Literacy is a skill set that has the power to improve one’s economic security, and overall well-being. Yet according to the U.S. Department of Education, 32 million adults can’t read and 14% of the population reads at a below basic level. These figures are of considerable concern in relation to delinquency, poverty, and learning disabilities, where the latter contributes to illiteracy and its impacts, and the former are negative impacts of illiteracy.
Does your child struggle with reading and writing? Are you spending hours assisting your child with their homework? Does your child cry when you are dropping them off at school? Here are some of the red flags of dyslexia:
• Difficulty with reading and spelling.
• Not retaining words consistently.
• Not understanding what he or she is reading.
• Problems converting sounds into symbols
• Difficulty concentrating and getting easily distracted,
• History of reading difficulty in the family.
• Jumbling letters and figures.
• Leaving letters out of words or putting them in the wrong order.
• Lack of progress in reading, writing and spelling, when compared to peers.
• Confusing right and left.
• Trouble with handwriting.
• When reading out loud, often misreading, omitting or inserting words.
• Difficulty learning a foreign language.
• Issues with sequencing words or ideas.
Dyslexia is a learning disability that is neurobiological in origin and has been identified as a frequent cause of reading difficulties. Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability. Individuals with dyslexia have difficulty using and acquiring written language. Dyslexia is not a result of a lack of intelligence, or poor work ethic. Dyslexia affects an estimated 5%-17% of the population in the United States. Genetics, brain anatomy and brain activity have been identified as possible causes of dyslexia.
When a parent suspects that their child has a disability, the parent should submit a written request for an assessment for special education services to the district special education director (Sample letters can be obtained here). Be sure to include your concerns regarding your child’s educational progress. Deliver the letter to the district office and make sure you have it stamped with the date it was received. If you are told there isn’t a date stamp, have the person receiving it sign and date the document. Keep the original document. The school has 15 days from the date the request was received to respond to your request with either an assessment plan, or prior written notice indicating why they are refusing to assess your child.
The research is clear about the importance of early intervention to address the needs of students with dyslexia. Fortunately, those affected by dyslexia can still make improvements in their reading ability through structured, scientifically-based reading intervention. Additional interventions such as access to assistive technology and effective instructional practices that target the critical components that are essential for teaching children to read can improve the educational outcomes of students with dyslexia.
By: Michelle Perry, Special Education Advocate