How are reading disorders diagnosed?

Providers usually use a series of tests to diagnose a reading disorder. They assess a person’s memory, spelling abilities, visual perception, and reading skills. Family history, a child’s history of response to instruction, and other assessments might also be involved.1

Although NICHD studies reading and reading disorders, the institute is not involved with setting definitions or guidelines for diagnosing reading disorders.

The U.S. Department of Education offers services and assistance for people with reading disorders through its Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP).

OSEP also supports the Center for Parent Information & Resources external link, which can help parents learn about their children’s reading or other learning disorders. The center helps parents find professionals to assist with children’s treatment and education. It also provides information about the laws and policies related to education for a child with a reading disorder or learning disability. Each state has a Parent Training and Information Center. Find a center near you external link.

The organization Understood external link provides resources to parents, families, and educators to understand and support children with reading or other learning challenges, including steps to take after a child is diagnosed with dyslexia external link.


  1. Hamilton, S. S., & Glascoe, F. P. (2006). Evaluation of children with reading difficulties. American Family Physician, 74(12), 2079-2086. Retrieved February 20, 2020, from external link
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