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Referrals to our service
How is a child referred to the EPS?

This is normally done through the school, following discussions between the teachers and parents about the type of special help the school has already provided and the child's progress in response to that help.

When will the school refer a young person to the EPS?

Normally, children with special educational needs will receive special help from within the school without the need for outside advice and support.

This is usually arranged by a teacher who has been given the title of Special Needs Co-ordinator for the school.

Sometimes, however, a young person may not respond well to this special help, or he/she may have complex problems. In such cases, the Special Needs Co-ordinator will arrange a meeting between the teachers and parents to discuss the way forward. One of the options available at this stage is a referral to the EPS for advice.

The school must obtain parental agreement before a referral is made.

What should you expect if the school refers your child to the EPS?

Psychological assessment of a school-aged child/young person involves several steps, usually carried out in this order:

(i) The psychologist receives a referral form from the school, giving information about the nature of your child’s difficulties. The school must obtain parental agreement before a referral is made. The psychologist may contact you at this stage, but it is more likely that he/she will arrange to meet with you after he/she has seen your child in school. Schools and the EPS operate a policy of prioritising referrals on the basis of urgency, so the waiting time between the referral and the assessment may vary. Most children are seen within one school term of the date of referral, some a lot more quickly if the case is urgent.

(ii) The psychologist visits your child in school to carry out an assessment. This may include some observation of your child and some individual testing and/or discussion with the young person. Any testing or discussion will be carried out in a separate room, away from other children. (See Note below.)

(iii) The psychologist discusses his/her findings with you and with the school, in order to try to reach an agreement on the best way of meeting your child’s educational needs. He/She may also gather any further relevant information about the young person from the school and/or from other professionals who may have been involved (e.g. the speech and language therapist). Everyone’s views will be considered. Every effort will be made to ensure that the young person’s needs are met in his/her school.

(iv) The psychologist gives advice on the type of special help your child should receive. This may include support from visiting teachers and/or suggestions on how you might help at home.

(v) The psychologist writes a report summarizing his/her findings and advice. He/She will arrange for you and the school to receive a copy of this report within six weeks of the completion of the assessment period.

PLEASE NOTE: Parents have a right to be present during the testing session in school, but we do not normally recommend it. You should be reassured that this part of the assessment is not at all stressful for children and the presence of a parent during testing can often be very off-putting for them. For young children, the test materials include toys and puzzles. Children normally enjoy the test sessions. However, if you do wish to be present during this part of the assessment, the school’s Special Needs Co-ordinator or Principal can arrange this.

What if your child is too young to attend school?

Children who are too young to attend school might be referred to the EPS by the local health clinic. In these circumstances the psychologist will contact you to agree a time and place for the assessment. The information provided by you is an essential part of this assessment. You will probably be asked about your child’s development, play preferences, eating/sleeping habits and behaviour.

Statutory Assessment

There may be occasions where it is agreed that the child's difficulties are so complex that a Statutory Assessment may be required. This happens only in a minority of cases. In such circumstances it will be necessary to gather written advice on the child's needs from the parents, the school, the psychologist and the other relevant agencies. After a Statutory Assessment the Education and Library Board may produce a formal "Statement” of the young person's needs and the provision required to meet those needs. If you need advice about this process, your psychologist will be happy to discuss this with you.

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