Learning difficulty/disability in children ≥ 6 years

Child Development Service

Useful Management Information

  • All children referred for learning difficulty require visual acuity and audiometry results.
  • Developmental optometry and auditory processing assessments are not supported by evidence
  • Are there significant behavioural or emotional issues suggesting that this referral would be better assessed under a behavioural category?
  • In the majority of cases it is thought inappropriate for children to wait more than 6 months for an outpatient initial appointment
  • If you have a reason to suspect a child in Queensland is experiencing harm, or is at risk of experiencing harm, you need to contact Child Safety Services

Minimum Referral Criteria

Does your patient meet the minimum referral criteria?
Category 1 (appointment within 30 calendar days)
  • Definite history of loss of academic ability with deterioration in cognition suggestive of neurological disease (IQ measurement is not required in order to accept this referral)
Category 2 (appointment within 90 calendar days)
  • Acute severe functional deterioration in a child diagnosed with a learning disability
Category 3 (appointment within 365 calendar days)
  • Educational psychology assessment suggests intellectual impairment and the child has never been seen by a paediatrician for assessment
  • Suspected attention deficit disorder without hyperactivity

If your patient does not meet the minimum referral criteria

  • Assessment and management information may be found on a range of conditions at HealthPathways
  • If the patient does not meet the criteria for referral but the referring practitioner believes the patient requires specialist review, a clinical override may be requested:
    • Please explain why (e.g. warning signs or symptoms, clinical modifiers, uncertain about diagnosis, etc.)
  • Please note that your referral may not be accepted or may be redirected to another service

Essential Referral Information

  • Description of the learning or disibility concern
  • WISC or other equivalent IQ measurement within the previous 3 years or detailed information regarding learning abilities (such as NAPLAN report or reading, spelling, maths age equivalent levels) (provided by the school or another external provider). This is not required if there is a concern about developmental regression.
  • Review by school/private psychologist outlining area of difficulty
  • Nature of parent's concerns
  • Are there significant behavioural or emotional issues suggesting that this referral would be better assessed under a behavioural category? It is acknowledged that behavioural difficulties can be secondary to learning problems
  • Report presence or absence of concerning features
    • Is the child able to actively engage in learning? Is their reduced school hours attendance, recurrent suspensions, at risk expulsion due to their learning and / or associated behavioural challenges
    • Is there definite history of developmental regression, and if so what specific loss of skills has been noted?
    • Is the child expected to be in out of home care supervised by Child Safety Services for more than 6 months?

Additional Referral Information

Highly desirable information – may change triage category

  • Classroom reports of school performance and engagement with school work.
  • Copies of most recent school report card/NAPLAN results
  • Other assessments of academic ability and achievement
  • Audiometry/vision testing
  • Medical history
  • Family history, including family members affected with ASD, ADHD, learning difficulty or mental illness
  • Copies of previous of speech, occupational therapy, physiotherapy or cognitive assessments if available
  • If the child is in foster care please provide the name and regional office for the Child Safety Officer who is the responsible case manager
  • Significant psychosocial risk factors (especially parents mental health, family violence, housing and financial stress, Child Safety Service involvement)
  • School history –exclusions or suspensions.

Desirable information- will assist at consultation

  • Pregnancy and birth history
  • Other past medical history
  • Immunisation history
  • Developmental history
  • Medication history
  • Height/weight/head circumference and growth charts with prior measurements if available.
  • Other physical examination findings inclusive of CNS, birth marks or dysmorphologyAny relevant laboratory results or medical imaging reports
Last updated 7 December 2021

Send Referrals To

Smart Referrals

Preferred Method
About Smart Referrals

Secure Web Transfer

Send to: Gold Coast Child Community Health MO Account: GQ4215000TL HL EDI: qldcomch

Internal Referrals


(07) 5687 4497


Gold Coast University Hospital
1 Hospital Boulevard
Southport QLD 4215


(07) 5687 9141

Related HealthPathways

No directly related pathways found

Service Availability

Dr Francoise Butel
Medical Director Children's Community Health


Gold Coast University Hospital
Southport Health Precinct
Palm Beach Community Health Centre
Helensvale Community Health Centre
Upper Coomera Child Health
Early Years Centre Coomera Springs
Norfolk Village State School Health & Education Hub

If you would like to send a named referral, please address it to the specialist listed above, who will allocate a suitably qualified specialist to see the patient. Alternatively, you can view a full list of our specialists.

Child Safety

If you have a reason to suspect a child in Queensland is experiencing harm, or is at risk of experiencing harm, contact Department of Children, Youth Justice and Multicultural Services . Please consider if mandatory reporting applies.

Gold Coast Health - For Clinicians
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