Frequently Asked Questions


  1. What is the difference between dyslexia and other learning difficulties (LD'S)?
  2. My child is struggling with learning and not making progress. What can I do?
  3. My child has received a diagnosis of dyslexia. What now?
  4. How do I find the right school for my child if they have a specific learning difficulty (SLD)?

What is the difference between dyslexia and other LD's?

Dyslexia is one Specific Learning difficulty, that primary affects the skills involved in accurate and fluent wording, reading and spelling. Other specific learning difficulties include; dysgraphia (difficulties with handwriting and fine motor skills), dyscalculia (difficulties with maths/arithmetic), dyspraxia otherwise known as developmental coordination disorder (difficulties with motor skills).

A Generalised Learning Disability (a person with an intellectual disability) is different from a Specific Learning Difficulty (i.e. dyslexia). A person with a Specific Learning Difficulty usually has difficulties in one or a couple of areas, but has no problems with learning in other areas whereas a child with a general learning disability finds it more difficult to learn, understand and do most things compared with other children of the same age.

My child is struggling with learning and not making progress. What can I do?

The key here is to understanding the underlying causes of the difficulty. Is it a specific learning difficulty or is it something else that is causing the problems?

If you think it might be an SLD first, talk to the school.  Ask to see some of your child’s work, identify if the school shares your issues of concern. Then, you can take SPELD's, pre assessment checklist to check if you are eligible for an assessment. 
If you do decide to get an Educational Assessment for your child you have choices:
  • SPELD Victoria offers full diagnostic assessments for children with specific learning difficulties. (For more information please navigate to our assessment page).
  • You could also try the Australia Psychological society (APS) via 'find a psychologist' page to search for a private educational psychologist who specialises in specific learning difficulties.


Remember, it may be something else, or a Specific Learning Difficulty might be co-occurring with other conditions. So there are other professionals that may also be able to advise you and your child. 

If you havespeech and/or language concerns you might want to contact a (a) organise for a speech and language assessment by a speech pathologist, (b) organise for a hearing assessment by an audiologist.Issues with behaviour may benefit from an appointment with a paediatrician.

Occupational therapy assessment and intervention can assist children who have coordination difficulties, attention difficulties and sensory issues (i.e. dyspraxia).

Finally, if just you aren’t sure, why not contact SPELD’s free, confidential helpline for advice?  We are here to help: email or call 1800 051 533

My child has received a diagnosis for dyslexia. What now?

Step 1- read through the report- what has the educational psychologist recommended for the specific needs of your child. Consider talking to the psychologist if these are not clear.

Step 2- speak to the school and show them the educational report- see what they can do to assist your child, now that you know why the child is struggling to learn.    

Step 3- consider a special education tutor- it is important that this person understands your child’s needs.

There is significant empirical support for the efficacy of explicit, systematic, intensive instruction in basic skills such as phonemic awareness and phonics, for example, low progress readers taught by these methods can make major gains in reading and begin to catch up with their peers.

Step 4- remember that there is no cure for dyslexia and there is a lot of conflicting information out there about different programs and what they are claiming to do. When choosing a particular program or service for your child, ask yourself.

  1. what kind of evidence-based research is there for this program?
  2. what exactly is the program aiming to achieve?
  3. how much progress can you expect at the conclusion?

How do I find the right school for my child if they have an SLD? 

Every single school in Australia is legally obliged to make reasonable adjustment for every child with a disability (including all SLD’s) under the 1992 Disability Discrimination Act and the Disability Standards for Education (2005). 

Talk to your child's teachers and principal about your child's reports and needs. Alternatively, try contacting the Department of Education or Independent Schools Victoria and if the school is unresponsive you can make a formal complaint.

The nature and area of the person’s difficulties will depend on the type of program (s) available to offer assistance. If your child has had an educational assessment, the psychologist might be able to recommend the types of programs which will be suitable.

For example there are text to speech programs (i.e. Textease for younger children and Texthelp Iread Write for older individuals) or others which provide word recognition and spell check. For a comprehensive overview of some assistive computer programs, see our tab services-technology services. Remember that there are lots of programs out there, each with varying degrees of support. If you get stuck and are unsure about what computer programs might be suitable for your child

(1) Speak to the educational psychologist who assessed your child

(2) Contact East-West (03) 8682 9945 or, they have some helpful information on their website regarding technology for learning difficulties.

(3) Visit our technology Services page for a comprehensive overview of different technology programs