Why should I get assessed for dyslexia?
For many people, finding out if they are dyslexic is the turning point in their lives. In my work as a specialist assessor, I meet many older people who don’t find out if they are dyslexic until they are adults. By that time, their self-belief, self-esteem and confidence has been dampened down over the years and is very low. An assessment for dyslexia helps them understand their strengths and weaknesses and identify reasons behind any difficulties. I’ve seen people who have struggled for years, thinking they are stupid or slow, suddenly see themselves in a new light and also begin to look at the positive side of being dyslexic, of which there are many! Despite a number of claimed ‘dyslexia tests’ and ‘dyslexia screens’ out there, a full dyslexia assessment is the only recognised way to formally identify dyslexia.
Why assess children?
Perhaps the most memorable assessment I have administered involved an 11-year-old boy in his final year of primary school. His teachers commented that he was making very little progress because, they thought, he was “just not trying”. He had muddled along throughout school and had begun to feel like there was no hope. The assessment was enlightening! It showed him and his parents that in fact he was extremely bright, but like so many others he faced dyslexic barriers that made it extremely difficult to read and write. As a result of the dyslexia assessment his teachers had a better understanding of his difficulties and were able to provide individualised support and set realistic targets that were critical in building and maintaining his positive self-image throughout the rest of primary school. The assessment report (and diagnosis) also will be passed onto his secondary school, so that they too can ensure he has the appropriate classroom learning support in place. When it comes to exams, reasonable adjustments will be made to ensure he can show what he is truly capable of. If his parents had not made the decision to get him assessed for dyslexia, none of this would have happened, and likely he would have continued through primary and then secondary school underachieving, and not meeting his potential.
Why assess students before either going to, or whilst they are at university?
I assessed a 17-year-old boy recently who was in his first year of sixth form. When we sat down and chatted before the assessment, he came across as a confident and articulate young man; someone that you would think didn’t have any struggles at all. However, he told me he thought he was “dumb” and not clever enough to go to university. The assessment revealed the complete opposite. His underlying abilities were extremely high for his age, but there were certain aspects of how he processed information that were proving to be a massive barrier to his learning. At school, the teachers saw him as somewhat of a ‘class clown’ and he had come to believe that of himself too. However, since his assessment his mother has told me that finding out he is dyslexic was “life changing” for him. He no longer thinks he is “dumb”. Instead, his self-esteem has grown through the roof and he is intent on applying to university after having a gap year. He was really pleased to know that his dyslexic assessment will act as a “passport” for applying for support whilst at university, as well as get additional financial aid through the Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) for specialist tools and tutoring, to help him access the course in line with other students in his year.
Why assess adults?
People are surprised when I tell them that around half of the dyslexia assessments I do are on adults. The common thought is that once someone has left education, there is no need for a dyslexia assessment. This is just not true. The struggles a dyslexic person faces through school and further education can continue throughout their lives and at work. Difficulties with organisation, reading and writing reports and emails, as well as processing verbal instructions are just some of the difficulties faced by a dyslexic.
Unsurprisingly, being assessed as an adult can often be a very emotional experience. Not only is the adult revealing to me what they have worked tirelessly to hide all their lives, but when they discover there’s a reason behind their struggles, most ponder; “If only I knew this when I was a child… things would have so much different”. The assessment helps them gain a better understanding of themselves; their strengths and weaknesses and how they can work around their difficulties. The recommendations included with the report is the next step towards building their self-esteem. They and their employer learn to appreciate what they CAN do and discover tools and strategies they can use to support their work. Reasonable adjustments can be made which usually takes the form of extending deadlines, workstation set-up, and using alternative ways of processing information on the phone or in writing. The impact on taking away stress and worry, as well as making it easier for them to perform their job, can be profound. I have not found an adult yet, whether they were formally diagnosed as dyslexic or not who did not get tremendous benefit from the assessment process.
To find out more or book an assessment, contact Caroline at firstname.lastname@example.org