Who can diagnose


What kind of professional is qualified to diagnose dyslexia?


In most cases, testing for dyslexia  is done by a licensed educational psychologist. Neurologists and other medical professionals may also be qualified to provide a formal diagnosis.

In the U.S., children who are having difficulties in school are legally entitled to request evaluation through their local school district. Parents can start the process by writing a letter to the school principal requesting evaluation for learning disabilities.

It is important to keep in mind that dyslexia is not a disease or an identifiable physical condition. Rather, it is a learning style that usually can be assessed through a profile that shows whether the child has a typical pattern of strengths and weaknesses, coupled with assessment to rule out other possible causes of symptoms, such as vision or hearing problems.

Formal assessment is usually necessary before a child can qualify for special services from his school, but it is not a prerequisite for getting help independently for specific academic problems such as reading difficulties.

Be aware that some individuals who claim to offer diagnostic testing services do not have the sort of educational credentials that would be seen as acceptable by schools or other agencies.

There are some fee-based services available online that may provide an informative report, but would not be accepted as providing an official diagnosis or documentation of dyslexia or any other learning disability.

Screenings geared to specific programs or treatments usually are not a substitute for formal diagnostic services.  However, a formal diagnosis is not always needed.  The main benefit of a formal diagnosis is that it can qualify a person to receive services or accommodations at their school or university, and may also be helpful to protect against workplace discrimination.


(Answer by Abigail Marshall)


  • Ericka

    I have a 14 y/o who I’ve always questioned if he is slight dyslexic, he seems to have so many of the symptoms. He was tested in 5th grade they said he was not just learned differently, but now 3 years later, he still struggles with reading & writing and showing his work in math. So over all struggles with school. He is very smart, funny, athletic, hard worker I just hate to see him struggle so much.

    • Rhonda McCarter

      I’m dealing with an extremely similar situation. My 14-year-old son is very outgoing, smart, witty, and hard working. He is the starting center for our varsity football team, and he is the first baseman during spring baseball. He has always been a straight-A student, but he really struggles with reading and writing. He hates them both. He has a difficult time with spelling, even seemingly simple words. He says he looks at words and they don’t even look like words. He says they look better when they are upside down. I don’t know what to do. He makes good grades, but it is a struggle for him to do his work. He puts off reading for book reports. He makes simple mistakes in math. I just hate to see him having a hard time. I’m a high school English teacher, so this is particularly frustrating.

  • Kelly M

    Do you know where / how an adult can be tested and diagnosed for the purposes of standardized testing accommodation?

  • Luba

    Hi Heather D,
    Thank you so much for describing how dyslexic mind works, it’s amazing! I suspect that my daughter is dyslexic, she had hard time learning when to write d and b but we got throught it ok. Now she has trouble memorizing multiplication table facts especially harder facts such as 8×8. Do you have any suggestions on how to help her with it?
    Thank you in advance!

  • Kathleen A

    My Grandchild 7 yrs old second gr. ,Needs testing for Dyslexia or other learning disability..His Very high quality Public Charter school is giving him extra help but does not do testing…Where can We go for help?

  • Jessica

    My daughter just turned 7 and is in first grade. She is having difficulty with phonics and reading and I just received her first progress report for the year. She is progressing toward grade level in all ,but the reading and phonics as stated above. She is now receiving extra help at school with another teacher. They are not sure if she is desylexic, but I noticed in kindergarten she was having problems too. I feel helpless when reading with her at home. She gets so upset if she doesn’t know a word or if she writes a letter backwards while writing spelling words. She is so mature and having a conversation with her, is like talking to an adult. How can I help her with her confidence while doing homework. She is amazing, she is an old soul and beyond smart. She is starting to get more frustrated and not liking school due to this issue. How can I get her screened. God made her special and there is no denying that… I want her to see it.

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      Jessica, screening for dyslexia is different than formal diagnosis. Many schools can provide screening, and in some states there are laws requiring screening of primary level students. You might find it helpful to review these topics:

      1. What is the difference between screening, assessment, and diagnosis?
      2. Are Public Schools Required to Test for Dyslexia?
      3. When is a formal diagnosis necessary?

