Communicating with School / Reading / Special Education / Writing / Ages 5-10

My Child Is Being Screened for Dyslexia. What Should I Expect?

If your child doesn’t seem to be struggling with reading, why are they getting screened for dyslexia? Turns out, universal dyslexia screenings are a good thing.

Most states have moved toward universal screenings for dyslexia, meaning all children will be screened in early elementary school. We think that’s a great thing. Here’s what you need to know.

First, there’s no need to worry: A dyslexia screening is totally painless. It won’t even take up much of your child’s day in school! Still, you might wonder why it’s worth spending time on a screening test if a student isn’t showing any signs of a learning disability.

Unfortunately, many people with dyslexia go through school (and even life!) without a diagnosis and without the support they need—and they may struggle unnecessarily as a result. The earlier a diagnosis is made, the better, because interventions are more effective when children are younger. On top of that, older children who struggle with reading might face social stigmas and other frustrations (like not being able to read the same books as their friends) that younger children won’t experience.

Bottom line? 

Universal dyslexia screenings are a good thing, and most states have moved toward implementing them. That means your child is likely to be screened for dyslexia at some point between kindergarten and third grade (and possibly multiple times during those years).

Find out if your state requires universal dyslexia screenings.

What should you expect during your child’s dyslexia screening?

A screening is usually conducted one-on-one with a literacy specialist in your child’s school. Your child will be asked to do a series of short tasks like repeating letter sounds, looking at letters on the page and saying the sounds associated with them, or making or identifying sets of rhyming words.

If your child is identified as having dyslexia, what kind of support will they need?

Your child’s specific support will depend on the nature of their disability, how it presents, and how they’re currently doing with their literacy development. It will also depend on their age and grade level. Some students may require specially designed instruction through special education. If so, their supports will be outlined in an Individualized Education Plan, or IEP. (Learn more about IEPs here.) Other students may need accommodations which can be provided in a Section 504 Plan, while other students may work with a reading specialist as part of their school day.

It’s worth asking your child’s teacher if someone in their school is trained in the Orton-Gillingham approach to literacy instruction, which is a popular and effective model for tutoring students with dyslexia. But regardless of which particular service your child receives, it’s important to make sure they will receive a multi-sensory approach to support. That means the support will engage multiple senses—including visual, auditory (hearing), tactile (touch) and even kinesthetic (movement) elements. There’s a lot of research that shows multi-sensory support is vital for children with dyslexia, so asking your school how they will provide that is a good place to start.

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