Dyslexia Assessments for Children

Dyslexia Assessments for Children

Have you thought about booking a full diagnostic assessment for dyslexia for your child? Difficulties with reading, writing and spelling are the most common reasons a parent would be alerted to book an assessment. However, they may have also noticed their child is becoming disillusioned with school, is finding school harder than their peers or appears verbally able and articulate but can’t get what they want to say down on paper. A parent might also notice difficulties with processing information or just have a gut feeling that something isn’t right and that their child isn’t performing as well as they could be. What a parent doesn’t normally refer for is to find out their child’s strengths, however often following an assessment they will have a very good understanding of these and how they can harness them to support their difficulties.

A diagnostic assessment is the only way to really understand if your child has dyslexia and where their strengths and weaknesses lie. Let’s start with those strengths as believe it or not many children (and parents) come out of an assessment full of confidence having found out what they are good at. This is the feedback from the parent of a child, I recently assessed, ‘I left the assessment with gratitude for the support and advice I had received, my son left the assessment with his head held high and with a boost to his self-esteem’.

The assessment process – believe it or not – is actually quite an enjoyable process. I think the reason for this is the assessment is very varied in delivery, most tasks are short and there is a multi-sensory element to them in terms of some practical, visual and auditory tasks as well as the necessary reading, writing and spelling. The full assessment takes approx. 2.5 hours. One aspect of the process that children often get a boost from is finding out how their underlying ability compares to their peers. This can be particularly rewarding if they are found to be on a par or indeed above their peers as often learners with dyslexia can feel like they aren’t performing as well as their classmates and often consider themselves to be in the lower groups (even though they know they are more capable than the group they may be working with in class!).

Knowing whether a child has dyslexia or not empowers the parents as it enables them to understand their child’s needs. They can then find support and work in partnership with the school to support their weaknesses. Sometimes these recommendations can come across as quite generic, that is because we are making general recommendations of what we know works in supporting those difficulties but it is up to the school and the parents to make the final decisions about what to try next.

In a typical assessment the assessor will put the child at ease and often discuss their interests and hobbies and where the child perceives themselves to be doing well or needing extra support. Prior to the assessment the assessor will have looked at the background information and decided on the tests to use. This will usually be along the lines of tests of underlying ability which are a mixture of verbal and visual tasks with a practical element included. There will be some single word reading both timed and untimed, reading of non-words is usually included as well as reading comprehension. There is an assessment of spelling ability using single words as well as within a longer piece of writing where we can also assess handwriting, punctuation, grammar and organisation. We test phonological awareness, phonological memory and rapid naming as well as working memory. There may also be tests of visual processing as well as identification of whether any visual stress is present. At the end of the assessment the assessor will have a good idea of whether there is dyslexia present or not and what the strengths and weaknesses are but will want to go away and score up the tests and make comparisons between them before making a final judgement in their full report.   

The British Dyslexia Association are able to offer diagnostic assessments. The cost of an assessment is £450 (+ VAT) with a specialist teacher and £600 (+ VAT) with an Educational Psychologist. Assessments are conducted by Specialist Teacher/Assessors with current Assessing Practising Certificate (APC) or Psychologists registered with the Health and Care Professional Council (HCPC).

For further information, or if you wish to book a diagnostic assessment, please download the relevant Information Sheet and Booking Pack from our website or contact BDA Assessments on assessments@bdadyslexia.org.uk

Karen Mace

Head of Assessment and Professional Level Training