Dyslexia assessment can now be done at home

dyslexia assessment

Formal Dyslexia Assessment Can Now Be Done At Home

The outside world, as we know it, has taken a back seat this year, but people are constantly finding other ways to meet their needs. That’s what Rosie Bissett and the rest of the staff at the Dyslexia Association of Ireland understood. They realized that they can’t let everything stop just because we’re stuck at home. “People have needs. We have to find ways to meet those needs,” Rosie expressed. 

Before the pandemic, people came to clinics to have their dyslexia assessment done, now, associations like the Dyslexia Association of Ireland made dyslexia assessments possible at home. They realized that the vast majority of tests can be done online. Kids might occasionally need parent’s assistance like taking pictures of the spelling tests that they did then send it to the psychologist. It can be a bit time-consuming just in terms of the technicalities but it can be done.

In the podcast interview that the Dyslexia Explored did with Rosie Bissett, the CEO of the Dyslexia Association of Ireland and Chair of the European Dyslexia Association, Rosie mentioned that they are now doing remote dyslexia assessments to accommodate the demand for these types of assessments in Ireland. She also mentioned how remote assessment can be used even after the pandemic as people are more inclined to do things online now. 

Watch the video of an excerpt from the podcast where Rosie talks about remote dyslexia assessment and the importance of having a formal dyslexia diagnosis not just to have support and exam accommodations but also in changing your perspective and other people’s perspective about you. The transcript of the video is also available below


Click here to see the transcript
rosie bissett

Transcript of an Excerpt from Rosie Bissett Podcast Interview

Darius (00:00): You’re doing remote dyslexia assessments. Tell us more.

Rosie Bissett (00:04): So we have a team of educational psychologists okay. Pre-COVID people came to us and they sat in our little office and do they’re testing for dyslexia. And I suppose obviously like with everyone who had COVID, it was like everything stopped. And then we were like, hang on, Everything can’t stop. People have needs. We have to find a way to meet those needs because COVID is going to be with us for a while. So we can’t just stop assessing people, for dyslexia. And the reality is that the vast majority of the tests that you do, you can, you can do them online. You know, you might occasionally need a parent’s assistance. So let’s say for example, the spelling test or assessments are all done by our educational psychologist. So the psychologist will maybe call out the words and ask them to charge to write it down. And then you just get the parents, the parents will take a picture and send that on or hold us, hold the sheets up to the screen and we can take a screenshot of it and then the psychologists can score it. So it can be a little bit more time-consuming. Just in terms of the technicalities of how it works.

Darius (01:07): So how long does it normally take? Is it like three hours?

Rosie Bissett (01:12): It might take three hours. No. So at the testing bit of it, that might be anything from an hour, an hour to two hours, depending on how many tests you need to do, I suppose. And again, one of the things about dyslexia is there isn’t necessarily a set exact, you do exactly everything, the same test, and subtests with every individual. You start out with certain common ones and then depending on maybe what the, what the presenting issues are, what the concerns are from the adults, or what the parent has. You might be going, okay, we need to do another look in this area a bit more depth or whatever. So anything from an hour to two, and obviously if you need it, you can take a break as well. And then I suppose things like the pre-assessment interview on the post-assessment feedback, those things can be done either online or over the phone, et cetera, as well. So it’s doable, you know, absolutely.

Darius (02:04): How much time is that adding, would you say compared to in-person? So a couple of hours in person compared to what three hours online?

Rosie Bissett (02:14): Maybe a little bit, a little bit more. But I suppose the flip side of it has been from let’s say the parents or the adult’s point of view, you don’t have to travel. So let’s say in our case, we live, we only have one permanent premise in the country, international office here in Dublin. So we would have potentially had people who are, you know, traveling from the other side of the country, you know, where it’s taking them hours to get here. They’re possibly having to stay overnight. And then they’re, you know, are ours back the next day. So there is that, you know, as well. There’s I suppose the comforts for, there can be both the comfort factor of doing an assessment in your own home. And then also now having said that for some people doing it at home is not an option.

