“Dyslexia: You can view it as an anchor, or you can embrace the gifts that accompany dyslexia and choose to soar!" - Dyslexia Kids

Question: What do you do when you suspect ‘something isn’t right’?
Answer: We hear this all the time and we believe that often parents know before anyone else that ‘something is not right’. We suggest you educate yourself through the resources we provide here starting with the characteristics section. Then pursue answers until you are satisfied. Don’t assume your school is giving you the best advice when they suggest the ‘wait and see’ approach. Early and appropriate remediation is key to success and time is so precious. Follow your gut.

Question: My school has done testing. Do I still need to get a professional diagnosis of dyslexia?
Answer: Schools administer several educational tests but are not qualified to give a diagnosis of dyslexia. They are able to assess the student’s deficiencies and should provide the extra help needed based on their testing. So although a professional diagnosis is not imperative, it can be very helpful in guiding a school toward appropriate remediation and accommodations. It can be used to help secure an IEP or Section 504 (see testing page). A professional diagnosis can be required for such things as extended time on college entrance exams (SAT’s & ACT’s).

Question: Are there degrees of dyslexia? Is it tied to effort or intelligence? 
Answer: Dyslexia varies in degrees of severity. The prognosis depends on the severity of the disability, specific patterns of strengths and weaknesses with the individual, and the appropriateness of the intervention. It is not a result of lack of motivation, sensory impairment, inadequate instruction, environmental opportunities, low intelligence, or other limiting conditions.

Question: Should I tell my child that he/she is dyslexic? I don’t want to label him/her.
Answer: Nobody wants to be labeled, especially with a learning differences. But we would argue that your child may have already labeled himself as stupid or dumb. There is a great power in understanding the type of brain you have and why it is so difficult to learn to read. We find that the more educated students are about their learning difference, the more likely they are to give themselves a break. Don’t forget that your child has many other labels and they need to identify with all of their strengths and the gifts that come along with this type of brain!

Question: What type of reading program works best for a student with dyslexia?
Answer: There isn’t a “one size fits all” solution. There are many different programs that have been proven effective. You want to make sure that the program is well researched and Orton-Gillingham based. It needs to be:

o   Multi-sensory - adding touch to the visual and auditory
o   Structured - follows a research based order of instruction and clearly defined organization
o   Explicit - fully and clearly expressed or demonstrated
o  Intensive - Adequate time and intensity

Some of our favorite programs are Barton Reading, Writing & Spelling, Wilson Reading, Orton-Gillingham, and LANGUAGE!  But know that any program is only as good as the instructor, so seek out a highly qualified one (see tutoring page under Services). And these programs must be administered with adequate time and intensity - one hour a week is usually not enough time. Ideally, you will want 2 to 3 weekly one hour sessions of one-on-one tutoring. Continuous progress monitoring is also the key to any successful program. See the Florida Center for Reading Research for some detailed information about specific reading programs. http://www.fcrr.org

Question:  Where should I send my child to school?
Answer: Every building is different and each school will have its own pros and cons. In our experience, the principal of the school drives the culture when it comes to handling learning differences. We suggest you interview the schools, talk to other parents, and get as much information as possible before choosing a school. 

•  Public and charter schools are required to follow IDEA. Typically, class sizes are larger and teachers don’t have the luxury of being able to give as much individualized attention. 
•  Private schools typically have smaller classes and more individualized attention; however, they are not required to follow IDEA. 
•  Online schools allow a student the flexibility to study at their own pace, work on their own schedule and use accommodation as needed. Student must be self-motivated or have an engaged learning coach.
•  Homeschooling is also an option for some families. It provides a complete individualized program but requires a teacher committed to understanding the student’s learning difference and needs.

Question: What can I do at home to best support my child with dyslexia?
Answer: Once our kids leave in the morning for school, we can only hope that they will be OK, marvel in their courage for facing the same challenges day after day, and be ready to pick them up and dust them off when they get home from a rough one.   Here are some specific things you can do to help your student at home:

•  Make sure home is a safe place. Understand your child’s challenges and validate their efforts. Give them a place to vent and help them find creative solutions. Focus on the positive whenever you can and help them do the same. Know they will bring the worst home to you so try to be patient.
•  Provide a quiet and distraction free place to do homework. Some students work better listening to music, some in silence, and some want to be close to you but others do not. Try to identify the best way and then make sure they have the tools they need.
•   Allow regular breaks that include activity if at all possible.
•  Don’t underestimate the value of rest, exercise and good nutrition.
•  Find the gifts in your child and help them see how these qualities, though often not celebrated in the classroom, are valuable life skills. Frequently our dyslexic children are naturally gifted in such things as interpersonal skills, higher level reasoning, athletics, the arts, design, or 'outside the box’ thinking.
•  Help them find their passion - something at which they excel and enjoy. This will help validate their worth and add a huge positive influence in their lives, giving them something they can look forward to.

