Before a Dyslexia Diagnosis

If your child is having difficulty reading and spelling but is advancing in other areas of their academic life, your child may have dyslexia. The earlier dyslexia is detected, the better it is for your child and you. See our list of dyslexia warning signs to help get a start on the diagnostic process.

The Importance of Diagnosing Dyslexia

Dyslexia cannot be self-diagnosed or confirmed through online assessments. To receive help and accommodations in your child’s school, you will need to obtain an official psychoeducational evaluation. This is often referred to as a “psych ed evaluation,” or simply, an “evaluation.” Undiagnosed dyslexia can manifest itself in your child in multiple ways. Common issues can include anxiety, anger and frustration, social skills and behavioral issues, lack of confidence and even depression.

Your child may try to hide their problem by memorizing or guessing, but frustration will continue to build, especially when schools expect their students to transition from “Learning to Read” to “Reading to Learn.” Getting a dyslexia diagnosis can provide understanding and comfort to both your child and you. It is the first step in getting your child the help he or she needs.

If you move forward with seeking a diagnosis, a licensed psychologist should give certain tests to assess for dyslexia. These may include the following – tests of intellectual ability (IQ), academic skills including reading, writing, and math, and phonological processing. Assessment of reading should include single-word reading, nonword reading, reading fluency, and reading comprehension.

  • How Do I Get My Child Evaluated?

    A psychoeducational evaluation can be obtained from your public school district’s psychologists. However, depending on your school, the district-based psychologists may not diagnose or recognize dyslexia. Psychoeducational evaluations can also be obtained from some universities and from independent psychologists. A referral list is available upon request.

  • What Do I Do While I'm Waiting For A Diagnosis?

    While you wait for an evaluation appointment, a good start to getting your child the help they need is to explore tutorial assistance.

  • How Can I Learn More About Dyslexia?

    One of your first responsibilities as the parent of a potentially dyslexic student is to become as educated as you can about dyslexia. These Resources are a good starting point. It is also extremely helpful to refer to our website often, and subscribe to our newsletter for the latest news and helpful articles.

Steps to Take If Your Child Has Not Been Diagnosed with Dyslexia Yet

Gather evidence

If you suspect your child is having difficulty in school, gather evidence and documents for your concerns.

Get a teacher involved

Meet with your child’s teacher to discuss your concerns.  Ask if the special education coordinator or school’s counselor can be there. They may have you fill out a referral form prior to meeting.

Pursue a psychoeducational evaluation

Your child has the right to receive a psychoeducational report through the school system. However, at this point, you can pursue a private psychoeducational report.  These can be expensive, but some psychologists or universities may provide sliding fee scales. This option may or may not result in a diagnosis sooner.

Begin classroom intervention

If your teacher agrees there is a difficulty, a 12-week process of in-class interventions will begin. This is called Response to Intervention (RTI).

The teacher will document the interventions they use and mark progress every two weeks. If progress is seen, in-class interventions may continue with no further steps. If no progress is seen, a Student Support Team will be formed (SST).

Escalate to Student Support Team

The Student Support Team will gather information. They have 30 days to respond. Make sure you have written documentation of the start date. State, “This is your day 1 of 30.”

Get school district evaluation

During this time, the district or county psychologist will perform a psychoeducational evaluation of your child if you have not gone through a private psychologist.

Most will give the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (the WISC) to measure IQ. It is rare that they give the Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing (CTOPP).  While there is no specific test for dyslexia, the CTOPP measures specific areas that impact reading acquisition and fluency.

Discuss Special Education services

After 30 days, you will be given a meeting with the SST where they will discuss eligibility. If your child is eligible for special education services, they will begin moving forward with an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) or 504 Accommodations Plan as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Students with an Specific Learning Disability (SLD) diagnosis can receive a 504 plan or an IEP. Parents have the right to refuse the accommodations and come back for another meeting if they do not agree with the school’s recommendations.

Receive IEP plan

If parents are satisfied with the school’s recommendations, the school system will write up the IEP or 504 plan.

The minute you sign the document, your child should begin receiving services.The document will be shared with your child’s teacher(s).

In elementary school, your child’s classroom teacher most likely will be in the SST meeting.  In middle school and high school, the school will distribute the document and ensure your child’s teacher will receive the accommodation plan.

Review IEP plan annually

Every year there will be an annual review to assess how the plan is working and if services are still required.

As a parent, begin each new school year by giving teachers a copy of last school year’s IEP or 504 plan. Keep lines of communication open between you, teachers, administrators, and your child. Keep psychological reports up to date. In general, that means updated testing every three to five years.

Maintain documentation

Every three years, eligibility will be reviewed.  Keep files that document communications about your child’s services, progress, and other school needs.


If at ANY time you feel your child’s services need to be tweaked or accommodations need to be added, you have the right to call a meeting. Remember, you are your child’s greatest advocate. It is important that you know the law; it is in place to assist and protect your child. The law will help you understand what your child’s school can do, and can be very useful if they falsely tell you what they can’t do.

Know the Law

Know who to Contact

ReadSourceBefore a Dyslexia Diagnosis