What is Dyslexia?
The current definition from the International Dyslexia Association states: Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurobiological 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 reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.
Questions for Determining Dyslexia
Do the data show the following characteristics of dyslexia?
Difficulty with accurate and/or fluent word reading
Poor spelling skills
Poor decoding ability
Do these difficulties (typically) result from a deficit in the phonological component of language?
Are these difficulties unexpected for the student’s age in relation to the student’s other cognitive abilities and provision of effective classroom instruction?
Common Risk Factors of Dyslexia
Preschool – 3rd Grade
Failure to understand that words are made up of parts or individual sounds
Difficulty learning the letter names and their corresponding sounds
Difficulty reading single words in isolation
Difficulty reading fluently
Difficulty spelling phonetically
Fourth Grade – High School
History of reading and spelling difficulties
Difficulty reading aloud
Avoids reading for pleasure
Difficulty learning a foreign language
Difficulty with spoken vocabulary
Difficulty completing the reading demands for multiple course requirements
IDEA/ 504 / RTL
IDEA: Ensures that all children with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education. Provides individual supplemental educational services and supports in addition to what is provided to students in the general curriculum to ensure that the child has access to and benefits from the general curriculum.
Section 504: Provides equal opportunity eligible students with disabilities when compared to their non-disabled peers. Provides support and interventions through general education.
Response to Intervention (RTI): A multistep or tiered approach to providing services and interventions at increasing levels of intensity to students who struggle with learning.
School District/ Charter School Requirements
Texas Education Code §38.003: Students enrolling in public schools shall be screened or tested for dyslexia at appropriate times. The board of trustees of each school district or charter school shall provide for the treatment (i.e., instruction) of any student determined to have dyslexia.
Texas Administrative Code §74.28:
A school district or charter school shall purchase or develop its own reading program for students with dyslexia, as long as the program is characterized by the descriptors found in The State Dyslexia Handbook ~ Revised 2018.
Who Delivers Instruction?
A certified teacher who has been trained in dyslexia and related disorders and the curriculum of instruction.
Possible Accommodations to be Determined by Committee
Copies of notes (e.g., teacher- or peer provided)
Additional time on class assignments and tests
Reduced/shortened assignments (e.g., chunking assignments into manageable units, fewer items given on a classroom test or homework assignment without eliminating concepts, or student planner to assist with assignments)
Alternative test location that provides a quiet environment and reduces distractions
Priority seating assignment
Oral reading of directions or written material
Adaptive learning tools and features in software programs
Text to speech
Speech to text
How Is Dyslexia Diagnosed?
Dyslexia is diagnosed through an evaluation that determines a deficit in reading ability and rules out other possible causes for the deficit, such as hearing problems, or social, environmental or cognitive factors. Usually kids must wait until they are school-aged (or have had significant early reading instruction) to get an accurate assessment.
If you are concerned that your child is not meeting benchmarks for reading skills, you can request that your school district do an evaluation and then review the results with you. The evaluation will measure your child’s intellectual capacity and reading skills, to determine if there is an achievement gap.
If your child falls below average in skills like decoding, comprehension, word recognition, word retrieval and reading fluency, your school district should recommend a plan to help bolster those skills.
If you aren’t satisfied with the caliber of the evaluation, you are free to seek out a private evaluation by a psychologist, a neuropsychologist, a reading specialist, a speech and language therapist, an educational evaluator or a school psychologist. The professional who does the evaluation should provide you with a
report explaining the results and making specific recommendations for your child.
This outside evaluation can be used to make the case to your school district for support or accommodations for your child.
Contacts for More Information
Texas Dyslexia Helpline
Statewide Dyslexia Program
Region One Dyslexia Specialist
La Villa ISD Special Programs Director