Is a Formal Assessment Necessary?
Should a child be formally assessed? How much should it cost? When is the right age?
Do not delay
You should not delay support waiting for an assessment. Children who are suspected of having dyslexia or that are struggling to keep up with the rest of the class, need to be immediately provided with evidence based dyslexia intervention, whether they have been formally tested or not. (1)
Parents often have to wait years for a formal assessment when going through the school (public) system. The first years of school are crucial to a child's development and any delay in support could be detrimental. To speed up the process, some parents may choose to pay for a private assessment, for others this option is cost prohibitive. Having an official diagnosis is still no guarantee that appropriate support will be provided as few schools have qualified dyslexia specialists. Parents frequently commit to years of private tuition (tutoring).
Benefits of a formal assessment
- An assessment is administered by an educational professional, such as, a qualified specialist teacher, an educational psychologist or a speech language pathologist. A professional assessment is the only way to get a formal diagnosis. It will usually confirm what parents have suspected for many years, and provide an official document of proof.
- An assessment report may be needed for a child to qualify for additional support or intervention (specialist dyslexia services) at school
- An official diagnosis can help a child understand that the difficulties they have been experiencing are not their fault. This explanation can be a relief, and often makes the child feel better about themselves.
- Examination accommodations such as, 25% extra time, a scribe or reader are the most common reason for getting a formal assessment. In some locations of the world, there will be a requirements that assessments are given within a certain number of months prior to exams.
- A formal assessment takes several hours and is extremely thorough. It may be difficult for parents to understand, but will help a specialist teacher plan the most appropriate intervention for the child.
When is the right age?
The age that a child can be assessed depends upon where you are in the world. In the USA children can be assessed at 5.5 years of age. In the UK, assessment is often not considered until aged 8 years or older.
How much does an assessment cost?
- Specialist Teacher £400-600
- Psychologist £720-3000
- Specialist teacher assessments will generally have fewer subtests but contain more detailed educational recommendations. A educational psychologist report may include an IQ test. Some assessments can only be given by an educational psychologist.