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January 1, 2008 7:07 PM   Subscribe

Should I get tested for Dyslexia?

I've exhibited traits of dyslexia for years, and I work around it just fine, mostly by triple and quadruple checking. But are there any (dis)advantages to having this officially diagnosed when it comes to applying for jobs or various graduate school programs? Or would having this 'syndrome' on my records dog me in unforeseen ways? I'm not particularly interested in 'treating' dyslexia, since I've worked around it for years, and it's almost an advantage to think differently now.

I should note I work in fields that are very writing/editing heavy, so it's not really an advantage to tell them I only learned the difference between 'does' and 'dose' when I was eighteen.
posted by OrangeDrink to Education (11 answers total)

Seriously, putting aside any interest in treatment -- but noting that you may not fully perceive the advantages (or disadvantages) of that -- I doubt you have much advantage from having a certified case of dyslexia in advance of obtaining a position. At the kind of job you seem to have, moreover, freedom from being prone to dyslexia-type errors may be a BFOQ.

However, if you apply for and are admitted to a graduate program, you may want to be tested thereafter -- students often are granted additional time for exams, if nothing else, if they are dyslexic, and other accommodations may be available.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 7:17 PM on January 1, 2008

If you have to ask, then yes. What is to lose? There are a lot of medical conditions that you would hate to have insurance know you have, as they will just deny future care, but this is only a help to your life, at least as far as I can tell.
posted by caddis at 8:14 PM on January 1, 2008

You could always get tested by a private company and see what the results are before telling future schools or jobs. It might be good to just know for yourself, even if you don't tell anyone official that you were tested and what the results were. Also, you could talk with the psychologist testing you and ask for their opinions and knowledge on the effects of notifying schools and jobs.

If you're doing fine and you've compensated for the problem (by rechecking), then I think you're fine and don't need to tell anyone if you fear it will be a disadvantage later.
posted by Nickel at 12:12 AM on January 2, 2008

FWIW, the testing can be expensive. If you don't need the testing for school or work accommodations, then the cost of the testing may be a factor.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 1:18 AM on January 2, 2008

I've heard that some dyslexic under grad students get more exam writing time. I've never understood why that could be desirable (except for the free HP48G I could have had, if only I'd checked the question weighting before committing time to answers, but I digress). Certainly there are degrees of severity, and it might help some people..

In grad school (including admission decisions), I doubt you'll see advantage or disadvantage, because things are much more about you as an individual. For example, a professor who wants to work with you gets you admission, research is necessarily case by case, and even classes are smaller and more personalized. Certainly that means the biases of the evaluators are exaggerated, but I doubt a dyslexia diagnosis could have much effect either way.
posted by Chuckles at 1:24 AM on January 2, 2008

I don't think it's a requirement for you to disclose your (potential) dyslexia to anyone.

If you really want to see if you have it, wait until you're a grad student and pursue testing through your university. It'll be cheaper. I don't think that they'd report it to your insurance, and it certainly wouldn't get tied to any of your transcripts from the university.
posted by christinetheslp at 6:07 AM on January 2, 2008

About the job piece:

If you are in the US, the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination in employment for a condition if you can do the basic functions of the job with reasonable accomodations. In addition, you cannot be asked in a job interview if you have the disability, only if you can do the basic functions of the job. It is up to you to disclose any disabilities (or not) to the employer, and I would only disclose these if you need accomodations (such as, in your case, spell check on your computer or permission to tape-record meetings).
posted by lleachie at 7:12 AM on January 2, 2008

My kid sis has a learning disability (not dyslexia exactly, but in the same ballpark) -- in jr high & high school she got all of her textbooks on tape, and I know she had extra accommodations in college to compensate for her disability. I have no idea whether her current employer knows about it, but I'd imagine she's fairly up front, if only because it's still somewhat noticeable in her spelling & handwriting. (She does NOT have a job where spelling is particularly important.)

As far as school goes, it's definitely worth reporting should you get into school, getting the testing, and maybe getting some formal assistance. My sis got a lot of benefit from it, altho her disability was much more significant, so YMMV. Also, I seem to remember her saying that each time she changed schools she had to go through the testing all over again so the school could confirm for itself.

lleachie has the key point about jobs in the US. If you have a good record in jobs in your field, and can perform the duties, then any action they take would be discriminatory. I'm not sure if that requires that your dyslexia be formally diagnosed, tho.

If you're concerned or curious, and can afford it, I'd do the testing. Nickel's advice about asking the psychologist seems on the money, too.

(Oh, and Chuckles? For my sister, at least IIRC, the extra time meant that it was actually possible for her to finish reading the questions before the exam was over!)
posted by epersonae at 8:37 AM on January 2, 2008

I was diagnosed with dyslexia in my mid-twenties (I had suspected for years). I'm pretty upfront about it at work, mostly because people try to spell out word/names for me and then seem baffled that I can't write down the letters as they say them. In school I could not take notes during a lecture but I could memorize the main points and regurgitate them. It has never been seen as a disadvantage by any of my bosses. Most people know that dyslexics are often smarter than the "normal" population so it isn't seen as an intellectual handicap as much as just an accommodation or quirk that others have to be aware of. My workplace is extremely accommodating to people with quirks though. I never bothered to use the dyslexia diagnoses in school because my personal coping mechanisms didn't require textbooks on tape or extra time during exams. I am glad I have the diagnosis though because dyslexia can be genetic and I have been able to tell my daughter's teachers that she is at higher risk for it and they have been using alternative reading strategies with her pending her own diagnosis. I was also much more patient with her when she just couldn't "get" phonics because I can't get it either.

If anything, I usually get the "but you are so smart for someone with a learning disability" speech so I can then enlighten the other person about what dyslexia is and how common it is.
posted by saucysault at 10:55 AM on January 2, 2008

Awesome. Thanks everyone.
posted by OrangeDrink at 6:37 PM on January 2, 2008

the extra time meant that it was actually possible for her to finish reading the questions

Hmm.. OrangeDrink, what area are you thinking of studying? Writing/editing heavy, I guess.. My experience is in Engineering, and reading time really isn't relevant.
posted by Chuckles at 7:11 PM on January 2, 2008

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