How to determine if you have dyslexia

The best start to understanding dyslexia is an evaluation. You will want to seek a comprehensive assessment that will provide you with a clear understanding of your competencies in the following areas:

  • oral language
  • phonological skills (e.g., phonemic awareness, rapid automatic naming)
  • decoding
  • reading fluency (i.e., rate and accuracy)
  • reading comprehension
  • spelling
  • writing

Articulation skills, social skills, and/or oral motor difficulties may also be a part of the assessment battery. In addition, you may want your skills in organization, memory, and executive functioning assessed.

The first order of business will be to schedule an evaluation with a professional, such as a school or private psychologist or a learning disabilities specialist. Speech-language pathologists who are certified with the American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA) are a good choice if you are in need of a comprehensive language assessment; the professional should be able to guide you as to that question. Importantly, you will want to ensure that the professional has expertise and experience in assessment and diagnosis. For example, Dr. Joanne Pierson, who manages DyslexiaHelp, is a certified speech-language pathologist who went on to get her doctorate in education with a focus in language, literacy, and learning disabilties; and Dr. Michael Ryan, DyslexiaHelp contributor, holds a Ph.D. in psychology and is dyslexic himself. Both have decades of experience working in the area. Don't be afraid to ask for credentials and references when looking for someone to work with you. And, in addition to expertise, be sure the diagnostician has experience working with individuals your age. 

In addition to understanding your dyslexia, you will also want to know your strengths -- you probably already have a good idea of what those are. Listen to the interview on this website by Malcolm Alexander, the acclaimed sculptor who is dyslexic. He talks about his difficulties in school and work until he discovered his gift. His sage advice is "Find the thing that you do best and forget about the rest." Success starts there!

For more information on discovering signs of dyslexia, check out the British Dyslexia Association's Adult Dyslexia Checklist.