WHAT TO EXPECT FROM A DYSLEXIA ASSESSMENT.
The assessment includes investigation into three different areas:
Having carried out assessment in the first two areas, it is possible to determine whether an individual is significantly underachieving in literacy / numeracy, compared with what would be expected when considering their underlying ability. The cognitive tests give an indication of whether any underachievement may be linked to difficulties within these areas of learning. The results are then viewed in relation to the definition of dyslexia (see below) and a conclusion is made as to whether the individual is dyslexic or not.
This testing can take up to 3 hours, depending on the age of the individual and the complexity of their needs. It can be managed in 1 or 2 sessions, with suitable breaks as needed. Parents may wish to stay with the young person but need to be aware that sometimes parents/carers are a distraction, and it can influence the young person’s behaviour or performance. Parents may want to bring something to keep themselves occupied or plan a time to return.
It is important for children to know that they are coming to see someone who is interested in how people learn. The assessment will help to work out why some learning is difficult and what might help to make things easier.
Background information from parents and school is extremely important in building up the individual’s ‘learning profile.’ Any diagnosis involves more than just test scores and must include developmental history. Therefore, both school and parents are asked to complete a questionnaire that is returned to the assessor at least 1 week before the assessment. Tests can then be tailored to the needs of the child. Children can bring examples of schoolwork and reports with them; a current reading book and a short piece of totally independent writing is also useful.
The child must have had a sight test within the last six months. If the child has glasses (prescription and / or tinted) or uses a coloured overly it is vital that they bring them with them to the assessment.
A visual questionnaire is also completed prior to the assessment. If this flags up possible issues, it is advisable to go to a suitably qualified optician for a Specific Reading Difficulties (SRD) assessment. This is different to the usual eye test and not all opticians offer it, but ‘Weygangs’ and some branches of Norville’s do in this area.
The structure of the assessment report is one that is recommended by the professional bodies that regulate qualified assessors of dyslexia – the British Dyslexia Association, BDA and the Professional Association for Teachers Of Students with SpLD, PATOSS.
It can be up to 30 pages in length and provides details of the young person’s achievement in the tests, a learning profile that indicates whether dyslexia has been diagnosed or not, and recommendations for the future, including ‘signposting’ to other professionals if required.
Legislation was passed in 2019, meaning that the report can last the educational lifetime of the individual concerned and no further full assessment will be needed, for example, when they progress onto further education. However, the assessor must have an up-to-date Assessment Practising Certificate (APC) from either the BDA or PATOSS for the report to be recognised for this purpose. This is renewed every 3 years.
Assessment & full report includes time to talk through report with parents as needed.
PATOSS APC 500003249-IF7409 (Jan 2021-Jan 2024). I have DBS clearance and hold public liability insurance.
Definition of dyslexia: British Dyslexia Association 2007
¨ Dyslexia is a specific learning difficulty that mainly affects the development of literacy and language related skills.
¨ It is likely to be present at birth and to be lifelong in its effects.
¨ It is characterised by difficulties with phonological processing, rapid naming, working memory, processing speed, and the automatic development of skills that may not match up to an individual’s other cognitive abilities.
¨ It tends to be resistant to conventional teaching methods, but its effects can be mitigated by appropriately specific intervention, including the application of information technology and supportive counselling.
Definition of dyslexia: The Rose report 2009
¨ A learning difficulty affecting accurate and fluent word-reading and spelling
¨ Difficulties in phonological awareness, verbal memory and verbal processing
¨ Dyslexia occurs across the range of intellectual abilities
¨ It is best thought of as a continuum, not a distinct category and there are no clear cut-off points
¨ Co-occurring difficultness may be seen in aspects of language, motor co-ordination, mental calculation, concentration and personal organisation, but these are not, by themselves, markers of dyslexia.
¨ A good indication of the severity and persistence of dyslexic difficulties can be gained by examining how the individual responds or has responded to well-founded intervention.
Dr Georgia Niolaki Accredited Member of the British Dyslexia Association (AMBDA)
Assessment for children and adults.
Tutoring children, Assessment for children and adults.
Dr Jennifer Donovan AMBDA is a Senior Lecturer at Bath Spa University where she is the Award Leader for the SpLD (dyslexia) programme. She completed her MA in Special and Inclusive Education and her PhD at the Institute of Education, University College London. Jennifer is a member of the Accreditation Board for the British Dyslexia Association and the Education Panel for the Dyspraxia Foundation. Apart from her academic activities, she assesses and supports learners of all ages in her private practice.
Dyslexia and Dyscalculia Assessor and Teacher for primary age children around the Cotswolds and Gloucestershire
Marion is a bright dyslexic who has personal experience and empathy of a challenging school and university life. Through her courses, teaching dyslexics in primary schools and taking part in a two-year BDA Sound Check project (2013-2015), she has explored and developed strategies for herself and applied them successfully to her teaching and assessment recommendations. She strives to help primary age children understand and overcome their barriers in life-skills and their literacy/numeracy to become independent learners.
I have worked for many years in a local prep school and live in Cheltenham. I have always had a special interest in dyslexia. I have taught many children who have presented with learning difficulties. Having specialized in literacy teaching for many years, I have much practical experience in the ways learning difficulties impact on a child’s progress.