Welcome to Dyslexia Care Foundation and our first blog!
In this blog we look at how Dyslexia is diagnosed in the UK, and how this may not be the straightforward process that many of us would hope for.
Dyslexia Care Foundation was established by a team of people who either have direct experience of dyslexia after having lived with the condition themselves, or who support a family member or loved one who has dyslexia.
What everyone who lives with dyslexia knows is that it is a complicated condition and no two people experience it in the same way.
At Dyslexia Care Foundation we make it our business to understand how the world relates to dyslexia and the daily struggles of people who live with it.
To do this, we keep a constant eye on the latest news and updates and are always interested in people’s daily experiences – negative or otherwise.
As many people who have dyslexia will tell you, the process to get an accurate diagnosis of the condition is not always straightforward.
According to the NHS website, if you feel that you or your child may have dyslexia, your first step should be a visit to your GP in order to rule out any medical conditions which could affect how you access educations such as problems with sight or hearing.
The next step is to screen for dyslexia which should be carried out by a suitably qualified person – normally an educational psychologist or a specialist dyslexia teacher.
The most common route to screening is via a referral from your child’s school, provided you can get them to take this step on your behalf. Although it is unlikely that anyone will have all of the symptoms associated with dyslexia, there usually needs to be a recognised cluster before testing is carried out.
During the testing there will be a range of challenges including reading and writing, memory, organisation and processing of information.
Is dyslexia always taken seriously?
In our experience, there are still occasions where young people are not taken seriously and because the symptoms of dyslexia can be diverse, evidence of the condition is not always clear.
Sometimes it can take a long time and lots of determination to start this process and it is increasingly common for parents to have to pay for the tests themselves as schools and local authorities do not have sufficient funding available. For families where money is tight, this can lead to a delay in screening and access to appropriate support.
Diagnosis across the UK
Is there a failure to diagnose some cases of dyslexia?
Unfortunately the diagnosis process is not always straightforward. This can be caused by schools having insufficient resources or it can be because educators lack the specific expertise which is required to recognise dyslexia.
A BBC report from Autumn last year highlights the worrying statistic that at least 80% of children with dyslexia may not be receiving a proper diagnosis. This is despite that fact that it is a legal requirement for public schools and local authorities to identify and support children with special educational needs including dyslexia.
The report was published by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Dyslexia and other Specific Learning Differences (in association with the British Dyslexia Association) and its objective was to look at financial and attainment costs of a failure to correctly diagnose dyslexia.
There are 8.7 million children at school in England. It is estimated that 870 thousand have dyslexia but the Dept for Education reports that less than 150 thousand have been diagnosed.
As we have already mentioned, many parents are paying for their own screening as schools do not have the resources for adequate support and even once diagnosed – this is no guarantee that a child will receive the specialist help that they need.
The positives of a dyslexia diagnosis
There can be a tendency to dwell on the negatives of having dyslexia but an important point to bear in mind is that a dyslexia diagnosis is most often a major relief. If you or your loved-one has been finding things difficult it can really help to know what you are up against and that there is a clear way forward. A diagnosis is the first step on the road to getting support – which is a different battle!
Despite the problems faced by people who live with Dyslexia, there are positives and at Dyslexia Care Foundation, one of our most important objectives is to celebrate people who have this condition and highlight that it can mean positives in your life.
A recent article from CNN points out that despite the challenges ‘thinking outside the box’ is a common positive trait that people with dyslexia have.
Notable world-changing individuals with dyslexia have been Galileo and Pablo Picasso, and although not every dyslexic person has the same experiences – there are similarities. Spelling may be poor but imagination and creativity are often high, meaning that people who experience dyslexia can be great authors (Roald Dahl was dyslexic).
The highly successful entrepreneur Richard Branson has often spoken about his experiences with dyslexia, which led to his support for ‘Made by Dyslexia’ which is a charity focused on the positives of the condition. Creative and flexible thinking are very positive attributes for people who want to set up their own companies.
Can we help?
If you are dealing with dyslexia, or know someone who is – then don’t struggle alone, there is support available.
We urge you to look at our website for information on what is available or to contact us if you need direct help and we will be happy to provide advice.