Holly answers all your burning questions about dyslexia assessment…
I am based in Kenilworth, Warwickshire, and I carry out many dyslexia assessments in my comfortable home close to Sainsbury’s and the centre of town.
However, I am also happy to travel to you and conduct the assessment at your home, school, college, workplace, or wherever is convenient to you.
I operate across Warwickshire and the Midlands, primarily south of Birmingham, including Coventry, Warwick, Leamington Spa, Rugby, Stratford, Solihull, and Redditch.
In certain circumstances, I am also able to travel to Oxfordshire, Worcestershire, Gloucestershire, Bristol, Devon, London, Northamptonshire, Leicestershire, Staffordshire, Derbyshire, Cheshire and Cumbria. Get in touch to find out if I’m able to come to you.
Yes, of course. Just get in touch.
In my experience, people tend to fall into two camps. The first type want to have a long chat about their issues (or their child’s issues), to establish that they are making the correct choice to come for a dyslexia assessment. The second type want me to know nothing about them/their child, so that they can rely on my impartial judgement. Either approach is fine.
In most cases, you’ll find out immediately. I am normally able to give you verbal feedback straight after the assessment.
Most parents ask me to explain dyslexia to their child with a positive slant.
In my experience, most children are relieved to know that dyslexia is a real thing and have it acknowledged that they really are having to work harder to achieve less. They are often thrilled that they have proof that they are not thick or lazy, which is what they may have been told over the years by teachers or classmates.
If you are able to bring any of your child’s recent school exercise books, that would be extremely useful.
I ask for the assessment fee up front, which secures my time. If you decide to have a report, then this is requested to release the report via e-mail.
Payments can be made via bank transfer or cash.
This is what I specialise in. A full assessment means that I dig and dig to uncover everything I can to help you and your child.
The first step is to have a Dyslexia Assessment done. The results will help you to know the maximum allowances that your child is likely to be able to receive.
It is the school SENCo/Exams Officer who makes the ultimate decision, but having a formal dyslexia assessment and report will help you to fight your child’s corner and suggest exactly what to test them on to ensure they find the evidence to submit to the JCQ (Joint Council for Qualifications).
I have a BA, a PGCE (teaching qualification), and a PGCert SpLD (Dyslexia). I am an Associate Member of the British Dyslexia Association (AMBDA), with Approved Teacher Status (ATS), which means I am fully qualified to carry out dyslexia assessments that meet the official standards accepted by schools and workplaces.
No, Specialist Dyslexia Assessors with Associate Member of the British Dyslexia Association (AMBDA) status are also qualified to carry out diagnostic dyslexia testing.
Chartered Educational Psychologists do also perform dyslexia assessment. Their expertise is also much broader, so they tend to be less knowledgeable about the specifics of dyslexia, and have not had boots-on-the-ground experience of teaching children or working in schools.
Yes. My certificate is hanging in my living room to reassure parents, but I can bring it with me to outside visits, if requested.
No, dyslexia is my specialism. However, I am extremely knowledgeable about the ways that dyslexia co-occurs with other conditions (such as ADHD, autism, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, etc.). Occasionally, I do diagnose a specific learning difficulty, affecting written output, since a dysgraphia or dyspraxia diagnosis is hard to achieve in the UK.
If the assessment does not find your child to be dyslexic, you will always get extensive verbal feedback and not have to worry about paying for a report that they don’t need. However, my extensive experience means that, (if appropriate,) I am able to give recommendations for other specialists that it is worth visiting (such as occupational therapists, specialist optometrists, paediatricians, CAMHS, psychologists, counsellors or speech therapists).
If your child does not have dyslexia but may qualify for exam considerations that could be transformational, then I can produce a shorter (non-diagnostic) report with recommendations, at a reduced rate. This could accompany a report from a psychologist diagnosing ADHD or autism, or from a paediatrician/occupational therapist diagnosing dyspraxia. Or it could be a useful placeholder for schools, until such a diagnosis might be sought/obtained.
