Hello,

I have a 10 year old son who I believe needs evaluation. He is a hard working student, and has struggled with first speech and then reading. He has always been at the low end of the spectrum for reading. He has had reading intervention and tutoring. He is currently being evaluated in school for auditory processing, but I think and I think he needs evaluation for dyslexia as well.

Any suggestions for me as to how to expedite this and where I could go?
Dr. Pierson's Response: 
You are correct -- your son needs more than an assessment for auditory processing. Early difficulties with speech (and language) can be indicative of later challenges with learning to read and spell. I'm surprised that the school personnel tell you that they are doing an assessment for auditory processing. Assessment for central auditory processing disorder (CAPD) is made by an audiologist, which is not typically one of the professionals on a school staff. I am wondering who is doing the assessment; perhaps they have referred you to an audiologist.

In my clinical practice, I have seen children and teens for whom CAPD has either been diagnosed or is questioned; and what I find is that the individual has a disorder of receptive language (i.e., understanding spoken language). Your son should have a comprehensive assessment of spoken language (i.e., listening comprehension and verbal expression). And, because oral language undergirds learning to read, spell, and write, his written language skills should be assessed. You can read more here. The National Reading Panel (2000) identified five areas that need addressed through explicit teaching -- phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension, so an assessment should look at those areas. Assessment of these areas does not fall under the scope of practice of an audiologist.

I typically refer people to the provider list from the International Dyslexia Association (IDA). I am current board president of the Michigan Branch. The MI provider list can be found here. You need to know that not everyone on this list diagnoses nor do they all assess spoken language. Some of the information I have here may help you as well.

You are right in questioning whether an auditory processing assessment will get at the reasons that he is having challenges with reading. An assessment for CAPD is not going to necessarily get at the underlying issue(s) relative to his struggles in learning to read, spell, and write. To reiterate, that requires looking at oral language comprehension and use, and those five areas identified by the National Reading Panel.