Screening and Assessment
Teachers who suspect a problem should take action. If left undiagnosed and untreated, dyslexia may stop a student from mastering the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic, damage self esteem and self confidence and have negative long-term effects. If dyslexia is identified and appropriate interventions put into place, students can be enabled to achieve their potential.
The assessment is called a psycho-educational assessment. It is done by an educational psychologist and is the only way to get a definitive diagnosis of dyslexia. The assessment includes testing of cognitive abilities as well as literacy skills (and sometimes numeracy skills if maths difficulties are reported). The psychologist also needs to get relevant background information from parents, individuals, schools, colleges or any other relevant sources. A diagnosis is made based on a combination of the history reported and the performance on the tests.
The assessment session varies in length, but on average it takes about 3 hours. A detailed written report is supplied normally a few weeks after the assessment, which contains relevant history, test results, conclusions and most importantly recommendations for addressing any areas of difficulty which emerged.
Teachers who suspect a problem should:
- Contact the child’s parents, which may agree that a problem exists.
- Advise parents to have the child’s hearing and sight tested to ensure that there are no acuity problems.
- Perform a dyslexia screening test, if available in the school/college. Screening tests help to identify how ‘at risk’ a student is of having dyslexia. If a student scores highly a risk then a diagnostic assessment is advisable.
- Discuss with parents the need for a diagnostic psycho-educational assessment which is done with a qualified educational psychologist. This should describe the nature and extent of the problem and provide recommendations for useful help. A teacher’s report is very helpful. Make a list of the child’s strengths and weaknesses and provide relevant test results – this gives valuable background information to the psychologist.
There are generally 3 ways to get an assessment done in Ireland – in school with NEPS, with the Dyslexia Association or with an independent private educational psychologist.
1. School-going children may be tested free by the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS). School Principals will have information on this. Schools are only allowed a limited number of assessments each year, so in practice, only students with very severe difficulties are likely to be seen through the school service.
2. The Dyslexia Association of Ireland arranges psycho-educational assessments at our Dublin Office. The fee for a psycho-educational assessment is normally €400. In very exceptional circumstances, a reduced rate may be available for people on social welfare or very low income. A subsidy of up to €200 towards the assessment fee may be granted in such exceptional circumstances. Applications for a reduced rate assessment must be submitted to DAI at least 2 weeks in advance of your assessment date. Late applications cannot be accepted. Applicants are encouraged to save up some money each week towards the assessment while they wait for an appointment. DAI is a charity, and we are only able to offer these limited subsidies due to fundraising and donations.
Unfortunately, there is a waiting list for DAI’s assessment service of approximately 6 months. We do occasionally get cancellations so if there is a particular urgency and if people are flexible to come at very short notice, it can sometimes be possible to get an assessment more quickly. Please ask people to phone or email us if they want to place a student on our list.
3. There are also many independent private educational psychologists, throughout the country. A list of registered psychologists can be obtained from the Psychological Society of Ireland’s website at www.psihq.ie, by emailing the Society at email@example.com or by writing to the Psychological Society of Ireland, Floor 2, Grantham House, Grantham St., Dublin 2. School principals or college disability support staff may also know some private psychologists in your area who accept referrals.