Top 5 most commonly asked questions

No. Some schools offer basic dyslexia screenings 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're not 100% reliable. For example, a screening may indicate no signs of dyslexia yet teachers see clear difficulties in the classroom. A screening may indicate that a chlid probably has dyslexia yet the difficulties may relate to something else.


When thinking about pursuing a full diagnostic assessment for a young child, it is advisable to consider the following:

  • Is your child having unexpected difficulties?
  • Are your child's difficulties purely related to the disruption caused by Covid / missed education or were those difficulties there beforehand?
  • Is your child not responding to the right interventions? 
  • Is your child needing high levels of support to sustain progress? 


An alternative to a full diagnostic assessment is having an assessment to see 'where they're at' in terms of literacy and cognitive processing skills. A further assessment could be considered when they're older to then explore a potential diagnosis.

Schools and colleges play a critical role in determining whether students need support in their exams because any help put in place must reflect their needs and normal way of working. A formal diagnosis of dyslexia does not automatically entitle students to exam access arrangements and a formal diagnosis is rarely needed at GCSE and A' level.

If you feel that help is needed for your child, you must speak to the SENCo first to see whether the school can conduct a brief assessment for this. If it can't, please ask the school whether it will accept an external report from someone like myself as I'm very happy to complete JCQ form 8 in conjunction with the school.

From assessing for the past 20 years, my reports are held and accepted by schools and colleges 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 

My reports are also accepted by universities and by Student FInance England for those applying for the Disabled Students' Allowance (DSA).

No. Visual discomfort / disturbance is an entirely separate matter and must be investigated by an optometrist. Your child may be prescribed eye exercises, coloured overlays or glasses with tinted lens. Being given an overlay by a school may mask an underlying eye difficulty and therefore an appointment with an optometrist is highly recommended, even if a standard eyesight test has come back showing no difficulties.

My professional bodies and test publishers allow me to conduct full diagnostic assessments online and these assessments over Zoom are for anyone in year 7 and above.

Face-to-face assessments at my home in Crawley Down are still available for all age groups.

See homepage for availability.

Other questions

My contact hours for phone calls and email enquiries are Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 6pm.

Face-to-face assessments are offered Tuesday to Saturday from 8am through to 10pm.

Online assessments are offered Tuesday to Saturday but with even more flexible hours to suit those doing shift work, those living abroad, etc.

For Zoom assessments, I can see anyone regardless of where they live, whether in the UK or abroad.

Clients are welcome to come to my home in the village of Crawley Down which is in between Crawley and East Grinstead, West Sussex. There is ample parking on the road. I've 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, I can come to your home, school or workplace for a small additional cost (see 'services and fees') if you live in Sussex, Surrey or Kent. I'm also able to travel to other parts of the UK and abroad but please enquire about additional fees.

For anyone aged 17 or under, the report goes to the parent who can share it as appropriate. For anyone aged 18+ (including those in sixth form or college), the report is sent to the person named on it although they may want to give permission for the report to also be sent to a parent or employer.

For adults whose reports are commissed by and paid for by employers, a full report will go to the employee but an executive summary will go to the employee and employer.

No, I'm a specialist teacher assessor. Many years ago, only educational psychologists could formally diagnose specific learning difficulties. However, both educational psychologists and specialist teacher assessors who hold a relevant post graduate qualification are able to conduct formal assessments and, where appropriate, provide an official diagnosis. Please see the 'About Sarah' page regarding my qualifications, experience and membership of nationally recognised professional bodies.

I'd very strongly encourage you to speak to your child's teacher or the school's SENCo about whether they suspect that your child has a specific learning difficulty. As assessors, we always welcome the school questionnaire being completed prior to the assessment. There are situations where families do not wish to include the school so you can book an assessment without having the school involved but I will ask to see your child's last school report in this case.

I assess children aged 7+. In my view, it's 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. This is especially the case with the disruption from Covid. 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. Parents must speak to the school in the first instance.

In terms of a maximum age, no, not at all! I see many adults in their 30s, 40s, 50s 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 several people in their 70s.

When someone has physical difficulties (such as walking, self-care, falls and cooking), it's advisable to seek a medical assessment through the GP or with a private occupational therapist. This is especially the case if difficulties have worsened or have occurred more recently. When daily life is impacted, applying for benefits is dependent on a medical diagnosis.

Dyspraxia can also be diagnosed for those aged 16+ as a specific learning difficulty as it affects motor skills as well as issues around organisation, planning and coordination. This can impact adults in education and in the workplace, and therefore specialist assessors (like myself) who have had the necessary training can assess for dyspraxia following strict guidelines. Clients can use my reports to apply for support through the Disabled Students' Allowance, for professional exam bodies and for Access to Work. 

Please note that any concerns regarding children (i.e. under 16s) MUST go through the medical route and therefore a GP referral to a paediatrician or occupational therapist would be advisable. 

ADHD can be formally diagnosed only through the medical route (such as a psychiatrist) and I can provide details about where private assessments can be sought if a GP referral isn't possible. A medical diagnosis is needed to access certain support such as medication and to get a conclusive answer about having ADHD. However, I can formally explore 'signs' of ADHD in those aged 16+, enough for university students to use my reports to apply for the Disabled Students' Allowance due to having a profile that strongly 'suggests' ADHD. I undertook ADHD training at the Institue of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience in London as well as with one of my professional bodies, Patoss. 

No, I used to. However, assessors now need to hold a graduate or postgraduate qualification in dyscalculia to assess for it which I've decided not to pursue.

I ask that you're not with your child during the assessment for a few reasons. From experience, I find that even the most shy children settle down really quickly and I now offer free Zoom sessions before assessments so that people of all ages can meet me first. I found in the past that children and young people tended to look to their parents for answers or to see if their responses were okay. I also found that parents sometimes found the assessment really interesting but were rather keen to join in! However, once the assessment has finished, you'll be included in the immediate feedback. I hold an enhanced DBS certificate last renewed in August 2021. 

You may cancel or postpone the appointment at the last minute without incurring charges other than the non-refundable deposit of £45. However, please give me as much notice as possible so that I can offer the assessment slot to someone on my very long cancellation list.