Advice for parents and children

Advice for parents

Where to start and what to avoid
Parents set out on a journey with the best intentions to assist their child. Most parents state that they have been bombarded with a lot of mixed information on the internet about what dyslexia is and is not and the types of assessments and treatments that are available. This is the main questions that the ADA advises parents on; is where to start and what to avoid.

All reputable research into dyslexia, language and literacy agree that:
Dyslexia is related to acquiring and using written language; reading, spelling and writing.

Dyslexia is neurobiological in origin

Dyslexia can be seen on a continuum from mild to severe

Dyslexia primarily affects phonological processing of language

Dyslexia can affect orthographic processing

There is a high chance that verbal working memory is also affected

Dyslexia tends to also affect the acquisition of learning to read, it primarily affects the ability to decode, retain and retrieve automatic recognition of words. When this does not happen with ease reading becomes chopping and hesitant. The ability to comprehend what has been attempted to be read can be impeded upon.

Dyslexia affects:
Accuracy (the correct word) and

Fluency (the rate the word is retrieved)

Cognitive aspects involving memory

Both can be affected and are usually caused by:
Poor decoding of single words and or

Poor recognition of words that are known but hard to retrieve for reading.

Therefore this glitch can affect the ability to comprehend what has read since factors such as poor decoding (cracking the code) and poor recognition of words make accessing comprehension very hard for some individuals with dyslexia. This then causes them to have to re read and or try harder to work out what they have attempted to read. Usually taking 10 times more cognitive energy to do so.

It is very important to understand dyslexia as a specific term and not generalise it. Keeping dyslexia specific allows identification to be straightforward leading to specific and suitable recommendations for instruction. If relevant, accommodations and modifications will also need to be considered in the classroom.

With the right instruction individuals with dyslexia can achieve positive gains in learning to read, spell and write  ADA

The next suitable steps (stages):
ADA encourages you as parents to think about all stages of the process:
1. Identification must lead to understanding for; the child, parents and school.

2. Understanding should then lead to research based best practice (effective instruction).

3. Effective instruction should be accessed, taught by a well trained educator and student progress should be monitored for self growth.

4. Often alongside access to effective instruction, suitable adjustments are given in the classroom and suitable provisions for school based tests and exams are implemented.

5. At the same time the individual’s well being, self efficacy and sense of worth needs to be taken into consideration. Their strengths cultivated and their challenges minimised.

Accessible and affordable Identification: The ADA pre assessment is specific to identifying dyslexia (every dyslexia pre assessment includes dysgraphia) and all assisting all states mentioned above. The pre assessment will reveal if dyslexia is present at the pre assessment stage. The ADA also can pre assess dyscalculia at an extra add on fee.

The ADA pre assessment has been working very well for parents and schools and others, since it is specially ADA designed to identify key areas reflected in research that dyslexia affects.

The results also include reputable advice on best instructional practices for the individual assessed, relevant accommodations and modifications for school suited to their educational level (taking into account the demands of the school curriculum being literacy centred).

Young children
The ADA pre assessment is suitable for young children from 5 years and 5 months. The ADA does not suggest a lengthy full assessment (diagnosis) for children who; firstly have not been screened and secondary who have not commences any evidenced based instruction in a direct, explicit and systematic approach for at least 6-12 months. Children need a chance to respond to the effective teaching, since poor teaching will lead to difficulties that may appear to reflect dyslexia (also known as ineffective casualties). At the end of the day, the ADA can assist all who are struggling regardless the cause.

When may a full assessment be required?
A pre assessment report can be all that is required in most educational systems who have the power to make changes for all students identified with dyslexia and or similar. There is no confounding evidence from the Education department that a full assessment or diagnosis is required nor compulsory for a school to assist. There are laws in schools to allow any child identified as struggling to receive adequate assistance to learn. The term that school may generally adopt to describe such children may be specific learning difficulties (SLD). SLD is an umbrella term used to describe a general population of students who struggle (for various reasons) and who do not obtain the grade level expected results in core subjects, namely Literacy and Numeracy.

