Whether in work or college the best way to determine whether you are dyslexic or not is to obtain a formal assessment or test from your doctor. Here are a few reasons to get tested and the advantages of an assessment:
- It may reveal difficulties which can be overcome with the proper training or strategy outlined
- It may help to clarify the reasons behind such difficulties with written work so that appropriate strategies can be developed for your personal use
- It puts any difficulties into perspective and can also identify areas of strength that you may have
- It can help admissions tutors or potential employers to judge a person’s suitability for a particular course or job
- It can help to secure additional grants to pay for extra training or for equipment (e.g. computers) which might be needed
- It may reveal that extra time would be appropriate for some examinations in order to compensate for being dyslexic
There are two types of tests for dyslexia: screening tests and comprehensive tests.
These tests are designed to be used on very large numbers of people, to narrow down the group who might need a more thorough test for possible dyslexia. The purpose of this is to make certain that no one that doesn’t fit the necessary criteria for dyslexia aren’t tested over and over again. They are not tests for dyslexia, but are designed to help researchers focus on people who appear to be having difficulties with their studies, work or other daily activities and who might be dyslexic.
Typically, these tests consist of a short list of questions, such as:
- Do you have difficulties with spelling?
- Do you find directions confusing?
- Were you reluctant to go to school?
- Do you have problems with math?
Students, in particular, selected by this method could be having problems with their learning for any number of reasons – emotional problems, Attention Deficit (ADHD), delayed learning, autism, dysphasia, and possible dyslexia. Screening tests like these cannot be seen as valid tests for dyslexia, but they are very helpful for researchers. As dyslexia is still in a stage where vast amounts of research are still needed in order to fully understand what causes and what are the most effective treatments for it.
Comprehensive tests for Dyslexia look at the whole person and examine the root cause of any learning difficulties. The word ‘comprehensive’ means ‘thorough’, and these tests examine which brain functions are interfering with a person’s acquisition of normal learning. Tests of reading, spelling, comprehension, and intelligence are given, as well as visual tests, visual scanning tests, sequencing, reversals and other tests of such a nature.
A comprehensive dyslexia test may be administered in two ways, either by a psychologist or at a distance. It is not yet known which method is most effective to use in order to determine the best test available, as such a thing will vary from person to person and really depends on the case.
Psychologists operate either through schools and colleges or privately in a consulting room. Some colleges have psychologists available if you are a student at that particular university and said resources may be available to you. If you know of a psychologist at your university, try contacting him or her and find out as much as you can about getting assessed. For those no longer in college, many well qualified psychologists exist more than likely, right in your home time.
Assessment by a psychologist – if one is available – seems to be the method that works for the majority of people, although like with anything there are a fair number of people who are dissatisfied with the process. More than one has reported that the psychologist denied that dyslexia existed. Again, finding the right one for you takes a little time and research.
Some people seek a private assessment by a psychologist. Although expensive, this is more straightforward. A lot of people report having paid a thousand dollars and upwards for a private assessment, but the costs seem to vary from one country to another, as well as from state to state. The assessment takes a few hours, and you should expect to receive a detailed report. Although assessments are thorough, few psychologists provide detailed recommendations for improving a person’s learning techniques.
An alternative is comprehensive dyslexia testing at a distance. This has the advantage of improved objectivity: the psychologist remains completely objective about the persons performance in all the tests, as he/she never meets the person, but bases the assessment purely on the test results. This in a scientific sense is the most successful of the tests available.
The tests used are very similar to those used by psychologists in schools or privately, but have been adapted so that they can be used by adults at home. This type of test produces a more detailed assessment report than a psychologist normally provides, and contains detailed recommendations for learning techniques that will help the person raise their achievement level. Typically, a test like this costs only a fraction of the cost of an assessment by a psychologist.