Noticing signs of dyslexia can be scary, especially if they develop suddenly. Here’s how dyslexia is assessed.
Dealing with dyslexia can be tough, especially if it develops in your adolescence or adult years. But, if you notice any signs of this learning disability, it is important to stay calm and composed and contact your doctor for a diagnosis. Dyslexia is manageable, especially nowadays with the advent of various kinds of assistive technology, so there is no reason for your productivity levels and self-esteem to suffer.
While waiting for a professional assessment, however, you can do some tests at home yourself to give yourself a good idea in regards to what kind of reading disability you’re dealing with, if any. Below, we have a comprehensive overview of how dyslexia is diagnosed as well as a couple of suggestions as to how you can try testing yourself!
What are common signs of dyslexia?
The exact definition of dyslexia and all the problems it entails depend on the individual. Some symptoms are so common that they seem almost universal, while others can be pretty obscure and even slip under the radar. Of course, since dyslexia is a whole spectrum of problems, your symptoms might actually point to another issue that only resembles dyslexia.
Some of the most common symptoms of dyslexia include the following:
- Bad spelling
- Problems with word recognition
- Impaired language processing skill
- Frequent use of nonsense words
- Poor phonological awareness
- Reading fluency beyond one’s grade level and other reading problems
- Difficulties decoding messages
How does dyslexia affect reading ability?
You can tell by the most common symptoms listed above that the main problems dyslexics face all boil down to the loss of critical language skills. That is, dyslexia entails impaired reading comprehension, poor reading skills, and trouble with word identification, both when it comes to written and oral language.
The most common way we imagine dyslexia is by picturing a page with blurred or intelligible letters. That is a good way to think about this disability when it comes to written language. However, dyslexic people might simply see letters as reversed (e.g., they might see ture for true).
On the other hand, some might see the letters clearly as anyone else but only when they stand alone, struggling instead to recognize them when they are joined into words.
Health care providers to help dyslexia
Dyslexia is one of the most common learning disabilities, so everyone should stay informed on it and try to assist those who need help. Naturally, those in special education and health care providers should be at the forefront, helping provide dyslexia screenings, doing subtests, giving teachers classroom remediation suggestions, making questionnaires, etc.
Assessment to diagnose dyslexia
What do dyslexia assessments look like, though? Well, most importantly, they are usually really long. The screening usually takes place in a really quiet environment, with just the patient and the speech-language pathologist present. The environment must be free from any distractions so that the results are as accurate as they can be and so that the patient can take some time to prepare.
The testing specifics will depend on the individual. For example, young children cannot be expected to take Wechsler Individual Achievement Tests, Gray Oral Reading Test (Gort-5,) or Towre-2 tests at the same level as high school students and adult patients, so the assessor will administer tests according to the patient’s needs.
However, no matter which of those three tests they choose, the premise will always be the same, and the assessor will check for the following:
- Reading, writing, and spelling proficiency in accordance with your grade level and expected fluency
- Motor skills, such as handwriting and calligraphy
- Phonological awareness, sight word recognition, and rhyming skills
The assessor will take some time to analyze your performance, so it might take some time for them to deliver the final diagnosis. In the meanwhile, you can always try taking some individual tests yourself to see what kind of results you can expect.
There are plenty of screening tests online, both for auditory and written impairments. Of course, you can also take more standardized tests. We’ve mentioned things like Towre-2, but there is also the Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing you can order complete with full kits and grading guides. Another good option would be the Woodcock-Johnson test.
Techniques to help reading difficulties related to dyslexia
If your test results show that you, indeed, do suffer from dyslexia, you will have to make some adjustments to your reading, working, and studying habits. The best coping technique will, of course, depend on you and your specific needs, but there are some techniques that can help virtually everyone suffering from dyslexia.
The most obvious measure you can take is to change the way you approach reading. If the traditional methods aren’t cutting it, ditch them. If you can’t hand printed media, try switching to e-readers or tablets. If you find you can’t engage with the written word, try relying on audiobooks and listening material.
Then, you can rely on colors to help you differentiate words. There’s nothing to say that text has to be black and white. If it helps you focus, try using colorful fonts or highlighters to make the text pop. This is a useful technique for foreign language learners and students of all levels preparing for their exams.
Text to speak technology
Finally, we have to recommend text to speech (TTS) software as the best solution for those struggling to read. Apps like Speechelo, Amazon Polly, and Google Text to Speech are great pieces of assistive technology that will make you forget why you ever relied on the written word in the first place.
One of the best TTS is Speechify. It was designed specifically with those suffering from dyslexia in mind, but it’s since become the go-to solution for people with all sorts of reading difficulties and disorders such as ADHD.
Speechify is so flexible that it can turn basically everything into an audiobook. You can use it to import e-book files and have them narrated for you, or you can rely on its OCR tech to scan your physical books and convert them into audio files.
If you’re worried about the quality, rest assured that TTS tools like Speechify provide users with plenty of customizable settings and use only high-quality AI voices to deliver exactly the end results that you want. Thanks to sophisticated machine learning, Speechify will produce phonemes accurately in dozens of languages and language varieties.
Try Speechify yourself: https://onboarding.speechify.com!