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The Dad and Dyslexia

November 2, 2013 in Special Education Articles by Jess

I love a good success story about a child with dyslexia as much as the next person. Unfortunately, my job is to fix wrongs and I spend most of my time with my mouth hanging open and my hand covering it. I spend my time in total and utter disbelief at either what I am reading on an IEP, school testing or listening to yet another story about the downright negligent behavior by the schools when educating a child with dyslexia. I sit in IEPs silently while I allow the school to showcase their lack of training about dyslexia and patiently wait my turn. If you’ve ever met me you know I am not a particularly loquacious person, so I keep my comments short and sweet, but meaningful and I try to show little to no emotion. Today was different. Today I was moved to tears and moved to share the story of one family with you so that you can begin to forgive yourself or lend support to a parent who is struggling with this process. Read the rest of this entry →

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The Language of Dyslexia: Are they speaking Spanish?

October 13, 2013 in Special Education Articles by Jess

“They cannot use RTI or an SST to delay an IEP or 504. Also are they using OG and have they requested AT and OT assessment? Lastly, what is the status of her OG tutor?”  There are a lot of things that are right with these sentences but there one thing that is glaringly wrong with it. Go back and read that sentence again and this time read it as a parent who might just be starting their journey with a child with dyslexia. How would you feel? Left out? Overwhelmed? Well, I must admit this is what I allowed to happen in one of my own IEP meetings very recently. When we adjourned the meeting and stepped outside to debrief, the dad said, “What was going on in there? Were they speaking Spanish?” Right then I knew I had failed to do part of my job. I had failed to check-in with my clients and make sure they understood what we were talking about. I failed to prepare them with a list of acronyms to refer to. I failed to make sure they understood they could pause the meeting at any time to ask for clarification. The ironic part of this story is that the dad is active military which means he speaks in acronyms all day long – and the IEP jargon was overwhelming. Don’t get me wrong, I am not taking all of the responsibility, the school side of the table (yes, I know we are supposed to be a team, but…) were equally as guilty as myself. We get into this mode of talking to each, preaching to the choir and forget how overwhelming and new this is for parents. So, to prevent this from happening again, I have listed below some commonly used terms during IEP meetings for a child with dyslexia, what they mean and how they can be misused and misunderstood and why they come up in meetings about students with dyslexia. Read the rest of this entry →

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Learning Disabilities Fact Sheet | Includes dyslexia, dyscalcula, and dysgraphia

October 6, 2013 in The National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities by Jess

Sara’s Story

When Sara was in the first grade, her teacher started teaching the students how to read. Sara’s parents were really surprised when Sara had a lot of trouble. She was bright and eager, so they thought that reading would come easily to her. It didn’t. She couldn’t match the letters to their sounds or combine the letters to create words.

Sara’s problems continued into second grade. She still wasn’t reading, and she was having trouble with writing, too. The school asked Sara’s mom for permission to evaluate Sara to find out what was causing her problems. Sara’s mom gave permission for the evaluation.

The school conducted an evaluation and learned that Sara has a learning disability. She started getting special help in school right away.

Sara’s still getting that special help. She works with a reading specialist and a resource room teacher every day. She’s in the fourth grade now, and she’s made real progress! She is working hard to bring her reading and writing up to grade level. With help from the school, she’ll keep learning and doing well. Read the rest of this entry →

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Dyslexia: ‘I’ve never taught a student with dyslexia.’

July 15, 2013 in Special Education Articles by Jess

Have you ever asked yourself what your local school teachers know about dyslexia? What have they learned on their own? What professional development have they been exposed to since they finished their teacher training programs? Have you ever wondered what they know to be an intervention for dyslexia? I recently read a thread on a Facebook page dedicated to teachers when the topic of dyslexia was posed to 75,000+ teachers. How they responded was not completely unexpected, but it was unnerving.

