By Eva Ostrum, Consulting Educator
What is the best advice you have for a high school student with a great attitude struggling with the need for strategies to improve organization skills and time-to-study challenges?
This student was diagnosed by the school district as having dyslexia in sixth grade and although it's a borderline case, he can receive accommodations like extended time on tests and not taking off for spelling. Although we've contacted his teachers to let them know I'm not sure they provide these accommodations. He has never been pulled out of class for dyslexia.
A federal law called Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) mandates that students with diagnosed learning disabilities, like dyslexia, receive special education services. Your school district should have created what is called an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for your son upon diagnosing him with dyslexia in grade six.
That document should have contained specific accommodations that, by law, every teacher must offer him, such as extended time on tests and no deductions for spelling, if those accommodations apply. The school district should have then periodically updated the IEP based on the progress that your son made. You should receive a formal invitation to each one of those meetings as they take place. You get the opportunity to give your input on the IEP and you must sign it.
Your question suggests that you have not attended annual IEP update meetings and it is not clear that you accepted the special education services that the district offered you. You may opt into those services at any time, as long as your son still faces the same challenges that were impeding his learning in grade six. I would suggest that you ask for a reevaluation of your son, that you play an active role in the discussion of his resulting IEP, that you take advantage of any special education services that the district offers him, and that you monitor diligently whether or not his teachers are extending to him the accommodations that the IEP mandates. They must do so to remain in compliance with the law.
You may also want to do some reading about the rights that your child has as a special education student. I would start with the federal Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) Web site and with your state Department of Education Web site. Both will have many resources for you to consult. Taking these steps will give your son some much needed academic support and take some of the pressure off you. Good luck!
Advice from our experts is not a substitute for professional diagnosis or treatment from a health-care provider or learning expert familiar with your unique situation. We recommend consulting a qualified professional if you have concerns about your child's condition.
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