Dyslexia Assessment

When a child is struggling to acquire literacy skills, teachers may recommend that the student be tested for dyslexia, or, parents in their search may come across this evaluation

What does a dyslexia assessment involve?

The assessment should be conducted by an experienced child Psychologist (Educational and Developmental), with training in assessing dyslexia and learning difficulties.

The process needs to include an interview with parents that addresses the child’s overall development; family history of learning difficulties; teachers’ and parents’ observations, and previous evaluations if any by other health professionals (speech therapist, occupational therapist, other).

The evaluation needs to include the child/teenager’s cognitive abilities (IQ test/intelligence), reading, spelling and writing skills, as these are used to assess whether he/she meets the diagnostic criteria for a “Specific Learning Disorder in Reading and Written Expression commonly known as dyslexia”, as per the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5th Edition (DSM-5). This criteria needs to be met for a diagnosis, and which is supported by the Victorian Education Department.

This evaluation and written report should also provide intervention recommendations that addresses the specific difficulties experienced by the student, including school accommodations, assistive technology, and other suggestions to help the student learn to read, spell and write more effectively, as dyslexia is a treatable disorder with supportive research that a MultiSensory Learning approach is the most appropriate intervention, and the gold standard in countries such as the US, Canada and others.

Why is an Educational and Developmental assessment important?

An assessment is vital to understand why a student is having difficulties with the fundamental building blocks of reading, spelling and writing, providing a profile of areas of strengths and weaknesses that can be used by teachers and schools to create an individual learning plan and most importantly, to create a plan of action addressing the specific difficulties experienced by that student.

The evaluation may also recommend individualised assistance by a trained dyslexia specific tutor, or, one trained in MultiSensory Literacy to be provided outside school, that can also liaise with the school to assist in the modification of the curriculum for that student.

MSL tutors should be specialised teachers trained by qualified MSL trainers. Please note that tutors or agencies that offer literacy tutoring/support services may not have specialised training in working with individuals experiencing dyslexia, and therefore may not have the skills to target the specific needs of a dyslexic student.

MultiSensory Learning is offered by Alexie Better (dyslexia specific educator) and her associates, at the Better MultiSensory Learning Centre www.bettermsl.com.au

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