Dyslexia Services

Overview

The Leander ISD dyslexia program is designed to provide a short-term, intensive reading intervention for children who qualify for services, based upon district and state qualification criteria. Services are offered to qualifying students in grades K-12. Students are instructed using systematic, sequential, multi-sensory instruction in a small group setting. The goal of these services is to provide students with the tools needed to access the general education curriculum.

The Dyslexia Handbook, 2018

Characteristics of Dyslexia

What is dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.
– Adopted by the International Dyslexia Association Board of Directors, Nov. 12, 2002

What difficulties associated with dyslexia might my child experience?

The primary difficulties encountered by a student identified as having dyslexia occur in the areas of phonemic awareness, decoding, reading fluency, and spelling. Secondary consequences of dyslexia may include difficulties in reading comprehension and/or written expression. These difficulties are unexpected for the student’s age, educational level, or cognitive abilities.

The following are the primary characteristics of dyslexia:

  • Difficulty reading real words in isolation
  • Difficulty decoding unfamiliar words
  • Difficulty with oral reading (slow, inaccurate, or labored without prosody)
  • Difficulty spelling

The reading/spelling characteristics are most often associated with the following:

  • Segmenting, blending, and manipulating sounds in words (phonemic awareness)
  • Learning names of letters and their associated sounds
  • Holding information about sounds and words in memory (phonological memory)
  • Rapidly recalling the names of familiar objects, colors, or letters of the alphabet (rapid naming)

Secondary consequences of dyslexia may include the following:

  • Variable difficulty with aspects of reading comprehension
  • Variable difficulty with aspects of written composition
  • Limited vocabulary growth due to reduced reading experiences

What are common risk factors associated with dyslexia?

The following may be associated with dyslexia if they are unexpected for the individual’s age, educational level, or cognitive abilities.

Pre-school

  • Delay in learning to talk
  • Difficulty pronouncing words (i.e. “mawn lower” for “lawn mower”)
  • Difficulty with rhyming tasks
  • Poor auditory memory for chants and nursery rhymes
  • Difficulty in adding new vocabulary words
  • Trouble learning and naming letters and numbers, including remembering letters in his/her name

Kindergarten and First Grade

  • Difficulty breaking words into smaller parts, syllables (i.e. “baseball” can be broken apart into “base” and “ball”
  • Difficulty identifying and manipulating sounds in syllables (i.e. “cat” sounded out as /c/ /a/ /t)
  • Difficulty remembering the names of letters and their sounds
  • Difficulty decoding singe words
  • Difficulty spelling words the way the sound (phonetically)

Second Grade and Third Grade

Many of the previously described behaviors remain problematic along with the following:

  • Difficulty recognizing common sight words
  • Difficulty decoding single words
  • Difficulty remembering the correct sounds for letters and letter patterns in reading
  • Difficulty decoding unfamiliar words in sentences using knowledge of phonics
  • Difficulty reading fluently (i.e. slow, inaccurate, and/or without expression)
  • Difficulty connecting speech sounds with appropriate letter or letter combinations
  • Difficulty with written expression

Fourth Grade through Sixth Grade

Many of the previously described behaviors remain problematic along with the following:

  • Difficulty reading aloud
  • Avoidance of reading (i.e. particularly for pleasure)
  • Difficulty reading fluently (i.e. reading is slow, inaccurate and/or without expression)
  • Difficulty decoding unfamiliar words in sentences using knowledge of phonics
  • Acquisition of less vocabulary due to reduced independent reading
  • Use of less complicated words in writing that are easier to spell
  • Reliance on listening rather than reading for comprehension

Middle School and High School

Many of the previously described behaviors remain problematic along with the following:

  • Difficulty with the volume of reading and written work
  • Frustration with the amount of time required and energy expended for reading
  • Difficulty reading fluently (i.e. reading is slow, inaccurate and/or without expression)
  • Difficulty decoding unfamiliar words in sentences using knowledge of phonics
  • Difficulty with written assignments
  • Tendency to avoid reading (particularly for pleasure)
  • Difficulty learning a foreign language

Evaluation and Identification Process

The campus RtI committee shall recommend that a student be assessed for dyslexia at appropriate times (TEC §38.003(a)). The appropriate time depends upon multiple factors including the student’s reading performance, reading difficulties, poor response to supplemental, scientifically based reading instruction, teacher input, and input from the parents/guardians. It is important to note that progression through Response to Intervention (RtI) is not required in order to begin the identification of dyslexia.

