So the school has found your child eligible under IDEA under the Specific Learning Disability category with a disability in “written expression”, “reading fluency”, and/or “reading comprehension”. What does this mean? As you review your child’s evaluation with the school, you will need to ask the following questions:
- Does my child have difficulty with accurate word recognition?
- Does my child have difficulty with fluent word recognition?
- Does my child have poor spelling abilities?
- Does my child have poor decoding abilities?
- Does my child have a deficit in the phonological component of language?
- Is this unexpected in relation to his/her abilities?
If they answer yes to all of these questions, your child just met the definition of dyslexia as defined in the Ohio Code of Law and there is nothing prohibiting the school from using the term “dyslexia” in the IEP. Make sure to print both the definition of dyslexia as well as the guidance letter issued by the US Department of Education in the following links.
UPDATE: The US Department of Education Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services issued a guidance letter on October 23, 2015 clarified “that there is nothing in the IDEA that would prohibit the use of the terms dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia in IDEA evaluations, eligibility determinations, or IEP documents.”
Here are the links with the excerpts of where dyslexia is written in Ohio’s Code of Law:
3323.01 Education of children with disabilities definitions.
- As used in this chapter:
- (A) “Child with a disability” means a child who is at least three years of age and less than twenty-two years of age; who has mental retardation, a hearing impairment (including deafness), a speech or language impairment, a visual impairment (including blindness), a serious emotional disturbance, an orthopedic impairment, autism, traumatic brain injury, an other health impairment, a specific learning disability (including dyslexia), deaf-blindness, or multiple disabilities; and who, by reason thereof, needs special education and related services.
3323.25 Pilot project to provide early screening and intervention services for children with risk factors for dyslexia.
- (D) As used in this section, “dyslexia” means a specific learning disorder that is neurological in origin and that is characterized by unexpected difficulties with accurate or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities not consistent with the person’s intelligence, motivation, and sensory capabilities, which difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language.
Once the school has evaluated your child, the school schould provide you with a copy of the evaluation prior to the meeting to review it. If they do not provide a copy prior to the meeting, request to postpone the meeting until after you have had time to review the evaluation yourself to be better prepared for the meeting. The first thing you will need to do with the evaluation, if the school has not yet done so, is to convert the scores into percentiles and to plot on a bell curve in order to really understand what the scores represent. A score of 100 sounds good, but it is not the same as getting a grade of 100%. Generally, a standardized score of 100 equates to the 50th percentile, which means half the people scored higher, and half the people scored lower. Here are links to convert scores to percentiles and standard deviations, how to plot the scores on a bell curve, and to see where your child’s reading fluency falls by grade level. The more you know and understand this information, the better you will be able to advocate to ensure your child gets what s/he needs.
You will also want to make sure to read these links:
- US DOE Issues Dyslexia Guidance Letter 10/23/2015
- What tests?
- Is dyslexia in the DSM5? Yes! It does not have it’s own specific diagnostic code, but it is defined as a specific learning disability.
- The Dyslexia Doctor articles
- Parent Concerns Section of the IEP
- My notes from Wrightslaw’s From Emotions to Advocacy
What if you disagree with the school’s evaluation? You have the right to request an independent evaluation.