Updated: Nov 9, 2020
A short guide for parents who suspect their child is dyslexic.
The dyslexia assessment procedure can take a while, so act fast and stay patient!
Start by talking with your child’s teachers and visiting a GP to rule out anything else that might impact your child’s reading and spelling (e.g. sight).
There are a few places to get an assessment, so some research is required to find out what option is best for your child.
So you’ve done some research on dyslexia and know how to recognise some of the most common signs of dyslexia. If you suspect your child has dyslexia or reading difficulties, the next step would be to get your child professionally evaluated for dyslexia.
This blog post will explore the different stages of the procedure, and will include some personal testimonials and experiences from parents who have already been through the process themselves.
Why is a professional dyslexia assessment important?
If you notice your child is struggling with their reading and spelling, it is important to act fast so that you can provide them with the support they need to navigate the difficulties they could face while growing up.
A professional assessment will provide your child with an official diagnosis, which would not only identify exactly what issues your child is struggling with, but it would also document the history of your child’s learning difficulties.
This is especially important when it comes to determining whether they qualify for special arrangements at school, such as additional time to complete tests or assignments. Official documentation would also be an advantage in their future academic and professional career, where they may need to qualify for support from their university.
An effective assessment will also help you identify which specific skills your child needs to work on, so that you and their teachers can offer them the most appropriate support with their reading and spelling journey.
Where can you start with a dyslexia assessment?
Here is what the typical or recommended journey looks like for families in the UK.
The first step you should take is to talk with their teachers. They may have already noticed your child struggling to keep up with the same level of reading and spelling as their peers, and would be in a good position to see if any initial intervention would be effective.
If there is still an on-going concern despite intervention and additional support at school, you can take your child to see a GP. Here they would identify or rule out if any other health condition is impacting their reading and writing capabilities (e.g. vision and/or hearing problems, or other issues such as ADHD). While these examinations may not rule out reading difficulties like dyslexia, it definitely helps to identify any other underlying issues that could also be contributing to your child’s difficulties.
It is recommended to request an official assessment or in-depth assessment if you still have concerns about your child’s progress and response to any initial interventions. Before that, it is advised that you meet with your child’s teacher and their school’s special educational needs coordinator to discuss the effectiveness of any interventions that were already put into place, and whether the school could do anything more to help your child.
If they continue to have difficulties despite the extra teaching and support they are receiving, you can ask the school to refer your child for an assessment with the local educational psychologists or other specialists in dyslexia.
As this is a long process, you may want to consider finding an independent educational psychologist yourself, and you can find a list of all chartered psychologists on the British Psychological Society’s website. Another option would be to contact your local or national dyslexia association, who could support you with arranging an assessment. For a listing of tutors and assessors that are available close to your area, Patoss provides a directory for all types of service providers, from tuition to full diagnostic assessments - however, you will need to register with them before accessing this information. Helen Arkell, a dyslexia charity, also offers their own dyslexia assessments, and if you live in the area, the Bristol Dyslexia Centre offers some relevant services.
In the end, getting a formal dyslexia diagnosis can be a very long and frustrating process. These are the recommended steps that you can take, and it is important to be prepared for the challenges you’ll face along the way. It is difficult for institutions to assess if a child has dyslexia, and it it’s a process that takes time.
But we also recognize that it is frustrating for parents to feel like they’re not able to get specialised support while their child continues to struggle at school. That is why we built a program for which you do not need to wait for an assessment to start. It is designed to help children with reading and spelling difficulties, whether these are caused by dyslexia or not.
Whether you are waiting for their professional evaluation, in the middle of the process, or are still waiting for their results, our app is designed to help people of all reading abilities. If your child has not yet been diagnosed with dyslexia but you believe they need a little extra support with their reading and spelling, why not try the GoLexic app?
What to expect during a dyslexia assessment
A typical assessment which looks at both language and literacy can last from 2-4 hours for younger children, and 6-8 hours for teens and adults. The examination itself will look at a number of skills and abilities, which include:
Reading and writing capabilities
Oral language and vocabulary
The speed and accuracy of their reading
How fast they process visual and auditory information
How they tend to approach learning
Their memory, organisational skills, and logical reasoning
Their phonological awareness and decoding
The cost of an assessment can vary. To provide you with an idea of the cost, the British Dyslexia Association charges between £540 and £720, which is the difference between having an educational specialist and a psychologist conduct the assessment. A full assessment at the Helen Arkell Center costs £650, and provides parents with a detailed interpretation of test results, including general abilities, literacy skills attainments, cognitive processing, and a diagnosis of dyslexia, as well as recommendations for supporting your child at home and at school. Independent assessors and educational psychologists charge their own rates, so you may have to check their individual websites or contact them to find out how much they charge.
The length of the waiting list is also important to take into account, and make sure to consider this information when deciding where to go to get your child evaluated for dyslexia.
After the assessment, it will take a few weeks until you will receive a report of the assessment. It should include a list of your child’s strengths and weaknesses, and suggestions of what your intervention plan could look like.
For a detailed depiction of what a test would look like, check out Understood’s video, which gives you unique insight into a dyslexia assessment. It’s a great resource to prepare yourself and a good way to start a conversation with your child about why they are taking an assessment, what will happen, and how they feel about it.