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Diagnosis of Dyslexia
See also: Contributing Factors to Dyslexia | To Teach a Dyslexic

Testing for Dyslexia | Characteristics of Dyslexia | Standard Testing Procedure

How Is Dyslexia Diagnosed?  Are there tests for dyslexia?

The diagnosis of dyslexia usually begins with an awareness by parents or teachers that a problem in reading exists. A physician is often the first diagnostician to explore the nature of the difficulty. The medical practitioner should investigate the cause of the reading problem by conducting a complete physical examination and obtaining a comprehensive health history. If indicated, the child should be referred for a neurological examination. If dyslexia is suspected, the physician should refer the child for further evaluation and treatment by a specialist in psycho-educational diagnosis. The major purpose of the diagnostic process is to isolate the specific difficulties associated with dyslexia and to suggest appropriate educational intervention. Usually the diagnostician will employ a battery of assessment instruments that explore the relationship of specific reading problems to the intellectual, achievement, perceptual, motoric, linguistic, and adaptive capabilities of the individual. Based on the results, an intervention plan can be implemented by a special educator or remedial reading teacher trained in specialized reading techniques. (sic)

Translated into plain English, this means that you must get an "expert" to test your child to rule out all other possible explanations for his learning disability so he can then tell you what you already know--that your child has problems learning to read with conventional methods, in other words your child is dyslexic.

Editors note:  Why waste your money testing for dyslexia when you already know what you need to know and that is, your child needs help in learning to read and learning to spell.

What Are Some Of The Characteristics Of Dyslexia?

An individual is identified as dyslexic when a significant discrepancy exists between intellectual ability and reading performance without an apparent physical, emotional, or cultural cause.

Translated into plain English, this means a person may be called a dyslexic when we know that he is smart enough to be able to learn to read but we "can't" figure out why he doesn't read.

Common characteristics include, but are not limited to:

(1) family history of reading problems;
(2) a predominant occurrence in males (males to females 8:1);
(3) an average or above average IQ and, not uncommonly, a proficiency in math;
(4) no enjoyment of reading as a leisure activity;
(5) problems of letter and word reversal;
(6) developmental history of problems in coordination and left/right dominance;
(7) poor visual memory for language symbols;
(8) auditory language difficulties in word finding, fluency, meaning, or sequence;
(9) difficulty transferring information from what is heard to what is seen and vice versa. Specific reading problems associated with dyslexia include difficulty in pronouncing new words, difficulty distinguishing similarities and differences in words (no for on), and difficulty discriminating differences in letter sound (pin, pen). Other problems may include reversal of words and letters, disorganization of word order, poor reading comprehension, and difficulty applying what has been read to social or learning situations.

There is no simple formula for diagnosing and treating a dyslexic child. Each one requires his or her own individual program.

If you would like to find out how Don McCabe, a dyslexic himself, was enabled to read and what it was that enabled him to discover how to teach other dyslexics to read and write, see To Teach a Dyslexic.

A  Standard Recommended Method of Testing for Dyslexia 
(AVKO considers this expensive and really non-productive but we have this here so that you can see what it entails)

A rather extensive testing battery is completed.  The cognitive portion is usually done by a psychologist.  It is necessary to establish the approximate IQ to rule out mental retardation among other things.  Two common tests that are used are the Stanford-Binet and WISC  to determine IQ.  Then some type of achievement test is completed.  The Woodcock-Johnson Achievement Battery is often used.  This permits comparison of standard scores.  The usual criteria are a standard deviation (15 or 16 points) between IQ and achievement or sometimes irregularities in subscores.  If evidence warrants, language processing tests, figure ground discrimination type testing, and visual-motor type testing.  In addition, for public school placement in a L.D. program, the place where dyslexic students are served in public schools, a social history, a medical history, a psychological evaluation, and an educational evaluation are required.

The psychological and educational evaluations are basically covered in the above testing that may be completed within the school system or by outside sources.  The educational testing may be done by an educational specialist or guidance counselor.  There also has to be a classroom observation and a review of all other educational data.  A school social worker should do the social history.  A medical doctor should do the medical examination.  Then all the results are reviewed by a team that includes the parents, the school administration, the evaluators, the classroom teacher,  the social worker, and a medical representative.  The goal is to prove that the problem is not emotional, mental, social, or medical before educational placement can be completed.

A word of caution:  Dyslexia is more complex than reading numbers backwards or reversing letters in words.  We now believe that it is caused by an underlying language problem that extends throughout the area of language arts.  For some, it extends into mathematics.  Orton-Gillingham type reading programs are usually the most successful in working with reading problems for dyslexics.

Hope that this is helpful.

The above was a posting by Julia Reynolds on the International Reading Association's Listserv: 

Note:   "The goal is to prove that the problem is not emotional, mental, social, or medical before educational placement can be completed"

AVKO's concern:  Supposing a person spends the thousands of dollars on all these tests and gets the "proof" that the dyslexia is not emotional, mental, social, or medical.  What next?  Will the "educational placement" help?  We suggest that BEFORE a child is subjected to hours of testing torture and before the parents' bank account is depleted, that the parents demand to know the percentage of students put into the targeted public school educational placement who are brought to grade level and who graduate from high school reading at grade level.   If their success rate is truthfully admitted to, it probably will be zero.  

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