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“Dyslexic kids are creative, ‘outside-the-box’ thinkers. They have to be, because they don’t see or solve problems the same way other kids do. In school, unfortunately, they are sometimes written off as lazy, unmotivated, rude or even stupid. They aren’t. Making Percy dyslexic was my way of honoring the potential of all the kids I’ve known who have those conditions. It’s not a bad thing to be different. Sometimes, it’s the mark of being very, very talented.” —RickRiordan.com
Responding to the concerns of parents from across the United States that the word “dyslexia” is not being allowed into the IEP process, a coalition of disability groups recently sent a request to the U.S. Department of Education asking for guidance to be issued on the subject. Several members of Congress sent a similar request. In response, educator and school groups followed up with a letter expressing concerns about use of the word “dyslexia.”
As parents, we believe use of the word “dyslexia” in public schools helps steer discussions toward timely identification of our children, as well as toward appropriate interventions and accommodations. For those reasons, Decoding Dyslexia groups in every state in the country recently sent a joint letter asking the U.S. Department of Education to clarify that the word “dyslexia” may be used in IEP meetings and related documents.
Be sure your voices are heard… it is important that educational policy makers and legislators at local, state and federal levels know the challenges involved in accessing services and supports for dyslexia in our nation’s schools.
The following is an excerpt from the parent letter:
As parents, we are often told that dyslexia is “not recognized by school districts,” “is just an umbrella term,” “does not exist,” “is a medical issue,” or “is not something schools are required to diagnose or address.” We are also told in IEP meetings that schools are “not required to put the term dyslexia in IEPs.” In many cases, we are even told after years of failed efforts at reading instruction, that we may not discuss or include “specific methodologies” in an IEP to address our children’s reading struggles.
Rather, more often than not, our children receive only the broad classification of “Specific Learning Disability” or, at best, “Specific Learning Disability in Reading” and are placed in general resource rooms with students who have different issues and needs. Some of these students with different needs may even fall under the same Specific Learning Disability “umbrella,” while others may have disabilities that fall within entirely different IDEA disability categories. Our children with dyslexia then receive interventions that are neither peer-reviewed nor targeted to their specific, individual challenges.
For example, a student with good word decoding skills who struggles to comprehend the meaning of print material may have markedly different learning needs from a student who struggles to comprehend print material because of a weakness in decoding. Both may have the same “Specific Learning Disability” or even “Specific Learning Disability – Reading” label, but their needs are entirely different. The result is an unnecessary and often indefinite delay in the identification and use of effective “specially designed instruction” and interventions students need and to which they are entitled as part of an appropriate education.
Use of the term “dyslexia” is consistent with the language and intent of the IDEA
The term “dyslexia” is explicitly included in the IDEA as an example of a “specific learning disability.” Accordingly, the use of the term need not, should not, and will not affect faithful application of the individualized determinations the IDEA requires. The statutory and regulatory provisions of the IDEA would remain unchanged.
Dyslexia is not a “medical” condition. Indeed, there are currently no medical procedures available to diagnose or treat dyslexia. Rather, it is a statutorily-provided example of a “Specific Learning Disability,” one which can be identified by appropriately trained school personnel charged with conducting psycho-educational evaluations to determine eligibility for special education services.
The use of the term “dyslexia” in an IEP is necessary, because it would permit parents, students, educators, and experts to “speak the same language.” These key players could then move quickly toward discussing peer-reviewed research and methodologies that address difficulties with phonological processing, word identification, fluency, decoding, and spelling skills. Use of the term “dyslexia” would provide a compass – not a directive – toward specialized instruction and services to remediate and accommodate identified, individual difficulties.
In light of the concerns we have articulated, those expressed in the CCD letter, and the alarming statistics related to the rate of reading failure throughout the country, the Department’s leadership on this issue is critical. We respectfully request that you issue guidance stating that the term “dyslexia” may be included in an IEP to help ensure that schools provide an appropriate education to students with dyslexia in a timely manner.
#Back2School means new teachers, new classmates, new subjects, and this year…be prepared to share #HOWILEARN with your child’s teacher!
Download the Microsoft Word template Student 101 Chart – How I Learn 0715 and edit to fit the needs of your child. Highlighted areas show where you will need to edit with specific information related to your family. This form will be a great resource for your child’s teacher(s). Hopefully, less stress for everyone involved so your student will have a more successful year!
#ALdyslexia Changing the lives of students! Together this small group of superheroes improved the literacy skills of more than 10,000 students. http://ow.ly/P1fnq
PUBLIC HEARING: Click Here for Event Page on FB 10:30 A.M. – JULY 14, 2015 AMENDMENT TO THE CODE: 290-3-1-.02 Regulations Governing Public Schools Addressing #Dyslexia Code changes here This is your story – DDALA Updated YOUR STORY DUE: July 13, 2015 Tell your story. You live it daily. Share your story from your heart. Practice it with family members or a friend so that it might fit into a few minutes or on one page. That’s hard. Right? Fitting so much into so little time. Yes. It is, but we’re here to help show you how. Here’s an outline to help you get started to express your views in writing (sample letter Letter Template DDALA):
- When were you/your child diagnosed?
- Where do you live? Go to school?
- Give a brief example of a time when dyslexia created difficulties, embarrassment, or hardship for you/your child in (1) school and (2) outside of school.
- Give your “ask”. How can the proposed changes help your child’s education journey? Ask your school board member and Dr. Bice to make these changes a reality.
ASK THEM TO VOTE YES FOR THE AMENDMENT CHANGES and mail your letters to: State Superintendent of Education Gordon Persons Building P.O. Box 302101 Montgomery, AL 36130-2101 Want to go in person and get on the agenda? Call 334-242-9700 no later than July 13, 2015 THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!