I’m often asked this question and my answer 99% of the time is, yes! If your child is struggling to read and you’re perplexed because you know they’re “smart” and articulate, an assessment may provide crucial information needed to make sure your child receives the proper support. The initial rebuttal is the potential negative “labeling” that may accompany an assessment, and parents feel it may hinder their child, but I assure you that knowing is better than limping along trying to put band-aids on the challenges your child is facing.
The trauma that many dyslexic (right-brained/visual-spatial) children experience as they journey through their formative school years has the power to cause life-long damage if it goes unchecked. At this point in time, there is little being done to change legislation in this country that would allow for teacher education to include extensive dyslexia awareness courses. A shift IS slowly taking place but things aren’t changing quickly enough, in my opinion. Regardless of the fact that 10-20% of the human race is dyslexic to some degree (I call them visual-spatial, right-brained learners), syllibi for early literacy courses, even at the most prestigious colleges and universities, do not reflect more than a brief mention of dyslexia. There is more to be said in this vain but I will leave that to another post.
I often encourage parents to schedule a psycho-educational evaluation as soon as there is evidence of a reading/spelling/writing struggle with their young children. The earlier the better! Whether the assessment states that there is an identification with dyslexia, or if it’s written as a specific reading disabilty, at least we will know what we’re dealing with. And MOST importantly, classroom accomodations can be applied that will even the playing field for your child/student. This “knowing” makes a world of difference for parents as well as for their children… don’t be fooled, kids know when they are different from other children in their classes and by that I mean, if they are struggling with literacy skills, they are clearly aware of how seemingly easy it all comes to other children and this causes a lot of negative ripple effects. They begin to withdraw, become stressed, self-doubt, avoid taking risks and worst of all, they begin to believe that there is something wrong with themselves and think they aren’t smart. Imagine the trauma these things induce and they don’t go away, the effects can be damaging and may last a lifetime. Many adult dyselxics will tell you that once they became aware that they were dyslexic everything changed, at last they had a reason for their struggle and it didn’t have anything to do with not being intelligent. Dyslexia is extremely misunderstood and needs to be clearly understood and worked with in order for students to be able to thrive in school and life in general.
If you’re a parent who’s concerned about your own child’s academic performance, please chose to have them tested, there is nothing to fear and in the end there will be no question as to what’s going on and that will bring peace of mind for both you and your child. Most importantly, you need to educate yourself in regards to what dyslexia is and is not. Also, your child will need you to advocate for them until they are mature enough to advocate for themselves.
If you need guidance or direction, please feel free to reach out to me via the contact page on this site. I will be happy to schedule a call with you to explore your situation and to answer your questions on this extremely sensitive topic.