The American Psychological Association’s DSM-5 sets out the criteria, which includes the following:
- Difficulties learning and using academic skills (such as word reading, reading comprehension, spelling, written expression, numeracy or mathematical reasoning).
- Symptoms have persisted for at least six months.
- Symptoms remain, despite the provision of interventions that target those difficulties.
- The learning difficulties are not better accounted for by other factors, including intellectual disabilities, poor vision or hearing, other neurological disorders, etc.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is the manual relied upon by most New Zealand psychologists when making a diagnosis.
Due to this third criteria, students who have not been provided with appropriate interventions can not be formally diagnosed with a SLD such as dyslexia. We can, however, indicate dyslexic tendencies, then follow up with an updated diagnosis once remediation has been provided and the individual has not responded to the intervention.
Because of this fourth criteria, we must assess the individual’s cognitive ability. If their Intellectual Quotient (IQ) does not fall within the broad average range (or above) for their age, a diagnosis of SLD can not be confirmed.