Cynicism won't help dyslexics 2

September 17, 2004

Brian Harrison-Jennings' assertion that local education authority educational psychologists are the only ones who can provide independent and objective diagnoses for adults who think they may be dyslexic is puzzling. My understanding is that they are mainly involved in conducting assessments on those under 19. The methodology and specific psychological tests used to assess adults differ significantly from those used to assess children.

In my years of managing a university disability service, LEAs have never been willing to provide diagnostic assessments for adults who think they might be dyslexic. Surely, if an LEA has failed to diagnose a child as dyslexic at school, they cannot be said to be impartial when that person presents himself or herself for assessment as an adult.

I am also puzzled that Harrison-Jennings thinks that "dyslexia may be over-diagnosed in undergraduates to enable universities to boost exam results and get specialised support", and I am at a loss to understand the reasoning behind it. The work of dyslexic students is marked with the same academic rigour as that of non-dyslexic students. The funding to cover the specialist support he refers to rarely covers all the additional resources needed.

The Department for Education and Skills is looking at the criteria used to diagnose adult learners as dyslexic and at who should be providing the diagnosis as part of a much larger review of the way in which the Disabled Students Allowances are administered.

Caroline Davies

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