Rosie Bissett (02:56): You maybe don’t have good broadband, obviously, you need good, brought on to be able to do as, or maybe you don’t have. Obviously, the one thing that’s really important for assessment is you have a quiet space where you’re not going to be disturbed, where you’re going to be able to hear the instructions that are given to you. You’re going to be able to, where the psychologist then can hear, you know, when you’re reading, they need to be able to hear, well, how you’re reading that her if they’re doing tests on your phonological processing, they need to be able to, you need to be able to hear the test stimulus that they’re giving you. And then the psychologist needs to be able to hear that response clearly. But look in the main, you know, you can make it work very well, you know, and I suppose, look, we were currently getting our office is set up so that as, and when it’s safe to do so, we can begin to do so many person assessments, but obviously with all the usual kinds of precautions in terms of PPE and the screens and everything else like that.

Rosie Bissett (03:53): But I imagine like remote, we’ve been talking about this and I imagine that remote assessment doesn’t, I don’t see it going away overnight. I think it potentially could be that it’s something that we in the future, we’re doing a bit of both, you know, some remote assessments, some in-person because I suppose the COVID is with us for a while, but also we’ve all gone through so much more customs unused to doing things online now as well. So I think we’ve broken a lot of those barriers and fears about working online or learning online or even assessing online. So yeah, I think these things will become more, more normal, you know, so now, and I think it’s, it’s, it’s very positive, you know, and I think, look, our assessment service has always been a big part of what we do. And I think it’s always will be, you know it was one of the kinds of innovations that we did as well in the last year or two around assessment is we developed a new kind of I suppose more affordable model of adult assessments, you know, where it’s kind of paring back the testing to the opposite, which essentially was one of the challenges we have here in Ireland.

Rosie Bissett (04:58): And I know it is something I’ve worried about in other countries. There is no public assessment for an adult with query dyslexia. So in other words, getting an assessment as an adult, I’m particularly, obviously we talked earlier about, you know, those people who potentially had huge lifelong consequences, you know, and never had the opportunity to have their dyslexia identified first-time round. There were huge barriers for them to even find a psychologist who knew and who knew how to assess adult dyslexia properly. And then the cost of it as well. So I suppose that’s been a really positive thing that we’ve done is I suppose, thought back to do just the essential is make it as affordable as possible. And then also offer even reduced rates for people who are unemployed on a low income.

Darius (05:45): Could you tell us a bit more about that? So could you give us a little bit of context here for our international listeners, American Australian? Well, first of all, how many are educational psychologists doing dyslexia assessments? Do you think there are in Ireland right now? You know, roughly,

Rosie Bissett (06:05): Ooh, gosh, that’s actually quite a hard one to answer. There’s probably, I don’t know. It’s certainly less than 500 anyway, you know, not a lot

Darius (06:15): And the population of Ireland?

Rosie Bissett (06:16): Of where we are. We’re I think if I had four and three quarter million, something like that at this stage heading for five million.

Darius (06:23): Okay. So let’s say 400 assessors for 4 million people. Yeah. Okay. So that’s, 10,000 people. Yeah.

Rosie Bissett (06:36): But all of those, a huge, a large amount of them would only assess children. So we’re looking out then how many psychologists actually would be a quick done or even offering adult assessments that get much smaller. Again,

Darius (06:51): That seems like quite a lot, actually 400. I’m surprised that there’s 400 because I think in Scotland, we’re at 7 million people. I couldn’t imagine more than a hundred.

Rosie Bissett (07:03): Yeah. When we have a heading for 200 in our school, the public school psychological service. But I suppose, I’m talking about educational psychologists. Okay. So, and I suppose what’s important to recognize is that dyslexia is only one of the things that these people would be assessing for. So it’s not like these people are all day every day doing dyslexia assessment. Okay. Yeah. So, and I’m probably overestimated overestimate to get a 400 cause I’ve never even thought about that question before you ask me, Darius,

Darius (07:40): So we’ve got the population we’ve got the psychologist and how much does it normally cost for a dyslexia assessment in Ireland at the moment?

