- An in-school learning support teacher or counsellor with the appropriate postgraduate qualifications. You need to check qualifications thoroughly. If you require further clarification check with the dyslexic association in your state of territory.
- A developmental paediatrician, however you may need a referral from your family doctor.
- A developmental child psychologist.
- An educational neuropsychologist.
- An educational psychologist. These educational psychologists are sometimes available to assist you through your Government Education Department and school system.
- A children’s hospital will often have a department specifically for children with development or specific learning disabilities where all the appropriate specialists are available. This can include, paediatricians, educational psychologists, social workers, speech therapists, physiotherapists, nurses, teachers and others. These departments often have close links with education authorities meaning you may not need further testing and will receive a comprehensive report covering all aspects of your child’s learning disability, support services and what you can do to support them effectively.
- A private clinic that specialises in the diagnosis of children’s developmental and learning disabilities, specifically dyslexia. Please check the specific qualification of service providers in these private clinics.
What happens if your dyslexia assessor is not qualified?
There are many people out there who know a huge amount about dyslexia; how to assess it, how to treat it and how to support individuals with it. BUT… and this is a big ‘but’…. their diagnostic testing methods and subsequent reports must also be recognised by your state or territories education authority in order for your child or student to receive the appropriate educational support and accommodations they may need in the future. If in doubt, please contact your educational authority to check what is accepted in terms of a dyslexia assessment.
Choosing the right dyslexic assessor
Now this is important. Just because a person is qualified to test for a specific learning disability such as dyslexia, it does not automatically make them the best person to assess your particular child. If you have the ability to choose, the importance of finding the right person can be critical for your child, so you need to conduct some research. Not only do they need to have the right qualifications, so you get exactly what you need in the way of an accurate diagnosis, they must also have the right personality to suit you and your child.
If you just don’t have this option and are referred to a specialist within your education system, you can still be well informed as to what form the assessment will take, who will conduct it and have a good idea of what you will need to get out of it.
The individual or team who assesses your child must have a proven track record in assessing and diagnosing learning disabilities. They must have a knowledge and background in psychology, reading, language and education. They must be aware of the latest research, educational and medical advances in the area of dyslexia. They must also have knowledge of how individuals learn to read, an understanding of what it is that causes people to struggle to learn and they must also know how to measure the learning and language difficulties and your child’s general intelligence in order to make an accurate diagnosis and recommendations.
Make sure you get…
At the end of the testing process you need a plan of action. More specifically, you need to understand your child or student’s learning strengths and weaknesses in detail and have recommendations for specific programs that will utilise their strengths and assist them to overcome their weaknesses. Once you have this, you are well on your way to seeing dramatic changes in your child’s educational outcomes and their levels of well-being and self-confidence.