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.

Important

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


After a Dyslexia Diagnosis

Once your child has been diagnosed with dyslexia there are many helpful and important things a parent should do. The first is take a deep breath, and know there are many avenues to get your child the help he or she needs. ReadSource is your trusted ally throughout the journey.


A psychoeducational evaluation is the first step in getting your child the help he or she needs. It’s a significant turning point on the road to getting help and provides understanding and comfort to both you and your child. Children with dyslexia need the proper educational approach. The Orton-Gillingham Approach and similarly based programs teach language elements in a direct and systematic way.

Most importantly, parents of a dyslexic student should become educated about dyslexia and the options available for their child’s needs. Refer to our social media and dyslexia resource page early and often. For a more in-depth description of dyslexia see our Facts About Dyslexia page.

Critical Next Steps After Dyslexia Diagnosis

It’s important to involve your child in discussions about his or her dyslexia. Let them know their diagnosis is a positive step forward for them. Help them understand that dyslexia is a learning difference and NOT a problem with intelligence or lack of motivation. Assure them that the prognosis for dyslexia is positive; dyslexics are multi-dimensional, creative, out-of-the-box thinkers who are successful in everything from the arts, music and design to finance, mathematics and engineering. You can also share the list of famous people with dyslexia listed on our site.

  • Schedule a meeting at school

    One of the first critical steps you can take after the diagnosis is to schedule a meeting at your child’s school to discuss any and all appropriate accommodations they can provide. Explore our section about navigating support in public school settings.

  • Look into tutoring

    Explore tutoring options in your area. As a starting point for finding a tutor in your area, see this list of tutors trained in Orton-Gillingham approaches.

  • Research school alternatives

    Research independent schools that provide specialized instruction or summer camps designed to address learning needs. In the Atlanta metro area alone, there are numerous settings for students with learning differences. Many provide financial aid, so ask schools if they offer financial aid or SB10 scholarships.

Next Steps for Public School Students with Dyslexia

Know the Law

It’s imperative to know the law which is in place to make sure your child gets the assistance he or she needs. Read more about Wright's Law. 

Get information from the state

Visit The Georgia Department of Education and find the Offices and Divisions tab; click on special education services and supports.  Under Eligibility Categories, click on Special Learning Disability to find information on dyslexia, or click Other Health Impairment for information on ADHD.

Expedite the process

With a diagnosis of a Specific Learning Disability (SLD) or Other Health Impairment (OHI), like ADHD, you can skip the Response to Intervention (RTI) process (12 weeks of interventions in the classroom).

Request support

You can immediately request a Student Support Team (SST) to meet and determine eligibility for your child. They have 30 days to respond. Send an email to document the date. This may be directed to your school’s counselor or special ed coordinator. The person to contact varies from school to school. State “This is your day 1 of 30.” It is recommended to begin this process as soon as you get the diagnosis, or at the beginning of the school year.

Discuss accommodations

After 30 days, you will be given a meeting with the SST where they will discuss eligibility and moving forward with an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) or 504 Accommodations Plan as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Students with an 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.

Confirm special services

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 be 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 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.

Keep records

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

IMPORTANT - 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.  You are your child’s best advocate.  Know the law and what schools can do to assist your child. 

If you decide to stay at your public school, read the following.


Questions for Teachers

What to Ask in a Parent Teacher Meeting About Reading Difficulties

If you suspect your child is having trouble with reading and may be dyslexic, it’s important to schedule a meeting with their teacher as soon as possible. We’ve put together a list of questions below to help you gather the information you need during your meeting.


What are my child's strengths?

If you are meeting with the teacher, it is probably because they have a concern. Ask them to begin with the areas where your child isn’t struggling. This will help keep the meeting positive.

Can you please list my child's current needs?

Have them give you an oral list as well as having them written down. This will help provide documentation for any later evaluation or eligibility processes. You can ask a teacher to update this list at certain times, so make sure they date each one. This will be very important to ask for before an IEP meeting.

Have you tried any interventions in the classroom?

Don’t be upset if they say no. Remember, many public school teachers are dealing with multiple children under IEP plans. So, use this time with your teacher to discuss ways you know she/he could help your child. Preferential seating, frequent breaks for movement, or repeating directions are good suggestions that a teacher can implement without much effort. If your teacher has tried specific interventions, see #4 and #5 . If not, ask the school to begin interventions and monitor his or her progress.

Have you tried? What was my child's response?

Again, document these interventions, with the date, and how your teacher felt your child responded. Informal meetings are for gathering information.

Since interventions have been initiated, have you begun tracking progress for RTI?

RTI stands for Response to Intervention. This is a tiered system of interventions teachers will implement in the classroom prior to an official referral for special education eligibility. The process is 12 weeks, and the teacher will document progress. You should have been contacted if this process was begun.

Have you had specific training in a structured phonics approach such as Orton-Gillingham? If not you, who in the school has been trained?

As a parent, you want to make sure the teacher or resource teachers in the school have been well trained to address the needs of students with dyslexia. Services under an IEP are individualized to a student’s need. We know children with dyslexia are best served when instruction is direct, explicit, and multisensory. These are key tenets of the Orton-Gillingham Approach.


Dyslexia Support in Public Schools

Looking for tips on getting public school support for your dyslexic child? Check out our 10 Quick Tips for dyslexia special education in public schools.



Questions for the Educational Psychologist

What should parents ask after testing? What is important for parents to know? The testing process and feedback session can be overwhelming for parents. The most important piece you should walk away with is a complete picture of how your child learns.


Parent Goals for a Meeting with the Psychologist

  • Your Child's Potential

    Have an understanding of the child’s potential, and whether their academic and processing skills are consistent with their potential.

  • Understand the Road Map

    Feel comfortable with the “road map” that has been presented, based on their child’s dyslexia test results. There should not be any surprises. If there are, or if there is any confusion, parents should feel comfortable speaking or meeting with the psychologist again.

  • Understand the Numbers

    Ask the psychologist to help them understand the numbers and how they will be reported and interpreted.

If parents feel overwhelmed with the quantity of information they are receiving, they should ask the psychologist to help them prioritize interventions and recommendations. Often psychologists will recommend several interventions, for example, depending on each different individual’s dyslexia test results. It is imperative that parents leave the office feeling that they can accomplish the goals. If overwhelmed, they are more likely to be paralyzed and the interventions or strategies get put on hold.

Another point that would be important for parents to address is the notion of monitoring and assessing progress. Sometimes, parents don’t know that a re-evaluation is necessary down the road to enable accommodations and support to continue. Also, they need to be their child’s advocate with regard to receiving support and services.It is not enough, for example, that a child receives an IEP. They need to be receiving specialized instruction as part of that IEP. Often, they are only getting the same instruction in a smaller group format, if that.

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