Rosie Bissett (07:48): It would be anything less. So let’s say if you’re going for a private assessment, anything from the kind of 550 to like 800 euros and sometimes even more. Okay. So it’s not, it’s not cheap. It’s 300 euros. If someone is working and if they’re not working, it’s like 150. Okay. So obviously considerably less. And we do them in a, by an hour and a half.

Darius (08:15): Okay. And what, what are they, are they losing out on anything? You know, you’re trimming back, what, what are they getting compared to the bigger assessment?

Rosie Bissett (08:24): So you’re, you’re trimming back and doing, doing less, but they’re still getting, they’re still getting an assessment done by an educational psychologist, which, you know, a professional reports, which was evidence. There are dyslexia recommendations for whether it’s relevant for if they’re in higher education or in their workplace or anything like that. And like, we don’t do, we don’t do an IQ test battery as standards. We don’t do that for either adults or children, because it’s not necessary to do us for testing for dyslexia. So it’s really more, I suppose, it’s, my mom has been doing whole batteries. We talked about assessment. Batteries the assessment tools that are done rather than necessarily doing every test from A to Z in the test kit. It’s going, okay, what are the critical ones that we really tell us if this person has dyslexia or not?

Rosie Bissett (09:17): You know, and it’s looking at word reading, it’s looking at spelling, it’s a comprehension test. It’s doing a little test of writing. It’s maybe looking at the underlying area. So things like working memory phonological processing, which we know is the core difficulty for most people with dyslexia. So with just paring it back to the essentials, but most importantly, in a way, I think with adults, we find that a huge part of adult assessments is, is actually listening to an adult. It’s, you know, it’s listening to their journey, it’s hearing about their experiences and what happened for them at different stages, you know, in school, in the various stages of their education and work. It’s, they’re oftentimes they know themselves, you know, they’ve come to us, they did, they’ve done an online test. They’ve done a screener that doesn’t like your dyslexia quiz. You know, so big done a lot of reading of access. They’ve maybe even done some screening tests. So more than anything, it’s that, at the stage that they come to us for an assessment, it’s almost just a final check. It’s a final validation.

Darius (10:31): It’s like, I’m just making this up. This is not just me being stupid.

Rosie Bissett (10:36): Exactly, absolutely it. It’s literally tears of joy. All of those thoughts, I wasn’t just lazy. I wasn’t, or whatever horrible term was in said school. You know, it’s, this is the reason, you know, and that’s really powerful for people. And I suppose also oftentimes people come for an assessment because they need that report from the psychologist to add accommodations or reports to work or whatever it is. You know, I mean, obviously, there are lots of people who have dyslexia. Who’s never been assessed on who maybe are at the stage where they’re, they’re like, you know what, I don’t even need to go and get a formal diagnosis. You know, I’m confident in myself and my profile. You know, maybe they don’t need to, and that’s totally fine too. I think going for an assessment, shouldn’t be a choice. You shouldn’t feel your forced to do us, you know, but I suppose sometimes oftentimes it is the formal, just third party, independent verification combined with them that reports that you may need indoors for supports.

Darius (11:42): That’s fascinating and great. Do you think that’s good to go?

Rosie Bissett (11:46): There is a potential for that, but at the same time, I don’t know that it’s, I don’t see it exploding like that straight away because of the things I suppose. And this is where maybe let’s say my involvement with the European dyslexia association certainly has opened my eyes to the huge variation in how dyslexia is, is viewed, assessed, addressed in different countries. And I suppose also, because education is very, and even our education systems are very linked with the culture. I’m very into the language and in countries. So there’s actually a huge variation in us, you know, so obviously in Scotland, you don’t actually, you can go right the way through school in Scotland, without ever having your dyslexia formally tested, but still be able to get support. So you can get accommodations in your exams and different things like that. So I suppose the needs, let’s say there’s less need for a formal assessment in Scotland than there are in other jurisdictions. In Ireland even, let’s say five years ago, there was a much greater need to have formal assessments than there is now. So one of the things that we would have advocated for very strongly is, and obviously when we mentioned the cost of assessment previously if public free access to assessment is limited, this means that only those who can afford us are able to get the formal diagnosis of dyslexia. And if the allocation, if you have to have a formal diagnosis in order to get supports, this means then that you can get this huge skewing on a very unequal inequitable access to she supports. So that’s kind of back to my social justice hurts. Okay. so one of where we’ve been advocating for it, we’re a lot over the last year is there’s, we’ve had a lot of very positive change.

