Children struggling to read should be tested for dyslexia, but what does it actually mean to be tested for the most common of all learning disabilities?
Rather than thinking of dyslexia testing as a single test that a child might complete over the course of an hour, be scored on, and a verdict delivered, dyslexia assessments—when done well–are much more complex than that.
At Randak Dyslexia Services, this process involves many steps, the first of which is an interview with the parents and perhaps even the child’s teacher. The parent interview is in-depth, as we seek to learn all the warning signs for dyslexia the child has exhibited of the course of his or her life, and to learn about development milestones and genetic background as it relates to dyslexia.
We also review the child’s school records and all prior testing reports looking for specific learning patterns that point to dyslexia. For example, it is not uncommon to see a steady decline in reading and math scores as the child grows older. Also, another pattern we frequently see is no increase in grades or testing scores despite the child receiving intervention at school.
Finally, the child is given 10 to 12 assessments depending on their age and ability by one of our screeners over the course of three hours. We often divide the testing into two sessions, so the child won’t be too exhausted to do their very best.
After all the information has been gathered and assessments have been scored, we write a report detailing our findings, provide a statement as to the severity of the child’s dyslexia, and a lengthy list of accommodations that we feel would benefit the child in their present grade and beyond.
We review our findings with the parents in a meeting that often takes two hours. At this time, we can answer any questions, provide additional guidance on how to proceed, and explain if and how our other services could be helpful.
Whenever a student is struggling in school, an evaluation is helpful for a few reasons.
- It assists in intervention planning whether that is a 504 Plan, an IEP, standardized testing accommodations, or other needs.
- It also documents the fact that a student’s learning difficulties align with dyslexia, so appropriate intervention can begin.
A proper assessment for dyslexia should take the following into account:
- Background information
- Oral language skills
- Word recognition
- Phonological processing and phonological memory
- Automaticity and fluency skills
- Reading Comprehension
Having one’s child screened for dyslexia is only the first step in a long journey of advocating for that child. Every year, every new teacher will need to be spoken to and advised on how best to help. Don’t rely on school documentation of their disability. It may or may not be complete, nor does every teacher take time to read all the documents on all of his or her students. Nothing compares to a face-to-face meeting. It lets the teacher know the parent cares and is cognizant of what goes on at school. It’s also the time to go over any accommodations that the child finds especially helpful or, perhaps, not so helpful.
Nothing can replace the parent as the child’s best advocate, and to be that advocate, the parent needs to educate themselves beyond reading the dyslexia screening report. Randak Dyslexia Services highly recommends two websites for this purpose:
- Susan Barton’s website brightsolutions.us
- International Dyslexia Associations website dyslexiaida.org
If you are wondering if your child could benefit from dyslexia screening, give us a call today!