When is diagnosis necessary

Question:

When is a formal diagnosis necessary?

Answer:

In general, a formal diagnosis of dyslexia or another learning disability is needed if the person is seeking accommodations or support from a school, employer, or other agency. For example:

  • A child will usually need a diagnosis of a learning disability in order to qualify for special education services in public schools, in countries such as the U.S. where such services are mandated by law. In such cases, testing is often provided free of charge by the school. However, in some cases such diagnosis will not be needed; for example, U.S. law also allows schools to provide services based on the failure of the child to progress after being offered preliminary support services — this is called “Response to Intervention.”
  • A student will usually need a formal diagnosis of a learning disability in order to obtain special accommodations in academic testing or in an educational setting. It is important to check with the university, school, or testing agency to determine what type of testing they will require for such accommodations. In most cases, individuals will have to bear the expense of obtaining a diagnostic evaluation, although this may be covered by insurance, and a college or university may be able to refer the individual to low or reduced cost resources for evaluation.
  • An individual will usually need a formal diagnosis of a learning disability in order to enforce legal rights intended to protect disabled individuals in employment settings. In general, the individual will have to pay for such testing on their own. Individuals should be aware that their rights may be limited; employers are not required to hire or retain individuals whose disabilities make them unsuited for the job even with support and accommodations. Rather, anti-discrimination laws generally protect only situations where the requested accommodations would enable the employee to do the work required, and the provisions of accommodations would not be unduly burdensome on the employer.
  • An individual may need a diagnosis of a learning disability in order to qualify for public services, such as vocational training or disability payments.
  • A person may want to get a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation in order to get accurate and detailed information about the cause of their difficulties and recommended courses of therapy or intervention, even if they are not seeking any of the services or accommodations listed above. Individuals should understand that such testing can be quite expensive, if not provided by a public agency or covered by insurance, and they should weigh the cost of such testing against the likely cost of needed services. It is helpful to gain as much information as possible, but individuals with limited financial resources can find that after paying the cost of testing, they have no money left to pay for the programs needed to to help with the problems they were tested for.

Note: If you are contemplating a Davis program and also want testing to legally qualify for accommodations or services from a school, employer, or other agency as detailed above — please arrange for separate diagnostic testing from a qualified professional first. The positive results of a Davis program will often make it more difficult to “prove” that the individual has a learning disability such as dyslexia, but sometimes the individual will still feel that they want continued support of some kind, at least in some settings.

It is very common that accommodations and support are no longer needed or desired after a successful Davis program. However, there are no guarantees, as each individual will progress at their own pace. Thus, it makes sense to get the testing before embarking on the program.

We have had many reported cases of individuals who were formally diagnosed as having dyslexia prior to a Davis program, but were no longer diagnosed as being dyslexic when tested some time after completion of a Davis program.

(Answer by Abigail Marshall)