Screening tests are designed to give an indication of difficulties or tendencies associated with dyslexia. Dyslexia is not a medical condition, and only a full educational/diagnostic assessment undertaken by a specialist teacher/assessor or educational psychologist can confirm it.
Where the test indicates a moderate or high probability of dyslexic difficulties, the best course of action is to follow up with a full educational/diagnostic assessment. This would determine the precise nature of dyslexic and related difficulties. However if this is not possible, it should not prevent the child from receiving appropriate specialist tuition.
There are many different types of screening tests: some are delivered by computer, others need to be administered by a teacher. Most give an estimate as to whether the child/person is likely to have difficulties due to dyslexia or low levels of literacy. A few offer a more detailed profile of strengths and weaknesses which help inform an appropriate teaching programme.
The main publishers of paper-based dyslexia screening tests are:
- Pearson Education (Dyslexia Early Screening Test [DEST], Dyslexia Screening Test – Junior [DST-J], Dyslexia Screening Test – Secondary [DST-S], Dyslexia Adult Screening Test [DAST].
- Hodder Tests Special Needs Assessment Profile [SNAP]
- GL Assessment: Dyslexia Screener Digital
- Pico Educational Systems Ltd: Study Scan
- Lucid Research Ltd: Lucid Rapid Screening Test and Lucid Adult Dyslexia Screening [LADS]
There are a number of screening tests for primary, secondary and adult dyslexia screening. The British Dyslexia Association provides some useful guidance here.
Please bear in mind that a screening test should only be used as an indicator of those pupils at risk of dyslexia and that the categories of probability serve as a guide only.
At what age can a child be assessed for dyslexia?
Once a child has started formal education and unexpected difficulties arise with the acquisition of literacy skills, or if behaviour becomes a problem, an assessment should be carried out to determine possible underlying learning difficulties. Leaving a child to fail can be very harmful psychologically.
Specialist intervention at a young age is always recommended to enable the child to fully access the curriculum. At a later age, this will be harder to achieve.
Children with suspected dyslexic difficulties should be referred to an appropriately qualified specialist teacher/assessor [contact PATOSS or the British Dyslexia Association for regional lists of specialist teachers] or an educational psychologist for a full diagnostic assessment. Dyslexia is not funded by the NHS and parents cannot ask their GP for an assessment. A full diagnostic assessment by an appropriately qualified specialist teacher/assessor would cost, on average, between £325-£450, often more if provided by an educational psychologist.
In Lincolnshire, Dyslexia Lincs provides full diagnostic assessments carried out by a qualified specialist teacher/assessor.
Which classroom strategies can help dyslexic pupils?
You will find helpful book titles for teachers on this subject in the section ‘Books About Dyslexia and Related Conditions’.
What sort of extra help is effective in helping dyslexic learners?
Firstly, a good understanding of dyslexia and related specific learning difficulties is vital for all teachers. Short courses and INSET training are recommended.
The organisation dysTalk is helpful for teachers and parents who are looking for information on how to optimise a child’s learning. It’s website features talks on various topics by leading experts.
Although pupils with dyslexia learn in a different way to typical learners, teaching that benefits dyslexics can benefit all children. Support offered should be dyslexia specific and ideally offered on a one-to-one basis. For small group teaching, it is recommended that dyslexia pupils are arranged into groups of roughly similar abilities, bearing in mind that dyslexia occurs across all ability levels, independently of IQ. Teaching will need to be structured, cumulative and multi-sensory, with plenty of opportunities for reinforcement. The maxim ‘little and often’ is helpful in order to consolidate learning.
What is the best way to teach phonics?
- The DfE website provides a useful introduction to phonics, together with links/resources.
- This video illustrates the correct way to say individual letter sounds.
- Ofsted has produced guidelines for inspectors in the publication Getting Them Ready Early. This publication [Oct 2011] focuses on early reading, including systematic phonics, and inspection methodology.
- Synthetic Phonics methods are recommended for all beginning readers by the 2006 Rose Review.
Synthetic phonics methods are derived from the Hickey Multi-sensory Language Course for dyslexic learners. The principle is to teach one phoneme [the sound of one or more letters] and its written form [grapheme] at a time, and read and write words that can be made from the letters learned so far. High frequency tricky, irregular, words are introduced gradually.
How do coloured overlays help dyslexic pupils?
Around one third of individuals with dyslexia suffer with ‘visual stress’ where text appears to move around or look blurred or distorted. This can cause headaches and eye-strain. Many of those affected find that coloured overlays or tinted glasses help to minimise these issues. Text appears clearer and more stable with the use of coloured filters, thereby improving the reading experience and aiding the learning process. However, as dyslexia is primarily a difficulty in identifying sounds in words, these visual aids will not teach a child to read. To be effective, an individual will need to be assessed by an appropriately qualified practitioner to find the most effective colour tint.
For an economical intervention Crossbow Reading Rulers can be used as a first step.
For further information please refer to the section ‘Eyes and Dyslexia’.
What training is needed to be able to make Access Arrangements for exams?
Your headteacher or head of centre must be satisfied that you meet the criteria laid out in the annually revised Joint Council for Qualifications [JCQ] publication setting out the Access Arrangements and Reasonable Adjustments for the current year. You will require a Level 5 Certificate course in teaching pupils with specific learning difficulties [dyslexia]. Ideally, a Level 7 Diploma in assessing and teaching learners with specific learning difficulties [dyslexia] is recommended, which is compulsory when assessing for Disabled Students Allowance [DSA].
What training do I need to be able to diagnose dyslexia?
You will require a Level 7 Diploma in assessing and teaching learners with specific learning difficulties [dyslexia].