Can the school do an evaluation for dyslexia?
Yes. Federal and state laws require school districts and charter schools to assess early reading skills of all students in kindergarten, first, and second grades in order to identify students who are at risk for dyslexia or other reading difficulties. If a student is identified as being at-risk, parents must be notified, and an intensive reading program that appropriately addresses the student’s reading difficulties must be implemented. Ongoing progress monitoring and data analysis are required as well to adjust teaching and intervention strategies. Students who continue to exhibit reading difficulties should be assessed further by individuals who have training in the evaluation of students for dyslexia and related disorders.
Unfortunately, the breadth and quality of dyslexia evaluations varies greatly between school districts and even within different schools in a single school district. In some schools, well-trained and well-qualified individuals complete dyslexia evaluations, while in other schools someone with little or no training completes the evaluations.
The ApaCenter provides comprehensive evaluations for dyslexia by Licensed Psychologists who are also Licensed Specialists in School Psychology. Our evaluations include tests to help determine the cause of any reading problem, and we recommend specific interventions to address any difficulties. Parents may then use these results to ensure that their child’s specific needs are being met, whether this is through school-based instruction or private intervention.
We encourage you to check with your school to determine the training of the individual who completes the dyslexia evaluation, as well as the components included in the evaluation. If you obtain a school-based evaluation and would like the ApaCenter to review the results to determine whether additional testing would be helpful, please contact us and we will arrange for a consultation with you.
For additional information regarding evaluation of dyslexia, see The Dyslexia Handbook, Revised 2007, published by the Texas Education Agency.
Can a child outgrow dyslexia?
Research suggests that with specific identification and intervention prior to the 3rd grade, children with dyslexia can learn to read and can become fluent readers. Without intervention, children with dyslexia may eventually learn how to sound out words and may memorize many words, but they will read slowly and inefficiently. Bright students can even “hide” their dyslexia for many years. However, as the demands of reading become greater, their struggles with reading may become more apparent (sometimes this does not occur until the college years in exceptionally bright individuals). Interventions can also be effective later in a child’s life, but the brain is most readily adaptable to change earlier in life. Waiting for a child to fail seems to be a particularly harsh way of determining whether he or she needs help, though failure is often required by schools before they will assess for reading problems. Reading tutoring from someone who is specifically trained to address children with phonological processing deficits will likely lead to reading improvements for the child with dyslexia.
My child has problems pronouncing words, often switches sounds in words, and is hard to understand when she reads aloud. How can we find out if she has a speech impediment or dyslexia? Could she have both?
Yes – a child can have both a speech impediment and dyslexia. To find out if your child has a speech problem, reading problem, or both, a qualified professional, such as a Licensed Psychologist or specialists at your child’s school, should conduct a comprehensive evaluation. Through such an evaluation, the Licensed Psychologist can identify your child’s strengths, weaknesses, and any areas of disability, and make appropriate recommendations to assist your child in overcoming her challenges.
My 5-year-old often reverses the letters “b” and “d” and sometimes writes words backwards, Does this mean he has dyslexia?
No, this problem in isolation does not mean that your son has dyslexia. At this young age, many children reverse their letters. When children first learn their letters they think of them as they would any other object. A table, for example, is a table, even if it is upside down. A 5 year-old child may not realize that, unlike a table, the orientation of a letter gives its meaning. Until letters become more meaningful it is common for children to reverse them.
My 6-year-old has a hard time identifying letters and sounding out words, but she does not write letters or words backwards. So, can she really have dyslexia?
Yes – many people with dyslexia have difficulty with identifying letters, sounding out letters in a word, and blending sounds in a word together to read the complete word. When older children continue to reverse their letters, testing for dyslexia should be considered. However, letter reversal is not necessary for a diagnosis of dyslexia.
My child reads accurately, but incredibly slowly. Could she have dyslexia?
Yes – a slow reading rate could be a sign of dyslexia. Some individuals with dyslexia have problems sounding out and accurately reading words. These children are considered to have a phonological processing deficit. Other children with dyslexia can accurately read words, but read very slowly. These children are considered to have dyslexia due to a reading fluency deficit. Finally, some children have both phonological and fluency deficits. It can also be the case that a person’s weak phonological skills hinder the “automaticity” of their reading and manifest as a reading fluency deficit. Dyslexia does not manifest in children in exactly the same way. However, if your child is reading very slowly it is possible that she has dyslexia that is presenting as a fluency deficit.
My child is an excellent reader but can’t understand or answer questions about what he’s just read very well. Is this dyslexia?
Only testing by a professional, such as a Licensed Psychologist, can determine if your child has dyslexia. Often reading comprehension problems occur as a result of dyslexia. If a child can’t read the words in a passage accurately or fluently, it is unlikely he or she will be able to understand the passage. However, a child who can read accurately and fluently but is unable to comprehend what he just read is more likely to have a reading comprehension deficit rather than dyslexia. Reading comprehension deficits and dyslexia are are both considered to be learning disabilities. If your child is presenting with a significant deficit in reading comprehension, he might be eligible for either special education or 504 services.
I am a parent and have struggled with dyslexia my whole life. What are the chances that one of my children will also struggle with reading?
Research over the past 30 years has shown that dyslexia is very heritable. Up to half the children of dyslexic parents are also affected. Because of this, if you are a parent with dyslexia, it is probable that one of your children may also have dyslexia. It will be especially important for you or someone else to read daily to your child. Other literacy promoting activities, such as playing rhyming games, can also promote phonological awareness in your child. If you notice your child having difficulty understanding rhyming or how words are made with individual sounds, a dyslexia evaluation is recommended. If caught early, children at risk for developing dyslexia have excellent chances of reading at levels similar to those of their peers.
My 12-year-old is very bright, but has always had a harder time with reading than with math. He learned how to read, but reads much more slowly than his peers. His teachers say his reading is almost at grade level, so he can’t be dyslexic. Still, I wonder if maybe he is dyslexic, but just smart enough to “hide” it.
To put it simply, children with dyslexia have more difficulty with reading than would be expected for their age. Given that your son has an easier time with math and his reading is not quite at grade level, despite being bright, indicates a strong likelihood that he has dyslexia. Your son’s slow reading rate indicates that reading has not yet become automatic for him, which likely results in frustration for your son. A comprehensive psychological assessment could help determine whether your son has dyslexia and provide recommendations for use at home and in the school setting to help him build confidence in his reading ability and ensure that he is able to reach his academic goals.