The only way to know for sure if your child has dyslexia is to have them fully evaluated, either at school or privately. School evaluations are free. Having a diagnosis (schools call it an identification) can allow your child to get supports and services at school. That includes specialized instruction in reading. Learn more about the difference between a school identification and a clinical diagnosis.
Before you go for the evaluation, however, it’s important to rule out any medical problems that might be at play. Your child’s doctor can check for vision or hearing problems.
There a few types of professionals who can assess kids for dyslexia. These include school psychologists, clinical psychologists and pediatric neuropsychologists.
Your child’s evaluator will give them a series of tests for dyslexia. He’ll also assess your child in other areas to see exactly where their weaknesses lie.
A psychologist will also look for other issues that might be getting in the way of their learning. These include ADHD and mental health issues. ADHD often co-occurs with dyslexia. Some kids with learning and attention issues may also have anxiety or depression. (Read more about the connection between dyslexia and anxiety.)
You may be asked for a family history. You may also be asked to fill out questionnaires about your child’s strengths and weaknesses. And your child’s teachers may be asked to provide information on what they’re seeing in the classroom.
The specialist (or the evaluation team at school) will look at all the results together to make a diagnosis. They also recommend ways to help your child. At school, this may result in your child getting an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or a 504 plan