Screener Frequently Asked Questions

What is dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a learning difficulty that interferes especially with the learning of reading and spelling. However it may also be difficult to remember multiplication tables, sequences such as months of the year and telephone numbers and postcodes. A survey of relevant areas of research interest, compiled for teachers in specialist training, may be found in Turner and Rack (2004).¹

Dyslexic children make most progress when the condition is detected early. At this stage (4-7 years) they confuse and reverse letters and numbers, make speech errors and begin to feel a sense of inadequacy at school. But at this stage skilled specialist teaching can lay the necessary foundations, through so-called multi-sensory teaching, so as to prevent later loss of self-esteem and the necessity to undo ingrained faulty habits.

What causes dyslexia?

So far, there are nine genes that are known, with the probability of more to come. There is an innate basis, in other words, for this as for other specific learning difficulties. Optimal teaching can however minimise – as poor teaching can aggravate – the effects of this biologically-based disorder.

What are the most common ways in which dyslexia shows itself?

The main area of inefficiency in learning is phonological processing – the ability to hear, store, reproduce and manipulate the sounds of speech, such as the sequence of syllables in car park or barbecue (rather than par cark and cubeybar). However there are associated difficulties in speed of information processing and character recognition.

Older individuals may find that they are embarrassed by an inability to remember lists, common facts such as addresses and names, and to organise aspects of daily life involving time or instructions. (Many of these involve mental lists.)

Sequences of all kinds can be difficult to control.

Can dyslexia be cured?

Dyslexia is not a disease, but a developmental condition; that is, it manifests itself gradually as an individual matures, attends school and is expected to achieve in basic skills (reading, number and spelling).  Though a symptom rather than a cause, some brain structures appear in scans to be less active in affected individuals.

Accordingly, there is no cure – adults continue to show the underlying features of dyslexia throughout life – but proper training, especially at an early stage, can improve alphabetic skills by means of individual specialist tuition using structured, multi-sensory, cumulative methods.

How many dyslexic people are there?

Surveys two decades apart agree that from 2-4% of individuals have a serious degree of dyslexia (hence the slogan “one in every classroom”). However, a larger fraction than this may have some milder degree of impairment.

What is the difference between the Dyslexia Screener Digital and more detailed assessments?

The Dyslexia Screener is a quick initial assessment to see how far a test-taker’s profile of abilities and skills match those of people who have been found to have dyslexia. Further diagnostic assessments then focus on particular skills such as spelling and the processing of speech sounds, in order to build up a detailed view of what the person can and cannot currently do, so as to identify the most appropriate form of specialised tuition for that person.

How should the Dyslexia Screener Digital be used?

The Dyslexia Screener should be used to provide a provisional indication of individuals who would benefit from further diagnostic assessment. This can be achieved in a variety of ways, depending on the particular setting. For example, whole year groups may be tested on intake or individuals may be selected for screening if they have already been identified as possibly having dyslexic tendencies, such as college students who say they have always had problems with reading or school pupils who have failed to progress in their acquisition of literacy skills, despite adequate opportunity.

When should the Dyslexia Screener Digital be used?

The Dyslexia Screener should be used at an early stage in the assessment process, prior to any specialist tuition or detailed diagnostic assessment.

Is there any value in re-testing with the Screener?

There is no real value in retesting with the Screener unless the first attempt was compromised in some way, such as by a computer failure or an unexpected disturbance that may have adversely affected scores.

Does the Screener need to be administered by a SENCO?

The Screener is designed to be straightforward to administer, so can be used by any classroom teacher or college tutor/counsellor, provided that they have been properly trained in test administration. The person who actually uses the results of the Screener will need to have appropriate training in the use and interpretation of assessments.

Can the Screener be used by parents?

The Screener is not intended for home use and is not therefore sold to parents.

If a child is shown to have dyslexic tendencies, should they also be screened for other learning difficulties such as dyscalculia?

Individuals with dyslexic tendencies often have a range of difficulties. It would be wise to ensure that a comprehensive assessment is made of any person found to have dyslexic tendencies, including the use of any other appropriate screening devices. It is claimed that some 60% of people with dyslexia also have difficulties in dealing with numbers, so the dyscalculia screener would certainly be appropriate.

Is the Screener suitable for those who speak English as a second or additional language?

The Screener is intended for people who speak English as a first language, or have at least had their entire education in English medium schools. This is because the screener looks at the discrepancies between ability (verbal and non-verbal) and achievement in reading and spelling, and also at ability versus information processing, including speech sounds. If an individual has limited competence in dealing with written English and understanding of spoken English, they may produce greater discrepancies than did the sample of the general population whom we originally tested with the Screener, and they could therefore appear to have dyslexic tendencies when they don't.