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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Son has Epilepsy, performs poorly at school and lacks concentration. How can I help him?

    Concerned over my son's future, he performs poorly at school especially English & Maths as well as most other subject. He repeated year 5 and is now in year 6 and is the oldest child in the classroom and struggles the most. He fails to concentrate for long in the classroom and gets distracted easily as he fails to comprehend a lot of the work an in the process distracts others. He does however perform well at the Arts, he is very visual and enjoys drawing and being creative. I would like to know how we can help him to improve at school so that he may find his passion and lead a good healthy life with a good career? This could entail community based activities that we can participate in as a family to help him learn and develop his cognitive & motor skills to be able to get the grades necessary to graduate for TAFE or University as he so chooses. Any advice or support would be extremely welcome. As my wife hasn't worked for over a year, finances are another issue for us. Thank
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    Emma Warner


    A Registered Psychologist with over 12 years experience with young people and adults with a focus on Anxiety. Special area of interest is the psychosocial … View Profile

    It sounds like you want the best for your son and that you are worried that he is not coping with the work at school. It is very interesting that you say he is a visual learner and enjoys the arts but is having difficulty with blocking out noise in the classroom and getting distracted easily. If you are already sure that is hearing is good, you may want to investigate whether he has Auditory Processing Disorder which can be assessed by an Audiologist. It is when we hear the information perfectly (no hearing loss) but our brain is not able to process the information correctly. When undiagnosed it leads to poor performance in the classroom because the child is unable to comprehend the work that is expected of them. Most schools will have a School Psychologist. They will either be based at the school or depending on the state you live in, there will be a visiting service by exernal psychologists. I would firstly raise your concerns with the teacher and then request an assessment by the School Psychologist. This should be a free of charge service if your son attends the public education system. If you don't get anywhere down that path you could seek the support of an external private psychologist or speak with your GP about a referral to an Audiologist to rule out Auditory Processing issues if you think that's a likely cause. It is a good idea to get the support now so that his transition to high school is a succesful one. All the best.

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    I have been working in Eltham, Melbourne as a relationship and family counsellor for over twelve years. I draw on current theory and research about … View Profile

    In addition to Emma's excellent advice, another assessment that may be available through the school wellbeing team is having a sensory profile done. This is offered by occupational therapists who will create a profile of your child's sensory experiences, then develop a plan that can be implemented in the classroom and by you as a family at home to modify his environment to better suit his unique sensory processing style. The advantage of having this done in addition to having his auditory processing assessed, is that you can gain information about how he perceives his environment more broadly - and therefore strategies may be developed that work with his strengths as well as accommodating his difficulties. All the best.

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