Updated: Feb 7
If you want to get extra help for your child when you suspect that they have dyslexia then your child will need to undergo some kind of assessment. This post looks at how to get your child assessed and by who.
1. Does your child have any medical issues such as ear infections or glue ear?
This one might sound a bit strange but as NHS Choices points out, your child's reading and writing problems may have a medical basis which needs to be investigated first. Examples of issues include glue ear and other hearing problems, squints and short sightedness. In this case, start with your GP.
2. Does your child have any vision problems or eye issues such as eyes not tracking or converging properly?
These can be checked out by your optician, but be aware that eye tracking and convergence is not checked on a NHS eye test - you will need to request this.
3. Talk to your school's Special Educational Needs Coordinator
This is your next port of call.
All schools should be able to carry out an informal screening for dyslexia, which shows the likelihood of your child having this.
Sometimes, this screening is sufficient for the school to be able to offer your child the extra help they need and to get them accommodations for examinations such as extra time and the use of a scribe and reader if deemed necessary.
If your child is really falling behind and the school themselves are really concerned, then they may refer your child on to their educational psychologist.
If they do this, then you will receive an assessment free of charge to you. However,it is extremely rare that this happens in reality, as a child with dyslexia is often not struggling enough or causing sufficient disruption to the school for them to take this action.
There are a couple of things to bear in mind about dyslexia screenings carried out by schools:
First,they don't always show up a problem - it can really depend on the quality of the screening and the screener which is used. When these are used, they should form part of the evidence for your child having dyslexia and take into account other signs and factors that are known about your child.
Many schools misinterpret their screeners.
Second, if a school's screening shows no problems then they will often take no further action and your child is left to continue struggling.
3. Obtaining a private assessment yourselves.
This is where you will most likely find yourself after going through the above steps. You can arrange for your child to see a specialist teacher or educational psychologist privately. It is important that you find someone who has the appropriate qualifications. It is always better to obtain a personal recommendation from other parents or from your child's school. Failing this there are lists of qualified practitioners on the Patoss website or the British Psychological Society website.
Debbie Abraham is a qualified assessor who can carry out full diagnostic assessments and is listed on the Patoss website.
There are key advantages to obtaining a formal diagnostic assessment.
First, they explore your child's learning strengths and weaknesses, giving you a clear picture of how your child is affected by their difficulties and where their learning strengths lie. This knowledge is your power to be able to help your child.
The aim of a diagnostic assessment is not to label your child but to give them a way forward in their learning.
Your report will give recommendations for how the school can help your child. You will now know what the school should be doing and your child's learning won't be left to chance.
This also means that you can hold your child's school accountable for the help they give - you know what they need to do and you can question if this doesn't happen.
A full diagnostic assessment is relatively expensive at around £400-500. However, you will have so much more information about your child and their learning strengths and weaknesses and also be empowered to know how their school should be helping them. No more meetings with the SENCo and not knowing what to ask for!
A full diagnostic report which is carried out now and which conforms to current SASC regulations will never have to be repeated again. Before 2019, reports would have to be repeated at different stages of a child's education but this has been changed by the government who now fully recognises that dyslexia is a lifelong issue.
Key points to take away:
- see your GP/optician first to rule out hearing or eye conditions being the underlying problem for your child's difficulties.
- talk to your school's SENCo to see what action they are willing to take.
-consider paying for a private assessment yourselves by a specialist teacher or an educational psychologist
If you are considering a private full diagnostic assessment for dyslexia please contact me to discuss your requirements here.
Debbie Abraham is qualified to carry out full diagnostic assessments for dyslexia which she does in Essex, UK.
If you would like further tips and strategies to help your dyslexic child and make learning less frustrating and more rewarding for them, please join my free Facebook group here.