Could you or your child have dyslexia? Take these online tests
Spotting the signs of learning difficulties can often be tricky – particularly in young children. The NHS describes dyslexia as a “specific learning difficulty”; notably different from a learning disability in that it doesn’t affect intelligence. The symptoms can be subtle, although people with dyslexia tend to have issues with reading, confuse word orders, struggle with spelling and find it difficult to carry out sequences of directions.
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Aspects of dyslexia tend to make themselves known during a child’s time at school, so this is where questions about learning difficulties are likely to be first raised. As a parent, how do you go about starting the conversation that may lead to carrying out a dyslexia test?
Taking an online test
Before approaching a teacher or a doctor, it may be worth taking an online test to see if you or your child shows any symptoms of dyslexia. There is a number of free assessment tools available, as well as some that require you to pay for the software.
If you’re an adult, this checklist by the International Dyslexia Association covers a number of key areas that may be affected by dyslexia, such as difficulty with reading aloud and spelling. The British Dyslexia Association also offers a free checklist for adults.
For children, education company Nessy offers a free dyslexia test for those aged between five and seven years. It also offers a detailed screening tool, called Nessy’s Dyslexia Quest, although this costs £10 a year to use. The Davis Dyslexia Association International offers a free test on its website.
Generally, these tests will aim to gauge whether or not your child has difficulty with placing words, reading and spelling. Be aware, these tests should not be taken as an official diagnosis, and you’ll need to follow up with a medical professional to actually determine if your child has dyslexia.
Arranging an assessment
After taking an online test, the next port of call should be your child’s teacher.
From there, you may also want to consider talking to your GP, who can help tell if your child is suffering from any kind of visual or hearing impairment, or another underlying health condition. If your child is short sighted, for example, that may impact their ability to read from a whiteboard in the classroom. With other factors ruled out, an in-depth assessment might be the best course of action.
You may be referred through your GP to an educational psychologist, or your school may offer assessment through a special educational needs coordinator. There’s also scope to approach an independent educational psychologist, which you should be able to find through the British Psychological Society’s list of chartered psychologists.
During and after the assessment
The assessment itself may involve your child taking a series of tests to determine their reading and writing abilities, memory, organisation skills and logical reasoning.
As the NHS explains, the course of action taken after the assessment will very much depend on how serious your child’s learning difficulties are. This could range from drawing up an ‘individual education plan’ with the school, or could result in a more formal Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan – a legally-binding agreement that covers specific special education needs.
For more guidance on assessing dyslexia, as well as resources on the best approaches to teaching and caring for children with learning difficulties, head over to the British Dyslexia Association website.