Does My Child Have Dyslexia?
By Debra Collins, Family therapist
I think that my son may have dyslexia. He is in third grade. The school does not acknowledge the word. Can you give me information about dyslexia and how I should go about getting the school to help me?
Dyslexia is a disorder many of us have heard of, but it can be confusing as to what it actually is. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has a very accessible definition:
"Dyslexia is a brain-based type of learning disability that specifically impairs a person's ability to read. These individuals typically read at levels significantly lower than expected despite having normal intelligence. Although the disorder varies from person to person, common characteristics among people with dyslexia have difficulty with phonological processing (the manipulation of sounds) and/ or rapid visual-verbal responding."
This organization is an excellent resource for further explaining the disorder and they reference current government research projects, as well as other organizations of interest. One such organization is The International Dyslexia Association.
The IDA has educational fact sheets with definitions, links to additional resources, information for parents and students, and advocacy and support groups. These sites can help familiarize you with dyslexia and help you advocate more effectively.
It is possible that your school doesn't use the word "dyslexia" for classifying reading disorders. Different school systems may use different criteria and terminology to qualify children for special education services. Some schools may not test until children reach third grade, because some of the characteristics of dyslexia are common in children from kindergarten to grade two, so it's great that you have begun this process now.
Tell his current teacher and your principal, that you would like to know the procedure for evaluating your child for a learning disability. It can be useful to bring samples of his work, which best illustrates his difficulties, to further explain what you are specifically concerned with.
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.