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What happens when parents refuse diagnostic assessment of dyslexia for their child?

jen012 profile image
11 Replies

I am a volunteer reading helper at a primary school working with Year 3 and 4 pupils. One of my pupils is significantly behind in Reading and Writing. The school has provided phonics coaching and has raised the issue of diagnostic assessment by an educational psychologist with the parents. The parents have refused to give their consent for this. As a newcomer to this field, I am curious to know: do parents have the absolute legal right to prevent assessment of their children for dyslexia? Is this a common occurrence?

My intuition is that this child is one of the 4% of the population who, according to the British Dyslexic Association, have a serious form of dyslexia. The school is well-run and friendly, and my pupil is not currently having any adjustment issues, but I wonder how long this can last. In the worst case scenario, if they arrive at secondary school and the parents still refuse to allow an assessment, what would happen? Can the school override the parents’ wishes? It is hard for me to imagine how the child would cope, educationally and personally, without a diagnosis.

11 Replies
Mums profile image

I have a daughter in year 3 who we have suspected has dyslexia since year 1. we have the opposite problem with school as they will not assess her at school or get an educational physiologist in, this is down to us to take her to the GP. They have positively talked us out of an assessment as they say a label will make no difference as they are already aware she has a problem. I would be interested to hear from teachers and other parents on their thoughts on having a diagnosis.

austinsmrs profile image
austinsmrs in reply to Mums

Hi - Same here. My advice is to pay for an Educational Psychologist to determine the issues with your daughter. Schools dont often assess because of budgets etc. Interventions at school are school action and school action plus - is your daughter on either one? Has she an individual education Plan (IEP) I dont see how they should be able to talk you out of an assessment if they have identified a problem. TEACHERS ARE NOT TRAINED TO DIAGNOSE HOW DYSLEXIC SOMEONE IS they are not EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGISTS. Please please get an assessment done. You copy the school in on the report once you know the details and ensure you ask the Ed Psych who does it 1) it is for a tribunal (if you want to get your child assessed for a statement and the LEA says no that report can be used as evidence) 2) Recommendations (what interventions at school your daughter requires) As in our case our son was severely dyslexic we asked for an assessment by the LEA they refused on the grounds that he is achieveing above a 1C so we are taking the LEA to tribunal to make them assess. Also good advice is to keep a copy of everything, letters reports, school reports etc. Unfortunately, schools only have about 5 Ed Psych visits a year per school so only the most needy children identified will be seen in school. It wont matter if you go for a private assessment spk with the school SENCO and ask if she will support you. Expect to pay about £200 for the report. Good luck

jen012 profile image
jen012 in reply to Mums

I am new to this subject really, but to me, if someone has a specific learning disability such as dyslexia, it is important to get a diagnosis. How else can the school put the proper provision in place, and also, how else, more long term, can the child come to terms with the fact of their disability? Dyslexia comes in different forms and degrees, but it is not a figment of anyone's imagination. It needs to recognised and not swept under the carpet and ignored.

jentopt profile image
jentopt in reply to Mums

Get an independent assessment ASAP-you'll have to pay for it but the earlier things are in place the better! Don't listen to the school- most teachers are unaware of dyslexia & don't know how to teach children who have it either!!!

austinsmrs profile image

Unfortunately, without parental consent you cannot assess the child. If the local authority does it, it is classed as assault. However, it is common for parents to deny assessment of children with learning difficulties such as dyslexia or autism as often they have traits too and they dont want to label their child. All you can do is offer support to the parents and inform them that if their child gets the right help at school at junior level they will survive the transfer to high school much better as too often the case behaviour issues, bullying etc all starts to kick in.

jen012 profile image
jen012 in reply to austinsmrs

Thanks for the informative replies. I am new to this situation but my experience with this pupil set off an alarm bell---it's like they are being allowed to fall through a crack in the education system. I have the impression big strides have been made in dyslexia awareness in recent years but there is still some way to go. The legal situation around testing is very interesting. I can see there is an issue about protecting the child from 'invasive' procedures that could result in a 'negative' label being attached---but really, no one sees dyslexia as stigma any more, or do they? Certainly the educators and medical profession don't, or shouldn't. I don't think I'll be able to intervene any further in the case of this particular child, but I will try and find out more about how schools work with this situation, or not, in general.

austinsmrs profile image

PS there are loads of organisations out there to help you obviously dyslexica action, IPSEA, Parent Partership, SEN Legal SOSSEN to name but a few

Mums profile image

Hi. Thanks Austinsmrs

My daughter has an IEP and is school action which I only found out after investigating the school policy for children with SEN and asking the head. My daughters IEP is carried out by a teaching assistant and the SENCO only assessed her a couple of weeks ago after I went in and asked about getting ger assessed. The last assessment she had with the SEn was over 18 months ago, and in my opinion the SEN just seems to be putting us off rather than assisting us. Do we contact the Ed physc via the GP?

Thanks for your help with this, greatly appreciated.


austinsmrs profile image

Hi - No as far as I am aware GP 's wont do anything unless like us they thought Tom had Petit Mal a form of epilepsy because he kept zoning out. IEP carried out by the TA ? Why not the teacher and SENCO? Is it the case the TA is teaching your child more than a qualified teacher? Hmmmm. What did the SEN assessment come up with? Yes you can contact an Educational Psychologist yourself make sure it is an Ed Psych too not just an psychologist an educational psych has had to go through further training. If you go down this route get back in touch with me can give you advice my email is austinsmrs@aol.com.

Mums profile image


Yes she has all her one to ones with a new TA and seems to have little contact with the SEN which to me is extremley worrying. The SEN said she scored above average for reading 63rd centile, maths 73rd centile and below average for spelling 21st centile (with the average for all being 50th centile). She then proceeded to tell me I had a very bright little girl, which frustrates me all the more and to me points more towards her being dyslexic. The reversal of numbers and letters and misspelling of most words. I have just taken her for tinted reading glasses and started her on toe by toe, none of which were suggested through school.

I have had to investigate all these things myself and am increasingly worried that the school is just cruising and not doing the best for my daughter. It does occur to me on a regular basis that this is all down to budgets, although this is never admitted.

Thanks again


ssgchester profile image

I can ell you what the problem is.

The parents feel it is a reflection upon themselves.

They feel that they have failed or created a failure.

I'm dyslexic.

But my parents were very supportive.

I've dealt with setbacks my entire life.

But I learned to get up and keep on going.

If I can't achieve what I want to achieve one way, then I'll try another until I find a way to reach that goal.

A lot of people don't understand that or why I won't give up.

It is just who I am.

The parents might be those individuals who have never ever had to deal with a set back or failure in their lives.

They don't know how to handle set backs or failures.

Oddly enough, I have had to, in my life, give support to those who have never ever had to deal with set backs or failures.

It is a traumatic experience for them.

And sadly, there are those who find they cannot cope with this and take their lives.

What I suggest is of course talking to the parents. Maybe have a counselor with you to help them understand that it is not a reflection upon them And then point out that the child just learns differently. Then give them examples of very successful dyslexics. Sir Richard Branson is a great example.

The issue lays with the parents, not the child at this point.

Good luck

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