Learning difficulties can have a broad range of implications for individuals, and are not solely confined to formal education or learning settings. Learning difficulties often involve problems with an individual’s ability to process, understand, remember and express information. Therefore, learning difficulties can have a negative impact on a person’s work performance, social confidence, relationships and overall happiness.

If you believe a family member has a learning difficulty, you may recognise some of the following signs:

  • Consistently finding certain subjects or tasks difficult – such as spelling, reading, memorising things, working out equations, or writing fluently
  • Feeling frustrated or emotional while attempting tasks of a specific nature (e.g. writing)
  • Lacking confidence to do their work or to engage in certain activities
  • Poor academic of work performance
  • Getting feedback about low motivation or engagement despite your family member wanting to do well

If a family member has a learning difficulty and has not yet sought assistance, they may be struggling to cope with academic or work demands, and may be feeing stressed or down as a result. It is not uncommon for adults to feeling ashamed or embarrassed and attempt to deny or ignore their difficulties as a result. Often individuals internalise these feelings and label themselves as incompetent or unable.

If you have a family member that you believe experiences learning difficulties, in order to assist them, it may be useful to suggest they seek support from a psychologist in order to improve their ability learn - whether this be in school, at home or professionally. It should also be emphasised that not all individuals who experience learning difficulties will necessarily be diagnosed with a specific learning disability. In particular, some children are more gradual to mature and slower in learning certain skills.

There are practitioners at VCPS which have specialised training in learning difficulties and related concerns. Some of the ways that our practitioners can help include:

  • Teaching learning skills that build upon the individual’s abilities and strengths
  • Providing strategies that compensate for the learning difficulties themselves
  • Psychologists, speech pathologists and special educators can all assist in different areas of learning
  • Social skills training is also important as often individuals that have learning difficulties can become the victim or school or workplace bullying
  • Conducting a comprehensive assessment of abilities to identify: (i) whether there are any learning difficulties; (2) the extent of the difficulties; and (3) the areas of learning that are most affected
  • Provide a written report with personalised recommendations and strategies
  • Providing counselling or one-to-one assistance where required to work through any social, emotional or behavioural difficulties that are contributing to the learning difficulties


If you believe a family member may have learning difficulties, a cognitive assessment by a qualified VCPS practitioner is recommended. A comprehensive picture of an individual's abilities is provided through structured testing, a semi-structured interview with the individual or their parents and information gained from their educational setting. A cognitive profile is greatly beneficial in not only guiding treatment, but more importantly can lend vital information required to assist in educational planning in terms of an individual's learning styles, strengths and utilising these strengths to improve cognitive weaknesses.

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