Diagnostic Assessment to Identify Dyslexia

(N.b. June 2020, COVID 19 arrangements for assessments: Full face-to-face diagnostic assessments are now possible again with strict social distancing measures as advised by government. A risk assessment has been done in my work environment and measures taken to ensure maximum safety and to ensure that guidelines are followed for any assessments I complete. Please email through the Contact Me page for details.)

If someone struggles to make expected progress with literacy skills and the Specific Learning difficulty Dyslexia is suspected, an assessment can be arranged with a qualified assessor such as myself. To find out more about how I could complete such an assessment for you, please email using the Contact Me section of this site.

Dyslexia does not always look the same. Everyone with dyslexia has a different profile of processing difficulties, background, approach to learning and level of exposure to books and knowledge. Dyslexia can therefore result in different types of difficulties in the classroom.

Dyslexia can include difficulty learning to read or spell, but does not always involve both. It can include difficulty using phonics to identify words or accurate but very slow reading. It can include difficulty remembering what has been read or understanding what it means. It can include difficulty recognising visual patterns in words or with mental organisation.

While the label dyslexia may help students access support within an educational system, it is the understanding of the nature of an individual’s specific profile of strengths and weaknesses that leads to the most effective support.

Understanding their profile of strengths and weaknesses also gives students confidence. They discover strengths they did not realise they had and understand why specific recommendations will work for them, resulting in better literacy skills and progress in school generally.

A full diagnostic assessment takes around two to two and a half hours. Beforehand, a full background questionnaire is filled in, so that health history and educational history can be taken into account. After the assessment, a diagnostic report is written and sent for checking of personal facts before the final version is completed. Questions about the assessment or the report can be addressed in a follow up call.

Assessment involves tests in three broad categories: reasoning abilities, literacy skills and cognitive processing skills such as processing speed, ability to work with sound information in words and ability to remember what has just been heard.

Tests are chosen to be at an appropriate level for each student and to avoid pressure or anxiety. Some can even be fun! Screening questionnaires are often part of the process, if difficulties are suspected to be broader than those indicating only dyslexia.

Schools do not need a diagnostic report to give students appropriate additional support for an SpLD. They use their own systems to identify students who lag behind peers in literacy or other skills and provide appropriate intervention programmes. Support is usually more effective if the reasons for a student’s difficulties are clear, because strategies to support them will depend on whether they processed slowly, whether they have weak attention or whether they struggle to learn phonics, or a mixture of these issues. But a full diagnostic support is not required to achieve this.