Dyslexia is diagnosed using a complete evaluation including intelligence, educational, and speech/language assessments. The assessments used in diagnosing dyslexia should also include observations, input from teachers and parents, analysis of student work, and developmental and social histories. During the assessment process, examiners look for evidence of the disorder and also rule out other factors that could be causing the student's reading and language problems. Factors to rule out include, lack of instruction, lack of attendance, social and economic factors, and physical problems such as hearing or vision difficulty.
Dyslexia is one of several types of reading problems. The broad term, learning disability in reading, includes Dyslexia and other specific reading problems. It is possible for a student to have symptoms of Dyslexia that are problematic but not disabling. To meet federal guidelines to qualify for special education services, a student with Dyslexia must meet eligibility requirements based on guidelines set by his state's department of education. Eligibility may be determined based on one of the following methods:
The Aptitude / Achievement Discrepancy Method
This method requires a student to meet the following criteria to determine eligibility:
- An intelligence test score in the average range or higher;
- Scores on reading and/or written language tests that are significantly below their intelligence test scores; and
- No other possible causes of the school failure are a factor.
Response to Intervention
Response to Intervention is a new method of determining level of disability that was introduced in the 2004 Reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). To determine if this method is being used by your state, contact your state's department of education office for special education programs. Specific steps required by method may vary from state to state, but essentially, it involves three levels of intervention and identification:
Level I: The student is exposed to appropriate instruction in reading and writing. If she continues to experience difficulty, she goes to the next level of intervention.
Level II: The student receives more individualized intervention. If she continues to have difficulty, she progresses to the next level of intervention.
Level III: This level would typically begin placement in a special education program.