How dyslexia is diagnosed in adults

Adults who have finished high school but who still struggle with reading may be wondering, “Do I have dyslexia?” The same is true for parents who struggle with reading and have a child who has been diagnosed with dyslexia. They may be wondering, “Do I have dyslexia, too?”

A surprising number of adults have dyslexia that was not diagnosed while they were in school. Signs of dyslexia in adults include:

  • Reading slowly and with great effort

  • Struggling to sound out unfamiliar words

  • Avoiding reading aloud and rarely reading for pleasure

  • Having poor spelling

  • Finding it much harder to express thoughts on paper than out loud

  • Having a family member with dyslexia

Dyslexia tends to run in families. If a younger child is diagnosed with dyslexia, chances are good that an older sibling or parent also has it. Learn about how adults can find out if they have dyslexia after they have finished high school.

Dyslexia tests for adults

There are lots of online screening tests for dyslexia. Adults of any age who think they may have dyslexia can find out with a formal evaluation.

An evaluation for reading issues involves a series of tests. These measure skills like reading accuracy and reading fluency. The tests also measure reading comprehension and listening comprehension.

The tests are often the same or similar to those used to assess kids. But they are designed to work across a wide age range.

Specialists who test adults for dyslexia

Only certain types of specialists are qualified to assess people for dyslexia. These include:

You may want to ask specialists you’re considering if adults make up a significant portion of their practice. Why? Adults may have developed their own coping strategies over the years. This can make it harder to evaluate adults than kids.

Where to find specialists who test adults for dyslexia

There are several resources that can help you find specialists in your area who can assess adults for dyslexia. You may want to contact:

How to cover the cost of dyslexia testing

An evaluation can be expensive. Some insurance plans will cover it, but many don’t.

University psychology departments sometimes offer a sliding scale fee for these kinds of assessments. Local mental health clinics sometimes do this too. VR agencies may provide this kind of testing at no cost for an adult who is accepted as a new client.

As you search for qualified specialists, you may want to ask them:

  • Will my insurance cover the cost?

  • Do you offer financial aid or other funding sources?

  • Can you provide a payment plan?

Treating adults with dyslexia

An evaluation will give a full picture of learning differences and strengths. The results will include strategies to help. The results can also be used to request accommodations in college or accommodations in the workplace.

Adults with dyslexia benefit from the same kind of instruction that helps kids with dyslexia. But the teaching methods need to be tailored for adults. Look for literary specialists or reading tutors who are trained to teach adults.

The biggest issue for adult learners may be finding the time to put into improving reading skills. Consistency and practice at home are the most important factors for rapid progress.

But no matter how long it takes, remember that it’s never too late to become a better reader.

Key takeaways

  • Having evaluation results can be helpful when requesting accommodations in college or at work.

  • Look for a specialist who has experience assessing adults for dyslexia.

  • It’s never too late to become a better reader.


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