The campus RtI committee shall recommend an assessment for dyslexia if the student demonstrates the following:

  1. Poor performance in one or more areas of reading and/or related area of spelling that is unexpected for the student’s age/grade;
  2. Characteristics and risk factors of dyslexia indicated in Chapter I: Definitions & Characteristics of Dyslexia of The Dyslexia Handbook: Procedures Concerning Dyslexia and Related Disorders (Texas Education Agency, 2018 Update).

If a student is being assessed for dyslexia under Special Education (SPED), all SPED guidelines and procedures must be followed. Federal IDEA 2004 regulations related to assessment (34 CFR 300.304 (c)(4)) indicate that a student should be assessed in all areas related to the suspected disability. In the case of a student referred for a disability in the area of reading, dyslexia is a related area.

Once all cumulative data regarding the student’s academic history is gathered and reviewed, a formal evaluation for dyslexia might be recommended. A formal evaluation for dyslexia includes both formal and informal data. All data will be used by the §504 or ARD committee to determine whether the student demonstrates a pattern of evidence of dyslexia.

At any time, a parent/guardian may request to have his/her child evaluated for dyslexia or a related disorder through Section 504 or IDEA. If the school district has data to support refusal of the request, the procedural protections of IDEA and/or Section 504 must be followed.

Dyslexia FAQs

What should I do if I suspect that my child is dyslexic?

Discuss your concerns with your child’s school. At any time, a parent/guardian may request to have his/her child evaluated for dyslexia or a related disorder through Section 504 or IDEA. If the school district has data to support refusal of the request, the procedural protections of IDEA and/or Section 504 must be followed.

Can I bring an assessment from a private evaluator or source?

Yes, a parent or guardian may choose to have his/her child assessed by a private evaluator. In order for the assessment to be valid, the assessment must comply with the requirements set forth in the guidelines outlined in Chapter III: Procedures for the Evaluation and Identification of Students with Dyslexia as outlined in The Dyslexia Handbook: Procedures Concerning Dyslexia and Related Disorders (Texas Education Agency, 2018 Update). While an outside assessment may be provided to the Section 504 or ARD committee and must be considered, it does not automatically create eligibility.

Who ultimately identifies my child as dyslexic and makes the eligibility decision?

A student’s identification of dyslexia may be made under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) or under Section 504. Under IDEA, eligibility decisions are made by the student’s admission, review, and dismissal (ARD) committee. Under Section 504 procedures, the campus Section 504 committee has decision-making authority.

What happens after my child is assessed?

If assessed through §504, the parent/guardian will be invited to a §504 meeting. At this §504 meeting, the committee will review all educational data including the standardized testing results from the formal dyslexia evaluation. Based on the data from a variety of sources, the §504 committee must determine if your child is dyslexic according to district and state guidelines. If the student has dyslexia, the committee also determines whether the student has a disability under §504.

Special Education (SPED) can assess students for dyslexia. Federal IDEA 2004 regulations related to assessment (34 CFR 300.304 (c)(4)) indicate that a student should be assessed in all areas related to the suspected disability. In the case of student referred for a disability in reading, dyslexia is a related area. If a student is assessed by SPED, all SPED guidelines and procedures must be followed.

What do direct dyslexia services look like?

  • The general education dyslexia program provides intensive intervention to students who exhibit characteristics of dyslexia, based upon district and state qualification criteria.
  • Direct dyslexia services are provided at the elementary and secondary levels. Based on the student’s data, a student might receive standard protocol dyslexia instruction or specially designed instruction. In some cases, a student’s data might suggest that the unique needs of a student suspected of having dyslexia require a more individualized program than that offered through standard protocol dyslexia instruction.
    • Standardized protocol dyslexia instruction includes the critical, evidence-based components for dyslexia instruction as outlined Chapter IV of The Dyslexia Handbook: Procedures Concerning Dyslexia and Related Disorders (Texas Education Agency, 2018 Update). Standard protocol dyslexia instruction is not specially designed instruction. Rather, it is a programmatic instruction delivered to a group of students. LISD’s standard protocol dyslexia instruction includes a standardized curriculum to ensure fidelity across campuses. At times, dyslexia teachers might supplement instruction with components from other research-based programs.
    • Specially designed instruction is defined under IDEA as “adapting…the content, methodology, or delivery of instruction” to a child eligible under IDEA. This instruction must address the unique needs of the child that result from the child’s disability and must ensure access to the general curriculum so that the child can meet the state’s educational standards (34 C.F.R. §300.39(b)(3)).
  • Ongoing progress monitoring is administered to ensure the program is successfully addressing each student’s individual challenges.

How is the discontinuation of direct dyslexia services determined?

