Comparing the Yando Screener and a Full Dyspraxia Test
Dyspraxia Screening or Full Dyspraxia Test?
One of the most common questions we are asked about the Yando Screener is whether it is as accurate as a full dyspraxia test with a diagnostician.
While this question is understandable, it indicates a common misunderstanding about the role of disability screening tools in education, and how they fit into the journey of a disabled student.
In this article we hope to clear up this misunderstanding about what screening tools are for, and show why a comparison with a full dyspraxia test is misplaced.
The First Obstacle for a Disabled Learner
Very often, the first obstacle a disabled learner will face is identifying that they have a disability.
Typically, their first point of contact will be a discussion with a disability officer. The goal of this meeting will be to provide the student with an opportunity to articulate the difficulties they are having and to be told whether these resemble a dyspraxic profile so that they can be referred for a full dyspraxia test. But there are a few reasons why a face to face meeting is not necessarily the best way to meet this goal.
Firstly, a face to face meeting can be intimidating for a student who is just coming to terms with the possibility that they might be disabled, and they may downplay their difficulties when they have to reveal them to a staff member. The student may also struggle to find time for a face-to-face meeting, particularly if they are falling behind with their work due to an unrecognised disability. This can lead to many students putting off arranging a meeting, or even not approaching the disability team at all.
In addition, the need for a face-to-face meeting places limits on the number of students that can be screened each year. While it would be ideal if all incoming students could undergo disability screenings, the disability team are limited in the number of students that they can see by the number of staff hours available, and making time for screening meetings needs to be balanced with the other support work. If screening meetings are put off due to staff availability, this delays the start of the diagnostic process and ultimately the provision of the student's support.
To solve these issues many institutions use screening questionnaires, which have several advantages over in-person meetings.
Removing the need for a face-to-face interview can help students feel more comfortable with starting the process of seeking support. It also allows students to take the questionnaire in their own time, perhaps over multiple sessions if they are very busy. In addition, a questionnaire introduces a degree of standardisation in the questions asked, making sure that each student has the same opportunity to identify their areas of difficulty, and reducing the need for students to recall and identify the areas where they are struggling.
However, there are still downsides to this approach. Staff have to mark each screener individually, which takes time - particularly as the questionnaire will need to be quite long to cover all the areas where a dyspraxic student may struggle. This can limit the number of students who can be screened, particularly during busy periods, such as the start of the academic year.
There are also administrative difficulties with managing a program of questionnaire screenings. Staff need a system for tracking which students have been sent a questionnaire, and for following up with students who have not yet returned it. Unless staff have developed a relatively robust system to manage the screening process, it is very easy for students to fall through the cracks.
One further downside to screening questionairres is that students don't get any feedback or support if there is a positive screening result, unless this is individually written by the staff member. But it can be very time-consuming to write a personalised report for each student based on their individual pattern of strengths and weaknesses, so often it is not possible to offer any kind of detailed feedback, and it is not until the student attends a full dyspraxia test that they get any kind of detailed information about the nature of their disability and how to address any difficulties they are having.
The Yando Screener
The Yando Screener, and other upcoming screening tools, provide a way to solve these practical issues that can stop or delay the start of a disabled student's journey to getting their support.
The goal is not to act as a proxy for a full dyspraxia test, but rather to remove the obstacles that many disabled students face in getting to the point of undertaking a full diagnostic test, and ensuring that as many students as possible are given the opportunity to articulate the difficulties they are having, and find out if these resemble a dyspraxic profile.
Taking a screening online provides an opportunity for students to articulate their difficulties without needing a face-to-face meeting, in their own time, in familiar surroundings, and over many sessions if required. As opposed to an email/paper questionnaire, it is scored automatically and doesn't require staff members to go through each questionnaire individually to calculate the result as the students get their results instantly. The Yando Screener also provides detailed personalised feedback to the student on their results, and provides suggestions for strategies that may benefit the student in the short term before their dyspraxia test can be arranged.
In addition to these benefits for students, The Yando Screener frees up staff time so that they can focus on other support tasks. With the Yando Screener, staff don't have to schedule screening meetings, mark questionnaires, or manually record who they have sent screenings to and which students have completed them. Staff can use the Screening Dashboard to track the progress of student's screenings, which allows them to search for individual students to see they are progressing, or filter by incomplete screenings to see which students have yet to complete their screening.
And of course, if staff members feel that a face-to-face meeting would be of benefit for a particular student, they can view the student's responses and invite them in to discuss them. In this way, the Yando screener can be a complement to existing practice by giving the staff member an excellent starting point for a discussion with the student, leading to a more effective face-to-face meeting.
Removing these limitations means that institutions can screen as many students as they feel is appropriate without the limitations imposed by staff time. Being able to screener several hundred (or thousand!) students at the start of the academic year ensures that those students who require a full diagnosis and additional support can start this process as soon as possible.
From Screening to Diagnosis to Success
It should be clear then, that a comparison between the Yando Screener and a full dyspraxia test with a diagnostician is misplaced. Screening and diagnosis are different and separate stages of the student journey to getting the support they need. What the Yando Screener aims to improve on are the often informal processes that allow students to initially articulate the difficulties they are having - processes that can often be an obstacle to the student starting their journey.
Rather than acting as a substitute for a full dyspraxia test with a diagnostician, the goal of the screener is to help institutions streamline the process of identifying students who may be in need of additional support, and give as many students as possible the opportunity to articulate the difficulties they are having and start the journey towards receiving support.