I need help for my 10-year-old daughter. She has apraxia and dyslexia and has not progressed in school for the last two years. Her DRA is 6. I found an Orton-Gillingham tutor in Michigan, and she has made huge progress with her. I have been fighting with the special education dept. to get measurable, specific goals and accommodations. My daughter has one resource room teacher who does not understand how to do her job. She was unable to show me the logs from last year when I requested them. It was in the IEP that she was to monitor my daughter's progress with logs. She gives confusing answers to questions about what she is doing in the classroom. I am one step away from filing a state complaint. I also discovered my daughter has a behavioral problem at school. Her occupational therapist had in her report my daughter guessed at answers to avoid work. I heard the same thing from her tutors and they said would have to push her to get a response from her. My daughter can learn but she shuts down at school, she wants to avoid work at all costs.

So, the reason I am contacting you now is we had an IEP recently. There was a psych evaluation. They want to label my daughter cognitive impairment. We disagreed with the evaluation and are getting an Independent Educational Evaluation. My daughter is not cognitive impaired, she has dyslexia and has not received the proper teaching instruction for the last two years. I need help finding a psychologist to do our evaluation, do you recommend anyone? Also, if you have any other advice for me I would greatly appreciate it!


Dr. Pierson's Response: 

I am sorry that you are having such challenges getting your daughter the help she needs. Relative to her behavior, it is not unusual for kids with reading difficulties/disabilities to 'shut down' because they keep trying and they keep failing; the shutting down is a protective mechanism. Unfortunately, hers is not the first story that I've heard like this.

I'm hoping that she can continue with the tutor as understanding her skills AND feeling some success will help her with this. I'm curious—is this your daughter's first IQ test? If she is receiving special education support, did she not have one when she was younger? If so, why wasn't the issue of cognitive impairment raised at that time? It's unusual for a child to reach her age without concerns about intellectual capability getting flagged earlier by one of her teachers.

I do not have any contacts in your area to recommend to you. I could recommend Dr. Michael Ryan who writes for DyslexiaHelp—he is in Grand Rapids. In Ann Arbor, Dr. John Milanovich or Dr. Roger Lauer's group are other potential options. I realize those are far from you. Here is the link to the providers in MI from the International Dyslexia Association, in case that is helpful.

I'm sorry that I couldn't have been more helpful to you. I don't know if one of these people I've recommended has a contact there. You can tell each of them that I referred you.


Mom's Follow-Up

This is not her first IQ test. She was labeled Specific Learning Disability at seven years old. She has been receiving speech and occupational therapy since she was three. She has had special education support in the gen-ed classroom in first grade in a Catholic school we had her in and was at kindergarten reading level at that time. Then second grade it was not offered and she failed second grade there. She repeated second at the public school last year with ten hours in the resource room. But, I found out too late the resource room teacher is not very qualified for the job. My daughter made very little progress. Last April is when I discovered she was dyslexic, she came to me one day and said, "I have dyslexia", after seeing a segment on TV. I researched it and then I had no doubt she had it. I finally understand my daughter and everything about her makes sense! On the last IQ test her verbal comprehension was 91, now they say she dropped to a 63. It has been two and half years since the last evaluation. Her full scale was 73 and has now dropped to 57. We know she does not have cognitive impairment. She has common sense and has logical problem solving skills as long as it doesn't involve reading and writing. She has surprised us several times with the ideas she comes up with. I think the scores are the result of two horrible school years; it is very disappointing that the school system does not recognize dyslexia. My daughter should have been getting help years ago. Thank you so much for your helpful information!


Dr. Pierson's Follow-Up

Persevere in getting that outside evaluation. I have never known a child's IQ to drop from the average range to the 1st percentile (which is where that 63 would be) in the absence of a significant brain injury. This performance should be raising a big flag with whomever administered the testing. Something is not right.

Also, inherent in a diagnosis & definition of specific learning disability as she had previously received, is cognitive abilities in the average to above average range, so that "change" should also raise a flag. It is true that we can sometimes see the IQs of these kids drop a bit over time because of a lack of exposure to text (i.e., the same information as their peers), but I'm talking points, not 2 standard deviations like hers was reported to do. In my private clinical practice I have worked with each of those guys (Drs. Ryan, Milanovich, & Lauer) whose names I gave you. Any one of them will steer you on the right track AND get the proper information about her! If you are so inclined, I'd like to know how things work out for you.