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Recognizing Dyslexia

Many children are diagnosed with dyslexia, dysgraphia and dyscalculia; however they are unable to receive services through their school district through an Individual Education Plan (IEP) because parents are told that these terms are not recognized by the state or school.  The U.S. Department of Education is now encouraging states and school systems nationwide to use the terms “dyslexia, dysgraphia and dyscalculia” when appropriate.  Not using this terminology is not only confusing to parents whose children have these diagnoses, but it may prevent the child from getting the most appropriate intervention.  A letter released by the Office of Special Education Services on October 23 is meant to clear up this confusion that schools are somehow not allowed to use these terms.  This announcement is a positive step in making sure all children with difficulties are given the help they need to be successful in school.  The U.S. Department of Education will be issuing new information to help schools and states in addressing students with specific learning disabilities like dyslexia, dysgraphia and dyscalculia. 

Specific learning disabilities like dyslexia, dysgraphia and dyscalculia affect 2.5 million children in the United States.  Dyslexia describes a disorder that involves difficulty in learning to read and interpreting words, letters and other symbols.  The brains of people with dyslexia are wired differently and this makes it difficult to pair symbols (letters) with their specific sounds (phonemes).  Dysgraphia is a disorder that affects writing abilities.  It can present as difficulties with spelling, poor handwriting and trouble putting your thoughts into writing.  Dyscalculia is a disorder that creates difficulties with math.  Dyscalculia makes it difficult to make sense of numbers and math concepts. 

If you suspect your child may have a specific learning disability, it is important to get an assessment.  Assessments can be done through the school district or privately.  A team approach is beneficial when diagnosing learning disorders in order to rule out other causes of academic difficulties such as language disorders, mood disorders or medical problems.  A team assessment may include a medical provider, psychologist, speech-language pathologist, occupational therapist and an educational psychologist. 

 

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