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How do I Know if my Child is Dyslexic?

Boy readingDyslexia is very hard to define! In fact, a recent entry on Facebook said, "My son’s school just told me there is no such thing as dyslexia! I’m dyslexic; how can they say there is no such thing?"

What the school probably means is there are many ways dyslexia can affect a child and it is more beneficial to the child to figure out what the specific problem is and address that problem. (At least, we hope that’s what they meant!)

Some people think you have to see letters backwards before you are called dyslexic. But, that is not necessarily true. That is a common misconception about dyslexia. There are some dyslexics who do, but certainly not all of them!

Formal definitions of dyslexia basically mean that a dyslexic child

  • has difficulty with something related to language (including the language and symbols in math)
  • does not have physical problems such as hearing or vision issues that cause the language problems
  • is plenty smart enough to learn these skills, but has not learned them to the level you would expect
  • has skills (ability to read, spell, or do math) that are below their potential to learn (intelligence).

In many public school systems, if the child has not already been taught these skills using research-based teaching methods, they do not provide an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). The child must show that proper instruction is not enough to help them learn these language skills. (They did not "respond to intervention.")

At the point the school decides the child did have appropriate instruction but failed to learn, they can then qualify for an IEP. Schools may not use the word "dyslexia." They will more likely say "specific language learning disability." Some schools feel that dyslexia is a medical diagnosis and not an educational one.

For a great pamphlet about the signs of dyslexia see, Is My Child Dyslexic?

There are a number of related articles here at SchoolFamily!

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#3 Kildonan School 2010-11-15 17:12
Interesting post. It's really upsetting to hear that a school would tell a parent that there is 'no such thing as dyslexia'. Helping students with dyslexia is impossible if you pretend that it doesn't exist. I feel bad for the pupils at this school as their teachers must be improperly trained and the students receiving a sub-par education.
#2 Livia McCoy 2010-11-13 00:57

Thank you so much for your great insights. You have offered some excellent advice. I especially agree that people should realize how competent and proficient dyslexic people are! I have been teaching students with dyslexia for 27 years and I have seen some amazing things.

#1 Ben Foss 2010-11-12 18:54
Livia, thank you for bringing up the important issue of properly identifying children with dyslexia, and also the importance of utilizing special education resources to help those children. I agree that it is imperative to provide children with assessments at a young age. It’s also imperative that once a child is identified with dyslexia, the parents learn about how to work with the schools to get the extra help they need. It is also important to recommend that the students themselves attend their IEP meetings, enabling them to ask for certain accommodations and so that they become their own advocate. There are currently more than 2.5 million students in public schools with Individual Education Plans (IEPs) that provide students with dyslexia extra help and special classes, making it easier and more realistic to succeed in school.

It is also important for parents to realize that children who have a reading based learning disability such as dyslexia are just as competent and proficient as others, but they may require different teaching methods or tools to help. Assistive technology can make a huge difference for children with learning disabilities and is evolving to better meet their needs. Portable products are now available to assist people with dyslexia, specifically to access the printed word more easily and conveniently, giving children more freedom and independence than ever before. The National Center for Learning Disabilities has some great resources to help parents choose the right assistive technology, and also provides tips on how to work with your school to develop an IEP. You can learn more at https://www.ncld.org/at-school/general-topics/assistive-technology/choosing-an-assistive-technology and https://www.ncld.org/at-school/your-childs-rights/iep-aamp-504-plan/what-is-an-iep.

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