Frequently asked questions
AT WHAT TIMES OF THE DAY ARE YOU AVAILABLE?
My contact hours for phone calls and email enquiries are Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 6pm.
However, I'm available for assessments from Tuesday to Saturday from 8am through to 10pm.
My availability is kept up-to-date on my homepage.
DO YOU COVER MY AREA?
Clients are welcome to come to my home in the village of Crawley Down which is in between Crawley and East Grinstead in West Sussex. There is ample parking on the road. I have also had clients fly into London Gatwick Airport or come down by train from London to the nearest stations (Three Bridges and East Grinstead). The airport and train stations have taxi ranks.
In non-COVID times, if you live in Sussex, Surrey or Kent, I can come to your home, school or workplace for a small additional cost (see 'Services and fees'). I can travel to London for single assessments if door-to-door transport is arranged and paid for by the client. I am able to travel to other parts of the UK and abroad if there is a group of at least 3 candidates who require full diagnostic assessments and can be seen over two consecutive days.
For remote assessments, I can see anyone regardless of where they live in the UK but you may wish to find someone nearer to you if there's a chance you'd like to do some additional tests at some point to explore a diagnosis face-to-face.
WHY CAN'T YOU CONDUCT FULL DIAGNOSTIC ASSESSMENTS REMOTELY?
At this present time, I have to be guided by the SpLD Assessment Standards Comittee (SASC) which has made it clear that diagnoses cannot be made online. This is for various reasons including how some essential practical tasks cannot be done remotely. Should this advice change, my website will be updated.
ARE YOUR ASSESSMENTS THE SAME AS SCREENINGS?
No. Some schools conduct basic dyslexia screenings which look to see if there are 'signs' of dyslexia but they do not provide a diagnosis. Screenings can be a useful first step before investigating difficulties further but they are not 100% reliable. For example, a screening may indicate no signs of dyslexia yet teachers see clear difficulties in the classroom. They may indicate that a chlid probably has dyslexia yet the difficulties may relate to something else.
ARE YOUR REPORTS ACCEPTED BY SCHOOLS?
From assessing for many years, my reports are held and accepted by schools all over the south east (and beyond) in terms of providing a formal diagnosis. My 'assessment practising certificate' (APC) is the gold mark that anyone pursuing an assessment should look for in an assessor. Renewing my APC is a stringent process that I have to go through every 3 years and which I have now done succesfully several times. Clients and schools can check to see if an assessor has an APC on the SASC website www.sasc.org.uk
MY CHILD IS 6 YEARS OLD. DO I NEED TO WAIT UNTIL S/HE TURNS 7?
In my view, it is important to identify difficulties as early as possible so that appropriate interventions can be put in place and the child's self-esteem is not adversely affected. However, a child might just need slightly longer to acquire those early skills, after which they flourish without any difficulties. Therefore, I assess children age 7 and above. In very rare and exceptional cases, I will see a 5 or 6 year old but only with the FULL involvement and support of the school. This must be discussed with me over the phone in the first instance.
SHOULD I TELL MY CHILD'S TEACHER THAT I'M HAVING MY CHILD ASSESSED?
I would very strongly encourage you to speak to your child's teacher or the school's SENCo (Special Needs Coordinator) about whether they suspect that your child has a specific learning difficulty. As assessors, we always advise families to involve the school if possible including asking class teachers or SENCos to complete questionnaires prior to the assessment. However, there are situations where families do not wish to include the school so you can book an assessment without having the school involved. However, I will ask to see your child's last school report in this case.
MY CHILD IS DUE TO SIT GCSE / A' LEVEL EXAMS AND I THINK EXTRA TIME IS NEEDED
The 'services' page on this website provides more information about exam access arrangements.
The school or college plays a critical part in determining what might help your child in exams as any help put in place has to reflect his/her normal way of working with the school, such as your child finding it hard to complete exam papers within the set time or teachers observing that your child needing longer to complete tasks in class.
If you feel that help is needed, you must speak to the Special Needs Coordinator (SENCo) in the first instance to see whether the school can conduct a brief assessment for this or, if not, whether the school will accept an external report from someone like myself as I am very happy to also complete JCQ form 8.
