I’m assuming the vast majority of you are seeking an educational evaluation that you would like to use for planning in your student’s school. I just don’t think we’re there yet technically and I’m pretty sure you’ll have significant difficulty with acceptance by your school. However, my plan is to arm parents with what they need to really ramp up their child’s treatment outside of school. That’s going to require a lot more discussion but much can be done now with the right information and support. Stay tuned.
First and foremost, though, let me repeat (from earlier posts) that dyslexia tests online are by and large quick screening tools versus complete evaluations. Quick screenings are useful to give you a sense for whether it makes sense for you to continue pursuing more information whether you or your loved one need a complete diagnostic evaluation for dyslexia. Having said that, there are a couple of legitimate organizations that are providing diagnostic evaluations specifically for dyslexia, e.g., Lexercise. Lexercise provides a very good write up but does not include everything you need for an evaluation that could be used by a US school system.
Functionally, screenings are not enough to be considered a true dyslexia test online. And, if you find a group that claims to provide a full dyslexia test online it needs to be conducted during live video conferencing either through Google Hangout, Skype or some other live conferencing platform. The specific tests will also need to be fully interactive online.
Let’s go through the four key components to a complete psychoeducational evaluation and we’ll see what works and what doesn’t.
Observations, Interviews and Checklists: Ironically, I don’t think that there is any way around the live observation part of this. I say “ironically” because most private diagnosticians don’t do school visits anyway. Regardless, I think it’s important not only for the sake of observation of the child within their context but also because it is a chance to better connect with the school team. It really is important to develop meaningful relationships because things can get tough. Ultimately, parents and teachers need to take care of each other because much of our educational system is horrifically broken and does not provide the infrastructure to support collaboration.
The rest of the interviews and checklist follow up could conceivably be done through Google Hangout or Skype.
Intellectual Assessment (IQ Testing): Two things. I still believe it is important to have a solid understanding of the student’s verbal and nonverbal reasoning ability. Some would disagree. However, the issue is moot for an online dyslexia test because the sanctioned intellectual tests do not have online versions and must be done in person. Additionally, there is so much to learn by interacting with the child during that critical 60 to 90 minute period.
Academic Achievement: Honestly, I think that these tests could be given online through a live video conferencing platform if there was an online version of the tests which I’m pretty sure there isn’t.
Cognitive Processing Testing: I have to admit that until I saw how Lexercise conducted their evaluation specific to language processing and literacy acquisition skills I didn’t buy it. Will this live video conferencing over the web ever truly equal being in the room with the student? Not really. However if the diagnostician is highly skilled a solid evaluation can be done. Lexercise seems to do a pretty good job.
Allow me to make some brief comments about dyslexia tests online and the public school systems legal obligations (which often turn into legal defenses).
Remember that you have the right to request (in writing) that your child be tested if they are struggling in school. The testing is the key data used to determine whether your child or loved one is eligible for special education services and an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). If the school AGREES that your child should be tested, they are required by law to conduct the evaluation at no cost to you. If they refuse, you will need to elevate your request to the district level and you may very well end up in an administrative hearing with legal representation. There are many steps to this whole process. Since every case is different, you also have the option to reach out to me for a consultation. The bottom line is that the current educational system is convoluted and difficult. For the most part, “innovation” is not a key value or concept in public education. The idea of integrating online components to the evaluation process is clearly down the road.
Caveat: I am a huge fan of those teachers who truly care and give of themselves endlessly. And there are tens of thousands of teachers in the US who do so daily. Nonetheless, I think they would agree with me that the system is antiquated and sorely in need of retooling. Consequently, tread lightly with your hopes and dreams about how the educational system is going to care for your child if he or she presents with learning issues like dyslexia.
As discussed above, one key goal of mine is to directly offer support to parents who want to play a greater role in helping their kids and loved ones overcome dyslexia. This is going to take the shape of formal and informal guidance…Consultation, recommendations, webinars where I can provide access to information, review products including software, etc. Whatever it takes. As Martha Denckla from Johns Hopkins Medical Center once said, “We have to remember that we’re dealing with people’s brains here. Everyone is different.” There is no one solution but I am committed to creating a road map that will give us anchors to hold on to while we figure out our own path with our own unique brains.