Once again, your child is in tears from being asked to read.
They whine in frustration at the list of spelling words they must study. You are overwhelmed by your child’s struggles, but you don’t know what to do.
Can you relate to these scenarios? If so, it’s time to take action, end the frustration, and give your child the skills needed to become a Rockstar Reader!
Don’t you wish you had a step-by-step guide to advocating for your child when you think they have a problem with reading, writing, spelling, or math? Keep reading. I have the directions you need.
First, and most importantly, trust your gut! If you think something is wrong or off, you are right. Something is off. Hold tight to this parental instinct. Believe with your whole heart that you are right. Self-doubt will sabotage your efforts to get your child the right help! I can’t emphasize this enough. You know your child better than anyone. Read that again, and let it sink into your heart and soul. You know your child better than anyone. Therefore…
Do not let anyone cast doubt on what your intuition is telling you.
Next, speak to the teacher, but don’t put all your faith in their answer. Many teachers have NO training in dyslexia during their teacher training classes. Teachers learn that a child should read MORE when a child struggles with reading. Reading more will NOT help a child with poor reading skills. Teachers tell parents to practice sight words more with their child as if this will cause them to become skilled readers. Practicing sight words will not create a capable reader out of a struggling reader.
The biggest myth that teachers are taught and believe is that you should give a problem more time. This myth is 100% inaccurate. There is no developmental gap. Do not wait if you suspect a problem. Studies have shown that early intervention is significantly more effective than later intervention. Get started now.
Do you have an older child who is still struggling after many years? Take action now. It’s never too late to learn to read! Don’t hold on to the guilt, thinking you should have started when the child was in first grade. You have to move forward from where you are right now.
After you speak to the teacher, request testing. A full evaluation is the only way you will know what is going on with your child. You need data and evidence.
You request testing by writing a letter to the school. All requests of the school must be in writing. Be sure you have a record of the date you submitted the request for eligibility testing. Paper trails are essential.
You can request a sample letter from me. Please email my assistant, Emily, at email@example.com . Put: “Sample Letter to Request District Evaluation for Learning Disabilities” in the subject line. She will gladly email you this sample letter. If you need more support with writing the letter or want me to review it before you send it, please let me know.
Once you’ve made your request for testing, I recommend that you consult an advocate specializing in dyslexia advocacy. I am happy to consult with anyone. You can find me at: Jennifer Hoffman, Dyslexia Parent Advocate or email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org . I have five years and hundreds of hours working with and advocating for my students.
When testing has finished, immediately request copies of all testing. Share the written reports with your advocate. Your advocate will analyze all the testing to ensure that the school psychologist tested all areas of suspected disability.
If all areas of suspected disabilities have not been tested, written requests for additional testing will need to be made by you. Your advocate will guide you as to what evaluations to request. Remember, your advocate is your guide on this journey. You are learning. Lean on your advocate to teach you the ropes. Eventually, you will have learned enough to go it alone. In the beginning, for now, you are a student. You are learning all the terminology and educational jargon. You are learning the processes and procedures.
Could you piece this together yourself? Maybe. Do you want to add to your stress when you don’t need more pressure than you already have? Probably not. You will be grateful you chose to have expert support at this time.
After testing, the CSE (Committee on Special Education) will request your attendance at an eligibility meeting. The CSE, which you are a full member of, will determine eligibility at this meeting.
Your advocate should attend this meeting with you. Your advocate will ask questions and help you understand what the teachers, psychologists, and administrators say. A good advocate will know that you want terminology, services, and accommodation recommendations explained. Your advocate will ask clarifying questions to assist you. At the end of this meeting, your child will either get a classification, or they will get denied a classification.
Remember, if you suspect something is wrong, trust yourself and your intuition. Talk to your child’s teacher and express your concerns. Request special education eligibility testing, so you know where your child stands both cognitively and academically.
After requesting testing, hire an advocate that specializes in dyslexia advocacy. Request copies of all the testing results. Let your advocate review all the tests before the eligibility meeting.
Attend the eligibility meeting with your advocate. Never attend a school meeting alone. Always go in with another person. Ask questions and get clarity at the meeting. Your advocate will help you with this.
Finally, the committee, which includes you, will decide on eligibility. Either they are eligible for special education services, or they are not.
In my next blog post, I will break down what happens next if your child is classified and what your options are if they are not classified.
If you love these blog articles, come soak up some more wisdom in our Facebook group, Right Start – Dyslexia Support for Parents.