WHAT DO I NEED TO PROVIDE WHEN YOU COME TO MY HOME?
We will need to sit at a kitchen/dining room table as some of the exercises involve writing. If this is not possible, we can sit on sofas but there must be at least a coffee table where you or your child can write comfortably. I will bring all the forms, stationery and test materials. Lastly, information about any parking difficulties or restrictions near your house is really helpful for me so do let me know before I come to you.
CAN I BE WITH MY CHILD WHEN S/HE IS BEING ASSESSED?
I ask that you are not with your child during the assessment. From experience, children settle down really quickly (even the most shy child) and talk really openly about how they feel about school, etc. However, once the assessment has finished, I will invite you to join us so that I can give you both immediate feedback. Also, If your child would like to meet me via Zoom before the assessment takes place, we can arrange this for free.
AM I TOO OLD TO BE ASSESSED?
No, not at all! I see many adults who need assessments for work, returning to study or just to get an answer to a lifelong question about having some type of learning difficulty. I've assessed a few people in their 70s.
MY CHILD SAYS THAT HIS/HER EYES HURT WHEN READING AND THE WORDS MOVE. IS THAT DYSLEXIA?
No. This may relate to eye difficulties such as visual stress (known as Irlen Syndrome) or tracking, and must be investigated by an optometrist before the dyslexia assessment takes place. Your chld may be prescribed eye exercises, coloured overlays or glasses with tinted lens. Most people with dyslexia can read on white paper without any difficulties. If your child has been given an overlay by the school, this may be masking eye difficulties and therefore an appointment with an optometrist is highly recommended. As advised by our professional body, the trialling of coloured overlays is no longer part of dyslexia assessments.
DO PEOPLE WITH DYSLEXIA NEED COLOURED OVERLAYS OR COLOURED PAPER?
For many years, there was a belief that people with dyslexia needed coloured aids. However, there is no such link. Most people with dyslexia can read off a white background but some people may also have other conditions such as visual stress (known as Irlen Syndrome in the US). Signs of visual stress include blurry text despite a standard eyesight coming back as 'normal', moving text and yawning when reading. If you or your child experience these or similar difficulties, then you would be strongly advised to consult an optometrist.
I THOUGHT DYSPRAXIA COULD BE DIAGNOSED ONLY BY A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL
Where someone has difficulties that are physical (such as walking, self-care and cooking), you would be advised to seek a medical assessment, such as with an occupational therapist. However, it is also classified as a specific learning difficulty and difficulties with planning, organisation, etc. severely impact on studies and/or work. Therefore, in 2013, the SpLD Assessment Standards Committee (SASC) released information about how specialist assessors can assess for dyspraxia following its guidance about suitable tests. This applies to students and people aged 16+ only.For childhood dyspraxia assessments, I would encourage you to speak to your family GP about a referral to a paediatrician but please contact me if you would like the details of a very experienced private consultant paediatrician in the Crowborough area.
CAN YOU ASSESS ME FOR ADHD?
For those aged 16+, I can assess clients to explore 'signs' of ADHD (which can occur with or without hyperactivity) and provide a report that can be used for apply for the Disabled Student's Allowance to get help at university. However, people in this age group would be advised to also explore a diagnosis through the medical route via the GP in case they can access medication and/or therapeutic interventions. For suspected childhood ADHD, I would strongly advise making an appointment with the family GP or discussing your concerns with the school nurse/SENCo. Please contact me if you would like the details of ADHD assessment centres in Surrey and London, and a consultant paediatrician in Kent.
WHO RECEIVES THE REPORT?
For children aged 17 and younger, the report is sent only to the parent who can share the report with others as appropriate, such as the school. For anyone aged 18+ (including those in sixth form or college), the report is sent only to the person named on the report unless they give permission for it to also be sent to others such as parents.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I NEED TO CANCEL OR POSTPONE AN ASSESSMENT?
You may cancel or postpone the appointment at the last minute without incurring any charges. However, I ask that you give me as much notice as possible so that the appointment time can be used by other clients on my waiting list.