How to Get a Professional Dyslexia Diagnosis

You would think getting a professional dyslexia diagnosis would be a rather simple task, however, through the frustration of many callers and parents; it has become evident that obtaining a professional dyslexia diagnosis can be a rather difficult task. Even through research and talking to several different people about obtaining this type of diagnosis, the best source is different depending on who you ask and where you live. Its amazing how complicated this process can be.

The following venues can offer a diagnosis; however, they might not work for everyone depending on where you live. The best way to find someone to help you get a professional diagnosis is to call around to these different venues and ask if they do offer this service. Unfortunately, often the only way to find these different professionals in your area is through phonebook and directory searches for the area you live. Another problem that you may encounter even if you do find the proper professional to assist you is that most professionals require that your child is school aged before they will conduct a diagnosis.

Licensed Psychologists:

Licensed psychologists are most commonly suggested for obtaining a dyslexia diagnosis, specifically neuropsychologists. Because neuropsychologists specialize in brain functioning, and dyslexics have a unique wiring in their brain, neuropsychologists can usually offer a proper diagnosis as well as the best additional information for helping your child or loved one with their dyslexia. Another option you may want to pursue is child psychologists.

Medical Doctor:

Contacting your family physician about getting a diagnosis, or where to get a diagnosis could also prove to be effective. Some people offer this as a good approach while others haven’t had success.

Universities:

Another venue you can receive a professional diagnosis from is the speech pathology or special education department of various universities. This option is not widely known, but there are universities that offer this service.

Schools:

There is a surprising amount of controversy surrounding the option of obtaining a dyslexia diagnosis through your child’s school. There are parents that have successfully got their child diagnosed through their school, but there are many more that say schools will not specifically diagnose dyslexia. We have received many calls from parents that are frustrated by their child’s school because it refuses to diagnose dyslexia.

Schools are required by law to test to see if a child is eligible for special education services, but in the case of dyslexia they are often only able to show a “language learning deficit.” This is mostly due to a lack of professional ability, because neuropsychologists are not typically staffed in school. It has become a barrier for parents to receive help, but schools can and often do provide direction on where and how you can get a child diagnosed. 

If a school does offer a dyslexia diagnosis, it will most likely not be a professional diagnosis. If the school has a licensed neuropsychologist then the diagnosis will likely be official, however, if they simply perform assessments it may simply be an evaluation and will not be a formal diagnosis.

Psst

Eye Doctors:

Eye Doctors sometimes offer a dyslexia diagnosis; however, technically an eye doctor can only test for a visual perception disorder. This disorder is called Irlen Syndrome and often occurs with dyslexia, however, does not dictate that a child or adult truly does have dyslexia.

Dyslexia Centers:

There are many dyslexia centers that assess dyslexia, but unless the assessor is a licensed professional, their diagnosis will not be official.

Because many parents want their child to get a diagnosis before they are school aged, a general assessment may be helpful to help you understand if this may be a problem for your child so you can begin to remediate it as quickly as possible.

Reading Horizons offers a free assessment that although it will not provide you with a professional diagnosis, it is of a professional grade and similar to the assessments used by licensed professionals. It can be found at: http://athome.readinghorizons.com/assessments/dyslexic-assessment-part1.aspx

Also there is a list of dyslexia centers and professionals by state at this website: http://www.iser.com/dyslexia.html

Let us know of any other venues you have either found successful or unsuccessful for obtaining a professional dyslexia diagnosis.

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Free Dyslexia Webinar: “Dyslexia: From Symptoms to Solutions,” presented by Reading Horizons Dyslexia Specialist, Shantell Berrett.

Register to watch the free dyslexia webinar! ›

Angela

About Angela Stevens

Angela is the Marketing Manager at Reading Horizons. She has been with the company since September 2009 and through her time with the company has gained a passion for literacy. When she is not promoting literacy she enjoys reading, boating, playing cards, and trying anything new that presents itself.

