My first reaction to the dyslexia testing results was relief. Usually by the time you get testing done, you know your kid has been struggling for quite sometime.
I also did have a brief period where I questioned how I didn’t see the signs sooner. I can remember that even as a toddler, my son just didn’t have interest in learning his ABC’s. Those same Leap Frog videos that helped my older son learn his letters and sounds were useless for my youngest. Then I could go back to all the teachers comments in conferences from preschool on up to the final one in first grade that led me to the testing. I should’ve known sooner.
It’s not your fault that your child has Dyslexia! Let me say it again, it’s not your fault! Yes, it’s genetic, but leave it there.
I chose to advocate!
The biggest tip I am going to share is that you have to educate yourself on Dyslexia or find experts who can guide you. I like to have both!
After you have the testing done you need to set up a meeting with the school. When you sit in that meeting you need to make sure you ask a lot of questions about how they plan to help.
The biggest mistake I made was not getting an advocate from the start. They are worth every penny and have your kid’s best interest in mind. I am not saying that schools don’t care about your kid, but unless you are about to become an expert in education law, practices, and programs used to teach your children, hire the advocate!
You may find yourself in a meeting without an advocate, so here are some tips to help you in the meeting? Ask a lot of questions and don’t be afraid to respectfully disagree. Like I said earlier you need to become an expert.
I recommend getting an IEP as it allows your child to get special services in reading that are needed. A 504 plan just gives accommodations. Unless you are going to pay for tutoring outside of the school I would get the IEP. Some districts will say your child doesn’t qualify for an IEP because they are not far enough behind, but I say push hard for it. If they say your child doesn’t qualify, ask them to explain their criteria and where it is posted for parents to view.
What certifications does the Special Education teacher hold? Any in Dyslexia? Don’t be afraid to ask.
Will a reading specialist work with your child? What are their qualifications?
What program will they use? How do they think it will help? Is it a structured literacy program that is systematic, explicit, and multi-sensory method? It better be as it’s required per Arizona educational law.
Are they guessing the reading minutes or have they looked up the fidelity of the dyslexia program they plan to use? It’s not a guessing game. Google it!
Are the goals written in the IEP clear and achievable in reasonable amount of time? Everything should be completely broken done to basic form. My analogy on this is, if I asked you to go cook a full course meal but you never cooked before, you would probably feel overwhelmed. If instead I asked you to get a pan out to start that would achievable.
Does your child’s class take spelling tests? Accommodation or modifications will be needed.
How will the teacher grade papers? They should not be marked off for spelling or grammar errors.
Are you still with me? I know it’s overwhelming and a lot. Have I mentioned that you should hire an advocate?
What about writing? How will they help? Options to give answers orally or a computer to type should be an accommodation. Reading is breathing in and writing is breathing out!
Never should your child be asked to read out loud in front of their class unless they initiate first.
There is so much to know, so do your research before your meeting!
Once you get the details figured out in the IEP start saving every document. Under resources below is a link for how to create an IEP binder.
Every minute counts when it comes to remediation of Dyslexia. If it seems like progress is not being made request a meeting. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and don’t be afraid to push back.
“Inches make champions.” – Vince Lombardi
Be a champion!