How Important is it to get a diagnosis for Dyslexia?

If you suspect that your child has dyslexia, it is natural to consider getting a formal evaluation and diagnosis.

There are obviously benefits to getting a formal diagnosis. And surprisingly, there are some disadvantages to be aware of.

You might also wonder when to hire specialist tutoring plans for your child. We’ll discuss that at the end of this article.

Spoiler alert: We recommend finding a specialist tutor in parallel with getting an official diagnosis. There’s no need to wait. We’ll explain why at the end of this article.

In this guide, we will cover:

  1. Dyslexia diagnosis: What it is
  2. Pros of getting a dyslexia diagnosis
  3. Cons of getting a dyslexia diagnosis
  4. Specialist tutoring for your child
  5. Summary

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Dyslexia Diagnosis: What it is

A dyslexia assessment and diagnosis is generally performed by a psychologist or a special education teacher.

It’s based on identifying patterns of strengths and weaknesses in cognitive abilities.

In contrast, diagnosis of other neurodiversities are often performed by medical professionals.

For example, an Autism Spectrum diagnosis should be performed by a psychiatrist who specializes in Autism.

Similarly, an ADHD / ADD diagnosis should be performed by a psychiatrist who specializes in ADHD / ADD.

Now, there’s a potential problem with this.

It’s very common for someone who is dyslexic to have aspects of other neurodiversities, for example Autism Spectrum, ADHD / ADD or dyspraxia.

As each neurodiversity has its own specialists who perform official diagnoses, one specialist might only be able to diagnose in their specialty and refer on if they see other potential issues. 

Thus, it’s important to have someone on your team who has the whole picture of who your child is. We’ll discuss that more in the section on “Specialist Tutoring for Your Child” below.

Pros of Getting a Dyslexia Diagnosis

So, what are the pros of getting a dyslexia diagnosis?

The pros fall into two categories:

  • Funded support
  • Special accommodations

Funded Support

In many countries and school systems, funded additional educational support is available for children with an official dyslexia diagnosis. An obvious advantage.

Special Accommodations

Many school systems and educational institutions provide special accommodations for students who have been diagnosed with dyslexia. The most common form of this is in providing extra time when taking written examinations.

Again, an obvious advantage.

Cons of Getting a dyslexia Diagnosis

You may be surprised to hear that there can also be downsides to getting an official dyslexia diagnosis for your child.

It turns out that there are three potential problems:

  • The child becomes the label
  • Teachers give up on the child
  • It’s seen only as a limitation

The child becomes the label

Many educators think they ‘know’ what dyslexia is, so once a child has been diagnosed with dyslexia, they think they ‘know’ the child. Even though they’re not special educators they may have some guidelines they can follow for working with dyslexic students once they see the diagnosis.

The problem with this is that most neurodiverse people have not one but rather several neurodiversities.

A simple diagnosis of dyslexia may well give their educators tunnel vision, leading them to interact with the child as if their only difference were dyslexia.

With this tunnel vision, they may not notice other differences that your child has, and so not think about how to accommodate those other differences.

Teachers give up on the child

Teachers want to do the very best for all the children they teach.

But they often have to deal with large class sizes. Most teachers are overworked and underpaid.

So the reality is that many teachers cannot give each and every child in their class the individual support and guidance they would ideally want to.

With great regret, they have to focus their time and attention where they can have the most impact. In many educational environments, some children, unfortunately, just get left behind.

The sad fact is that once a child has the label of dyslexia, some teachers will feel that this lets them off the hook for bringing the child along with the rest of the class. “Everyone knows that dyslexics struggle to read and learn, so it’s not my fault that I cannot help this child.”

As educators ourselves, who have taught from young children through post-graduate students, we have the greatest respect for people who have chosen teaching professions. And we also know the strains that many educators face in working with large, diverse classes. They just cannot give every child the attention they would want to.

It’s seen only as a limitation

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, most people see dyslexia only as a limitation.

In fact, dyslexia is a mixed bag. Sure there are some obvious limitations like difficulty reading and difficulty processing some kinds of information.

However, dyslexics also have a unique way of thinking that often allows them to see the big picture, and see patterns that others miss.

The world is full of highly successful dyslexics, such as Richard Branson, Steven Speilberg and Magic Johnson.

When you have the full picture, dyslexia is as much a superpower as a limitation. Your child just needs to learn to discover their superpowers hidden beneath their obvious challenges.

Read: How to turn your child’s dyslexia into a superpower
Short course via Zoom: How to Understand and Support a Child with Dyslexia

None of these downsides mean that you should not get a formal dyslexia diagnosis for your child. But rather, they are things to be aware of and manage.

Specialist Tutoring for Your Child

If you think your child might be dyslexic, you might be considering hiring a specialist tutor to help them thrive in school – and in life.

Which raises two questions:

  • Is it important to have an official diagnosis before hiring a specialist tutor? 
  • Will an official diagnosis affect how the specialist tutor works with your child?

Is it important to have an official diagnosis before hiring a specialist tutor? 

As we mentioned before, neurodiversities tend to go together. If your child is dyslexic, it is likely they also have other differences. And even if they’re ‘only’ dyslexic, no two dyslexics are exactly the same.

Some dyslexia tutors may see the diagnosis and think that gives them all the information they need to tutor your child. But that raises the risk of pigeonholing your child into a box and missing the whole picture.

A great dyslexia tutor will see your child as a unique individual, regardless of the diagnosis. 

They will assess all aspects of your child’s strengths and weaknesses, so they don’t miss any other important differences your child has.

Before meeting Margo I was mostly getting B’s.

Now with her help and expertise almost all of my essays are getting an A+.

The most important thing that Margo has taught me is to believe in myself.

And that is a lesson that I can’t thank her enough for!


Will an official diagnosis affect how the specialist tutor supports your child?

Regardless of the diagnosis, a great specialist tutor will work with your child as a unique individual.

They’ll develop an approach to working with your child in a way that’s 100% customized to them.

And as they continue to work with your child, they’ll continue to adjust that approach over time.

Read: Dyslexia Success Stories
Short course via Zoom: How to Understand and Support a Child with Dyslexia

So, for the best specialist tutors, a specific diagnosis is only one reference point. They do not need the diagnosis to get to know your child and start working with them.


Overall, if you suspect that your child is dyslexic, it’s worth getting an official diagnosis. This will likely help you get special accommodations and possibly funded support for your child.

Having said that, it’s important to manage the perceptions of others, so that your child does not get boxed in and limited by the label of being dyslexic.

Whether or not your child has been officially diagnosed with dyslexia will not affect how the best specialist tutors would work with your child.

If you’re considering finding a specialist tutor for your child, we would recommend doing that in parallel with going through the process of getting an official diagnosis. There’s no benefit to waiting.

Read: How to turn your child’s dyslexia into a superpower

If you would like to talk with one of our experts to discuss what would be the best approach to tutoring your dyslexic child, book a free consultation today.

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