Dyslexia is a difficult disorder to diagnose. There are many factors the psychologist or other health professional reviews to diagnose the disability. The testing determines the child’s functional reading level and compares it to reading potential, which is evaluated by an intelligence test. All aspects of the reading process are examined to pinpoint where the breakdown is occurring. The testing further assesses how a child takes in and processes information and what the child does with the information. The tests determine whether a child learns better by hearing information (auditory), looking at information (visual), or doing something (kinesthetic). They also assess whether a child performs better when allowed to give information (output), by saying something (oral), or by doing something with their hands (tactile-kinesthetic). The tests also evaluate how all of these sensory systems (modalities) work in conjunction with each other.
The tests administered are standardized and are considered highly reliable. The child should not feel as if there is something wrong because testing is occurring. Many of the tests use a game-type or puzzle format which can help make the child feel more comfortable. Children should get a good night’s sleep prior to the testing and have a good breakfast. If the testing is done in a school setting, the teacher can prepare the child by talking about the person who will come and do special work with the child. With young children, the psychologist may visit the child’s classroom before the testing so that the child is familiar with him. Whether or not the testing is done at school, the parent may want to talk to their child about a new person coming to work with them. However, parents should not try to coach the child concerning the testing. It is recommended that parents not be present during the testing.