My Assessment Approach

In my practice I do not start with formal assessment tests.  The reason is that I don’t work with pre-school or young primary school learners.  These groups of learners often present with problem areas that need intervention I do not provide.

Many of the problems that older school or adult learners experience can’t be assessed with formal tests. It’s also unrealistic to assess them only once instead of observing their functioning over more sessions.


Please note:

The groups I work with include:

  • Older primary school learners (Grade 4 and older)
  • High school learners
  • Parents of school learners
  • Students and/or adult learners.

In my assessment I make use of:

  • Discussions about problems or challenges in class or at home.  This can be with learning, remembering work in tests or exams, mistakes in tests or exams, or just ‘getting stuff done’, etc.
  • Questioning strategies to ‘dig a bit deeper’ and as a result identifying underlying issues
  • Screening for better identification of challenges with executive function skills (if required)
  • Observations especially regarding thinking and learning skills
  • Hands-on activities, e.g. looking at learning material or books, talking about the work, etc.
Older learners that require assessment

Through my assessment process I gain relevant information regarding:

  • The learner/client’s current challenges (e.g. with academic work, learning, and ‘getting stuff done’);
  • Their performance and learning goals to move from ‘Point A’ to ‘Point B” (in others words from where they are to where they would like to be in the future);
  • Factors that are preventing them from achieving their goals. This can include (but not limited to) challenges with executive function skills; ineffective thinking and learning skills; environmental factors; social-emotional issues; etc.
  • Strengths and positive factors that can help them to achieve their goals.

Other information used in my assessment process

Reports from other professionals as well as information from parents, educators, or other relevant persons are also used.  These documents form part of my assessment for background as required.

Client stories as part of assessment

Getting information from my clients and hearing their stories are more important to me than doing formal assessments.

Listening to my referrals is essential as some children are tired of being assessed.  Often they are also ‘over diagnosed’.  The piles of assessment reports from numerous professionals over many years provide evidence for this.

I prefer an assessment approach that provides hope and offer answers instead of focusing on ‘labels’ or ‘how bad a problem is.’

Aspects related to healthy lifestyle

My Assessment Approach is linked to a Functional Medicine Approach

Let me first biefly explain the difference between conventional medicine and a functional medicine approach.

In medicine, health refers to the sum total of the health of different systems in the body such as the cardiovascular system, the nervous system, the gastrointestinal system, etc.

Conventional medicine focus mainly on the treatment of disease.

Functional Medicine (FM) on the other hand shows a shift from the disease-centred approach of medical care to a more patient-centred approach.  Identifying the root causes of a disease is very important in FM.  Practitioners therefore spend time with their patients to listen to their histories (stories).  They explore the interactions among genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors that may influence long-term health and chronic disease.

I hence make an effort to listen to the stories of my clients and to also talk to them about lifestyle factors such as:

  • Eating habits
  • Sleep
  • Exercise
  • Stress management
  • Unhealthy habits, etc.

These factors can’t be ignored. Often learners and parents are unaware of the important role of these factors for optimal brain and learning health. In my intervention approach I thus address this.

In my practice I prefer not to have a disease-centred approach.

I rather focus on identifying realistic root causes for the problems/challenges that individuals might be experiencing.

By talking together we gather information from their stories. 

With my knowledge and experience, we plan the best route forward to address their needs and challenges, .

Formal Assessment


Formal assement required for concessions

Formal assessment must be done for examination concessions.  If the school (or learning institition) accepts an assessment of an occupational therapist, I can assist.

A  learner must however have a diagnosis already as an occupational therapist is not allowed to make a diagnosis.

Assessment for examination concessions might inlcude, e.g. extra time, reader, scribe, prompter, spelling concession, etc.

Assessment for concessions

  • Mainly done for high school learners.
  • Takes approximately 2½ hours.
  • Not psychometric (IQ) testing but standardized tests are used.
  • Contact me directly for details re costs or to book an assessment.

Let's Get Started

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Contact Info

Estelle Brettenny

For Intervention, assessment or training


082 430 7956


1 A Stepping Stone Street,



I do not conduct assessments with primary school learners, e.g. for sensory integration problems, fine/gross motor skills or perceptual difficulties, etc.

If you would like to find out more about how I can help you or your child achieve academic success, feel free to get in touch .