I am a little overwhelmed with my daughter’s school and was wondering if I could get some information about getting the school to provide additional assistance or information about schools that are more experienced in helping a child with dyslexia. My daughter is in 4th grade, very well behaved, and has many strengths out of basic classroom skills and reading. She has been getting services out of the classroom for language arts and math the past 3 years, learning phonics/foundations. This year has been very challenging.

Dr. Pierson's Response: 
I am sorry that you daughter's needs aren't being met. So challenging, I know. I will do my best to point you to some resources.

First, here is the link to our Independent Schools list in case you want to go that route with your daughter. I do not know specifically about these schools -- you'd need to visit and observe, as well as talk with parents of students at the school..

I looked at your daughter’s spelling and it is clear that she needs work in improving her orthographic knowledge (i.e., knowledge of spelling patterns and rules). I recommend Marcia Henry's Words, which is listed here. I also recommend that you read Sally Shaywitz's Overcoming Dyslexia, which was written for parents. It will help you know what the school should be doing.

Your daughter is now hitting the grade when using her reading skills to learn is expected in the curriculum (versus in the earlier grades when learning to read was the focus and most learning was driven by the teacher). In order to be sure that she has access to the school curriculum, she should have text-to-speech software/apps so that she can listen to the text as she reads it. She should follow along with highlighted text as it is read aloud.

She needs work in morphological awareness (Latin and Greek roots, prefixes, and suffixes) as this will aid reading fluency, reading comprehensioin, and spelling.

And, importantly, she needs a systematic, explicit, and multi sensory approach that is evidenced-based to teach her letter-sound correspondences, as well as work on reading comprehension strategies, and writing for different genres.

Relative to her IEP-- she should have systematic goals and objectives with clear criteria/outcomes that are measurable and being monitored on a regular basis, and you don't have to wait for her annual review to do that. You can set up that schedule however you need to ensure that she is meeting her goals. For example, I have a 5th grader with whom I’m working who was reading at a 1st grade level after nearly 4 years of an IEP at his school. I evaluated him and then attended his IEP-- short story, the team is getting together every 6 weeks to monitor progress. The school changed his program-- and he has gained two years in two months in some areas of reading. Now, in my opinion, it should not have taken bringing in an outside professional to get this child the services he needs (and deserves), but that may be the case with your daughter. You may benefit from an advocate to help you navigate the special education waters.

Here's some information on IEPs.

Here is a list of providers for NJ from the International Dyslexia Association (IDA). Someone on this list may be able to provide some guidance. Lastly, I'd recommend connecting with Decoding Dyslexia - NJ-- search for them on Facebook. This is a grassroots group of parents that is taking the nation, so to speak, relative to advocacy. Someone there also may be able to help.

Those are some ideas that I have for you. I hope this helps. Importantly, don't give up. Persevere! You are her best advocate!