Before I go on, let me assure you that I love teachers. There are many, many teachers in my life. We have five teachers who work for us as reading therapists and I think they are all intelligent, empathetic, creative and passionate people. So, this article is not a bashing of teachers, instead the purpose is to shed light on what they have been taught, or not taught, to do for children with dyslexia. Read the rest of this entry →

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Dyslexia: You have the right to…

June 26, 2013 in Special Education Articles by Jess

Remain silent? Not on my watch. We all send our kids off to school with all the confidence that the teachers, administrators and other professionals are equipped to teach our children what they need to know to be successful, happy, contributing members of society. Our kids start school with excitement in their bellies and an organic motivation to learn. But sometimes best laid plans go sour and you are left wondering, what are my rights and the rights of my child to receive a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)? The rights you have are the same as parents of children with autism, cerebral palsy, speech impairments, sensory integration disorders, but the fact of the matter is that advocating for a child with dyslexia is far more difficult and you need to be diligent, prepared, persistent and educated about your rights. Read the rest of this entry →

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Sorting Through Online Educational Training Systems

June 3, 2013 in Special Education Articles by Jess

Finding Virtual Learning Technology Answers. Parents and teachers are finding a proliferation of virtual remediation to acceleration brain training programs promising fast and optimum gains in learning reading, math, and science that are research based. It is difficult to believe these promises, as most often the program designers do not have a background in classroom implementation let alone e-Learning implementation, which is totally different form pure classroom teaching.

Many virtual learning entrepreneurs come from backgrounds of scientists and somewhat related fields to education like optometry (testing vision), psychiatry, psychology, and medicine pediatrics (medically treating the whole child, and prescribing stimulant medications). Others are business and technology product development entrepreneurs who have never worked in a classroom, and understand technology delivery parameters, but not how children/adults actually learn and retain information so that it will transfer into real life productivity. Read the rest of this entry →

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Dyslexia: To Spell or Not to Spell – The Sequel

May 12, 2013 in Featured, Special Education Articles by Jess

I think I am a fairly reasonable person. I know how to pick my battles and when to use honey to catch flies. This spelling conundrum is getting the better of me. Let me refresh your memory and then give you an update. Awhile back I shared a story about an IEP where the resource teacher and general education teacher unanimously agreed that the 5th grade student with dyslexia really didn’t need to know how to spell because, “…after all, they don’t really need it in middle school anyway and he can just use spell check.” I then put their theory to the test and found that if this student relied solely on spell check in WORD, he would still misspell 27% of the words. Read the rest of this entry →

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Dyslexia: Taking the M out of the IEP

May 1, 2013 in Special Education Articles by Jess

So, I bet your wondering what the M could possibly represent when we are talking about dyslexia. Money? Mystery? Nope. In this article we are talking about marginalization. It happens often and it happens under the radar. In IEPs and IEP meetings everywhere comments are being made, goals are be written and recommendations are being made that marginalize students with dyslexia. From recommendations of retention to writing goals with low expectations to providing inadequate services, these students are as capable as their peers and there are ways to not only avoid these paths to marginalization but also expose them along the way. Below are some recent comments heard and seen in IEPs and what they really mean.

“We realize she only learned 7 new letters last year, but she has a learning disability…” Read the rest of this entry →

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Orton-Gillingham: Who, Where and Why?

March 18, 2013 in Special Education Articles by Jess

To those of you who have tried (and some have succeeded) it seems like you need a secret handshake to get Orton-Gillingham training. After a quick search on the internet, it might appear that you need to fly to a destination that is most likely east of the Mississippi and requires at least two weeks of your time away from home. Then once you complete this two week training, you must dedicate the rest of your life to become ‘certified.’ But this is all an illusion, an illusion that really hampers the ability of very good people to get their knowledge and training to those who need it the most, the struggling kids. Read the rest of this entry →

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To Spell or Not to Spell: Is it important?

March 11, 2013 in Special Education Articles by Jess

It happened again. I was in an IEP for a student with dyslexia who is struggling with spelling the most. This GATE-identified young man is in the 5th grade and spelling phonetically, yet he was not receiving  services for spelling last year – which is why I am now involved in the IEP process. The meeting was somewhat tense from the beginning, but when we got to the spelling goal this is what was presented: Thomas will be taught to memorize and spell 200 of the most common sight words. Hmm. Ok. So, my response: Can we change this goal so that we are actually teaching him to spell versus just memorizing some words? This is when I got the death stare and then silence. I interpreted the silence to mean that the RSP teacher didn’t know how to write the goal because she did not know how to teach a kid who is spelling phonetically how to spell. Then she said it, and the general ed teacher agreed with a nod of his head: He is going to middle school next year and he really doesn’t need to know how to spell anymore. I mean they don’t give spelling tests. My heart started to pound and then she added the ubiquitous suggestion: He can just learn to use spell check. Read the rest of this entry →

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