What should parents or caregivers do if they suspect a child has dyslexia?
It is important to consult your pediatrician if you are concerned about your child's development. Additionally, meeting with your child's teachers is an important step toward getting more answers.
Ideally, every school has a team that meets on a regular basis to discuss problems a specific child might be having. These teams are made up of the principal, classroom teacher, and one or a combination of the following depending on the staffing of the school such as:
- School psychologist
- Speech therapist
- Reading specialist
- Other pertinent professionals
A parent should always be included as a part of this team. The teams are commonly referred to as:
- Child Study Teams,
- Student Study Teams
- Student Support Teams
Any parent or teacher who suspects a learning problem may request a meeting with this team to discuss the child's problem. The parent may request this even if the teacher feels the child is doing well. Sometimes a decision to test the child will be made. The parent or teacher may request testing, but it cannot be done without the parents' written permission.
If the child attends a private school which lacks the appropriate professionals to evaluate a suspected learning problem, he should be referred to the public-school system for evaluation. If testing is not satisfactorily conducted in the public-school system for private or public school students, the parent will need to locate the appropriate health professionals for assessment. A list of resources is provided at the conclusion of this article.
Because testing can sometimes be stressful for children, especially if they are unhappy about their school performance, alternative strategies are usually tried before testing is done. Once the assessment plan has been discussed with the parent(s) and they have granted permission, the school team completes the testing and holds a meeting with the parent(s) to discuss the test results.
The assessment plan for each child depends on the specific problems the child is having. Each plan should include testing in five areas:
- Cognition (intelligence)
- Academic performance
- Health and developmental
The testing will be done by the various members of the school team or the professionals consulted by the parent. Typically, the school or clinical psychologist determines whether or not the child has dyslexia. Since there are different forms of dyslexia, such as learning disability in reading, written language, or math, the psychologist diagnoses the specific type. Another form known as expressive language delay can be diagnosed by a speech therapist.