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 children under the age of seven?

Signs of dyslexia can be seen in younger children such as poor auditory skills, difficulty with learning letters and with writing letters and number backwards. 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.  If a child aged seven is still having these difficulties a clearer diagnostic decision can be made.

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

Weekday assessment can be done at the child’s house, Rebecca’s house or at your child’s school. Weekend assessments can be done at the child’s house. The best location is the place where you child will be the most comfortable and most able to concentrate. The assessment itself takes approximately 2 1/2 hours with additional time for a break in the middle and more breaks if required.

The assessment will test reading accuracy, reading speed, reading comprehension, writing speed (age 9+),  spelling, phonological skills, processing speed, memory , verbal ability and visual ability.

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, if the assessment is done in a home setting you can see your child during the breaks. 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 see if there are any family members with the condition or any medical reasons that may account for the difficulties.  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 patterns of strengths and difficulties can be formed.

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.

Will a diagnosis of dyslexia mean that my child will get extra time for SATs?

If the assessment shows that your child has a difficulty with reading speed, writing speed and/or processing speed, it will be recommended that they have extra time for examinations. Other exam access recommendations may be suggested such as rest breaks or use of a reader or scribe. Please note, however, that the final decision for these exam arrangements rests with the school and exam boards.

What happens if you decide 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 will be discussed if applicable. They 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 Educational Psychologists and specialist assessors (such as Rebecca) are able to diagnose dyslexia and produce professional valid reports which are recognised by schools.

Educational Psychologists are typically more expensive. However, they are able to diagnose a wider range of conditions, so if you expect that your child has a range of specific learning difficulties, for instance dyslexia plus attention deficit hyperactivity disorder then an Educational Psychologist assessment would be more suitable. If the school is seeking an Education Health and Care Plan for your child or you are applying for one privately, a psychologist report is recommended.

If your child’s difficulties mainly appear to be within the literacy sphere, for instance, difficulties with reading and/or writing, spelling and potentially some associated cognitive difficulties with memory then a specialist teacher assessor report would be recommended. This is because teacher assessors are qualified teachers and can use this experience to suggest a range of appropriate teaching strategies and resources.

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?

Currently, an assessment from no earlier than year nine is required as evidence for exam access arrangements for GCSEs. Assessments which are specifically focused on gaining evidence for exams can be undertaken which are shorter and cheaper than full diagnostic assessments. Some secondary schools arrange this internally and some schools will recommend that parents get this done privately.

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).