How Dyslexia Is Diagnosed After High School

By Kate Kelly
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At a Glance

  • Some people aren’t diagnosed with dyslexia until after they finish high school.

  • An evaluation is the only way to find out if an adult has dyslexia.

  • Different tests are used to measure reading and related skills in adults.

If your young-adult child finished high school but still struggles with reading, he 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. You may be wondering, “Do I have dyslexia, too?”

A surprising number of adults have dyslexia that was not diagnosed while they were in school. Steven Spielberg and Cher are some of the most famous examples. 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. But if you think you may have dyslexia, the only way to know for sure is to get a formal evaluation. The same is true for your young-adult child if he suspects he has dyslexia.

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 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 also 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—if you or your young-adult child are 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 you or your young-adult child a full picture of your learning differences and strengths. The results will include strategies to help. The results can also help you or your young-adult child 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.

Once you or your young-adult child find a tutor or program, the biggest issue may be finding the time to put into improving your reading skills. Consistency and practice at home are the most important factors for rapid progress. The more time you put in, the faster you’ll improve.

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

Key Takeaways

  • Getting an evaluation can help you or your young-adult child request 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.

About the Author

About the Author

Kate Kelly 

has been writing and editing for more than 20 years, with a focus on parenting.

Reviewed by

Reviewed by

Guinevere Eden, PhD 

is a professor at Georgetown University and director of its Center for the Study of Learning.

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