A guide to assessment, identification and diagnosis of dyslexia and other learning differences.
My child is experiencing some difficulty with reading/spelling/writing/mathematics and I am concerned. Is it possible that he or she has a learning disorder like dyslexia?
OPTION 1. SCREENING
The Dyslexia Hub offers quick, affordable screening for dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia + language disorders. Screening will simply let you know if a comprehensive assessment is required.
If no further assessment is required, monitor the situation. Screen again in 6-12 months’ time if you still have concerns.
If further investigation is warranted, have your child formally assessed for a specific learning disorder.
OPTION 2. ASSESSMENT
At The Dyslexia Hub, we strongly believe that a multi-disciplinary approach to assessment provides the best outcome. Our assessment team comprises specialists in the fields of education, speech pathology and psychology.
As practitioners, we work collaboratively to ensure that parents are provided with a comprehensive assessment of their child’s strengths and challenges, as well as a cohesive set of recommendations for home and school.
When more than one practitioner is involved in the assessment process, a case conference will be held. This enables us to share knowledge and expertise, and in turn, gain a more complete understanding of each child’s unique profile. This is particularly important for children with complex cognitive and learning profiles (e.g. those presenting with behavioural concerns + learning difficulties).
According to the International Dyslexia Association:
“Assessment of dyslexia involves testing, most often provided by a team of qualified professionals who have had extensive clinical training in assessment as part of a graduate degree program.”
Professional clinicians who assess Specific Learning Disorders (SLDs) such as dyslexia may have a Master’s degree or Doctorate in Education, Reading, Speech-Language Pathology, Educational Psychology, Psychology or Neuropsychology."
We are also mindful of the cost of assessment for parents. For this reason, we will not suggest a full psycho-educational assessment (IQ test + tests of academic achievement) unless we feel that it is absolutely necessary.
In instances where the primary concern is learning-related, we recommend that you start with either an educational assessment or a language & literacy assessment. From here we will be able to determine what other assessments (if any) may be necessary (e.g. an assessment with an Occupational Therapist for diagnosis of motor-based dysgraphia). Therefore…
If you have concerns about both literacy difficulties AND your child’s oral language development, see one of our Speech Pathologists .
If you have concerns about both literacy difficulties AND numeracy difficulties, see one of our Education Specialists .
Such an assessment will provide you with:
a) an indication of the likelihood that your child has a specific learning disorder like dyslexia and its severity,
b) baseline data against which future growth can be measured,
c) a detailed overview of academic strengths & weaknesses (i.e. areas needing to be targeted), and
d) a clear support plan moving forward e.g. recommendations regarding tutoring/therapy & school-based intervention, accommodations, assistive technology, resources for home and school, ILP/IEP goals, teacher PD, school selection.
All of our Specialist Educators and Speech Pathologists also have experience in the delivery of evidence-based literacy and/or numeracy interventions (we are all practising therapists with postgraduate qualifications in dyslexia) and are therefore best positioned to provide advice and recommendations regarding therapy options and suitable accommodations for the classroom.
Sometimes children with learning difficulties have other, co-occurring behavioural concerns such as attention difficulties, sensory processing issues or other behavioural quirks. In such instances, the interplay between these issues can make accurate identification of a learning disorder more difficult. A Psychologist is best positioned to screen for conditions such as ADHD and ASD. Therefore…
If your child is presenting with behavioural concerns (in addition to learning difficulties), a combined assessment (cognitive + language & literacy) is recommended.
Older students wanting to do VCE or VCAL will need a full psycho-educational assessment (i.e. cognitive assessment + educational assessment) in order to access special provisions. Only Psychologists can administer cognitive assessments like the WISC-V. Therefore…
If your child is in Year 9 or beyond, a combined assessment (cognitive + educational) is required.
COST OF ASSESSMENT
Dyslexia or Dyscalculia Screening – Grade 4+ (Special Education Teacher) - $80
Language & Literacy Screening – Pre-Prep to Grade 4 (Speech Pathologist) - $190
Educational Assessment (Special Education Teacher) - $800*
Language & Literacy Assessment (Speech Pathologist) - $800*
Cognitive Assessment (Psychologist) - $800*
Case Conference (if required) - $120*
* Costs may vary, depending on the complexity of the case in question.
We are often asked why assessments are so expensive – perhaps this is because much of the work that goes into producing a quality assessment report happens behind closed doors. In the interests of making the process as transparent as possible, here is an overview of what goes into an average educational/language & literacy assessment:
> Respond to enquiry – brief discussion re. case history, assessment options, what’s involved in the assessment process etc.
> Book assessment sessions & send follow-up email.
> Pre-assessment parent interview / survey.
> Assessment set-up e.g. purchasing tests & testing materials.
> Testing sessions (approximately 2 x 2-hour sessions).
> Correct tests & check responses.
> Collate and analyse data.
> Write report (a 20-page report can take hours to write).
> Parent feedback session.
In total, the assessment process – from beginning to end – can take anywhere between 10-15 hours. When you add the cost of each assessment + overheads into the equation (rent, insurance, professional learning etc.), then you can see that our hourly rate is pretty reasonable!