Can you please direct me to a place in Michigan that diagnoses dyslexia free of charge? We have spent so much money getting my nine year old daughter tested. We have always suspected that she may be dyslexic, but it was dismissed by the psychologist we hired to do educational testing for our child. Finally, I took her to The Michigan Dyslexia Institute [1] where they looked at all her tests and did their own evaluation. They determined that she has characteristics of dyslexia and they can help her but they cannot diagnose her. They said it was not necessary. What concerns me is that in order to have more information on our side to do battle with our daughter's school to get services that she needs, she should have a diagnosis. We cannot afford to keep paying to take her to professionals that charge a fortune. Are there any affordable options that you are aware of?

 

Dr. Pierson's Response: 

The public schools are the only places that I know of that will assess for a learning disability with no out-of-pocket cost to you. Funding comes from our tax dollars.

Relative to your daughter’s current needs, a diagnosis will be necessary in the long run. Right now MDI [1] may be able to do baseline testing so as to set objectives in order to begin treatment, but a thorough assessment of your daughter's skills is important for a number of reasons.

First, it will flesh out a pattern of her strengths and weaknesses, which is important for her to know—she needs to know what she is good at to help her get through the challenges that she is having when she engages with text and learning at school. As a parent, you need to know so that you can promote those strengths. As a clinician, I need to know so that I can build using those strengths in her therapeutic program.

Second, your daughter needs to know her diagnosis—having dyslexic tendencies is not having dyslexia. Understanding what is going on is one of the first steps to 'coming to terms' with the diagnosis and understanding why she is struggling. We know that dyslexics, by definition, have average to above average intelligence—and, unfortunately, they come to feel 'stupid' in the context of of being in a classroom with other kids for whom reading, spelling, and writing are not a challenge. Knowing her diagnosis gives us something to talk with her about. By showing her the strengths that she has, we can begin to foster the belief in herself as a learner, which is then fortified through her accomplishments in the therapy program.

Third, a comprehensive assessment will lay the groundwork for the direction of therapy. Upon completion of a good assessment, goals and objectives will be able to be set.

Last, we are going to ultimately need to show that her struggle with learning has been present since she was young in order for her to get accommodations to take standardized assessments such as the ACT, SAT, etc. Colleges want to know that this diagnosis is not just popping up to get help in college. Her history is going to be important.

A good assessment outside of the schools does cost money, but I think it behooves you to have your daughter assessed. It can also help you get her the services she needs at school, which as you know is paid by our tax dollars. Best of luck!