Information for Parents

Click here for seeking assessment documentFinding a reading tutorClick here for the tutor directory


Ontario Resources

Additional Resources


I think my child has dyslexia. How do I get them tested?

Basically, there are two ways to get your child tested for dyslexia:

  1. Through your school board
  2. Private assessment

Please read our document: Steps to seeking assessment which provides an overview of both processes. If you decide to seek private assessment we have a way to help offset the cost: Oliver Martin Memorial Trust Fund.

What test is used to identify dyslexia?

There is no one test for dyslexia. A battery of tests must be administered, generally over two or three sessions. Individuals may be tested at any age. The evaluator may work with other professionals such as speech and language pathologists, psychologists, physicians and occupational therapists. In Ontario , a diagnosis of a learning disability must be made by a registered psychologist, in order for the child to be identified as an Exceptional Pupil.

What should an evaluation include?

The expert evaluator will conduct a comprehensive assessment to determine whether the person’s learning problems may be related to other disorders, such as attention deficit and/or hyperactivity disorder, mood disorders, pervasive developmental disorders and physical or sensory impairments.

In general, an evaluation will include the following:

  • A case history that includes information on development, medical history, behaviour, academic and family history
  • A measure of intellectual functioning (in Ontario , this is usually the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children, or WISC)
  • Tests of specific oral language skills related to reading and writing success, including a test of phonological processing
  • Educational tests to determine level of functioning in basic skill areas of reading, spelling, written language and math. Testing in reading and writing should include the following measures: single word decoding of real and nonsense words, oral and silent reading in context, reading comprehension, spelling in isolation and in text, sentence, story and essay writing, handwriting
  • A classroom observation, and a review of the remediation efforts to date
Other resources:

Strengths and Challenges: A Parent’s Guide to Psychological Assessment (Peel District School Board)

A Parent’s Guide to Special Education in Ontario (Learning Disability Association of Ontario)

Where Do I Go For An Assessment (Learning Disability Association of Durham Region) Includes directory.

Frequently Asked Questions about Psychological Assessments (Waterloo Region District School Board)

Tips for Parents: Special Education (People for Education)

How common are Language-Based Learning Disabilities?

  • 15 – 20% of the population has a language-based learning disability
  • 70 – 80% of the students with learning disabilities receiving special education support have deficits in reading
  • Dyslexia is the most common cause of reading, writing and spelling difficulties

What are some common signs of learning disabilities?

Parents are often the first to notice that there may be some irregularities in their child’s progress. A checklist of symptoms is not a substitute for a comprehensive assessment by a qualified professional, but may help parents to notice common patterns. Many children may display some of these symptoms or behaviors some of the time. This is normal. However, if you notice several of these characteristics over a long period of time, you may wish to discuss this with your child’s teacher and/or other professionals in order to seek a thorough assessment.

Grades K-2

  • Trouble with rhyming
  • Difficulty learning letter names and sounds
  • Not learning phonics readily
  • Inconsistent memory for words
  • Can’t remember lists (days, months)
  • Mispronounces words
  • Distracted by background noise
  • Poor retrieval of names for colours, objects
  • Does not spell phonetically
  • Frustration, avoidance

Grades 3-4

  • Reverses letter sequences (soiled/solid, left/felt)
  • Problems with phonic decoding
  • Over-reliance on context and guessing to decode words
  • Poor, immature spelling
  • Difficulty learning new vocabulary
  • symbolic confusion ( e.g. arithmetic symbols: =, +, -, x, )

Grades 5-6

  • Poor spelling, symbolic errors
  • Poor punctuation, capitalization
  • Difficulty learning cursive writing
  • Over-reliance on context to read; poor decoding
  • Dislike and avoidance of writing and reading

Grades 7-8

  • Slow reading
  • Can’t decode new vocabulary
  • Poor spelling
  • Difficulty organizing written compositions
  • Word confusions

Grade 9+

  • Written language skills less developed than reading comprehension
  • Poor spelling and ‘mechanics’ of writing
  • Difficulty learning a second (or third) language
  • Slow, minimal, or disorganized writing



What is the difference between remediation, accommodation and modification?

Remediation refers to direct instruction in the student’s identified areas of weakness. This instruction is usually delivered in a pullout programme. It should be intensive, direct, multisensory and systematic.

A modification refers to changes made to the curriculum expectations. These may include:

  • Selecting expectations from a different grade level
  • Reducing the number of curriculum expectations to be mastered
  • Rewriting grade-level expectations
  • Writing alternative expectations

An accommodation refers to any assistance that enables the student to access the grade-appropriate curriculum. The curriculum expectations are not changed. Common accommodations include:

  • Providing extra time on written tests
  • Reading aloud written questions on tests
  • Not deducting marks for spelling errors when spelling is not the focus of evaluation
  • The use of books on tape
  • Oral assessments
  • Allowing the use of electronic spellers
  • Changing the font size and amount of information on a page for written tests
  • The use of a peer note-taker
  • The use of voice recognition software for writing and print-to-speech software for reading text

What can I do to support my child at home?

  • Start and maintain a folder of all letters and materials related to your child’s education
  • Include copies of school files and names and dates of all assessments and results
  • Collect samples of schoolwork that demonstrate your child’s difficulties
  • Collect examples of your child’s unique strengths and natural affinities
  • Keep a contact log of discussions with professionals
  • Keep a log of your own observations
  • Work with your child’s teachers to develop and monitor the Individual Education Plan
  • Talk to your child at a developmentally appropriate level about learning disabilities
  • Encourage your child to become an advocate on his/her own behalf as he/she matures
  • Know your legal rights
  • Work as a team with the school to support your child


Ontario Resources

Ministry of Education

Helpful Links

Additional Resources