Despite being acknowledged as one of the most common learning difficulties among children, dyslexia is not easy to assess or diagnose. After all, its symptoms are not always noticeable.
The Australian Dyslexia Association (ADA) defines it as a learning difficulty and NOT a learning disability.
In other words, a dyslexic student does not have a problem with comprehension or intelligence; rather, they find decoding (reading) and encoding (writing) extremely challenging due to neurological problems.
Does your child have dyslexia?
According to the ADA, one in every five Australians exhibit dyslexia at varying degrees. However, they admit that this might be a conservative estimate, as many afflicted Australians remain unidentified.
The main reason for this is that most children with dyslexia remain unassessed until well into adulthood.
Some parents assume that the child’s slow progress in learning to read and write is mainly due to their tender age and the general lack of interest in written words, both of which can be overcome with time.
It’s also possible that the child suffers from other concerns, such as vision problems like short-sightedness, which make reading and spelling extra challenging. As such, effective screenings and assessments are the keys to identifying whether your child has dyslexia or not.
Dyslexia Assessment: 3 things you need to know
If your child struggles with reading, spelling, writing, or has a poor phonological awareness (ability to recognise words), it is a good idea to have them take an assessment to determine whether or not they are suffering from dyslexia.
Note that the assessment must be conducted by a professional like a psychologist or an expert speech-language pathologist. Here are the three things you need to know about a dyslexia assessment:
The pre-assessment involves taking several screening tests
It is imperative to identify the source of your child’s learning difficulties at an early age.
Part of the evaluation are screening tests such as the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS), the Predictive Assessment of Reading (PAR), and the Texas Primary Reading Inventory, among others.
These screening tools often test for dyslexia by excluding sensory concerns like vision or hearing problems, which can affect the child’s ability to read and write.
A medical health professional must be present when conducting these tests to ensure that such issues are ruled out and to avoid unnecessary testing on students.
If the pre-assessment is positive, a full assessment may be required
A comprehensive evaluation is important to determine dyslexia’s full profile (from mild to severe). The amount of time required to do a full assessment depends on the areas your child will be evaluated on and on the diagnostic tools that will be used.
A complete language and literacy evaluation usually takes three to four hours for kids and six to eight hours for young adults.
Various organisations offer both pre- and full assessments for a fee
In Australia, there are several organisations that offer various evaluation services to help identify whether or not your child has a learning difficulty like dyslexia. However, most of them are expensive.
In addition, there’s often a long waiting list for an assessment such that children may have to wait up to 1 year before they get their turn.
With all these said, Dystech is developing a novel, fast and affordable mobile application to assess dyslexia. Dystech assessment is an objective screening tool which is entirely computerised, based on artificial intelligence techniques trained on millions of audio recording from individuals with and without dyslexia.