Having a child who struggles to learn to read can be a confusing and painful time for the family. The resources below were chosen to attempt to help you learn more about the struggling reader and dyslexia.
If you believe that your child might have dyslexia, you have many choices as to how to proceed. This site will also address those choices and give you a number of resources to support your journey.
It is important to remember that children who struggle to read can succeed both in school and in their adult lives. These children have many strengths as well as this specific weakness. Be sure to review the resources on the gifts of dyslexia and help your child find his or hers!
What Are the Signs of Dyslexia?
The problems displayed by individuals with dyslexia involve difficulties in acquiring and using language–reading and writing letters in the wrong order is just one manifestation of dyslexia and does not occur in all cases. Other problems experienced by dyslexics include:
- Learning to speak
- Organizing written and spoken language
- Learning letters and their sounds
- Memorizing number facts
- Learning a foreign language
- Correctly doing math operations
Not all individuals who have difficulties with these skills are dyslexic. Formal testing is the only way to confirm a diagnosis of suspected dyslexia.
Signs of dyslexia in young, preschool children include talking later than expected, a slowness to add new words, difficulty rhyming, and trouble following multistep directions. After a child begins school, the signs of dyslexia include:
- Difficulty reading single words, such as a word on a flashcard
- Difficulty learning the connection between letters and sounds
- Confusing small words, such as at and to
- Letter reversals, such as d for b
- Word reversals, such as tip for pit
Having one of these signs does not mean your child has dyslexia; many children reverse letters before the age of 7. But, if several signs exist and reading problems persist, or if you have a family history of dyslexia, you may want to have your child evaluated.
Elementary Aged Children
Does Your 1st, 2nd or 3rd-Grader:
- Remember simple sequences such as counting to 20, naming the days of the week, or reciting the alphabet?
- Have an understanding of rhyming words, such as knowing that fat rhymes with cat?
- Recognize words that begin with the same sound (for example, that bird, baby, and big all start with b)?
- Easily clap hands to the rhythm of a song?
- Frequently use specific words to name objects rather than words like “stuff” and “that thing”?
- Easily remember spoken directions?
- Remember names of places and people?
- Show understanding of right-left, up-down, front-back?
- Sit still for a reasonable period of time?
- Make and keep friends easily?
Answering “no” to some or most of these questions may indicate a learning disability. Not all students who have difficulties with these skills are dyslexic. Formal testing is the only way to confirm a diagnosis of suspected dyslexia.
The difficulties noted below are often associated with dyslexia if they are unexpected for the individual’s age, educational level, or cognitive abilities. A qualified diagnostician can test a person to determine if he or she is truly dyslexic.
- May hide reading problems
- May spell poorly; relies on others to correct spelling
- Avoids writing; may not be able to write
- Often very competent in oral language
- Relies on memory; may have an excellent memory
- Often has good “people” skills
- Often is spatially talented; professions include, but are not limited, to engineers, architects, designers, artists and craftspeople, mathematicians, physicists, physicians (esp. surgeons and orthopedists), and dentists.
- May be very good at “reading” people (intuitive)
- In jobs is often working well below their intellectual capacity
- May have difficulty with planning, organization and management of time, materials and tasks.
- Are often entrepreneurs
The above was taken from: http://www.interdys.org/SignsofDyslexiaCombined.htm
If you believe that your child might be dyslexic, there are many resources to support you!
First and foremost, you should decide if you want to seek services from your public school. The New Jersey law requires schools to provide screening, identification and services to those children whose reading struggles rise to the level of requiring special education services. The services from the public schools must be provided at no cost to you and could include specialized reading programs to address your child’s individual needs as well as accommodations to help your child demonstrate his or her talents while improving his or her reading.
If you choose to work with the schools, which is recommended, you may ask for either a referral to the Response to Intervention team or for the Special Education Child Study Team evaluation.
The Response to Intervention (RTI) team is a first step in most cases to determining if you child has a disability. The RTI team is made up of a group of educators in your child’s school who will work with the classroom teacher to provide interventions within the classroom as determined appropriate. The RTI team should then monitor your child’s progress to see if he or she is, in fact, “responding to intervention.” This can often be a sufficient intervention for a struggling student and would avoid the need for special education and labeling. As a parent you should monitor the work of this group however to make sure that interventions are being implemented, data on their success or lack thereof is being collected and that too much time doesn’t pass if interventions are not successful. A link to further explain the work of the RIT process is below.
