Australian Dyslexia Association Inc.(ADA) - Solutions for those who learn differently

How is dyslexia assessed?


Assessment should be functional (to identify what is getting in the way of learning) and descriptive (to identify what can be done to further learning).

All children struggling to acquire and use written language require assistance in Australian schools regardless of the underlying cause.

Checklists:

Checks symptoms, all of which are behavioural and most people who do not have dyslexia can still check a lot of the boxes and are not reliable on their own. Checklists with 30 or more indicators available on the internet need to be viewed with caution.

Where do I start with dyslexia identification? 

If your child struggles to convert symbols to sounds and or has difficulties reading and retaining sight words consistently then you should consider the ADA pre assessment.

ADA Profiling for dyslexia usually involves:
1. Pre Assessment:

Appropriate research based screening tools can indicate a profile of dyslexia by excluding sensory issues that may affect reading and using an inclusionary approach based on characteristics of dyslexia. This service is exclusive to the ADA and has been set up to avoid unnecessary over testing on students who may not require any further profiling in order to be identified and educationally assisted. A medical health professional is required at the ADA pre assessment stage to ensure that sensory issues (sight and hearing) are ruled out. The ADA prefers to work directly with schools so that we can educate them on the early signs and characteristics and focus on evidence based teaching and inclusive classroom practices. 

2. Full Assessment:
In some cases a full assessment may be required. A full assessment will essentailly assess areas pertitnent to establishing a full dyslexia profile. A full assessment assesses relevant areas of language and literacy as well as areas of strengths and subtypes present. Dysgraphia is considered in every full assessment as well as any diffculties with mathematics and or associated difficulties (see below):
Associated Difficulties: 

Associated difficulties often co-exist with dyslexia and related reading difficulties. Often these can be idenitifed at the ADA pre assessment screening stage. These associated difficulties may include but are not limited to spelling and writing skills, mathematics, working memory, attentional difficulties and other related differences.

Dyslexia Subtypes & Profiling: 

Since dyslexia occurs on a continuum and no two are proflies are exactly alike the ADA prefer the term dyslexia profiling over the term "diagnosis". Diagnosis is a term reserved for the medical field leading to medical treatment whereas dyslexia requires educational response and assistance. The diagnosis method involved a discrepency IQ model (compared reading scores to IQ) this method is no longer required for dyslexia and language based identification since reading and IQ are not correlated. Click here for research by Linda Siegel and Professor Keith Stanovich: Siegel and Stanovich

Struggling readers and dyslexia:

The ADA agrees that all struggling readers who have difficulty acquiring and using written language in the areas of reading and spelling need identifying and educational assistance regardless of the undelying cause. All children who struggle with reading and spelling can benefit from a direct, explicit, sytematic, structured, multisensory approach. This type of instruction can assist all students with or without difficulties to gain a deeper understanding of the structure of the English language.

When to Act

It is highly recommended that at the first point of concern when a teacher or parent notices a child experiencing persistent and unexpected difficulties learning to read is for the child to undertake an ADA pre assessment screening. 

Empower School Automony

The ADA supports the Australian Dyslexia Working Party document. One of the recommendations agreed by government is that schools can be trained to identify and assess dyslexia and significant reading difficulties. This will enable schools to be self sufficient in assessing children, providing evidence based instruction (where trained) and where required to make reasonable adjustments under the DDA 1992 and Disabilty Standards for Education (2005).

Many schools are opting to do the ADA pre assessment screening, this service identifies the children in need and provides clear instructions on the teaching they require as well as school adjustments. 

 
References:
1. Rose, Jim. (2009) Identifying and Teaching children and Young People with Dyslexia and Literacy Difficulties. London
2.International Dyslexia Association Baltimore USA
3.Jodi Clements (2010) IQ Performance and Achievement- Did it help you, your child and the classroom teacher? Interviews with parents of children with dyslexia.
4. The Australian Dyslexia Working Party Recommendations and Government's response
5.Disabilty Education Standards (2005)
6.Disability DIscrimination Act (1992) Section (f)
7.International Dyslexia Association (Definition of Dyslexia):
http://www.interdys.org/FAQWhatIs.htm