Can testing be performed in older adults?

As I review your site, I see age groups for tests. These age groups end at 25 years of age. Can testing be performed in older adults? I am 51 and have always wondered about some level of challenge. Finally reaching a time in life when I can pursue some answers, I am looking to identify professional testing but wonder if I may be considered to have reached an age of developed potential coping skills preventing testing or diagnosis.

Dr. Pierson's Response: 

Indeed, we can assess adults for dyslexia. There are some challenges in that some of the seminal tests for phonological processing, which is one of the hallmark areas we look at when making a diagnosis of dyslexia, do not have standardized norms above age 24. That said, there are other measures that a psychologist could use, such as spelling nonsense words and reading under time constraint for example, that could point to phonological difficulties. Additionally, a persistent behavior noted by many successful dyslexics who have learned to read is the need for additional time -- they continue to be slow readers. Therefore, the test battery should include reading under time constraints.

The other challenge, which you also note, is that many adults, through the experiences of reading and writing, have developed skills and learned to compensate, so although they may be dyslexic -- they may not meet clinical markers for dyslexia on standardized measures. That is why they need a really good diagnostician, who has expertise and experience assessing and diagnosing adults. For example, you will want someone who will gather a good case history, know how to analyze spelling for phonological versus orthographic errors, and triangulate all the data to help make a diagnosis.

Depending what your goal is -- say if it is to figure out some strategies to aid you with reading comprehension -- an assessment may be helpful. It will be key to find someone who has assessed adults, which can be difficult, but not impossible.

Let me know if you have other questions.