You have noticed that your child is falling behind at school – they are behind their classmates in reading, their written work falls short of their verbal abilities and they often don’t understand what they have read. Your child’s school is not being overly helpful but they suggest it is due to a ‘developmental stage’. You are convinced there is more to it than that and having read about the signs of dyslexia you feel this may actually be the answer. Here are 3 reasons why your child should undergo a formal assessment:
1. It will pinpoint why your child is struggling.
The assessment will look at your child’s reading, vocabulary, writing, maths skills and their verbal abilities as well as measuring their IQ. The Educational Psychologist will administer a series of tests which are designed to see which brain processes work well and which don’t so that they end up with a profile of your child’s abilities ( strengths and weaknesses). They will then look at the profile and decide whether an assessment of dyslexia is appropriate – they usually apply a ‘discrepancy model’ which means that if they see a mis- match between your child’s abilities and their actual performance they will assess dyslexia as being the reason for this.
It can be difficult to understand what all the tests mean but the Educational Psychologist will summarise the report and explain it to you. The report will also outline which programmes will benefit your child to enable them to progress, as well as stating what accommodations the school needs to make for your child. You will finally know why your child is struggling.
2. It will give you proof that your child needs help from their school.
This is usually the reason why you want to get a formal assessment done.
I would always recommend that you talk to the school first, though, before getting an assessment done yourselves because sometimes the school’s SENCO will carry out a screening themselves ( a short assessment which looks at the likelihood of your child having dyslexia) and this can be sufficient for them to be able to offer extra help.
However, you may find that the school will simply not do this so then you will probably feel that there isn’t much choice. If you are unsure about getting a formal assessment done (particularly as it is expensive), then you can do a dyslexia screening yourself first. The easiest one to use at home is an app called ‘Dyslexia Quest’ – this is very child friendly and will give you a good idea whether your child might be dyslexic or not. The school will most probably not accept the results from this but it will give you more confidence to go ahead with a formal assessment.
Once you have received your formal assessment for dyslexia then you can prove to the school why your child is struggling and then arrange to see the SENCO. Extra help is dealt with under SEND provisions if your child is in a state school:dyslexia is also recognised as a disability under the current Disability Act. If your formal assessment states that your child must have a reader and scribe for exams or any other accommodations such as extra time, then the school must comply.
3. It could boost your child’s confidence knowing that they are not stupid.
Some children will thrive knowing that they are struggling for a reason and more importantly, that with the right tuition, they can learn to overcome the weaknesses they may have. It should also unlock access to specialist programmes designed to help them overcome their language problems.
But I want to give you few words of caution.
A formal dyslexia assessment may not lead to any extra help from your child’s school. School budgets are being squeezed at the moment and there is little money in the pot to help those who could do better but are just about managing (as so many of our dyslexic children are). Therefore, you may have to resort to outside help for your child anyway.
Some children find the label disempowering and live up to the idea that they can’t achieve at school. You know your child best but be careful.
Make sure it is carried out by a suitably qualified educational psychologist who holds a current HCPC registration (go to www.bps.org.uk for a list of practitioners). If you can, try and obtain a recommendation from another parent.
If you would like to discuss your concerns with a specialist dyslexia tutor, then you can arrange a consultancy meeting with me - contact me for more information.
You might like to read more about the signs of dyslexia here.
You can also read more about how working memory affects school performance here.
If you would like to receive help to make learning less frustrating for your child, then I have a free Facebook group which you can join here.