Dyslexia Testing

“Diagnosis must take second place to instruction and must be made a tool of instruction, not an end in itself.”

Source: Cruickshank, W. M. (1977). Least-restrictive placement: Administrative wishful thinking. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 10, 193–194.

$800 Total

Approximately four hours of testing.  

This service is for an official Dyslexia Diagnosis.  A full report will be sent within four weeks of testing.

 *(Insurance does not currently cover the price of testing)

It is highly recommended the testing process will be split into two separate dates for 2 hours each time.

An educational evaluation of dyslexia should assess the following areas:

As stated, oral language refers to our ability to listen to and understand speech and express our thoughts through speech.  Oral language comprises low-level skills, such as recognizing and making the sounds within our speech, and higher-level skills, such as getting meaning by listening to someone speak or creating sentences to express thoughts.  Students with dyslexia typically have adequate higher-level language skills.  Indicators of higher-level oral language skills include being able to understand an age-appropriate story and spoken directions, to carry on a conversation, and to understand and use words that are age-appropriate.  If a student has average higher-level oral language skills but many difficulties developing written language (reading and spelling) skills, the need for evaluation and diagnosis for dyslexia is recommended.

Although students with dyslexia usually have strong higher-level language skills, they typically have problems (a deficit) in low-level language skills (see the following section, "Phonological Processing").  This deficit limits the ability to learn to read and spell using the sounds of the language.  Young children with dyslexia often have delays in language development, but their higher-level language skills are usually age-appropriate by the time they enter school.  Difficulties with higher-level language skills suggest a need for a language evaluation by a speech-language pathologist to rule out language impairment.

This is the ability to read single printed words.  It is also called word reading or word identification.  Word recognition tests require that students read individual words printed in a list.  The student cannot use cues, such as the meaning of a sentence, to help them figure out the word.  Tests of word recognition that score both accuracy and the time it takes for the student to read the words (fluency) are instrumental.  Students with dyslexia often become accurate but are still very slow when reading words.  Both accuracy and the speed of word reading can affect understanding of what is read.

Decoding is the ability to read unfamiliar words using letter-sound knowledge, spelling patterns, and chunking the word into smaller parts, such as syllables.  Decoding is also called "word attack." Decoding tests should use nonsense words (words that look like real words but have no meaning, such as frut or crin) to force the student to rely on these decoding skills rather than on memory for a word already learned.

Tests of spelling measure the student’s ability to spell individual words from memory using their knowledge of, for example, letter-sound pairings, patterns of letters that cluster together to spell one sound (igh in high; oa in boat), the way plurals may be spelled (s, es, ies) and so on.  Spelling is the opposite of word attack but is even more difficult.  It requires separating the individual sounds in a spoken word, remembering the different ways each sound might be spelled, choosing one way, writing the letter(s) for that sound, and doing the same again for the next sound in the word.  Spelling stresses a child's short and long-term memory and is complicated by the ease or difficulty the child has in writing the letters legibly and in the proper order.  Spelling is usually the most severe weakness among students with dyslexia and the most difficult to remedy.

Phonology is one small part of overall language ability.  It is a low-level language skill in that it does not involve meaning.  Phonology is the "sound system" of our language.  Our spoken language is made up of words, word parts (such as syllables), and individual sounds (phonemes).  We must think about, remember, and correctly sequence the sounds in words to learn to link letters to sounds for reading and spelling.  Good readers do this automatically without conscious effort.  However, students with dyslexia have difficulty identifying, pronouncing, or recalling sounds.  Tests of phonological processing focus on these skills.

Students with dyslexia often have a slow speed of processing information (visual or auditory).  Tasks measure Naming Speed (also called Rapid Automatic Naming).  Sets of objects, colors, letters, and numbers are often used.  These items are presented in rows on a card, and the student is asked to name each as quickly as possible.  Naming speed, particularly letter naming, is one of the best early predictors of reading difficulties.  Therefore, it is often used as part of screening measures for young children.  Slow naming speed results in problems with developing reading fluency.  It also makes it difficult for students to do well on timed tests.  Students with both the naming speed and the phonological processing deficits are considered to have a "double deficit." Students with a double deficit have more severe difficulties than those with only one of the two.

Typically, students with dyslexia score lower on reading comprehension tests than on listening comprehension because they have difficulty decoding and accurately or fluently reading words.  It is essential, however, to be aware that students with dyslexia often have strong higher-level oral language skills and are able to get the main idea of a passage despite difficulty with the words.  Further, reading comprehension tasks usually require the student to read only a short passage to which they may refer when finding the answers to questions.  For these reasons, students with dyslexia may earn an average score on reading comprehension tests but still have much difficulty reading and understanding long reading assignments in their grade-level textbooks.

Testing vocabulary knowledge is essential because it significantly affects listening or reading understanding.  Difficulties students with dyslexia might have had in learning language or with memory can affect the ability to learn the meanings of words (vocabulary).  Independent reading is also an essential means of developing new vocabulary.  Poor readers, who usually read less, are likely to have delays in vocabulary development.  However, it is necessary to note that students with dyslexia may perform poorly on reading vocabulary tests because of their decoding problems and not because they don't know the meaning of some words.  For this reason, it is best to administer both a reading and listening vocabulary task to measure vocabulary knowledge accurately.

This evaluation was carried out by educational therapists whose training is consistent with the International Dyslexia Association’s Knowledge and Practice Standards for Teachers of Reading. If the evaluation indicates a disability diagnosis, it will qualify your child under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. If the results are consistent with a reading and/or writing disability, you can use your report to request public school services or a 504 Plan for academic accommodations.

Each school has its own procedures for granting accommodations and/or specialized instruction. Therefore, it’s advisable to speak to your school to ensure it fits their individual procedures.

“If these tests will give us a basis from which we can start to understand a child’s difficulties, they will have justified the time spent on them. Anything which helps educators or parents to understand any phase of development or lack of development is of immeasurable value” (p. 189).

Source: Stanger, M. A., & Donohue, E. K. (1937). Prediction and prevention of reading difficulties. Oxford University Press.