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How Will a Cognitive Assessment be Helpful?


Many parents ask why a cognitive assessment is being recommended and how will it be helpful to their child.

What is a Cognitive Assessment?

A cognitive assessment may also be referred to as an intelligence test or an IQ test. It measures the individual's intellectual ability by assessing different types of cognitive functioning (or different areas of intelligence).

A cognitive assessment differs from a learning or achievement assessment. It measures the individual's ability which may differ from their learning/achievement. Learning or achievement can be influenced by the setting (e.g. a child may have good ability but not be learning well due to distractions or alike).

A cognitive assessment can be completed for children aged 2 years and 6 months, through to adults.

What will a Cognitive Assessment tell us?

The assessment will identify any areas of strength for the individual, as well as areas in which they have more difficulty. The skills measured can vary based on factor including the individual's age, but will commonly include:

  • Verbal Comprehension: the ability to use a range of words to understand and express general knowledge and explain concepts

  • Visual Spatial: the ability to evaluate visual details and understand visual spatial relationships

  • Fluid Reasoning: the ability to use concepts understood from visual details and apply that knowledge

  • Working Memory: the ability to learn, manipulate and retain information to complete new tasks

The assessment report will explain which of these above mentioned areas the individual has strengths in, which areas they find more difficult, and importantly what this means for their learning and functioning.

Recommendations will be provided to families (and to teachers if appropriate). These will provide guidance and strategies to help the individual in home and school settings to reach their full potential. Such recommendations can guide how learning material and everyday instructions should be given to the individual, as tailored to their individual way of understanding and learning.

When should a Cognitive assessment be completed?

There are many reasons why a cognitive assessment may be completed, these include:

  • If teachers and/or parents suspect that a student is having difficulty in some areas. It is important to identify this as early as possible, to ensure that work can be tailored and additional supports provided to maintain effective learning and overall wellbeing.

  • If teachers/parents believe that a child may be gifted. Identification of this is important to ensure that academic work meets their level of ability and interest.

  • As part of a diagnostic assessment. It is important to know if any cognitive difficulties/strengths may be contributing to an individual's difficulties with development, emotions, or functioning. This is particularly important in Autism assessments, as the clinical team must rule-out any cognitive or general developmental concerns.

  • When exploring school readiness

For more information, including what to expect during a cognitive assessment session, please click here.

If you have any queries, please don't hesitate to make contact us.