Who is Qualified to Make a Dyslexia Diagnosis?

are-dyslexia-fonts-helpful-1You may be concerned that your child is dyslexic. But who is qualified to make a dyslexia diagnosis? The school may be telling you one thing while your pediatrician is telling you another.

Unfortunately, there is no federal law that makes it clear, however, The National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD)  has advice and guidance about the diagnosis of dyslexia and the determination of a disability.  The NCLD has provided the following guidance about who may diagnose dyslexia:  

“Professionals with expertise in several fields are best qualified to make a diagnosis of dyslexia. The testing may be done by a single individual or by a team of specialists. A knowledge and background in psychology, reading, language and education are necessary. The tester must have a thorough working knowledge of how individuals learn to read and why some people have trouble learning to read. They must also understand how to administer and interpret evaluation data and how to plan appropriate reading interventions.”

The International Dyslexia Association‘s facts sheet on Testing and Evaluation by Diane J. Sawyer, Ph.D., and Karen M. Jones, Ed.S., NCSP makes the following points about what should be included in an evaluation for dyslexia and other language processing disorders:  

  • Background information should be included.
  • Intelligence  testing is no longer considered necessary. Instead, oral language abilities (listening and speaking) are more predictive.
  • Oral language skills should be documented.
  • Word recognition (word reading) should be tested.
  • Decoding should be tested.
  • Spelling should be tested.
  • Phonological processing should be tested.
  • Automaticity /fluency skills should be tested.
  • Text Reading /comprehension should be tested.
  • Vocabulary knowledge should be tested.
  • Evaluation outcomes should  provide the framework for the detailed evaluation of relative strengths and weaknesses across the various skill areas.
  • Diagnosis should be made by a professional who is thoroughly familiar with the important characteristics of language-literacy disorders / dyslexia.
  • Intervention planning recommendations  should be included in the written report.
  • Documentation should acknowledge that the “specific criteria, such as cutoff scores for eligibility [for special education] vary from state to state”.

The Lexercise Evaluation Procedures have been developed based on current best-practice. We use the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Federal Act 1990) definition of “disability” (i.e., ”a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities”).  Reading and writing are certainly considered “major life activities”.  Our evaluation is designed to determine if the individual has an “impairment which substantially limits” reading and/or writing.

Lexercise refers to professionals with this kind of expertise as “clinicians.”  Clinicians may have gotten their basic training in psychology, speech-language pathology, education or medicine.   Beyond that basic training, they should have had extensive training in language science, including reading and written language science, as well as in testing and measurement, as described by the IDA Standards. 

If you are concerned your child may be dyslexic, you can screen them for free in 15 minutes here.

 

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Sandie Barrie Blackley, MA/CCC

MA/CCC - Cofounder and CKO

Sandie is a speech-language pathologist with more than 30 years of experience in the private practice sector. She is Visiting Assistant Professor of Communication Sciences & Disorders at University of North Carolina Greensboro, and founder/owner of the Language & Learning Clinic, PLLC, a private practice in Elkin, NC, and Greensboro, NC, specializing in communication disorders, including disorders of reading and written language.