As I have had to think through how to best give services to students and to keep children, families, and tutors safe, I have come to several conclusions....
For some diagnoses, an in-person assessment might make sense at this time. However, I do not believe that is true for dyslexia. The assessment process requires both the evaluator and the client to be in close proximity of each other. Under Oregon State regulations, if an evaluator is within 6 feet of a client, the evaluator would need to wear a mask.
Because dyslexia is a language-based learning disorder, some students with dyslexia have a hard time with auditory discrimination, or being able to tell the difference between sounds that sound similar. Examples are the sounds of f/th, m/n, ch/j, t/ch, and many of the short vowel sounds. Additionally, assessments for dyslexia have components that specifically assess student's abilities to manipulate sounds.
It is very important that these sounds are articulated clearly by the evaluator for accurate results. Wearing a mask prevents this from happening. For this reason, I believe that continuing online assessments is the most accurate way for me to get accurate results for our dyslexic students. As always, I am committed to evaluating the COVID-19 situation and making adjustments in policy as necessary.
For many of the reasons listed above, tutoring online is preferred over in-person tutoring with a mask. Additionally, part of the tutoring process includes improving our students' auditory discrimination. This process involves the tutor modeling the mouth position for different sounds as well as watching what the student's mouth is doing when they make different sounds. This obviously cannot be done while a tutor is wearing a mask. Additionally sound distortion would be common when wearing a mask. Until it is safe to tutor without a mask, we will continue to tutor online.
I hope that through these trying times, we can all work together to meet the needs of our dyslexic students while also keeping all of our families safe and healthy.
All my best!