Australian Dyslexia Association Inc - Solutions for Those that 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 available on the internet need to be viewed with caution.

ADA Profiling for dyslexia should involves two main steps:
1. Pre Assessment Screening:

Appropriate research based screening tools can indicate a profile of dyslexia by excluding sensory issues that may affect reading and ruling in 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 specialist is required at the ADA pre assessment stage to ensure that sensory issues 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 procatices.

2. Functional and Decriptive Assessment:

The assessment must be educationally and cognitively based. A report should state the individual subtypes within the learning profile. The report should provide information on evidence based approaches suitable to the individual's profile (particularly for young children). Inclusive classroom and equitable provisions for the school or other educational institution must be included. It is also important to know what definition the prospective assessor has adopted and is this a credible definition for identifcation and educational instruction. The ADA supports the IDA's definition of dyslexia. ADA supports a dual-route model approach (Castles & Coltheart) to identify dyslexia subtypes and plan for suitable instruction based on the results. Subtypes can include: phonological dyslexia and surface dyslexia in addtional rapid naming should also be assessed. Other important areas may include: handwriting, spelling and written expression. These areas are often associated with the identification of dysgraphia.

Associated Difficulties: 
Associated difficulties often co-exist with dyslexia and related reading difficulties. Often these are idenitifed a

t the ADA pre assessment 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 dyslexia profiling is preferred to the outdated "diagnosis". Diagnosis is a medical term and not and educational term. This method involves a discrepency IQ model that is not required for dyslexia identification any longer (Siegal and Stanovich). 

Diagnosis an outdated term for dyslexia:

The Australian Dyslexia Association prefers to use the term dyslexia assessment rather than the psuedo medical term "diagnosis". The ADA support assessment that drives educational instructional planning and/or equitable provisions.

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 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).

 
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