Here’s where to start.
by Martha Pitchford
Did you know that dyslexia affects between 5 and 17% of the population? If your child hates school and struggles with homework, it’s a good idea to learn about this common and often misunderstood learning difference. If you suspect dyslexia in your child:
1. Talk to your child’s teacher.
Ask the teacher what he or she sees in the classroom. Does your child avoid reading aloud? Does she become frustrated when reading? How are her grades? Is she keeping up with class work and homework assignments? You can provide the teacher with any information about your child that might be helpful. Document any relevant findings. Make sure you write down the date of the conversation.
2. Request a multi-factored evaluation.
Write a letter to the principal of your child’s school requesting an educational evaluation for your child. Say that he is struggling in school and that you suspect a learning disability. Also include a statement such as, “Please let this letter serve as my consent to evaluate Jimmy.” Make a copy for your files. If possible, drop the letter off at the school. On your copy, make note of the date and time, and to whom you handed your letter.
3. Do your homework.
Spend some time perusing the following websites:
International Dyslexia Association: You will find a wealth of information about dyslexia and other language-based disabilities.
Wrightslaw: This website, run by special education attorney Pete Wright and his wife Pam, will tell you everything you need to know about the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004). Learn your rights!
4. Talk to other parents.
Google dyslexia support groups in your area. Consider joining the local chapter of IDA, as well as “liking” their Facebook page, if they have one. Some school districts even have a group for parents of dyslexic kids. The special education process can be confusing and overwhelming. The importance of surrounding yourself with people who have “been there” cannot be underestimated.
Now, give yourself a pat on the back. You’re on your way to getting answers and learning how to successfully advocate for your child!
Martha Pitchford is the owner of Kids First Parent Advocacy, LLC. She lives in central Ohio with her husband and two boys, and can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.