Giving feedback to adults screened with LADS Plus

The decisions made and type of feedback given to persons being screened with LADS Plus will depend to a large extent on the purposes and circumstances of the screening. In some institutions there will be established procedures to follow, as LADS Plus will simply replace or augment existing forms of dyslexia screening. In others, new procedures will need to be instigated. Until such procedures are established, Administrators will have to use their own judgement regarding the best course of action. Please note that further advice on giving feedback to particularly vulnerable individuals is given in Section 5.6.

General guidelines

1. Give feedback based on the LADS Plus classification, but point out that LADS Plus is a screening system and does not purport to give a definitive diagnosis, e.g. “The LADS Plus screening indicated that you probably have dyslexia. LADS Plus is a screening test, which is not the same as a full psychological assessment for dyslexia. Although the results are not definite proof of dyslexia, they indicate that there is a 90% probability that you have dyslexia.”

2. If a client seeks (or requires a definitive diagnosis) they should be referred to an educational or occupational psychologist who specialises in the assessment of adults for dyslexia.

3. It should be pointed out that although LADS Plus, overall, is over 90% accurate, some misclassifications occur. In particular, adults with unusual forms of dyslexia (e.g. characterised by underlying problems in visual processing) may not be detected by LADS Plus.

4. It may help the person to understand their problems if they are shown the graphical chart of the individual LADS Plus test results. If this is done, the nature of the tests should be explained to them in simple terms.

5. It should be explained that the tests in LADS Plus do not measure reading and spelling in conventional terms. However, the LADS Plus Word Recognition and Word Construction tests correlate highly with conventional reading and spelling measures and so the results of these will give a reasonably accurate prediction of whether or not the person is likely to have problems in reading and/or spelling. (Much will depend on the difficulty of any reading and writing tasks that the person has to carry out on a daily basis; if they do not normally have to deal with challenging reading or writing tasks they may not appreciate that they have problems in reading and writing.)

6. It should also be pointed out that the Working Memory test in LADS Plus does not measure the totality of memory skills, only a small part of it. Although working memory may be weak, other aspects of memory may function satisfactorily.

7. Inform the client that there are many ways in which the difficulties experienced by adults with dyslexia can be helped and supported, both in education and employment (see Chapter 6 for further information on this matter).

8. Consider suggesting that the person talks to a professional counsellor if they need help in coming to terms with the discovery that they may have dyslexia.

9. Finally, it will often be found helpful to add that there are successful dyslexics in many walks of life, and that dyslexia is not necessarily a bar to achievement in education or in employment.

Universities and colleges of higher education

In educational institutions where it is expected that a positive screening result will normally be followed up by a full diagnostic assessment (see the report of the National Working Party on Dyslexia in Higher Education; Singleton, 1999), use of LADS Plus will require little modification to existing procedures. This is normally the case in universities, where to apply for the Disabled Students Allowances (DSA) and to be granted additional time in examinations, students will normally be expected to produce evidence in the form of a report by a psychologist or other accredited dyslexia professional, that conform to guidelines laid down by the DfES working group on dyslexia in higher education (2005)15. Generally, it will be expedient to be cautious and refer for psychological assessment all except those who have been classified by the program as ‘Low probability of dyslexia’. The student should be given feedback on the LADS Plus screening based on the classification, e.g. “The LADS Plus screening indicated that there is a high/moderate probability that you have dyslexia (or the results were borderline), and so you are being referred for full psychological assessment.” Some explanation of what dyslexia is will be necessary unless this has already been discussed with the student. When a student who has been screened with LADS Plus is referred for psychological assessment, a copy of the LADS Plus print-out should be sent to the psychologist in advance of the assessment. The Administrator may add comments to the print-out by clicking on the Add Comment button on the report screen and typing text into the box.

While the student is waiting for a psychological assessment to be carried out, or to receive the report of that assessment, it would be appropriate to treat him or her as dyslexic for internal purposes (e.g. provision of learning support, and special arrangements in examinations), as over three-quarters of such cases are likely to be classed as dyslexic following a psychological assessment. For more information on supporting adults with dyslexia, see Chapter 6. 

15 Downloadable from the website of the Professional Association of Teachers of Students with Specific Learning Difficulties (PATOSS): www.patoss-dyslexia.org

Other educational institutions

In educational institutions other than universities (e.g. schools, 6th Form Colleges, and Further Education Colleges) a psychological assessment is not usually required for the student to receive support. In such institutions it would be appropriate to instigate support without further assessment in cases where the LADS Plus results classifies the student as having a ‘High’ or ‘Moderate’ probability of dyslexia. In cases where the LADS Plus results classifies the student as ‘Borderline’, the Administrator will need to check the profile of scores for individual LADS Plus tests before a decision can be made (see section 4.2.4). The student should be given feedback on the LADS Plus screening based on the classification, e.g. “The LADS Plus screening indicated that you are probably dyslexic. Although LADS Plus is not a full diagnostic test for dyslexia, the result indicates that there is a 90% probability that you actually have dyslexia, and so we are recommending that you have appropriate support to help you with your studies.” Again, explanation of what dyslexia is will be necessary unless this has already been discussed with the student. For more information on supporting adults with dyslexia, see Chapter6.

