Getting an Assessment for Dyslexia.
Dyslexia is not considered a medical issue and forms no part of medical training. Although dyslexia is recognised under the Equality Act/Disability Discrimination Act, unlike other disabilities diagnosis is not funded by the NHS. A GP would therefore not normally be able to help with funding a diagnostic assessment for dyslexia and would not have knowledge of appropriate assessors.
In a very few cases where undiagnosed dyslexic difficulties may be a significant issue in the case of serious mental health problems, it may sometimes be possible for an assessment to be funded under the NHS.
Checklists and Screening Tests.
These are short tests designed to flag up the probability of dyslexic difficulties. They are not a diagnosis and do not analyse the nature of an individual’s dyslexic profile, which can vary considerably between people with dyslexia both in the nature of the particular difficulties and in their severity.
A good starting point is to complete our Adult Checklist.
Further extensive checklists can be obtained from http://www.workingwithdyslexia.com.
Screening tests are usually computerised tests, some available online such as the B.D.A's online dyslexia test.
A screening test would indicate the probability of dyslexia as low, medium or high. No screening test is 100% reliable in its prediction and there may be a few false positives or false negatives. For instance, well compensated people with less severe dyslexia may not be flagged up in a screening test.
Where a checklist or screening test shows the probability of dyslexic difficulties, a full diagnostic assessment may be considered in order to inform the process of determining the most appropriate reasonable adjustments.
Full Diagnostic Assessments.
Dyslexia can be diagnosed by Chartered Psychologists specialising in adult dyslexia who may also be able to identify frequently co-occurring conditions such as Dyspraxia, Dyscalculia and Attention Deficit Disorder. These professionals are usually Educational or Occupational Psychologists. Occasionally Clinical Psychologists specialise in this area. Occupational Therapists often play an important part in assessment of Dyspraxia.
Assessments can also be carried out by an appropriately qualified specialist dyslexia teacher with a post graduate Diploma in Specific Learning Difficulties and an assessment Practising Certificate. They are able to make assessments of verbal and non-verbal intelligence but use different tests from those only available to Psychologists.
Full assessments for adults would take around 3 hours and would be followed by a detailed written report with broad recommendations for support and accommodations. It would not often be possible to arrange for an assessment and receive the report in a short space of time.
Education and University.
For Further Education, there may be the possibility of an assessment organised by the Learning Support Department of a College.
For Higher Education, some universities may fund or part-fund assessments, but this is not normally offered prior to the student starting the first year. This would therefore delay the student receiving support under the Disabled Students Allowance, which can take a considerable time to process.
Students aiming to attend university should ensure that they have an assessment report post 16 years from either an Educational Psychologist or a specialist dyslexia teacher with a Practice Certificate for assessing students at H.E. The report should include recommendations for accommodations in tests and exams.
It is a good idea to apply for the Disabled Students Allowance as soon as a provisional offer has been accepted, because of the time taken to process applications and assess individual need. The application form should be accompanied by a diagnostic assessment report from one of the above assessors.
For further information on applying for the Disabled Students Allowance, see Help for Higher Education Students.
Jobseekers who feel they may have dyslexic difficulties should discuss the possibility of an assessment with the Disability Employment Adviser at their local Jobcentre. The Jobcentre does not often offer the opportunity for formal dyslexia assessments.
Employees who may be experiencing performance issues or stress at work which may be a result of previously undiagnosed dyslexic difficulties should discuss the matter in confidence with HR/Occupational Heath/their Manager. Employers have a duty under the Equality Act to ensure that employees with disabilities (including dyslexia) are not treated unfavourably and are offered reasonable adjustments or support. For many office based jobs, a full understanding of the individual’s profile is necessary in order to offer the most effective support.
Most large employers and the public sector would be expected to fund an assessment for an employee. A smaller employer may help with the cost.
Following the diagnostic assessment, or where an employee is able to show an existing adult assessment report, a workplace needs assessment should then be arranged with a dyslexia specialist in order to determine the most appropriate accommodations, training and support that would be successful in mitigating any weak areas and reduce stress. This is not something that either the individual or the employer would be able to work out for themselves. For details see our Information Sheets on Dyslexia Support in the Workplace and Identifying Reasonable Adjustments.
How to find an Assessor for a Full Assessment.
For information on Chartered Psychologists specialising in adult dyslexia, please contact the nearest Local Dyslexia Association or the B.D.A. Helpline for London and other areas not covered by Local Dyslexia Associations. The British Psychological Society website has a Find a Psychologist facility.
For information on specialist teacher assessors with the Practising Certificate, these are currently awarded by PATOSS and Dyslexia Action.
Tel. 01784 222 300