As with most things, there are pros and cons - and it will very much depend upon your situation and the reasons behind why you are considering a diagnosis.
When dealing with "classic Dyslexia," the symptoms and characteristics can be very cut and dry. There are some surprisingly accurate on-line tests that will give you a good idea if the symptoms you see in yourself or your child are those that match Dyslexia. One of those tests is available free at http://www.ne-dyslexia.com/on-line-dyslexia-test.html. It is completely confidential and generates a report at the end. There are also downloadable symptoms check-lists available at: http://www.ne-dyslexia.com/37-common-characteristics.html and an adult symptom check-list at: http://www.ne-dyslexia.com/adult-dyslexia-characteristics.html.
If you or your child fit the common characteristics of Dyslexia and are looking for help, a formal diagnosis may not be necessary.
However, there may be situations where Dyslexia is not clear, or other factors need to be considered in order to better understand the underlying reasons for the difficulties. In those cases, a diagnosis can be helpful in determining what areas need to be addressed first.
Diagnostic testing is quite extensive and typically includes tests for vision and hearing, as well as tests related to intellectual functioning, processing, intelligence (IQ), vocabulary/comprehension/phonemic awareness, achievement, and more. In order to receive an official diagnosis for Dyslexia, this extensive testing must be done by a qualified professional, such as a neuropsychologist or educational psychologist.
When you might want a diagnosis:
An official diagnosis is typically appropriate if you are looking to:
- Qualify for accommodations/special education programs in public schools (inquire with the school system prior to seeking private testing, as you are legally entitled to request evaluation through the school district)
- Receive accommodations for work/employment
- Obtain proof of a disability for legal purposes
- Qualify for public services or disability services
When you might not want a diagnosis:
- In many/most cases, insurance will not cover diagnostic testing, which can cost several thousand dollars to administer. If the reasons listed above are not present in your situation, or if you are on a tight budget, it might make more sense to use the money for a solution.
- You are not seeking accommodations, or public/employment support.
- You do not want a "label" applied to you or your child, or to have that information on record (for whatever reason).
- You already KNOW you are dealing with Dyslexia - whether it be a clear cut case or family history.
- You want to handle the situation outside of the school setting - perhaps you have tried their programs and decide to try something different. If you are not requesting financial assistance from the school system, a diagnosis may not be necessary.
Tips if you do want a diagnosis:
- Be sure to ask specifically for Dyslexia testing. Believe it or not, there is no uniformly accepted criteria for diagnosing Dyslexia, so testing and diagnosis can be subjective. Professionals may disagree on whether or not a person is dyslexic, and/or use alternative diagnostic labels to describe your/your child's symptoms. Many will not use the word "Dyslexia" at all. There are more than 70 different diagnoses that can be used to describe the various manifestations of dyslexic symptoms. Therefore, if you are specifically looking for a Dyslexia diagnosis, be sure to request that they use that term should the symptoms be identified.
- Before having the diagnostic testing done, be sure that the school/university/employer will accept third-party testing, will honor the outcome, and employ accommodations and recommendations based upon it.
New England Dyslexia Solutions provides a thorough screening for Dyslexia, but does not provide an official diagnosis. The assessment will determine if the client exhibits the signs and characteristics of Dyslexia and is a suitable candidate for our programs.
**An official diagnosis is NOT necessary to participate in the programs provided by New England Dyslexia Solutions.**