There is high demand for my services, which means my schedule fills up quickly. However, as a mum of children with additional needs myself, I know how frustrating it is to wait a long time for assistance. Therefore, I will try to schedule your Dyslexia Assessment within one month, or an Initial Dyslexia Screening more quickly. If you need a report urgently, let me know and I may possibly be able to do it at shorter notice.
No. In most cases, children actually love the assessment process. Seriously!
This is partly due to my relaxed style of testing, which is child-focused and based on years of teaching experience. Most children also relish having a few hours devoted to them and how they tick.
During the assessment, I try to boost their self-esteem by praising them and highlighting their strengths. I try to reframe the things they struggle with as helping us to pinpoint exactly how to help, so we can work smarter not harder.
Parents often find it an emotional process, but most kids love it. Snacks, treats and a little bit of bribery from parents can help them to retain their focus and keep motivated, even when they are doing things that they find tricky.
In general, I only assess children aged 7 and up.
However, many parents of younger children come to me, concerned about dyslexia. For children aged 5 and 6, I would suggest an Initial Dyslexia Screening to see if there is enough evidence to warrant writing a formal report, or whether to hold off until they are slightly older. The younger the child is, the harder it can be to prove that issues are due to dyslexia, rather than different rates of child development or other issues.
For a younger child, the labelling process may be difficult. But it can be extremely worthwhile to produce a shorter (non-diagnostic) report with detailed recommendations for how best to help your child now, even if it is hard to label them as dyslexic. For some younger children, tutoring is best solution, to see whether with a bit of very targeted specialist support they can close the gap. (See: Further Guidance)
Yes. I can do a single assessment at the prices stated, or carry out a number of assessments a reduced rate.
Yes, I assess people at all points in their lives. Some are students, looking to access support at their college/university. Some are older, successful in their careers, but struggling with undiagnosed issues. Some have ended up in jobs which are not a good fit for their dyslexic strengths and weaknesses.
No matter what your situation is, I can help you to form a plan of action to achieve your goals and get support along the way.
Yes. I’m often approached by managers who are struggling with supporting employees they suspect may be dyslexic. They’re usually very keen to hang onto their talented and valuable employees, and I can help with an action plan and an officially-recognised dyslexia diagnosis.
I use a rigorous suite of highly-regarded diagnostic tests. These include an underlying ability test, reading tests, spelling test, rapid naming tests, phonological processing tests, short-term and working memory tests.
Other tests that can be added on are writing/handwriting tests, maths tests, visual tests (processing speed, memory, visual perception, visual-motor integration, visual stress), motor tests, and extra memory tests.
Here are some of the tests that I currently select from:
- Access Mathematics Tests
- Beery-Buktenica Developmental Test of Visual-Motor Integration, 6th Edition (Beery VMI)
- Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing – Second Edition (CTOPP-2)
- Detailed Assessment of Speed of Handwriting (DASH) or DASH 17+
- Developmental Test of Visual Perception – Third Edition (DTVP-3)
- Dyslexia Screening Test Junior (DST-J)
- Educational Assessment of School Youth for Occupational Therapists (EASY-OT)
- Feifer Assessment of Mathematics (FAM)
- Gray Oral Reading Tests – Fifth Edition (GORT-5)
- Helen Arkell Spelling Test (HAST-2)
- Helen Arkell Auditory Tests (HAAT)
- Jordan Left-Right Reversal Test – Third Edition
- Neale Analysis of Reading Ability – Second Edition (NARA-II)
- Phonological Assessment Battery (PhAB)
- SCAN Tests for Auditory Processing Disorders (SCAN-3:C, SCAN-3:A)
- Symbol Digit Modalities Test (SDMT)
- Test of Auditory-Perceptual Skills – Revised (TAPS-R)
- Test of Auditory Processing Skills – Third Edition (TAPS-3)
- Test of Mathematical Abilities – Third Edition (TOMA-3)
- Test of Memory and Learning – Second Edition (TOMAL-2)
- Test of Word Reading Efficiency (TOWRE-2)
- Test of Silent Reading Efficiency and Comprehension (TOSREC)
- Wide Range Achievement Test IV (WRAT5)
- Wide Range Assessment of Memory and Learning – Second Edition (WRAML-2)
- Wide Range Intelligence Test (WRIT)
Yes, I am happy to compile a comprehensive plan of action for your child’s needs, or offer consultation either in person or on the phone. Visit the Further Guidance page for more information.