To refer your child for a special education evaluation, you should write a letter to your school’s principal. Ask for a Child Study Team evaluation for special education eligibility. The school must then hold a meeting with you within 20 days of receipt to discuss your child’s issues and whether or not a special education evaluation might be needed. They can also share what other services might be available in your district without the need for special education consideration. To learn more about your rights with regard to special education, consider contacting the resources below.
A note on the confusion of terms: It is important to note that schools do not classify students as being “dyslexic” since that label does not fall within the laws. Rather, should your child be eligible for special education services he or she would most likely be classified as having a “Specific Learning Disability.” The New Jersey laws state that dyslexia would fall within this category. Additionally, when accessing resources, many times you will find useful information under the title of learning disabilities since most students with dyslexia fall within this category in schools. A great deal of confusion occurs when school personnel and parents are talking due to this difference of labels. Please know that when school personnel talk about Specific Learning Disabilities, they are addressing the school term which includes dyslexia.
If you do not wish to involve the school, you may choose to hire a tutor for your child. You would have to pay for this privately however.
If you do not wish to involve the school but want to have your child evaluated, you may choose to have a private evaluation done, You would have to pay for this privately however. There is some possibility that if a disability is found the school would pay for the evaluation but to pursue this, consulting an advocate or attorney is recommended. If you do choose to have a private evaluation completed, you should choose a state approved clinic to conduct the evaluation. This improves your chances of being reimbursed if your child is found eligible. A link to approved clinics is below.
- Explanation of Response to Intervention for the National Center on Learning Disabilities: http://www.ncld.org/learning-disability-resources/ebooks-guides-toolkits/parent-guide-response-intervention
- Your rights in the special education process: New Jersey Department of Education Parents’ Rights in Special Education handbook: http://www.nj.gov/education/specialed/form/prise/prise.pdf
- A list of private tutors: Learning Ally: https://www.learningally.org/Parents/Dyslexia-Resources/Tutor-Network
- The list of New Jersey approved clinics to conduct evaluations: http://www.nj.gov/education/specialed/clinics/
General resources for parents:
- Learning Ally, a leading provider of audiobooks – including the world’s largest library of human-read audio textbooks: www.learningally.org/
- Bookshare: An Accessible Online Library for People with Print Disabilities: www.bookshare.org
- Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity: dyslexia.yale.edu/parents.html
- NJ Branch of the International Dyslexia Association: www.njida.org
- Wrightslaw Special Education Law and Advocacy: www.wrightslaw.com
- International Dyslexia Association: http://eida.org/
- LD Online for Parents www.ldonline.org/parents
- Decoding Dyslexia: An advocacy organization in support of students with dyslexia: http://decodingdyslexianj.org/resources/
Ensuring Your Child’s IEP is Implemented Correctly
Understood.org provides a concise and informative list of tips to ensure that once your child’s IEP is created, it is implemented correctly. This link provides 6 quick tips to monitor your child’s progress.
Books for Parents
- A Mind at a Time, by Mel Levine
- A Parent’s Guide to Special Education, by Linda Wilmshurst, Alan W. Brue
- Late, Lost, and Unprepared: A Parents’ Guide to Helping Children with Executive Functioning, by Joyce Cooper-Kahn, Laurie Dietzel
- Negotiating the Special Education Maze, by Winifred Anderson, Stephen Chitwood, Deidre Hayden, Cherie Takemoto
- Fish in a Tree, by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
The Gifts of Dyslexia
- The Dyslexic Advantage: This book by Eide and Eide explores the unique strengths that children with dyslexia have and aims to help parents and teachers use those gifts to build self-confidence and success.
- An index of successful individuals with dyslexia: http://dyslexia.yale.edu/successfuldyslexics.html
Learning Ally’s Additional Resources
Parent Webinar Series featuring learning disability professionals providing information on a wide range of topics, from the IEP and 504 processes to planning for high school and beyond. To register for an upcoming webinar, visit https://www.learningally.org/parents-students/learning-ally-approach/webinars/
Understanding Executive Functioning Issues
Even though the school year is still in full swing, it’s not too soon to think about your child’s school plans for next year. If you’re considering having him repeat a grade, evaluate the pros and cons. And if your child has executive functioning issues, knowing the ways it affects how kids think can help you come up with the best plan for him.
To learn more about executive functioning issues and why they can make certain tasks difficult for your child, visit https://www.understood.org/en/learning-attention-issues/child-learning-disabilities/executive-functioning-issues/understanding-executive-functioning-issues