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6 Responses

  1. Donna says:

    Thank you for the informative article. However, with regard to schools not diagnosing students with dyslexia, I would like to offer my own experience with this issue as a school psychologist in New Jersey. Child study team members are school psychologicts, Learning Disability Teacher Consultants, and Social Workers. We are not qualified to “diagnose” students. A medical diagnosis must be made by a licensed “medical” doctor…. a neurologist, neuropsychologist, or psychiatrist. We are qualified to “classify” students to receive special education due to their medical diagnoses. The specific categories of classification are outlined by the state. Dyslexia is not one of them. We can classify students under the category of a Specific Learning Disability due to the reading and written language deficits associated with the medical diagnosis. Similarly, we cannot classify a child under the category of ADHD. He can classify them under the category of “Other Health Impaired” due to their diagnosis of ADHD, which is having a significant negative impact on academic functioning.

  2. Rita says:

    I find your article to be informative. However, as a school psychologist from Ohio, I second what Donna says. It is actually frustrating for misinformation about this to be distributed as we are not trained to offer such a diagnosis. Making it seem as if it is a choice on our part causes an unneeded tension between school and home when we should be working together to help the chid be successful. When parents research who can help them and read that we can but won’t, that has got to be upsetting but it simply isn’t true.

    • Josh Josh says:

      Rita, thanks for the comment! We hope you see that this is a piece to help provide a starting point for parents and to connect them with individuals like you. Regardless if you provide a professional diagnosis or not you are there to help and so a parent can and will often go to you for more information. I do see that the writing in this article could lead to contentious thoughts and so I have revised the school section slightly. Please let me know if this makes a more clearer understanding of the situation.

  3. Denise says:

    Question for both Donna & Rita: I suspected my son was dyslexic, for a variety of reasons. I had the school test him, and they said he was not dyslexic, because the scores on the tests they gave him were not low enough. However, they did not give him the proper tests that show dyslexia. So, I had my son tested by a neuropsych. She did the appropriate tests and diagnosed dyslexia. However, the school then refused to acknowledge those test results. Do you see the problem here? Schools can’t (or won’t) test for dyslexia, yet they also won’t accept a diagnosis from the very person they say is able and qualified to diagnose it. Talk about frustrating!!! What is a parent to do in this situation? BTW, I live in Illinois.

    • Josh Josh says:

      Denise, I have seen it work both ways. Parents do get their child tested and then find help through their local school system. Other times, I have seen parents take matters into their own hands, research, learn, and find help independently to help their dyslexic child. I usually see this happen after a parent has gone through an experience like yourself. The knowledge to teach a dyslexic child to read is out there and there are proven and research-based ways to do it. This may mean finding a tutor that knows how to help your son or learning and applying effective research-based strategies yourself through the help of a well-designed curriculum or program.

  4. Rita says:

    Hi Denise. I understand your frustration. I will only speak as far as my knowledge but maybe it will help you make sense of it in your situation. As a school psychologist, we are not qualified to diagnose so I would not even attempt it in the school setting, personally. I was not trained to do so. Although I have done research on dyslexia and have attended symposiums on the topic, I still do not have the expertise to make an actual diagnosis. What we have been trained in though is determining the presence of a learning disability. Dyslexia is one of several types of reading problems. In some cases, children with dyslexia receive special education services under the category of Specific Learning Disability in Reading. However, it is possible for a student to have symptoms of Dyslexia that are problematic but not disabling. In order to to qualify for special education services, a student with Dyslexia must meet eligibility requirements based on guidelines set by his state’s department of education, in your case Illinois. In Ohio, school districts must take into consideration documentation and testing that are presented by outside professionals but still must have evidence that the condition is so disabling that it requires specially designed instruction in order to qualify for special education services in the school setting. I hope this makes sense. For example, a student may have dyslexia but is performing well in the classroom in all subject areas without intensive support. If a classroom teacher can provide assistance and it’s helping, that is where we maintain keeping the student in the least restrictive environment. If you feel your child needs additional help, is performing poorly, and he does not qualify for special education services, ask the team of teachers to meet (in Ohio we call it an Intervention Assistance Team [IAT] meeting) to help come up with classroom interventions. Also, you can ask the team to consider a 504 Accommodation Plan in order to determine if that is something for which he may qualify. I hope this helps!

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