It is difficult to assess pre-school aged children for dyslexia. For primary school children, a formal assessment can help explain why your child is having difficulties and what to do. So, if you think your child may be dyslexic and has special educational needs, first contact the ‘SEN co-ordinator’ (SENCO) in his/her school. If the school recognises your child’s difficulties and provides adequate help, then you will not need a formal diagnostic assessment at this time.
For older children, Year 7-9 is a good time to be assessed. The assessment will be valid for GCSE and A level exams. The assessment may show the Exam Board that your child needs a reader, scribe, laptop or extra time in exams.
If a child goes on to Higher Education, the Disabled Student’s Allowance (DSA) may be awarded after a Needs Assessment. This can fund assistive technology and extra study skills support. Most Higher Education institutions have in-house support to help students get an assessment, if necessary.
The systems and guidelines regarding assessment in Scotland are different. Dyslexia Scotland have kindly reviewed this section and advise you to check the information on their website or phone their helpline at https://www.dyslexiascotland.org.uk/getting-assessed
Jody Rees has written and excellent article on picking the right assessment for your child on her blog, it explains the difference between screening and diagnostic assessment, questions to ask and how to help you feel confident in making the right assessment choice. Click here to read more
Is it wrong to label? This is a question we are often asked. Those who don’t like labels perhaps do not understand that it can be helpful to the child and those around them. A label can assist with understanding, empowerment, and strategies to move forwards so that self-esteem and confidence is built rather than lost. But remember no two dyslexic children are the same, so a label should be seen as having characteristics on s spectrum.
It can be difficult to explain to your child why they are having an assessment here are some words that might be useful:
‘ Everyone has strengths and weaknesses the person we are going to see will ask you questions to help tell us what these are. When we know this we can use the information to find the best ways to make learning easier and more fun at school’
‘You should not worry if you cannot do the tasks or answer the questions or find it confusing as there are some things you are supposed not to know’
‘It’s no big deal, it’s to see if you brain works differently so we can find different ways to learn so you can be successful, you are not stupid and it’s not your fault’
‘We know that things are hard for you at school so if we can find out more about why, what you find difficult and how you learn so that we can find better ways to teach you that will suit you better’
Please see our section on assesment in the Childrens section which might be useful in helping your child understand and prepare.
A full diagnostic assessment can be expensive - well over £400. Some schools have qualified teachers who can carry out basic assessments: this may be enough to get your child the help they need.
However this will depend on how your school views the severity of your child’s needs, as well as the availability of funding for this work. Often help and exam access arrangements for children who are 'just managing' are not funded. You may then decide to get a private assessment for your child.
In 2014, a new Children and Families Act changed how children (aged 0-25) with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) receive support in the UK. The old statement system has been replaced with a system called an Education Health and Care plan (EHCP).
The EHCP involves a Needs Assessment and then co-ordinated support for the young person, if necessary.
• Authorities and schools will have to publish documents explaining the support they offer.
• The EHCP supports the parents’ right to appeal or express preference for a particular school, if the child is unhappy with their current support.
• It will also give parents and students the offer of a personal budget to buy support.
A qualified assessor assessor must hold a Level 7 specialist assessor's qualification such as AMBDA for assessing primary and secondary school pupils or adults and or a Assessment Practising Certificate (APC). An APC is needed for any reports that are going to be submitted as part of a Disabled Student's Allowance application for Higher Education. To check that a specialist teacher is registered click here to search for their name on the SPld Assessment Standards Committee register. To check that an educational psychologist is registered with the Health and Care Professionals council click here.
Dyslexia Action have published a useful and free online guide to explain how to access support .
For advice from the British Dyslexia Association on obtaining a Statutory Assessment for a Statement of EHCP, click here.
Also see www.ipsea.org.uk which provides advice and information about applying for support and appealing to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal.
For IPSEA information regarding the acceptance and validity of independent assessment reports by a professional click here
The systems and guidelines regarding assessment in Scotland are different. Dyslexia Scotland have kindly reviewed this section and advise you to check the information on their website or phone their helpline at http://www.dyslexiascotland.org.uk/getting-assessed