How Is Dyslexia Diagnosed?

When I taught my children how to read and write, I carefully monitored their responses and writing patterns. Dyslexia runs in my family, and I wanted to be sure that if my kids had it, I would catch it early on. Lots of dyslexic kids fly under the radar of their teachers and parents, and are just labeled as dumb or lazy, so it's important to know the signs and facts — how is dyslexia diagnosed?

According to John Hopkins Medicine, dyslexia is a learning disability, in which a person has trouble processing words or numbers, which causes difficulty in learning to read, even in smart, motivated people who are trying hard to learn. There's nothing wrong with them, it's just that people with dyslexia use different parts of their brain when reading than people without dyslexia.

There are many reasons that would prompt a need for a dyslexia diagnosis. One reason is that it runs in families, explained the International Dyslexia Association (IDA), because it is a neurobiological and genetic disorder. So if dyslexia runs in your family, you may want to have your child assessed. Another reason to get a diagnosis? If you see a pattern of learning difficulties.

IDA explained that along with famously seeing words or letters jumbled, dyslexics may also have difficulties with things such as learning to speak, learning letters and sounds, memorizing number facts, organized writing and speaking, taking longer to read and comprehend, spelling, and math operations. The IDA noted that everyone is different, so some may face more or less difficulties, based on their situation.

The IDA suggested that the only way to diagnose suspected dyslexia is to provide a comprehensive evaluation, which includes intellectual and academic achievement testing, assessment of all critical language skills, and reading and writing assessments.

Identifying dyslexia early is very important, noted the IDA, and it can allow dyslexics to get the support they need from teachers, tutors, and therapists that are trained to help them learn efficiently through different methods, including a multi-sensory structured language approach, working with them one-on-one, and disciplined practice with prompt, corrective feedback.

John Hopkins Medicine noted that most dyslexics are very intelligent and work really hard to overcome it. I know this to be true — my dyslexic mom, who is an amazing artist, successfully worked in front of a computer terminal for 40 years. My dyslexic best friend, the one who failed second grade twice, now has a doctorate degree in science, and is one of the smartest people I've ever met. Overcoming dyslexia can be hard, but with the right diagnosis, at the right time, the journey can get a little easier.