Most schools prefer to spend their (limited) special educational needs budget on interventions and assistive technology, rather than on testing. This is understandable, but it can be frustrating for parents.
As a result, the kind of dyslexia assessments you get in school tend to vary a great deal. They are often quick computer screeners. Alternatively, an Educational Psychologist may be involved, but often he/she simply looks at your child’s books, observes them in class and administers a handful of tests. It is important that you check whether your child is getting definitive dyslexia testing or just a progress check.
Different parts of the country have vastly different approaches to testing, some still draconian. In some counties, many schools (particularly primary schools) do arrange for a Dyslexia Assessment, which is paid for by the school. However, in my experience, the average wait is approximately 18 months from first raising the subject of dyslexia assessment to getting the diagnosis. This is too long for many parents to wait, so they opt for a private assessment from someone like me.
I’ve heard you can’t trust a private dyslexia assessment. Do you just tell everyone they’re dyslexic?
No. I follow the well-respected Rose Report definition of dyslexia, I am very well-qualified, up-to-date with current research, and I’ve had to prove this extensively to the British Dyslexia Association and the Professional Association of Teachers of Students with Specific Learning Difficulties (PATOSS).
Unfortunately, there are lots of myths about dyslexia floating around. One is that dyslexia is over-diagnosed. In fact, research shows that dyslexia is very common and still vastly under-reported.
If you are worried, you may want to have an Initial Dyslexia Screening first. This can be converted into a full report later, if appropriate.
It is interesting to note how many teachers, local authority assessors and SENCOs choose me to do their own child’s assessment, typically having read my “incredibly useful” reports and via feedback from parents. Probably about a quarter of parents who bring me in to assess their child are teachers.
This is a common concern and I’m certainly not in the business of taking money from people for unnecessary assessments; I pride myself on being honourable and ethical, besides which I am also much too busy to make unnecessary work.
Lots of parents know in their gut, but worry that they might be wrong. This is why I have taken the unconventional step of splitting the process in half, charging for the assessment and the report separately.
In so doing, your child gets a very detailed assessment, which puts your mind at ease. Then if dyslexia turns out to not be the correct label, you will still find out in detail strengths/weaknesses, how to help, and what the next steps are via the verbal feedback. You haven’t wasted any money on a report you don’t need.
Still worried? Here are my recommendations:
- Take a look at my book, Defeat Dyslexia! (downloadable as an ebook for a few pounds). This should give you a sense of whether the problem is dyslexia or not.
- Have an Initial Dyslexia Screening This can later be converted into a full assessment, if appropriate.
- Let me know your fears. I have a wide variety of tests to try to pinpoint what issues may be underlying, which means I can offer a tailored screening instead of the typical dyslexia screening.
While a screening will indicate whether dyslexia is the correct label, a full assessment will pinpoint your (or your child’s) difficulties. In essence, the more tests I run, the more accurate I can be. An extra few hours at the initial testing stage can save years wasted working on the wrong things.
Also, equipping yourself with a raft of good, tailored recommendations means that you may not need to pay an expensive specialist to deliver them. You can either do it yourself, bring it to the school, or find someone that your child trusts and connects with.
Former clients have described me as “very supportive”, “extremely approachable”, and “one of the most knowledgeable and compassionate people I have ever met”.
My biggest strength is that I have the training of an assessor, have been through this process myself as a dyslexic, used to be a teacher, am a mum to children with additional needs, and have successfully tutored dyslexic children for over a decade. This means that my clients get the best of all worlds: diagnostic expertise on dyslexia, plus first-hand, first-rate real-world recommendations for learning.