We have often been asked how to know when we as parents are helping too much or not enough. We would ask you, how do you know with a non-dyslexic child?  You WILL make mistakes because we all do.  But our kids are resilient, maybe even more than their non-dyslexic counterparts, and as long as they know that you have their best interest at heart, chances are good things will work out. 

Question:  My school keeps talking about RTI but what is it?
Answer:  Response to Intervention (RTI) is a multi-tiered approach to help struggling learners. Students’ progress is closely monitored at each stage of intervention to determine the need for further research-based instruction and/or intervention in general education, in special education, or both. You are allowed at any time during the RTI process to request special education (IEP) testing.  Here is the link to a good informational website - RTI Action Network. http://www.rtinetwork.org

Question: What is Dysgraphia and Dyscalculia?
Answer: These conditions can accompany dyslexia or be stand-alone learning differences. They are related because they are attributed to brain differences just like dyslexia. Dysgraphia is a difficulty with spelling, handwriting and trouble putting thoughts on paper. Common characteristics are poor or slow handwriting, messy and unorganized papers and poor fine motor skills. Dyscalculia is difficulty with math. Common characteristics are difficulty memorizing math facts, retaining math vocabulary and concepts, and many calculation errors. 

Dysgraphia Fact Sheet:  http://www.interdys.org/EWEBEDITPRO5/UPLOAD/UNDERSTANDINGDYSGRAPHIAFACTSHEET3-14-12.PDF

Dyscalcula Article: http://www.ldonline.org/article/13709/

Question: Are dyslexia and ADD/ADHD the same thing?
Answer: No, but studies show that there may be a correlation between dyslexia and ADD. They are different learning disabilities that frequently overlap. A child can have one, the other, or both. This is something you need to discuss with your practitioner when you have your child tested.   

Check out IDA’s Just the Facts: http://www.interdys.org/ewebeditpro5/upload/ADHDandDyslexia.pdf

Question: What about vision therapy?
Answer: The American Academy of Pediatrics: Section on Ophthalmology and Council on Children with Disabilities, American Academy of Ophthalmology, American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, and American Association of Certified Orthoptists published a Joint Policy Statement in August, 2009: Learning disabilities, including reading disabilities, are commonly diagnosed in children. Their etiologies are multifactorial, reflecting genetic influences and dysfunction of brain systems. Learning disabilities are complex problems that require complex solutions. Early recognition and referral to qualified educational professionals for evidence-based evaluations and treatments seem necessary to achieve the best possible outcome. Most experts believe that dyslexia is a language-based disorder. Vision problems can interfere with the process of learning; however, vision problems are not the cause of primary dyslexia or learning disabilities. Scientific evidence does not support the efficacy of eye exercises, behavioral vision therapy, or special tinted filters or lenses for improving the long-term educational performance in these complex pediatric neurocognitive conditions. Diagnostic and treatment approaches that lack scientific evidence of efficacy, including eye exercises, behavioral vision therapy, or special tinted filters or lenses, are not endorsed and should not be recommended.

The entire article can be found at: http://www.aao.org/about/policy/upload/Learning-Disabilities-Dyslexia-Vision-2009.pdf

Studies show that one in five people fall somewhere on the dyslexia spectrum.

The word dyslexia comes from the Greek language and means difficulty with language. Individuals with dyslexia have trouble with reading, writing spelling and/or math. They can learn; they just learn in a different way. Dyslexia is a specific language-based learning disability that affects 15-20% of the population and ranges from mild to profound. Dyslexia occurs in people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and intellectual levels. In addition, dyslexia runs in families.

Dyslexia is the most common cause of reading, writing, and spelling difficulties. It becomes very difficult for a student with dyslexia to succeed academically in the typical instructional environment.

Children who receive effective multi-sensory training in K-1 have significantly fewer problems reading at grade level later on than those not identified until 3rd grade. Seventy-four percent (74%) of children who are poor readers in 3rd grade will remain poor readers in the 9th grade. Early identification and treatment is the key to helping students with dyslexia achieve in school and in life.

The impact of dyslexia varies for each person and depends on factors such as severity and educational approaches. The most common characteristics are problems with reading, spelling, and writing but students can also have challenges in math, penmanship, working memory, and organization. People with dyslexia can also have problems with spoken language. They may find it difficult to express themselves clearly.

Dyslexia is a life-long condition, but it is never too late for individuals with dyslexia to learn to read, process, and express information more efficiently. Dyslexia results from differences in the structure and function of the brain. The problem is not behavioral, physiological, motivational or social.

For more in-depth information, please visit IDA-TNs Just the Facts at http://www.tnida.org or http://www.interdys.org.