Dyslexia: A Learning Ability – Helping Protect Your Child’s Rights

Doctors Sally Shaywitz and Bennett Shaywitz, Co-Directors at The Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity, are the leading experts on the study, consequences, and benefits, of dyslexia. The Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity, and many other individuals, and organizations, are attempting to learn more, and educate the public and academic institutions, about dyslexia.

Doctors Sally Shaywitz and Bennett Shaywitz propose, among many other indicators, that your child may be dyslexic if they read slowly and methodically but solves problems in class.  They propose that your child may be dyslexic if they have difficulties in spelling but show terrific imagination in everyday life.  They propose that your child may be dyslexic if they forget names and dates but think creatively and have great ideas.  They also propose that your child may be dyslexic if they have difficulty pronouncing spoken words but have an excellent vocabulary.

The lack of dyslexia awareness has causes children to experience ridicule at school, debilitating anxiety, and feelings of inferiority because classmates understand concepts taught at school more quickly.  Parents, not knowing their child may be dyslexic, experience frustration when helping their child with homework, believe their child is really smart but doesn’t work hard enough, are worried about their child’s academic future, and can feel as if they’re failing in their duty as a parent.  Parents, however, have options in helping their child learn and thrive at school.

If you, or your child, have felt any of the above-mentioned circumstances or emotions, getting your child tested for a learning disability may provide a step in resolving many of your concerns.  This decision may be difficult because parents can sometimes feel their child’s academic struggles reflect poorly on themselves, or will somehow lessen their child’s opportunities or abilities to succeed later in life.  We suggest you guard against such feelings because a proper diagnosis for your child’s learning disability, if any, can help you, your child, and your child’s school, in finding the best way your child learns, which ultimately helps your child in every aspect of life as they get older.  A diagnosis of dyslexia may also provide insight into your child’s specific interests and talents allowing you to give your child more opportunities to thrive.

Once you’ve reached a place where you believe your child needs testing for a learning disability, such as dyslexia, you need to be proactive in having your child’s school provide appropriate accommodations in testing environments.  If you choose to act, you can speak to an educational psychologist or use the tools already in place at your child’s school.  If your child’s school does not believe your child has a learning disability, but you have that “gut feeling” something isn’t quite right, Arizona law permits you to demand the school perform what’s called a comprehensive psycho-educational evaluation.

You can write your child’s school principal, and copy the school psychologist, to request a comprehensive psycho-educational evaluation take place, the school protect your child’s procedural safeguards, and that the school provide you with an evaluation plan explaining the tests prior to the school evaluating your child for your approval.  Specifically, and most importantly, you will want your child’s school to learn if your child has any processing delays or learning deficiencies that impact your child’s learning experience.  Ask that the evaluation covers the following areas of academic experiences:

  1. cognitive;
  2. academic;
  3. social and emotional;
  4. memory (both short and long term); and
  5. processing speed (both visual and auditory).

Once you’ve approved the evaluation and testing plan, and after testing is complete, the school is obligated to identify any and all processing delays or learning deficiencies exhibited by your child.  You will then have the authority to approve the accommodations recommended to provide your child an opportunity to reach their academic potential. After approving the accommodations recommended by your child’s school, school personnel are obligated to ensure the school provides the approved accommodations so that your child may thrive in an academic setting.

Dyslexia is a very challenging and often misunderstood learning disability.  A diagnosis of dyslexia, however, can be empowering and looked upon as a gift that enhances a person’s artistic and creative abilities.  Dyslexia is not a handicap which prevents people from achieving great things in their personal or professional lives but is merely a means by which people understand how they think and cope with the world around them.  Dyslexics are not alone, and are more common than one might think.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding the issues presented above, or need help with drafting a letter to your child’s school to request a comprehensive psycho-educational evaluation, do not hesitate to contact The Carroll Law Firm at 623-551-9366 at your earliest convenience.

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