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Guide to Dyslexia Testing

written by: Mayflor Markusic • edited by: Amanda Grove • updated: 9/11/2012

After eliminating several reasons for your child’s unexplained language difficulty, you’ve decided to test for dyslexia. How should you go about it?

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    Diagnosing dyslexia can be carried out at any age and it is not an expensive process. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) stipulates that testing for dyslexia and other learning disabilities, as well as the provision of special education services should be free. This free testing, however, does not include those quick dyslexia tests offered by websites. Such tests are not comprehensive enough. A test or series of tests used to identify the symptoms of dyslexia typically lasts about three hours. In some cases, two or more sessions are required, especially when the patient is young and with a very short attention span. Most important of all, not everyone is qualified to conduct dyslexia testing. Professionals with psychology, education, language, and reading backgrounds are the ones who are qualified and trained in how to diagnose dyslexia. Thus, before subjecting the child to testing, the credentials of the individuals who will conduct the tests should be known.

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    Elements of Dyslexia Testing

    There is no single test for diagnosing dyslexia. Several tests are put together to determine whether the observed symptoms of a learning disability belonged to dyslexia. There is also no single set of tests for dyslexia testing. Some tests will be included and other tests will be removed, depending on the age of the patient. For example, a young child’s set of tests will focus on sound/symbol associations and phonological processing. Despite this variability in testing for dyslexia, most tests are effective because there are elements in testing that must be consistently present. These elements are the following:

    • A record of family, medical, academic, behavioral, and developmental history.

    • An evaluation of the general intellectual abilities of the patient

    • An evaluation of the patient’s functioning level, which often includes tests in reading, spelling, and math

    • Tests that provide information about cognitive processes, such as memory, visual and auditory processing, and reasoning abilities

    • Tests that diagnose oral language skills, specifically those that involve phonological processing and other skills that lead to the successful development of reading and writing abilities

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    What to Expect after Testing for Dyslexia?

    The series of tests in diagnosing dyslexia must be able to eliminate the possibility that the observed symptoms are not caused by other learning disabilities such as sensory impairments, affective disorders, and ADHD. After testing for dyslexia, parents and teachers should expect a written report that contains scores and explanations of such scores. A meeting of concerned individuals (parents, teachers, school counselors, specialists) will be conducted to discuss the said report and to determine treatment (when appropriate), eligibility for special education services, academic interventions, and instructional decisions for the child with dyslexia.