptual difficulties that result in not being able to follow a set of oral instructions, or being easily distracted by background sound.
Slow to respond to a question even if they know the answer
- Speech can be slow and laboured and some children can be diagnosed as have Verbal Dyspraxia
Unable to line up numbers on page resulting in careless mistakes, poor ability in drawing geometric shapes
Losing/forgetting things, not being able to remember sequences such as months of the year in order, not being able to follow a set of instructions and so appears not to be “listening” or concentrating, being unable to structure thoughts while writing a story
Lacking in confidence resulting in poor self esteem, frustration, anxiety. Not fitting in with their peer group. Not picking up on non-verbal communication of others.
Not all children will display all of theses characteristics and some all children with dyspraxia will have varying degrees of difficulties.
Identifying dyspraxia at an early age
The pre-school child with dyspraxia will often show some of the following symptoms:
Delay in reaching normal milestones for crawling, sitting, walking, speaking
Difficulties with running, jumping, hopping compared to children of their onw age
Poor spatial awareness top/bottom in front/behind
Slow at walking up and down steps
Poor awareness of how to act in social settings with other people
Bumping into things and falling over easily
Avoids jigsaws or sorting shapes
Getting a diagnosis of dyspraxia
If you suspect that your child has dyspraxia you should first consult your child’s GP. The GP should then give you a letter of referral to see a neurologist, an occupational therapist or a related professional for a diagnosis. Dyspraxia can only be diagnosed following thorough examinations by doctors and related professionals. In general children with Dyspraxia are able to participate in mainstream classes and further help can be given by Learning Support or a Special Needs Assistant (SNA)
Sometimes Dyspraxia is not identified until the child reaches secondary school. He may have coped through primary school with only minor difficulties. However the structure of secondary may prove too difficult for the student and it is at this point that problems may arise in view of the organisational skills that are required in secondary school.
For further information contact: The Dyspraxia Association Of Ireland
www.dyspraxiaireland.com Tel 01-8747085