I recently had reason to be a little nostalgic about the method I learned for assessing adults with dyslexia back in the 1990s. I trained with Cynthia Klein and used a method broadly outlined in Klein, C. (2003) Diagnosing dyslexia: a guide to the assessment of adults, London, The Basic Skills Agency.
A number of colleagues have been preparing for resubmission of evidence to renew their Assessment Practice Certificate (APC), and I am staggered by the length of the diagnostic report now required, the proliferation of assessment tests needed and the depth of analysis expected. Feedback on the resubmission by expert assessors can run to several pages of intricate recommendations for improved practice and precise wording to be used in reports. Continue reading this article… »
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Colleagues within Dyslexia Positive have been debating the right wording to use in our dyslexia assessment reports, for 2 reasons. One is that the CPD events we have attended recently have encouraged us to be bolder in coming to conclusions about dyspraxia, dysgraphia etc. rather than expecting our clients to refer themselves to other agencies or their GP for clarity on this. Secondly, recent guidance about the Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) seems to indicate that they want reports to refer directly to which specific learning difficulty (SpLD) the student is seeking funding for. It also arose that some of us were no longer happy with the term “diagnosis,” because of possible connotations of the medical model for dyslexia, which we reject.
We closed our email debate today with the following conclusions.
1. We actually agreed to differ about using the term diagnosis. Those of us holding the qualification pg Diploma: Adult Dyslexia Diagnosis and Support, and who were brought up to use Cynthia Klein’s Diagnosing Dyslexia as our bible, remain moderately comfortable about it. Diagnosis can be viewed as a form of detailed scrutiny, not exclusively medical. However some of our reports will use the term and some will not.
2. We agreed that DSA and other funding sources will need clear signposting, so we will refer to SpLD, even though in our feedback to students and clients we will want to stress that sometimes strengths will outweigh difficulties.
3. We agreed we will each have personal boundaries over which SpLDs we will comment on. We are all slightly more confident about referring to dyspraxia, though we prefer it when it comes in conjunction with dyslexia. Some specialists will refer to to dyscalculia, even though there is no workable assessment tool that can give a definitive answer about dyscalculia. We are all reluctant to refer formally to autistic spectrum disorders or ADHD in our conclusions, though we might mention attentional difficulties and look for strategies to enhance focus and concentration.
We would be really interested for other practitioners to have their say here, so please join the debate.