Testing Your Child For Learning Disabilities Or Dyslexia

Submitted on March 27, 2012
It takes keen observation and awareness to notice your child's learning disability. Early testing = timely treatment!
Testing Your Child For Learning Disabilities

Learning disability hampers a child's ability to learn and use certain skills. The skills often affected include reading, writing, speaking, listening, reasoning and math skills. Although schools may offer assistance, parents may decide to consult with professionals who can evaluate, diagnose and treat learning disabilities.

Some of the common signs of learning disorders in children include difficulty in the following areas;

  • Understanding and following instructions
  • Remembering what someone has just told him or her
  • Differentiating right from left or to identifying reverse letters or numbers
  • Remembering where he or she has kept schoolbooks or other items
  • Coordination in activities such as walking or sports
  • Understanding the concept of time and differentiating between "yesterday", "today" and "tomorrow"

Diagnosis and testing for learning disability in children

The process of diagnosing a learning disability involves taking the child's history, testing and observation by a specialist. Specialists such as clinical psychologists, child psychiatrists, school psychologists, developmental and educations psychologists, neuropsychologists and speech and language therapists can perform tests to detect learning disabilities in children. Sometimes various experts may come together to perform an accurate diagnosis.

There is no one test or approach that can effectively identify a learning disability. The signs of these disabilities often vary from child to child. Instead of letting the tests dictate what is important, the better approach is to choose those tests that yield answers to specific questions, provide insight into the nature of the child's difficulty and help to find the ways to enable your child overcome the struggle.

Testing your child for dyslexia

Usually an IQ test is given to measure the child's achievement level against his or her IQ.

Tests such as the Stanford-Binet Fifth Edition (SBV) and Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC-IV) are typically used. These evaluate reason and problem solving skills. If it is found that the child is not performing up to his or her IQ level, additional tests to evaluate specific areas of reading and language may be administered. Some of the areas that are usually tested include;

  • General language and oral language skills such as pronunciation, sentence formation, word retrieval, syllable recognition and comprehension. Some of the tests used for this include;
  1. Wechsler Individual Achievement Test-III (WIAT-III)
  2. Slingerland Screening Test
  3. Test of Language Development-Primary (TOLD-P:4)
  • Phonemic awareness and alphabetic knowledge such as rhyming and identification of speech sounds. Some of the tests used here include;
  1. Texas Primary Reading Inventory (TPRI)
  2. The Phonological Awareness Test 2
  • Reading skills such as reading fluency and comprehension, and use of phonic skills to decode nonsense words. Tests typically used in this area include;
  1. Test of Word Reading Efficiency (TOWRE)
  2. Gray Oral Reading Tests--Fourth Edition (GORT-4)
  • Spelling and composition skills such as ability to write spellings properly, analysis of spelling errors, grammar and punctuation. Tests used include;
  1. Test of Written Spelling – Fourth Edition (TOWS4)
  2. Wide Range Achievement Test 3 (WRAT3)
  • Handwriting skills such as pencil grip and letter formation and consistency. Diagnosing a learning disability isn't always simple and it is important that parents or others do not assume to know what the child's problem is, even though there may be symptoms present.

It is always better to have the child tested by a qualified professional. Here it is also important to keep in mind that if you feel a teacher or doctor is not fully addressing your concerns, you can always seek a second opinion. It is a good idea to find a reputable referral from your child's school, physician or family and friends who may have had experience in dealing with learning disabilities.