Phone: 9447 2000
Fax: 9447 2022

Dr Isabel Fernandez & Associates offers diagnostic assessments for children and adolescents at risk of an Intellectual Disability. Our assessments are conducted by highly qualified Clinical Psychologists and Clinical Psychologist Registrars with experience and expertise in recognising a range of intellectual disorders.

What is an Intellectual Disability?

Intellectual Disability is a neuro-developmental condition that is characterised by an impairment in both intellectual functioning and adaptive behaviour. Intellectual functioning refers to the child’s general intelligence, or IQ, whilst adaptive functioning refers to the child’s ability to function, or cope, with everyday tasks. These everyday tasks are centred around the following three domains;

1) Conceptual (i.e., skills in reading, writing, math, reasoning, knowledge, and memory)

2) Social (i.e., empathy, social judgment, the ability to make and retain friendships)

3) Practical(i.e., personal care, organizing school and work tasks)

It is important to remember that intellectual functioning and adaptive behaviour are two separate constructs that complement each other. Significant impairments in each is necessary to meet criteria for a diagnosis of Intellectual Disability.

Could my Child have an Intellectual Disability?

There are currently no blood tests or medical scans available that can detect Intellectual Disability. Rather, Intellectual Disability is identified through a robust psychological evaluation and assessment of both intelligence and everyday functioning.

Some common signs your child may have an Intellectual Disability include:

  • Rolling over, sitting up, crawling, or walking late
  • Talking late or having trouble with talking
  • Slow to master things like potty training, dressing, and feeding
  • Difficulty remembering things
  • Difficulty with problem-solving or logical thinking
  • Difficulty learning new information
  • Inability to connect actions with consequences
  • Lack of curiosity about the world around them
  • Academic difficulty across most subjects
  • Failure to appreciate, or avoid, dangerous situations
  • Behaviour problems such as impulsivity or poor frustration tolerance

How is an Intellectual Developmental Disorder Assessed?

To be diagnosed under the DSM-5 with an Intellectual Disability, a child must have current intellectual and adaptive functioning impairments that are two standard deviations below the population mean. This generally equates to an IQ score, and adaptive behaviour score, of 70 or lower. In addition, a child must have adaptive behaviour impairments in at least two domains.

To assess for an Intellectual Disability, we firstly gather information from parents in an Initial Parent Consultation, as well as from teachers, school reports, medical and allied health reports and NAPLAN. This gathering of information allows us to better understand the child’s difficulties at home and in the school environment, allowing for an individually-tailored assessment plan. We use the most recent version of the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC-V) to test intellectual functioning, as well as a battery of other standardised assessment tools to measure areas of adaptive behaviour. Standardised testing means your child’s scores are compared against thousands of other children within the same age range.

Will an Assessment or Diagnosis help my Child?

Children with Intellectual Disability feel a full range of emotions and keep learning, just like other children. And like all children, they benefit from being part of the community and doing activities that make them feel good about themselves.

Some children with Intellectual Disability can go to regular school (Mainstream) with assistance. Others might benefit from special education in an Education Support Unit (ESU). This is a decision that you make as a parent, taking into account what will best suits your child’s needs and your family’s circumstances.

Overall, an Intellectual Disability assessment gives parents a better understanding as to how an Intellectual Disability is impacting their child’s ability to learn. It also helps to provide information to develop effective plans or accommodations in the classroom that are tailored to meet a child’s specific needs. Lastly, and importantly, if Intellectual Disability is present, a diagnostic report can assist, and is often necessary, when making applications to access government or school disability funding, special needs teachers or special provisions.

Will I be Provided a Diagnostic Report?

Yes, you will receive a comprehensive, diagnostic report following your child’s Intellectual Disability assessment. This report will contain several sections including their biographical, developmental and educational history, cognitive profile, adaptive behaviour profile and if needed, their academic strengths and weaknesses. If your child meets the DSM-5 criteria for an Intellectual Disability, the diagnosis will be included in the report along with recommendations individually tailored to your child’s needs.

Do I Need a Referral for my Child?

Young people are often referred for a comprehensive assessment by Paediatricians, General Practitioners, teachers and school counsellors. However, a referral isn’t a necessity, with many parents directly seeking an assessment for their child for a variety of reasons.

How can I have my Child Assessed?

If your child is experiencing difficulties at school or you feel an assessment might be helpful for your child, the first step is to book an Initial Parent Consultation. This appointment is an opportunity for you to voice any concerns you have for your child and it allows the Clinical Psychologist to closely review your child’s developmental, educational, and psychosocial history. This information is essential in the development of an assessment plan tailored to your child’s presentation.

Simply call Isabel Fernandez and Associates on (08) 9447 2000 to book an Initial Parent Consultation today and get the right advice for your child’s needs.