Dear David Coleman: 'How do I get my six-year-old son assessed? We can't afford a private assessment'

Q My son is six. Since he has been in school, his teachers alerted us that his fine and gross motor skills seem delayed, he doesn’t seem to process anything being said to him, is unfocused and most recently his teacher thought he might be dyslexic. I’ve been around the houses trying to get him assessed and everywhere either says he isn’t eligible for their service, or there are ridiculous two-year waiting lists. We can’t afford a private assessment. What can we do?

David replies: Two options come to mind, if you haven’t already pursued them. Your son’s school could prioritise him for an assessment with an educational psychologist, through the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS). With NEPS, either the school will have a psychologist assigned to them, or the school will be entitled to seek an assessment for your son under the Scheme for the Commissioning of Psychological Assessments, where NEPS will pay a private psychologist to carry out the assessment on their behalf.

Your son may also be eligible for an Assessment of Need (AoN), which is an entitlement under the Disability Act 2005. There are Assessment Officers within the HSE that can advise if your son is eligible, and help you to fill out the form if so. Either assessment route (following both would be wasteful of resources) might help identify your son’s needs.

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