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The Plain & Simple: A Blog Series on the WHAT and HOW of Dyslexia- Part 1: Testing for Dyslexia

The Plain and Simple: A Blog Series on the What and How of Dyslexia

Part 1: Testing for Dyslexia

It is our goal and mission at Dyslexia Pros to take the confusion and complication out of dyslexia. Plain and simple, over 30 years of research has been done on dyslexia. We know how to test for it and how to deal with it academically and emotionally. However, this research just hasn’t gotten into the hands of most educators and psychologists. This leads to misinformation being given to parents who are just trying to get answers and help for their child. In this first blog of our series: The Plain & Simple, we are going to specifically talk about Testing for Dyslexia. We will talk about: Why testing needs to be done, Who can and should test, What tests should be done, How much it should cost, and What you should expect from a quality report.

Why Testing Needs to be Done:

The very word, Dyslexia, can bring an understanding of the very specific teaching methodologies and techniques needed for someone with dyslexia. Without that word, a parent can be lost as to what reading, math, handwriting, and other academic programs to use when educating their child. We hear all to often stories from parents about sending their child to generic tutoring companies, EEG therapy, Vision therapy and countless other expensive tutoring programs all to have it do little or no good. This happens because the parents were either given an incomplete diagnosis, or because they were given misinformation.

When a diagnosis of dyslexia is given, the academic path for a student is much more clear. A student with dyslexia needs Orton-Gillingham based tutoring at a minimum of twice-a-week, for about an hour each session, and the Lindamood-Bell LiPS program may need to be incorporated before beginning O-G based tutoring, depending on the need of the student. A student may also need systematic math tutoring, and possibly step-by-step writing instruction. Without the specific label of dyslexia, a parent can wander around (as one of our parent’s put it) for years trying first one thing and then another, all while their child becomes more confused and falls further behind in academics. This breaks our hearts.

Who Can Do Testing:

A very confusing aspect of the dyslexia testing process is WHO can test for dyslexia. First, schools do not test for dyslexia. So, if you are seeking a diagnosis of dyslexia, you will need to go to a private practice. We recommend that a highly qualified and dyslexia trained psychologist do the testing. Not all psychologists are fully aware of what dyslexia is and what academic therapies are the most effective. Therefore, when looking for a tester some great questions to ask are (Thank you to Susan Barton for providing most of these great questions):

  1. Dyslexia is explained in the new DSM-5, specifically starting on page 66. Have you read all of those pages?

  2. What does the term Dyslexia mean to you?

  3. Do you use the word dyslexia in your reports?

  4. Where did you get your dyslexia training?

  5. What are some of the tests you use?

  6. What is included in your written diagnostic report?

  7. If my child has dyslexia, will your report include a recommendation section that includes classroom accommodations I can have my child’s school add to an IEP or to a 504 plan?

  8. Do you network with any highly qualified dyslexia tutors? And, will you be able to refer us to a qualified tutor?

  9. Can you provide me with a list of parents who have hired you in the past to test their child?

What Needs to be Tested:

When testing for dyslexia, there are a few tests that need to be done:

  • Phonological Processing: A good test is the Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing (CTOPP-2)

  • Reading test that covers word recognition, sight words, decoding skills, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. A commonly used test is the Gray Oral Reading Test (GORT-5)

  • Spelling: should not only test for spelling accuracy but also compare the child’s spelling ability to his/her reading ability.

  • Writing abilities test that covers: handwriting, sentence structure, writing organization, word choice etc. A good test is the Test of Written Expression (TOWE)

  • ADHD: The comorbity (coexisting) rate of dyslexia and ADHD is very high. Best practices say to test for ADHD when testing for dyslexia. It is important.

Other tests can include:

  • A psychoeducational evaluation that includes an intelligence test, such as the WISC, and an academic performance test, such as the Woodcock-Johnson.

  • Auditory discrimination test: Certified Barton tutors have a great screening they use. Usually, these tutors do not charge for this. An auditory discrimination screening (if it is not part of the testing process) should always be done before a student begins tutoring.

  • Discussion of dyslexia warning signs


Psychologists charge for their time. The better and more experienced the psychologist, the more they charge. In Arizona, an average testing for dyslexia is usually about $1,000 to $1,500. If you want more academic testing, such as the psychoeducational evaluation, the cost can be close to $2,000 or more. Talk to the psychologist and specialists about what your academic goals are, and they should be able to cater a testing plan to your child’s current and future needs.

The biggest thing to look for when choosing a professional to test your child is how comfortable they make you feel. Does their knowledge of dyslexia make you feel that this person is an expert, and that your child is in the best hands?

I have never once had a parent express regret about having their child tested for dyslexia, nor have I heard them complain about the cost of the testing. Parents are usually extremely grateful that they finally have the answers they have so long been looking for.

Please feel free to call, email or post with any questions or comments.

Thank you,

Laura Busby

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