How to Get a Dyslexia Diagnosis for Your Child

9 Aug

 

 

 

Many school districts will tell you that they do not test for dyslexia.  This is simply not true.  What they are really saying is that they do not like to use the term dyslexia, but every school district in America tests for dyslexia.  Dyslexia is a reading disability which is a type of specific learning disability.  The widely accepted definition of dyslexia (www.ida.org) is a neurologically based learning disability characterized by difficulties in accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding (how we read words) abilities.  The federal law for special education (IDEA) specifically states that children with documented learning disabilities qualify for special education.  The term dyslexia is even used in the law.  Statistic from the International Dyslexia Association’s website show that 85% of learning disabilities are in reading or language.  This means that dyslexia is quite common.   Since we know that children all across the country are receiving special education services for specific learning disabilities, and 85% of these disabilities are in reading and language, then there is a lot of testing for dyslexia occurring.

 

 

 

 

The problem that many parents run into is that most students with learning disabilities have average, or higher, intelligence.  When districts review testing with parents, sometimes they will deny services to a child because of this.  However, this is not in compliance with what the federal law says.  If a child is struggling to read and is not achieving in this area, even with average or higher intelligence, the child is still eligible for services in reading.  The big problem is that many schools will not do an in-depth evaluation of reading skills. They will do an academic achievement test that measures achievement across the board and does not measure specific reading skills (such as phonological awareness and rapid automatic naming- two of the brain processes involved in learning to read).  Dyslexia is caused by a deficit in phonological awareness (the ability to hear the individual sounds in a word) and/or rapid automatic naming (the speed at which the brain can use stored information such as words and letter sounds).  In order to get the dyslexia diagnosis, your school district will need to measure ability in these areas.

 

 

When requesting an evaluation (or an extended evaluation if one has already been completed), you need to specifically ask for these two areas to be tested.  The most common assessment to measure those two areas is call the CTOPP (The Comprehensive Test of phonological Processing).  If your school refuses, remember you have the right to get an outside evaluation done at the expense of the school (in some cases).  Write a letter stating you are unhappy with the tests performed and feel a more comprehensive evaluation is needed.

 

 

 

 

 

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