Rosie Bissett (13:37): Our system now, here in Ireland, is such that it, you don’t have to have a formal diagnosis, we still absolutely recommend. Cause I think it’s hugely empowering for an individual to understand their profile for their self-esteem, for their confidence, et cetera. You know, there are so many reasons why I think everyone should have one assessment at some stage in their life. Absolutely. But at the same time, if you can’t afford, or you want to waste less than you, haven’t got one yet that shouldn’t be a barrier to getting support at school or to getting accommodations in your exams. So I do think that’s very, very positive, but where we’re at now is where we’re really pushing that value of assessments. So yes, it’s right. That assessment shouldn’t be a barrier to getting supports. That’s really important. Your support should be available to you if you need us.

Rosie Bissett (14:25): But at the same time, we also have to really talk about the volume of assessments and the value of the word dyslexia as well. I mean, obviously, listen, there are people who don’t want the word to be there, who don’t want anyone to be assessed, who don’t see the value in that at all? But I think for the vast majority of people, and certainly, my experience with parents, with children, with adults is it’s hugely empowering to understand, to have a name for what’s going on, going on for you even as a short time. I mean, and I suppose it’s also it’s often about relabeling someone rather than labeling someone. So people, you know, oftentimes you have professionals with this argument, Oh, we don’t want to be labeling their child. They’ll be fine. They’ll grow out of it. Don’t be stressing. But actually, oftentimes it’s so empowering to actually get rid of the negative labels they currently have, which are even worse? Which is I’m stupid, I’m lazy. Something in me, I’m inherently wrong. I’m not good. Everyone else is better than me. So even if I think as much from a mental health side as anything else, I think the label or the relabel of dyslexia is hugely empowering and important for people of all ages. You know, if you have that profile

Darius (15:43): Rosie, that’s a huge, huge idea that word relabeling. I’ve never heard that before actually. And that’s so, so powerful. I’m just having like a “Boom” thing, you know, this whole relabeling with dyslexia because it’s true, you know, you’re distracted, disappointing careless, lazy problem and you relabel it with different from dyslexia and then you realize, I think differently. And because of dyslexia, what do I do? Fascinating relabeling. Fantastic.

Rosie Bissett (16:29): And it’s not, but obviously even getting the label, it doesn’t change your challenges overnight. She still has challenges with literacy, but it massively reframes and relabeled it how you view them, how others view them. And I think it’s kind of just giving, giving people a chance to kind of, you know, too, to, to process where they’re at and just reframe and think about it a little bit differently and, and flip that switch to making things more positive in terms of strategies, in terms of supports in terms of just being kind to yourself as well. Because sometimes our biggest critic is ourselves. It’s not, other people, it’s our own limitations, our own, as mistakes, that shame, that self-doubt, you know, these things that can be huge barriers in our progress as human beings. So it’s about giving us an opportunity to, to, I suppose, to help, to bring down those walls of shame, brings out those doubts and actually go, you know, I have the ability.

Rosie Bissett (17:41): I, yes, maybe I think of it differently. Yes. Maybe certain things are more challenging for me, but can do it. I can get there, you know, and now I have, I have a word, but even describes what it is, and it can help me to talk to other people and find my tribe. I’m a big believer in this, you know, finding your tribe if we lose the words, dyslexia, okay. If we use the term, how do you connect with other people who have dyslexia, you know, or how do you describe it to someone? So I think we as human beings, we naturally, we want to categorize, we naturally want to have a name for things and that’s not a bad thing. You know, we shouldn’t be afraid of the relabeling.

Darius (18:25): I love it.

Links you might want to check:

Dyslexia Association Ireland Website: www.dyslexia.ie 

European Dyslexia Association Website: https://eda-info.eu/ 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DyslexiaIreland 

Dys&Dat Podcast: https://soundcloud.com/user-580121665

Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbySl72M3zig6qxZRWTNw0w 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DyslexiaIreland/


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