Where additional time in public examinations (e.g. GCSE, ‘A’ level) is required, further assessment will be necessary to supply appropriate evidence to the examination board(s). This assessment may be carried out by an educational psychologist, or by a specialist teacher who has approved qualifications in assessing and teaching dyslexic students. If in doubt, the examination board should be consulted. The British Dyslexia Association can also advise on this (see Section 7 for contact details). A LADS Plus report will not be adequate, by itself, to support an application for additional time in public examinations because additional evidence (e.g. of current reading skills and writing speed) will be necessary. However, the LADS Plus result may be included as additional evidence in assessment reports (provided the student is at least 16 years of age), because the tests in LADS Plus have been standardised and measure key cognitive indicators of dyslexia.

In cases where special examination arrangements (e.g. additional time) are being requested on grounds of dyslexia, the certificate issued by an educational psychologist (or by a specialist teacher who is entitled to issue such certificates) should contain appropriate diagnostic evidence of dyslexia. LADS Plus is an appropriate source of such evidence, and LADS Plus results may be cited in such cases. For guidance on preparation of assessment reports for examination candidates with dyslexia and other special educational needs, see Backhouse (2000).

Other situations, including employment

In other circumstances in which LADS Plus is being used, such as in the workplace or as part of careers or employment counselling, Administrators will have to use their own judgement regarding the best course of action. In employment situations, it will often be the case that some adaptations to then person’s working practices or environment will be beneficial: for further information on this, see Section 6.2. The British Dyslexia Association (BDA) publishes a booklet entitled ‘An Employers Guide to Dyslexia’. This is designed to give an insight into the nature of dyslexia, how it can affect people in the workplace and how to develop an action plan for supporting employees who have dyslexia. This publication can be obtained from the BDA (see address details in Section 7).

Where there is an obvious need for tuition in basic skills, it is recommended that the local authority should first be consulted for information on adult literacy programmes in the locality. The Dyslexia Institute provides tuition for adult dyslexics (www.dyslexia-inst.org.uk). There are also many national agencies that provide education programmes for adults and can give support and advice (see Section 6.4).

Chapter 6 gives detailed advice and information on supporting adults with dyslexia in various settings.

Making a referral to a psychologist

In many cases the LADS Plus results will be sufficient for the dyslexic adult to be able to progress to obtaining the support they require, whether in education or in employment. In some circumstances, however, a diagnosis by a suitably qualified psychologist will be necessary. For example, this is usually necessary for a dyslexic student in higher education to be eligible for Disabled Students Allowances (DSA). If there is an unresolved dispute between a dyslexic adult and their employer or their educational institution to which the issue of their dyslexia has a direct bearing, then a psychological assessment and report will be necessary if there are plans to take legal action on this matter. Legal may be available to pursue a legal case. Further advice on legal issues can be obtained from the following (addresses in Section 7).

Citizens Advice Bureau — check the local phone book for details.

Disability Law Service

Disability Rights Commission

Many educational institutions have psychologists to whom they regularly refer students for diagnostic assessment. However, employers and other organisations may not know who to approach for this service. Care should be exercised in selecting a psychologist to carry out a diagnostic assessment. It should not be assumed, for example, that all educational psychologists will necessarily be able to carry out this task. Most educational psychologists deal largely with the pre-16 sector and have little, if any experience, of assessing adults. They may not even have access to psychological tests that are suitable for assessing adults. Although some occupational psychologists, clinical psychologists and other psychologists may be able to carry out diagnostic assessment of adults for dyslexia, most will not have either the training or the experience to do this. The first fundamental requirement is to choose a Chartered Psychologist, as such persons are required by the terms of the Charter only to offer professional services that they are competent to carry out and can be removed from the rolls if they do not observe those requirements. The British Psychological Society (BPS) maintains the rolls of Chartered Psychologists and each year publishes the Register of Chartered Psychologists and the Directory of Chartered Psychologists. The latter lists services offered by Chartered Psychologists on the rolls. For further information visit www.bps.org.uk and click on ‘Find a psychologist’.

Having located a suitable Chartered Psychologist you should ask for confirmation that he or she is competent to carry out diagnostic assessments for dyslexia and that tests suitable for assessing adults (rather than children) will be used. Finally, you should agree the fee beforehand. At the time of going to press, professional fees for psychological assessments are in the region of £300 Plus, but in some areas they may be much higher than this. Fees for reports in legal cases are usually higher because of the greater amount of work involved.

Reports of psychological assessments are usually required to meet certain professional criteria and be set out in specified ways. In higher education, the guidelines set out in the report of the National Working Party on Dyslexia in Higher Education (Singleton, 1999) should be followed. If preparing a psychological report for legal purposes, solicitors will advise on the specific requirements and wording.

When referring a client who has been screened on LADS Plus to a psychologist for diagnostic assessment, a print-out of the LADS Plus report should be sent together with any other relevant information.