Indicators of SpLD Series
by Jan Thomson-Long
What age should my child be assessed for SpLD?
“Procrastination is opportunity’s assassin.” ~ Victor Kiam
I just did an interesting calculation. Children should attend school for 190 days each year. So, they should have had 2235 days education by the time their GCSEs start (in May). That equates to just over 6 years of school days, which frankly doesn’t sound very long.
I’m a strong believer in getting on with things, however we do need children to have reached a certain level of maturity before we are able to state that they have any sort of developmental delay.
When your child starts school at age 4 they ought to be independent enough to get themselves changed, be able to share, recognise their written name, plus sit and listen for a few minutes at a time. The sitting and listening is still an issue for many older children and can be an indicator of concentration difficulties.
Even in reception teachers are able to identify children who are behind their peers. They might struggle to pick up early skills such as phonemes which are the building blocks to reading, taught before writing. Teachers will be looking at how they develop their number skills, recognising how many, more or less, before and after etc. However, given that children start reception from age 4 years which is only just over 48 months old, many will need time to develop. At the end of year 1 phonic screening checks are administered, these are the first formal indication that a child might have a problem. Intervention will usually take place and further screening conducted whilst they are in year 2. So, you may well be aware that your child is struggling before they’ve reached 7 years old.
Interventions need to have been tried prior to investigating dyslexia or dyscalculia as part of the investigation will be ‘how has the child responded to interventions?’ Therefore, my recommendation would be not to do a formal SpLD investigation prior to the child being in year 3.
There is another reason for suggesting year 3 and that is that most of the diagnostic assessments that are used for dyslexia and dyscalculia are not suitable for children younger than 8 years old.
Other difficulties such as speech and language delays, motor control difficulties can be investigated at younger ages. These are considered health issues rather than Specific Learning Differences.
Having said all the above there is one thing that I would like to add which is that if parents are dyslexic or perhaps hearing impaired then they may struggle to support their young child in learning phonics. In that case it might be worth getting a qualified early years teacher or specialist dyslexia teacher as a tutor to work with your child. It is always far cheaper to get tuition early as the child doesn’t fall as far behind their peers and the emotional damage of being behind can be avoided.