Full Dyslexia Assessments
A full assessment should be a comprehensive assessment pertaining to dyslexia, it is not an IQ test, since reading and IQ are not related. Moreover the full assessment battery for dyslexia should be a range of specially chosen language and literacy assessments that provide an insight into whether dyslexia is present.

The assessor chosen must possess an evidenced researched background into peer review acceptable research on dyslexia. They should have a deep understanding of the language areas affected by dyslexia and those areas that show strengths and select tests accordingly. Dyslexia assessment demands specific training and often many years of practice assessing and reporting. The dyslexia report should reflect a profile of dyslexia, the subtypes and include dysgraphia if required.

The full assessment report is often required for extra time when external boards begin to control what help (provisions) are given in tests (Year 11 and 12), Universities and some colleges.

Secondary Effects
Dyslexia left unidentified and unassisted can lead to other issues and challenges that begins to affect all areas or other areas of school that may have once been enjoyed. Your child may also find themselves feeling less valued and a sense of lower self esteem creeping in. Not every individual with dyslexia will have secondary effects but research states many do and will if not identified and assisted as per ADA recommended stages .

Dyslexia: difference, difficulty, disability all these terms seem to be used interchangeably:
Please note the Australian Dyslexia Association (ADA) understands that in the USA dyslexia is seen as a disability (IDEA). You will notice this as a parent when you read a high number of resources that are from the USA. In Australia dyslexia can also draw the term ‘disability’ and is included under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (section f). The ADA is a voice for those with dyslexia and supports the research that dyslexia can be seen also as a difference in language and cognition. ADA realise that dyslexia needs to also be covered under ‘disability’ for protection when nothing is being done, or something needs to be done, since sadly. The ADA are well aware that dyslexia left unidentified and unassisted can ‘disable’ individuals from being able to read, spell and write for the purposes of satisfying educational curricula and also where life may also demand these skills and only these skills (job roles, applications etc where there is a demand for adequate literacy skills already be mastered).

How do I get my school onboard? ADA have seen time and time again, parents who seek reputable screening and full reports written for school assistance have the best chance of school knowing how to assist their child. The same parents approach the school gracefully with all extra information (usually in a folder) and meet with the staff.

The main issues appear to be when a parent receives a low quality report, not based on research and not coming to a clear conclusion of the issues. Often these reports are too long and waffle on with jargon and test scores (that the school can’t make sense of). The same reports often have no real specific plan of action for the child nor the school. Too often the report is generic and contains general websites and some rather limited suggestions or recommendations, that may or may not be taken seriously by the class teacher.  A reputable report will provide the school with sound results and information baked by research on ways to assist the individual in mention and ensure that a support plan is done.  ADA train schools and parents so we are basing this information on real life feedback.

Advice for Children, kids wearing dyslexia proudly:

The ADA assessed Isley for dyslexia some years ago, she is a very special and talented girl. Thank you Isley for the work you have done in raising awareness…oh and meeting Sir Richard Branson.

The ADA also assessed Will Mitchell and knew he would go onto to great things, despite having low self efficacy at the time. Mum reports, 4 years later after his assessment that Will is doing amazing and has embraced his strengths.

Useful & Positive Websites:

Yale Centre for dyslexia and creativity (Yale University):

Dyslexic Advantage, a very positive website on dyslexia and achievements:, a useful and informative website:

Reading Rockets, plenty of topics and articles and resources:

Please contact ADA if you require a selection of children or adult books which have a focus on dyslexia:

Advocacy and awareness in Australia:

Square Pegs, Tasmania:

Parent driven organisation: Code Read Dyslexia Network

Australian organisation dedicated to scientific research on effective instruction:

Primarily for Victoria, Australia

Useful article on Scientific Reading what it is and what it is not, By Louisa Moats

Useful Fact Sheets and Research articles:
International Dyslexia Association (ADA’s Global Partner)

Learning Difficulties Australia

For any further information on advocacy or for advice, please email: