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To consider if my 13 year old dd might be dyslexic

60 replies

Violettaparma · 23/09/2022 11:56

I'm wondering if anyone might have experience of forms of dyslexia which are subtle/ may go unnoticed.
My daughter is in year 9. She is relatively bright, mid to high ability, in upper sets for all subjects, but not the very top. She is also very good at art, and creative - interested in interior design and with an eye for making things look good. She has never been a reader (we are a family of readers, so I have tried!) despite always enjoying being read to when younger (she has not wanted to be read to for a few years, though I do still read with my 11 year old, who enjoys it - recently I have suggested we should restart reading together, and she was horrified).
In around year 3, her primary school briefly flagged dyslexia as a possibility (said at time her spelling was not in line with her general ability) - they did some sort of test, and then said they didn't think she was, which I didn't query at the time, but I imagine it was not particularly in depth, and involved testing gross motor skills etc, which are all fine.
My concerns currently, as she approaches GCSEs are that I might be missing something which might cause her not to achieve her potential. I've recently had access to her 'flight path' which predicts a level 7 at GCSE English based on her SATS (which is reassuring) although it also stated her reading age for year 8 (assuming towards end) to be 12.0 (she would have been 13.6 then). Her spelling is not terrible, but again not great, and seems to be something she has a bit of a block with (asked me yesterday how to spell 'being'). She has always scored better at writing than reading, and again this was commented on by her English teacher at parents' evening last year. She has said she finds it hard to work out what is going on and follow a text (eg a novel), and recently she commented that if she has to read aloud in class or follow as someone else reads she uses a ruler to follow the lines otherwise she loses the place.
I'm wondering if, although she has no problem reading individual words, and her handwriting is good, she may have some issues with reading and processing when it comes to larger pieces of text, and whether this is worth getting assessed? Any advice welcome.

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BreakfastClub80 · 23/09/2022 12:20

DD was diagnosed at age 10 after passing the dyslexia screening at age 7. She sounds very similar to your DD, bright and able but detests reading. She was glad of the diagnosis as it opened the door to extra time in tests/exams and also to alternative forms of “reading” (audio books and so forth). Her particular difficulty is in processing letters, so she doesn’t identify letters as quickly as others and this slows her reading down massively. It definitely explains why phonics was so difficult for her in the early years, she learns words by sight not by breaking them down.
If you can, I would recommend the testing. DD will be tested again later this year (Yr 9) so that any extra time allowances for GCSEs can be formalised I believe. The test has to be within a certain period before GCSEs I think.
Good luck

Violettaparma · 23/09/2022 12:34

Thanks @BreakfastClub80 that's helpful. I also didn't know that about test having to be a certain amount of time before GCSEs - so definitely worth looking into now.

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Violettaparma · 23/09/2022 12:35

Can I ask, was she tested through school? I had been thinking of arranging privately.

OP posts:
MindYourBeeswax · 23/09/2022 12:58

She needs to be tested now, so that extra allowances are in place by the time she takes exams.

Violettaparma · 23/09/2022 15:31

Thanks - I didn't realise about the timing. Think might as well get it done, even if only to exclude possibility,

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Stag82 · 23/09/2022 15:46

My DD is ten. I paid for a private dyslexia diagnosis after 3 weeks of home schooling made it clear that she struggles with certain things. She is ‘ahead of most of her peers’ and is the higher sets for everything.

Have you seen the school dyslexia ‘test’? My daughter ‘passed’ but nobody bothered to read it. She was top 10% for some of the tests and bottom 10% for some too. In my experience school have been shit at offering any kind of support.

You can be intelligent and dyslexic.

The things she struggles with are as follows;

  • phonological awareness - she has hardly any and isn’t great at spelling.
  • auditory processing, she cannot follow more than one verbal instruction at a time
  • working memory - she comes across as forgetful
  • Tracking. It takes a lot of effort to read from the board and like your daughter she uses a ruler to read text in front of her.
  • Getting her verbal Answers down sufficiently in writing.

She is good at reading (has always been greater depth) has beautiful hand writing and is very agile and athletic. She is also good at coming up with her own ways of combatting some of the things she finds hard. Eg setting alarms / writing lists to help her remember things.
ItsnotaHenryMoore · 23/09/2022 15:47

My DD is mid 20's now and was diagnosed in year 7. She is at the upper end of 'moderate'. Always did well as school, loved reading. But her spelling was just average, noticably out of kilter with her overall ability. Her issues were more with her short term memory and general organisation. She struggles to take dictation for example, can't hold the words in her mind long enough to get them to the pen. Accommodations were made for her eg being given printed notes.

She graduated with a 2:1 in English literature from a Russell group university. She has recently been diagnosed with ADHD - there can be an overlap with some people.

We paid for private diagnosis - it was expensive but worth doing, really helped her confidence.

