What is dyslexia?
Dyslexia is a neurobiological disorder – that means that it is based in the brain and is something a person is born with. A person with dyslexia experiences difficulties with reading and spelling that are unrelated to their intelligence. In fact, people with dyslexia are often very intelligent, with a brilliant ability to express their ideas verbally and incredible strengths in creative problem solving. Despite these strengths, a child with dyslexia struggles to develop reading and spelling skills in line with what would be expected for their age. Even when provided with opportunities at home and school to develop their skills, reading and spelling continue to be tricky.
Difficulties experienced by children with dyslexia often include:
- Early struggles with learning the letters of the alphabet
- Trouble understanding the sounds that make up words (known as phonemes)
- Difficulty recognising words and letters (for example, remembering the difference between ‘b’ and ‘d’ or ‘was’ and saw’)
- Mixing up letters when spelling (for example, ‘two’ may be written as ‘tow’).
When can a child be assessed for dyslexia?
We encourage families to seek assistance from teachers early in their child’s schooling to ensure they receive explicit teaching in application of letter-sound connections to reading and spelling. Many parents request an assessment toward the end of Year 2 or during Year 3 as this allows time for children to develop early literacy skills. It’s essential that parents noticing difficulties earlier than this involve their child in an evidence-based intervention program to assist literacy development. Early identification and intervention is vital to boost confidence by developing effective reading and spelling strategies from the outset of a child’s education.
Many parents start to notice difficulties in later primary school years or early in high school when academic demands increase. An older child or a young adolescent who has previously managed adequately starts to experience reduced self-esteem when their performance falls behind their peers. This is common for children with strong intellectual capabilities who have previously met basic literacy benchmarks through school testing, but struggle as the requirements for reading complex text increases. Other children may have received support throughout primary school, but then display difficulties when the same level of assistance is longer available in high school.
How is dyslexia diagnosed?
Dyslexia testing is an intricate process that requires specific expertise to ensure an accurate diagnosis. Many schools and their associated governing agencies will only accept dyslexia assessment reports from a Registered Psychologist who has specialised training in identifying the processing difficulties experienced by students who are struggling with learning to read. An intellectual (IQ) assessment is an essential component of the dyslexia testing process to rule out other difficulties (such as language disorders, intellectual impairments, or attentional problems). At Early Start Australia | WA | Subiaco, we take time to work with parents and their child to unravel the complexities associated with dyslexia.
Our dyslexia assessment process involves the following steps:
- Parent Initial Consultation – 50 minutes
- Intellectual (IQ) Assessment – 90 minutes
- Functional Assessment – 90 minutes
- Results Interpretation and Report Preparation – please allow 4 to 5 weeks following the assessment
- Parent Feedback Consultation – 50 minutes
Is there a cure for dyslexia?
Dyslexia is often an unexpected diagnosis for families as their child appeared to be developing typically during the early years of life. Many children and adolescents with dyslexia are found to have strong intellectual skills and become frustrated and disappointed when they struggle. It’s therefore incredibly important to offer early intervention using an evidence-based approach. There are many programs available, and we enjoy offering recommendations on those options that are shown by research to be effective at improving children’s reading and spelling skills.
Dyslexia is a Specific Learning Disorder (SLD). Whilst there is no “cure” for dyslexia; with structured intervention, assistance at school and a supportive home environment, dyslexic children and teenagers do go on to lead highly successful lives.