What are the signs of dyslexia?

Your child may have difficulty with some or all of the following: deciphering words when reading, remembering what they have read, reading fluency, organising their thoughts in the written form, writing speed, spelling, developing phonic skills, processing speed and memory.

Many children with dyslexia are intelligent and can understanding new concepts when they are taught in a way that makes sense to them. Often children with dyslexia are strong verbally and they may be creative, good problem-solvers, good at pattern recognition and have good visual-spatial awareness.

When would you recommend having an assessment?

An assessment is recommended when a child’s difficulties are having a negative impact on their learning and potentially, their self-esteem. An assessment can help parents to understand more about their child as a learner and how to help their child to make progress and develop their confidence.

Why don’t you assess younger children? 

Signs of dyslexia can be seen in younger children, such as poor auditory skills and difficulties with identifying and writing letters.  However, many young children without dyslexia will also exhibit these symptoms so it is hard to be completely sure that they are due to dyslexia.

Also, many children’s learning was affected by Covid. It is important that a child is given time in interventions to see if it is just gaps that need to be filled or whether a specific learning difficulty is likely. Current guidelines are 8+ for a full diagnostic assessment but an educational assessment (non-diagnostic) is available for younger students.

Where can the assessment be done and what does the assessment session involve?

The assessment will test the full range of cognitive and literacy areas. Weekday assessments can be done at Rebecca’s house or the child’s house (depending on location). Alternative assessment locations may be considered if the former options are not possible. I also work one weekend day a month (at the client’s home).  The best location is the place where your child will be most comfortable and most able to concentrate. The assessment itself takes approximately 2 – 2 1/2 hours with additional time for a break in the middle and more breaks if required.

Can I be with my child during the assessment?

Parents are not able to be in the same room during the assessment as it can distract the child and cause them to perform better/worse than they naturally would. However, parents can join during the break. Rebecca aims to make the assessment feel as relaxed as possible and will take time to get to know your child and talk to them about their interests. Children typically enjoy the process and the more interesting tasks are mixed in with the less preferred ones to aid motivation.

How do you decide if a child has dyslexia or not?

A holistic approach is taken in order to decide if a child has dyslexia or not. This involves firstly studying the background information to find out, for instance, if the child has a history of literacy difficulties and whether family members have similar traits.  Information from the school is analysed to see what areas of difficulty are observed in the classroom. Observations are made during the test itself, for instance, to see if any strategies are being applied which may help to explain the results. The test results themselves are analysed and strengths and difficulties are identified.

What happens if you decide my child has dyslexia?

It will be stated explicitly in the report that your child has a diagnosis of dyslexia. Recommended targets will be set and teaching resources and strategies suggested to help them to develop their weaker areas. Exam access arrangements may be suggested such as the use of a reader or extra time.

What happens if my child doesn’t have dyslexia?

If a child doesn’t fit the criteria for the diagnosis, their strengths and weaknesses will be discussed. If there is any evidence that they may have a different specific learning difficulty, recommendations for further testing will be made. Other explanations for their difficulties and referrals to other professionals will be discussed if applicable. The child will still receive recommended targets and a range of suggested teaching resources and strategies to help them to develop their weaker areas.

What is the difference between a report written by an Educational Psychologist and one written by a specialist teacher assessor?

Both Specialist Teachers and Educational Psychologists are able to assess for dyslexia.

Educational Psychologists have access to a different type of cognitive ability test that Specialist Teachers are not able to use, which has a slightly higher number of “sub-tests”.

Both Specialist Teachers and Educational Psychologists can make recommendations about how the individual can best be supported.

A Specialist teacher has wide experience of teaching and usually has a better understanding of the classroom environment and therefore can make more specific recommendations, but this does depend on the background and experience of each individual assessor.

Rebecca would advise using an Educational Psychologist if your child is likely to need an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) in the future.

Information copied from http://www.bdaydyslexia.org.uk

Are school dyslexia screening tests accurate?

Dyslexia screening tests are often used in schools and can be useful for flagging up dyslexia tendencies. However, they are not completely reliable and do not take your child’s underlying abilities into account. Therefore, the results should be interpreted with caution and a full diagnostic assessment is recommended.

Will my child need to be reassessed for GCSE exam access arrangements?

Once a child has had a full diagnostic assessment they will not need another full one. Currently, scores related to speed of working (such as reading speed, writing speed and cognitive processing) are required from no earlier than year nine as evidence for exam access arrangements for GCSEs. The school often organise quick testing of these areas. However, if the school does not offer this, Rebecca can re-test these as part of an ‘Exam Access Arrangement’ assessment.

Can my report be used for applying for Disabled Student Allowance (DSA)?

Rebecca has an assessment practising certificate which means that her reports are valid for applications for disabled student allowance (extra money for higher education students).