Stag82 · 23/09/2022 15:47

Just to add she gets 25% extra time for tests. I believe their can be an option to use a computer and/ or have someone read text to them but I’m not 100% sure

SollaSollew · 23/09/2022 15:54

I have two daughter's one who has classic dyslexia presentation and was diagnosed very early and one who sounds similar to your daughter who has dyslexic traits.

Daughter 2 has similar blockage with spelling although her reading age is above average and does well in maths. The issue with her (and I wonder if it is with your daughter) is processing speed and language/phonics. She recently had a private Educational Psychologist assessment which was incredibly thorough and they measured her cognitive ability in areas like English and Maths which were high to very high then tested against her processing speed and language processing (blending phonics together and/or repeating words that she hears) and her scores in these areas were low average to below average. Sounds very similar to @BreakfastClub80 it's like she hears something but by the time it's gone into her brain and come out again it's something totally different.

For extra time they were looking for a difference between innate ability and what their work actually looks like NOT as I'd thought previously what basic scores for reading/writing were.

My daughter will be sitting 11+ next year for which she will now qualify for extra time but just as importantly her teachers will be able to provide her with the right study skills and support in lessons (and I can stop endlessly trying to work on her spellings!) so it's definitely worth it I think.

BreakfastClub80 · 23/09/2022 16:41

DD was tested at school so they didn’t do a ‘full’ assessment (I think they excluded any maths areas as they knew she was good at this). Her senior school will apparently do the next test. These are private schools though and I don’t know whether all schools can do this this. What I did learn was that differently qualified specialists do different tests so ours wasn’t the full Ed psych test as the Head of Learning Support at DDs school has different qualifications. I am considering a private assessment next to get a fuller picture.
I spoke to the Head of Learning Support at DDs new school and she mentioned that depending on the outcome of the tests, DD could have the GCSE exam questions read out over headphones as well as extra time.

I think the kids do manage to find strategies for dealing with a lot of difficulties but need help also, and you never know when that might happen. DD has a new Biology teacher who expects them to copy everything from the board and listen and make notes…. this is hard as a PP mentioned, the processing is hard, so we might have to ask for an alternative here. So, knowing there is a recognised issue definitely helps in these situations too.

Violettaparma · 23/09/2022 17:21

Thanks all - it's really useful to hear about different experiences, and sounds like there is a huge variety of presentations. I think I'll definitely go ahead with a test for peace of mind - I don't know if school will do it (not a private school) and don't particularly trust them to do it well, if it's subtle, or even to agree given she is meeting the 'targets' they have set, and they don't appear to have picked anything up. I am also aware of other people whose children have not been picked up on school screening but have gone on to be diagnosed privately and to have quite significant problems.
I think the problem is with reading and processing longer pieces of text, to pick out relevant information - which I did notice a bit in home learning during covid. This is likely only to get more challenging as they start having more in depth texts to interpret I guess. The first question her English teacher asked us at parents' evening was whether she reads (answer, no) so it's evidently noticeable - she also commented on the maturity of ideas in her written work, so it definitely seems to be a reading issue. She always got greater depth in writing at primary school (despite spelling issues - the school made sure she had access to a dictionary and could check her spellings!) and meeting expectations for reading. I think the writing probably reflects her being exposed to audiobooks and a wide range of vocabulary, as she is quite articulate.

OP posts:
DorothyWasRightTho · 23/09/2022 17:51

if you do decide to go private patoss is the best place to look for an assessor www.patoss-dyslexia.org/Tutor-Index-Landing as they are registered and have approved qualifications. You can register with the site for free and search by area to find someone.

BetsyBigNose · 23/09/2022 17:55

@Violettaparma - That is so strange; I could have literally written your OP about my 13 year old DD word for word (except that I have an older DD too and no younger DC), from the issues with spelling, following words with a ruler, not being a reader (in a family of voracious readers!) and bizarrely, even planning a career in interior design! 😁

However, we have never suspected, or had suggested to us, any type of dyslexia. Having read the responses on this thread though, I do wonder if it's something we too should be looking into for our DD. It just had never occurred to me that this could be what's going on.

Additionally, our DD is naturally very introverted. She has a big group of friends and is popular, but finds all the 'socialising' at school incredibly draining, and will often need a nap as soon as she gets home from school. She will go to parties and see friends at the weekend, but sort of pushes herself to do so, because she knows she'll have fun once she's there, but has to balance that with how drained and tired she will feel afterwards. I only mention this as our DDs appear to have a lot in common from your OP, so I wondered if this was something your DD finds too?

Does anyone have any suggestions for how to go about getting a diagnosis for dyslexia in a teen (yes, I can use google, but thought I'd ask for actual tried and tested recommendations!), please?

BetsyBigNose · 23/09/2022 17:57

@DorothyWasRightTho - I was writing my post while you posted, so didn't see your recommendation until after I had posted (gosh, what a lot of posts!), I know it wasn't intended for me, but thank you anyway!

weekendninja · 23/09/2022 18:00

Does she have regular eye tests OP?

mycatisannoying · 23/09/2022 18:03

My boss (a Literacy and Dyslexia Support Team Leader) would advise against a private identification of dyslexia. It should ideally be done through the school, as it is a staged process with much being taken into account. There isn't one single test that will tell you if you have dyslexia, and it takes time.