The discontinuation of direct dyslexia services is determined by the campus §504 committee or ARD committee. The committee considers the following factors to determine when a child exits from direct, dyslexia intervention:

  • completion of dyslexia curriculum;
  • student demonstrating proficiency on grade level material;
  • meeting standard on state assessments;
  • recommendation by the dyslexia therapist; and/or
  • lack of appropriate progress within the dyslexia curriculum.

If a student is served by special education, IDEA 2004 procedures must be followed.

Additional Resources and Support

Organizations/Resources

Associations

Books and Movies

  • Overcoming Dyslexia by Sally Shaywitz\
  • The Dyslexia Advantage by Brock L. Eide and Fernette F. Eide
  • The Everything Parent’s Guide to Children with Dyslexia by Abigail Marshall
  • The Alphabet War: A Story about Dyslexia by Diane Burton Robb and Gail Piazza
  • Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
  • The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia directed by James Redford
  • Dislecksia: The Movie directed by Harvey Hubbell V

Summer Reading Suggestions

As a parent, you play a critical role in your child’s education during the summer– especially if your child has dyslexia. Without your help, kids are more likely to forget what they learned last year. A recent study estimates that summer loss for all students equals about a month of academic learning. Most likely, children with learning disabilities need even more reinforcement. Help them remember what they learned in school. That way they can start next year caught up or ahead of the other students in their class. Bring out their natural love of learning. And encourage them to read for pleasure without the pressure they experience in the classroom.

Here are some summer strategies to help your child with dyslexia remember what they learned in school and see that reading can be useful and enjoyable:

  • Give them material that motivates them to read, even though they might find it hard to do. Try comic books, directions for interesting projects, and mystery stories. Have them read information on possible activities as you plan your summer vacation. Let them decide what they want to read.
  • Support them as they read. Read their book aloud to them, help them decode, and make it easy for them to get the meaning. Even if a question is asked again and again or if you feel irritated, act happy that they asked. Show them that reading is a way to find out what they need to know, or even to entertain themselves.
  • Give them easy reading. Summer is supposed to be relaxed. Let them succeed and get absorbed in the book.
  • When you read with them, make it your goal to enjoy the book together. You don’t have to make them read perfectly! Avoid too much correction. In school next year, the teacher will help them improve their skills.
  • Let younger children “pretend” to read. Read the story aloud together. Let them follow your voice. Have them look at the words as you point to them, even if they aren’t actually reading. When they say the wrong word, say the word correctly and cheerfully while pointing to the word.
  • Read aloud to them as you do daily chores, sightsee, or sit on the beach. Read an instruction manual with them as you try to fix something. While visiting a museum, read the interpretive materials. If you see the slightest sign they want to read aloud to you, let them!
  • Model and teach persistence. When you are working on something that is hard, model the discipline and patience that you want them to show while learning to read. Teach them explicitly the value of working hard to do something challenging. Tell them inspirational stories about famous people — or members of your own family — who have overcome obstacles.
  • Accommodate their dyslexia. For example, if they have to read aloud in public, have them memorize their passage ahead of time. Ask the teacher or camp counselor to request volunteers to read rather than pass the book from one person to another. If you give them a recipe for cooking (or any project involving written directions), be sure that it is at their reading level and that the print is large enough for them.
  • Use technology. If you have a computer, equip it with software that reads aloud. See Reading Software; Finding the Right Program. Let them load books into their electronic devices and listen to them at the same time as they read the printed book in their hands. Take a look at On the Go: What Consumer Devices Can do For You.
  • Use audio books.
  • Be a model of reading. Bring books to the beach and read them. If you are traveling, find a book for the whole family to read and discuss. If you are dyslexic, “read” your taped books on vacation, letting your child see you or give them their own tapes. Show and tell them how you overcome your own difficulties.
  • Have reading matter conveniently available. You might carry small children’s books and magazines with you and have them ready when you must wait in line for those crowded amusement park rides and popular sightseeing destinations.

The summer months are important to your child’s academic development in two ways. First, they need to be reminded of what they learned during the school year so that they remember it when they return in the fall. Second, and perhaps more important, children with dyslexia can discover the joys of reading and other academic skills in the relaxed summer season. If nobody tells them they have to read to get good grades, they might just pick up a book and enjoy it.
– These tips were written exclusively for LD OnLine by Dale S. Brown, Senior Manager, LD OnLine. She is a nationally recognized expert on learning disabilities who has written four books on the subject. She received the Ten Outstanding Young Americans Award for her work as an advocate.

Updated on March 12, 2019

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