FAQs | Parents

Some of the common questions frequently asked by parents are answered below. Other more general FAQs about dyslexia can be found here:

For other specific FAQs please see:

I think that my child may be dyslexic, but the school doesn’t seem unduly concerned.

Some schools offer significant support for dyslexic pupils, recognising the importance of early intervention to minimise possible frustration and disaffection with learning. However, there are still many who have yet to receive training in specific learning difficulties, so signs of dyslexia can be missed or misinterpreted as low ability, delayed development or laziness.

A school’s Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator [the ‘SENCo’] can be contacted to discuss your concerns and to find out what support is available for your child. It is advisable to inform the SENCo of any family history of dyslexia, or delayed developmental milestones, and any recent results of your child’s sight and hearing tests. How the child responds to learning at home or any distress the child is experiencing would also be important factors.

Ask the SENCo for the child’s difficulties to be assessed and appropriately supported. Some schools may undertake a dyslexia screening test. If results indicate that your child is at risk of dyslexia, it is recommended that a full diagnostic assessment is undertaken by a specialist teacher [with an appropriate Level 7 qualification], or an educational psychologist.

Can I go to my GP to get my child assessed for dyslexia?gp_1

No. Dyslexia is not funded by the NHS and forms no part of medical training, in spite of being a genetic neurological difference which also frequently co-occurs with other specific learning difficulties.

My school refuses to arrange for my child to be assessed for dyslexia. They say he/she is too young and/or they can’t afford to do this.

There is no recommended age when it is appropriate to assess for dyslexia, although an assessment can be more detailed where levels of literacy are a factor. As soon as difficulties become apparent, and particularly where a child is becoming distressed or showing behavioural problems, an assessment should be carried out. Leaving a child to fail can be very harmful psychologically.

Specialist intervention at a young age is always recommended to enable the child to fully access the curriculum. At a later age, this will be harder to achieve. Budget cuts both at school and local authority level are making it harder for parents to obtain an educational psychologist assessment, and many parents decide to fund this privately.

i_hate_schoolI think my child is dyslexic, but the school thinks his behaviour problems indicate ADHD, although this is never apparent at home.

Not all teachers have in-depth training in specific learning difficulties, therefore misleading assumptions can sometimes be made.

Where dyslexia is not well understood at school, some pupils with unidentified and unsupported dyslexia may become frustrated, and unhappy, with behavioural issues. Difficulties with maintaining concentration and focus, being easily distracted and having difficulty in processing information are very commonly associated with dyslexia.

Behavioural problems can be a symptom of an underlying difficulty, not a problem in their own right.

Dyslexia frequently co-occurs with other specific learning difficulties including ADD/ADHD, dyspraxia and dyscalculia. It can also co-occur with Asperger’s Syndrome [high functioning autism].

Your child may be referred to CAMHS [Community Mental Health Services] for investigation. However, medical and mental health professionals are not usually trained to diagnose dyslexia so this may not be the most appropriate route for diagnosing specific learning difficulties.

Make a firm request to the SENCo for a referral to the educational psychologist or a specialist teacher for an assessment for specific learning difficulties which may indicate dyslexia.

A dyslexia screening test carried out at school shows that my child is mildly at risk of dyslexia, but I have been informed that this does not qualify her for additional help.

Screening tests flag the probability of a pupil having dyslexic tendencies for further investigation. They are not 100% reliable in their diagnosis and give a general but not specific analysis of a child’s profile of strengths and weaknesses.

Unfortunately not all teachers will have received sufficient training to appreciate the limitations of screening tests. In addition, a bright child with significant dyslexic difficulties, on a good day may not show up as clearly as they should on this type of test. Discussing your concerns with the SENCo, providing any evidence you may have, and requesting further investigation and dyslexia support, will go a long way to securing the additional help you are seeking for your child. In some cases it may be felt that a pupil can receive any extra help they need in class from their subject teachers, once notified of their specific difficulties.

I have been told that getting my child assessed will make no difference to what is offered in school.

A full diagnostic assessment provides a detailed profile of a pupil’s strengths and weaknesses, plus intellectual potential. A proper understanding of the child’s difficulties will enable support to be more effectively targeted. A well informed school would be able to provide a number of effective interventions to support dyslexic pupils.

Specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia are recognised difficulties under disability legislation. Schools have a duty under disability legislation [SENDA 2001, Disability Discrimination Act 2005, Equality Act 2010] to ensure that pupils with disabilities are not treated unfavourably and are offered reasonable support. Provision of an assessment report can only help a school to determine the most appropriate kind of support for your child.

There is an SEN Code of Practice which schools should follow. Please see the ‘Code of Practice‘ section. A copy of the school’s SEN policy can be obtained from the SENCo.

Lack of training and resources often limit what support a child may receive. Few schools have a trained dyslexia specialist on the staff, although the government is funding training for more specialist teachers following the Rose Report in June 2009.

My child has fallen a long way behind and may have significant dyslexic boy_reading_frustrated_4difficulties. The help offered in school does not seem to be effective. What should I do?

You may wish to take advice about applying for an Education, Health and Care Plan [‘EHCP’] [previously called a ‘Statement’, although there are significant differences between the two], where the funding for specialist support comes from the local authority, rather than the school. Unfortunately EHCPs are often very hard to achieve, usually for financial reasons, and local authorities devise very stringent eligibility criteria, which may not be fair in all cases. You can still apply for an Education, Health and Care Plan if you feel that these criteria would be unfair, and challenge any adverse decisions in the SEND Tribunal.

Please see Education, Health and Care Plans for further information.

You may also wish to consider obtaining private dyslexia support for your child.

I feel that mainstream schooling is not able to offer my severely dyslexic child an appropriate education. Are there specialist schools for dyslexic children?

Ask the local authority for a list of specialist schools. Mark any giving support for specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia and visit them. Specialist independent schools supporting dyslexic pupils can be found on the CReSTeD [Council for the Registration of Schools Teaching Dyslexic Pupils] website. These range from the specialist school to schools with specialist support available. It may be possible to obtain an Education, Health and Care Plan [‘EHCP’] and use the associated ‘personal budget’ to cover all or part of the fees, although you may have to take the case to the SEND Tribunal. See Education, Health and Care Plans.

exam_1What support can a dyslexic pupil be offered for tests and examinations?

Accommodations [examination access arrangements] in tests and examinations can be put in place to mitigate dyslexic difficulties and create a more level playing field. Extra time is usual [+25%] and any other arrangements as recommended by an appropriately qualified professional. Arrangements that are put in place for normal school work, e.g. using a computer, can be implemented for tests and examinations.

If you are dissatisfied with the arrangements proposed for your child, you could arrange a private access arrangements’ assessment with a specialist teacher/assessor.

See Access Arrangements for further information. For access arrangements in SATs, contact the local authority special needs department.