DorothyWasRightTho · 23/09/2022 18:08

Glad to be of help! You can search assessors by age groups they work with I think so can find someone who assesses children

Tiaandchewy79 · 23/09/2022 18:08

Have a look at Irlen Syndrome, and see if she meets any of the symptoms.
Might be worth a look; it can be rectified with special glasses.

skyeisthelimit · 23/09/2022 18:10

Contact the school SEN and see what assessments they will do, or help they will give.

DD is 14, just going into Y10, and was assessed at the end of Y9 for extra time for exams and was awarded 25% extra time for 2 different reasons, one was phonological processing. The deputy HT has also suggested that she might need writing breaks too as her hand hurts after a period of time and she has to stop writing.

The school did not tell me about the extra time, other parents did, and I had to push the school , contact SEN myself, and wait months for a response but they did it eventually. DD's teachers had to observe her and give feedback on if they thought she should be assessed.

They will not refer students for dyslexia screening and claim that all their lessons are dyslexia friendly but they will advise DD's teachers that she is showing traits of dyslexia.

There are not enough funds to help every pupil and our school are only interested in the top ones who will get high grades, so pupils like DD who are predicted 4-5 grades just go by the wayside.

The NHS have referred her to an OH for assessment for dyspraxia.

DorothyWasRightTho · 23/09/2022 18:13

mycatisannoying · 23/09/2022 18:03

My boss (a Literacy and Dyslexia Support Team Leader) would advise against a private identification of dyslexia. It should ideally be done through the school, as it is a staged process with much being taken into account. There isn't one single test that will tell you if you have dyslexia, and it takes time.

That’s really strange to hear as in my experience schools often don’t have the capacity to offer full diagnostic assessments. They can screen and put access arrangements in place for exams based on that. I work in HE and see so many students that were told they were likely dyslexic in school but never actually diagnosed. I think as long as you know where to find a registered assessor a private assessment can be very helpful in understanding needs and difficulties.

mycatisannoying · 23/09/2022 18:18


I totally understand your point. But on the other side of the coin, many private assessors will identify dyslexia even when it's not the case there's incentive in being paid to do it. My colleagues see it all the time.

It should definitely be a last resort after school anyway. And the parents who shout loudest about their child's need are often the most heard!

Mayflower18 · 23/09/2022 18:44

I would also look into Irlen Syndrome and have a visual stress test. You can book these at the optician.

DorothyWasRightTho · 23/09/2022 18:56

mycatisannoying · 23/09/2022 18:18


I totally understand your point. But on the other side of the coin, many private assessors will identify dyslexia even when it's not the case there's incentive in being paid to do it. My colleagues see it all the time.

It should definitely be a last resort after school anyway. And the parents who shout loudest about their child's need are often the most heard!

All the time? Really? I think as long as you are going with a legitimate, registered assessor, private assessment is completely valid - all assessors are being paid by someone whether that is the parent or the school so I don’t think the argument that this happens all the time really stands. I think schools sometimes like to have a bit of gate keeping over diagnosis because the more kids diagnosed the more support they should be offering which they just don’t have the funds and resources to do.

Pinkishpurple · 23/09/2022 19:13

Get her properly assessed. To find a correctly qualified assessor go on British Dyslexia Association, not everyone who says they are properly qualified are properly qualified. An Assessment will cost anywhere from £350-£650. A school Assessment is not a proper assessment. If you live near Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire feel free to DM and i can suggest an excellent assessor.

Violettaparma · 23/09/2022 22:17

Just catching up with thread - thanks for all the comments and advice.

Interesting debate about assessment. I was inclined to go private, as I suspect it will be hard to get school to prioritise someone who is causing no issues and is achieving in a middle of the road kind of way. Also, don't want to be seen as a pushy, middle class parent looking for a reason why my daughter isn't top of the class... But also appreciate the comments about importance of a legitimate assessor so will look into the recommendations. We are further north @Pinkishpurple, but thank you for the offer, much appreciated. I also was slightly concerned about the possibility of private providers more likely to 'give' a diagnosis - I'm not actually seeking a diagnosis, just information/ understanding and an accurate assessment, but definitely need to be careful I guess and go with somewhere reputable.

She is short sighted so has regular eye tests. I've heard of Irlen syndrome but will google to remind myself.

@BetsyBigNose wow that does sound similar! My daughter is what I would class as an extravert, not especially loud, but popular, loves being around people, makes friends easily, always has to be doing something and very sporty (this is diametrically opposed to me and to most of family - I have previously kind of put her lack of interest in reading down to being more interested in and engaged with the world and less inclined to hide away in fantasy and daydreams...) So similar to your dd in some ways, but she doesn't need to recharge, she has lots of energy. She is also pretty organised, and I don't think has any features of ADHD as mentioned above. She has beautiful handwriting, which probably detracts from her terrible spelling!

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