Session 1: Keynote Presentation - Square Pegs in Round Holes

Why children with special needs face significant challenges in mainstream classrooms and what can be done to improve their outcome
9am – 11am
Dr Jo Martin, Paediatrician
Complete Children’s Health
Dr Renee Testa, Neuropsychologist
The Child and Adolescent Neuropsychology Group

Session Overview
This 2 hour session will outline the common diagnoses that children with special needs face in the majority of mainstream classrooms in Australia, including ASD, ADHD, Language Disorders, Anxiety Disorder, and Specific Learning Disabilities. The diagnostic process will be explained, including the vital role that teachers and educators have in assisting clinicians in this process. Practical recommendations that can be applied to the classroom to improve outcomes for each condition will be discussed, with consideration to limited resources schools face. In addition, time will be allocated to discuss aspirations for a better system to cater for students with special needs in mainstream schools in the future.
An important holistic session for educators covering:

  • To understand the prevalence and key features of common Special Needs conditions including ASD, ADHD, Language Disorders, Anxiety Disorder and Specific Learning Disabilities, and how they commonly co-exist.
  • To understand the diagnostic process for each condition and the role of specific clinicians in this process and what important information teachers and educators can contribute during this process
  • To gain an insight into medical and allied health treatment/ therapy available for each condition after diagnosis, and the different settings this may be offered in
  • To discuss practical recommendations for schools and classrooms to better support these vulnerable children, especially given the resource constraints schools are facing
  • Discussion of several complex case studies featuring children with multiple special needs, incorporating time for Q&A


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