Dyslexia: The Assessment & Diagnostic Process
When an individual is suspected of having dyslexia, they are referred for a Psychoeducational Evaluation (this evaluation is also known as a Psychological, Learning Disability, or a Neuropsychological Evaluation), typically by a teacher or sometimes by the child’s parent who notices that the child is struggling with reading or that the child’s grades are suffering as a result of reading difficulties. Dyslexia must be evaluated by examining the individual’s skills and abilities in language, phonological awareness, reading, writing, and spelling.
The first and crucial step is gathering a comprehensive history
At PNS, Dr. Gordon first meets with the child and the child’s parents (if the examinee is a child) or the adult individual suspected of having dyslexia and ask many questions related to background history, such as ages that the individual reached developmental milestones (e.g., crawling, first words), academic functioning, as well as social, emotional, and behavioral functioning, and family history of learning or mental health problems. Information regarding the individual’s academic history, reading history and history of symptoms is also gathered.
The skills & abilities that are tested
We then conduct a neuropsychological testing evaluations for dyslexia utilizing assessments that are administered to the individual. The person suspected of having dyslexia meets with a qualified professional individually and is administered the assessments that consist of the following tasks:
-Word Reading & Word identification
-Letter sound knowledge + phonological blending=phonic decoding
-Phonological Skills (Manipulations tasks: deletion, substitution, reversal)
-Auditory Processing & Language Processing
-Mental Processing Speed
There are numerous tests used to diagnose dyslexia and there is no single assessment that can diagnose the disorder on its own.
Combining test results with background information
After all information is gathered, the qualified professional scores the assessments and a psychoeducational report is created that integrates all assessment results and the individual’s background history. The psychoeducational report will have a diagnosis of Specific Learning Disorder With impairment in reading (i.e., dyslexia) if the individual meets criteria.
What is the purpose of giving a diagnosis of dyslexia?
A critical section of the psychoeducational report is the recommendations section. This section includes specific recommendations from the qualified professionals that are individually tailored to the person with dyslexia and are meant to assist the individual in academic settings, as well as the individual’s home life. This is the ultimate purpose of diagnosing dyslexia in the first place: So that the individual can receive assistance and the proper intervention for the disorder so he/she can succeed academically or in any setting where the individual is affected by dyslexia.