      If you would like to help your daughter at home, we recommend the Davis Young Learner’s Kit for Home Use. The kit will give you materials and a guide that will let you give your daughter support and tools that will supplement rather than repeat the teaching she is getting at school, in a gentle way that is geared to younger children and will help any child who finds learning to read difficult, whether or not the child is dyslexic.

    • Heather D

      hello. I’m not trying to butt in, but I am a 60 year old dyslexic artist. I never knew I was dyslexic until my fourth year of art school. I always did extremely well in school and no “disability” was ever detected. A professor at my college tested me after studying an extremely complex journey of work i had started on. According to this Dr Reed I am ” dyslexic as hell”.
      So I didn’t believe him….but he was sure and turns out to be right.

      So here’s a concept that might help you. People like me think in three dimensions and have no way of knowing as children that others do not. This is the first complication in reading….but it a true gift beyond belief, not a disability. This is why when the child is asked to write a “b”, it looks like a “d”…..They are exactly the same letter, it just depends where you are when you’re looking at it. In a dyslexic mind you can view it from the back or the front..thus a mirror image, therefore they are EXACTLY THE SAME and it makes no sense that they are different letters.
      Mirror writing is very easy for many dyslexics….my two hands can write, or print anything simultaneously except that my right hand will write left to write as usual, at the same time my left can write the very same thing the very same way in reverse from right to left. MIRROR WRITING. This is a confusing skill before you’ve actually learned your alphabet. I’m trying to design a visual learning program that might better understand how we think and drop the disability label that suffocates our brilliant creative children. so for you…perhaps try this:

      Starting with only symmetrical capital letters ( ex. A,T,O,U,M,X ) ask your grand daughter to play a “picture game”. Ask her to look at an “A”. and take a picture of it and put it in her mind.
      Ask her to close her eyes and imagine how it looks without peeking….then open her eyes and ask her if she still remembers how it looks. Iy yes proceed to the next step…if know repeat this until you get a successful “yes I can picture it”. Once that happens have her do a really fun trick without peeking (chalkboard is best but a large empty sheet of paper and a simple pencil will do). Now put the pencil in her hand, have her close her eyes (no peeking is really important) and without looking at the paper or pencil write that “A”…open yours eyes and SURPRISE!!!!! there it magically is. Now you can tell her she has a gift that many of the other kids don’t have, but she can easily learn how to do this!!!!
      So once all the symetrical letters are mastered start on the others…then just practice once in awhile just for “FUN”.
      Now the gates are open. Do the same for lower case and explain the relationship of the “LARGE” “A” to the “SMALL a”…this relationship can be visualized as the younger sister of the big one or the smaller truck, or whatever symbolism the child cares for that can visually and emotion marry the image to the larger one. When the child stumbles on one letter in particular,
      explain that an “A” is nothing more than a triangle with two legs…etc. you may have fun in this process too as the child will love getting involved in describing what the “picture to remember” might be.
      Everything is a visual puzzle…this is the key concept. always remember this child can most likely see anything from any angle, so always try to understand her version of the picture.

      Sorry to run on so long…I hope you can practice this and it helps you. Please let me know if it does. It could literally create the proper problem solving over night. My grand nephew was sent home saying if he couldn’t write his numbers very soon from 1-10 he could not start first grade. I asked for an hour with him after teachers struggled for well over a semester.
      after ther hour his mother came to pick him up and he was writng the numbers perfectly ion a neat row in order and laughing and talkin about how the number nine was just a lopsided tennis racket…number eight was a snowman that forgot his third snowball….and so on.

      She’ll be fine. She’s not probably not learning impaired in my opinion…she’s probably just got “THE GIFT OF DYSLEXIA”
      Einstein used to say he didn’t want to write anything down for others to read…said it just slowed him down.
      DaVinci wrote in mirror writing as a quick code for his personal sketches and projects….
      Both may have been dyslexic…fortunately for humanity.

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