Can a non-verbal 11-year-old be tested for dyslexia? She has almost no expressive language at this time, but her receptive language is close to normal. She is reading at about a 4-5th grade level, though her comprehension/retention is lower I suspect. She communicates primarily through writing questions and answers down, but her handwriting is frequently hard to read. I am from Texas. If she can be successfully tested, can you recommend a testing location?


Dr. Pierson's Response: 

I have never tested a nonverbal child for dyslexia. While it could be challenging, there would be some tests that could be tried. The examiner would need to establish a pattern of strengths and weaknesses with performance in her reading, phonological processing, and/or spelling that is not in line with her other cognitive areas, such as receptive language. In other words, her reading difficulties are unexpected in light of her other areas of development. Here are some possible tests that could be used:

  • Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test -4— to assess her understanding of single word vocabulary and to act as a data point to determine a discrepancy from the other areas. Typically dyslexics have a strong receptive vocabulary, although as the student progresses through school, we may see vocabulary drop because he does not have access to the same information as his peers. Around 3rd grade, and definitely by 4th, students are now using reading to learn and must be able to access the same texts/information or we see that decline.
  • Lindamood Auditory Conceptualization test— to look at her ability to hear and manipulate sounds in words. The Test of Reading Comprehension may also be viable.
  • Gray Silent Reading test— to get an idea of her reading ability given that she does not read orally.
  • Test of Written Spelling— to assess her understanding of spelling at the phonological and morphological levels.
  • A writing sample

You could contact the speech-language department at the Callier Center in Dallas to ask whether they could assess her. Additionally, Dr. Laura Green at Texas Woman's University may be able to help. I am hoping this information will be of some help to you. I'd love to hear how things go.