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  • Writer's pictureKathy Cousineau

Guide to Understanding a Dyslexia Screener: A Comprehensive Guide to What They Are Looking At

Updated: Jan 23

A boy with dyslexia struggling to read
A Guide to Understanding a Dyslexia Screener

Welcome, parents! In this comprehensive guide, we're delving into explaining the skills that are screened for in a dyslexia screener.

  • Our aim is to provide you with the information in words you can understand so that you do not have to have a Master in Education to understand what the evaluators are looking at.

  • We will also explain why each part is important in the development of your child’s reading skills.

  • Then we will take a look at what you can do after you receive the results and you find out your child has dyslexia.

Understanding the Dyslexia Screener:

Dyslexia, a learning difference that affects reading, writing, and spelling, can be identified through careful screening of specific skills. Recognizing these skills early on is crucial for effective intervention and support. Let's break down the key screening areas:

1. Phonemic Awareness (PA)

Phonemic Awareness is the ability to hear, identify, move, or change the smallest units of sound in spoken words. Think of it as playing with the building blocks of language.


Children with dyslexia may struggle with phonemic awareness, impacting their ability to connect sounds to letters when reading.

2. Phonological Awareness (PA)

Phonological Awareness encompasses various speech sounds, including rhyming, alliteration, counting words in a sentence, and breaking words into syllables. It's like being a detective for word patterns.

Predictive Power:

Studies show that strong phonological awareness is a robust predictor of reading accuracy. Identifying challenges in this area allows for targeted interventions.

3. Letter-Sound Knowledge

Letter-Sound Knowledge involves understanding the sounds represented by letters and combinations of letters. It's like decoding the secret language of the alphabet.


Children with dyslexia may struggle to associate letters with their corresponding sounds, affecting their decoding skills while reading.

4. Rapid Automatized Naming (RAN) Skills Processing Speed

RAN is the ability to quickly name aloud a series of familiar items, including letters, numbers, colors, and objects found in a classroom. It's a measure of processing speed.

Role in Reading Fluency:

Strong RAN skills are associated with better reading fluency. However, challenges in both RAN and phonemic awareness can lead to a "double deficit," indicating more severe reading problems.

Double Deficit Dyslexia

Kids facing challenges in both RAN and phonemic awareness may experience a "double deficit."

Double deficit dyslexia is a type of dyslexia that makes it challenging for individuals to quickly name things like letters, numbers, objects, or colors (rapid naming) and break down words into smaller sound units (phonological skills). It involves difficulties in both of these areas, and it's important to be aware of these challenges for effective support.

This condition often indicates more severe reading difficulties, requiring targeted and comprehensive interventions.

After the Results:

Now that you understand what skills are looked at in a dyslexia screener, let's look at what your next steps could look like:

1. Share Results: Create a letter or email the principal, teacher, and special education department to share the results and your concerns with the school.

2. Evaluation Request: Request that the school complete a comprehensive evaluation to understand your child's specific challenges and strengths. (Make sure you ask for your school district's “Permission to Evaluate Form” and fill it out and return it ASAP).

3. Educational Support: Work with the school to implement appropriate accommodations and support. This may include individualized education plans (IEPs) or 504 plans.

4. Explore Interventions: Look into evidence-based interventions, such as Wilson Reading or Orton Gillingham tutoring that is tailored to dyslexic learners.

5. Parental Learning: Educate yourself about dyslexia and effective teaching methods to support your child at home.

6. Emotional Support: Address emotional well-being by fostering a positive attitude, emphasizing strengths, and providing emotional support.

7. Connect with Community: Join dyslexia support groups or online communities to connect with others facing similar challenges.

8. Advocate for Needs: Advocate for your child's educational needs, ensuring they receive the support required for success.

What else can I do?:

Observational Awareness: Be attuned to your child's reading experiences. Note any struggles, hesitations, or frustrations, and document everything! Early observation is key to timely intervention.

Collaborate with Educators: Maintain open communication with your child's teachers. Share your observations and work collaboratively to implement strategies that support your child's specific needs.

Seek Professional Guidance: If you notice persistent challenges, consider seeking guidance from educational professionals specializing in dyslexia. Early intervention can make a significant difference in your child's educational journey.


In this in-depth guide, we've explored the vital skills screened for in a dyslexia screener and what to do after you get the results. We also gave you suggestions of what you can do at home when you are waiting for the evaluation from the school.

Remember, every child is unique, and a personalized approach is key.

My Happy Teacher is here to help you through the special education process by offering Parent IEP Support Coaching and support your child with specialized online tutoring.
If you need ANYTHING, please reach out to us by going to "Contact Us".

Thank you for joining us on this journey of understanding and empowerment. Your dedication as a parent is a driving force in your child's success.

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