Seeing a neuropsychologist for dyslexia for the first time? Read our guide to see how the process works and what to expect.
People affected by learning disabilities like dyslexia have many tools and coping techniques at their disposal. They can make it easier to perform otherwise challenging tasks like complex reading and comprehension.
Still, more severe cases of neurological disorders warrant a visit to a neuropsychologist. In this article, you’ll learn about the neuropsychological assessment process and what to expect from it.
What is a neuropsychologist?
A neuropsychologist studies the psychological aspects of brain function. They specialize in understanding the relationship between the patient’s brain and behavior. Among different dysfunctions, neuropsychologists diagnose:
- Developmental disorders
- Language disorders
- Learning disorders
- Reading difficulties
- Executive functioning issues
As one of the most common reading and learning disorders, dyslexia received many definitions over time and is currently considered an umbrella term. These were proposed by the international dyslexia association (IDA), Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5), and World Health Organisation (WHO). Despite the differences in definitions, they all agree that dyslexia is a neurobiological disorder. As such, it falls under a neuropsychologist’s area of expertise.
Then, they’ll use their findings to recommend a special education program like IEP (individualized education program). They can also suggest tools and techniques that improve word recognition, phonological processing, and other important aspects of reading affected by the impairment.
So what does it take to receive a diagnosis and treatment/management suggestions? Let’s have a closer look at the neuropsychological assessment process.
What can you expect from a neuropsychological assessment?
If you’re an adult, you can schedule a visit to a neuropsychologist yourself. For young children, it will either be a parent or the school district that makes a referral.
When you arrive, the neuropsychologist will ask about your symptoms. You can talk about why you’ve visited them and believe you’re dealing with dyslexia.
The next thing that your neuropsychologist will do is assess your family history. Genetics is a good predictor of reading disabilities like developmental dyslexia, so if some of your family members have them, you’re more likely to experience them.
This step is crucial because there are subtypes of reading problems someone can experience. A family history of reading dysfunctions can narrow them down to pinpoint the exact cause.
Next, the neuropsychologist will assess different aspects of your reading ability. They may order a specialized dyslexia test that accurately describes your reading skills and identifies issues such as processing deficits or working memory problems.
When the test results come back, they will examine them and suggest the best course of action. Early intervention is crucial to proper remediation, so you’ll get recommendations for the tools and resources to help you manage dyslexia more effectively.
These resources include books such as Sally Shaywitz’s “Dyslexia” and other materials to help you understand your condition. As poor readers sometimes struggle with self-esteem, the neuropsychologist might recommend therapy or other methods of overcoming this issue.
Dyslexic children will also get guidance for special education and recommendations for tools like apps and practice materials for word reading and decoding.
Once you start implementing the suggested techniques, you might have regular check-ups with your neuropsychologist so that they can assess your progress.
The importance of board certification
When choosing a neuropsychologist, you must go with a board-certified and specialty-trained one. Before you schedule your visit, ensure they are a member of the American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology (AACN) and certified by the American Board of Clinical Neuropsychology (ABCN).
This is important because some doctors practice neuropsychology without the appropriate training ABCN certification requires. As a result, they might not be competent enough to ensure a correct diagnosis and make effective treatment recommendations.
Even if they make the right diagnosis based on the referral, they might not be able to notice symptoms of other potential conditions. As a result, you might leave their office without the appropriate help.
Speechify – a useful tool for reading comprehension
If you’re looking for a tool to help you manage dyslexia, you should leverage a text to speech (TTS) solution like Speechify.
Speechify lets you turn any text into easily comprehensible audio so that you can overcome the obstacles that dyslexia imposes. It’s packed with features that provide an excellent alternative to reading.
First, Speechify offers 30+ voices to choose from, so you can choose the most pleasant one. It supports 20+ languages, which makes it a great tool for language learning.
You can use Speechify to study, work, and create audiobooks from any e-book or paperback. You can fill your library with countless audiobooks, from indie titles to New York Times best-sellers.
Speechify is suitable for both in-home use and on-the-go listening. It supports iOS, Android, and macOS, and you can use dedicated Safari and Google Chrome extensions if you want to use Speechify on your desktop or laptop.
If you want to see how Speechify works in action, you can try it for free.
Can a neuropsychologist diagnose dyslexia?
Yes, a neuropsychologist can diagnose reading disorders like dyslexia.
Is dyslexia a neuropsychological disorder?
Technically speaking, dyslexia is neurodevelopmental, as it stems from issues with neurological pathways and neurotransmitters.
Can you see dyslexia in a brain scan?
Brain scans can’t confirm with certainty if someone has dyslexia. Instead, evidence-based assessments performed by a neuropsychologist are used to make the definitive diagnosis.
Can dyslexia be diagnosed in children?
Dyslexia is most commonly diagnosed in preschool and school-age children, as this is when the first signs appear.
What is the difference between dyslexia and dyspraxia?
Dyslexia specifically affects reading aspects like phonological awareness and auditory processing. Dyspraxia, on the other hand, affects movement and coordination.
What are the symptoms of dyslexia?
The most common symptoms are low text processing speed and reading fluency, alongside an inability to understand semantics or speak out certain phonemes.
Is dyslexia a genetic condition?
Yes, psychiatry and neuroscience experts believe dyslexia does have a genetic component.