My daughter was just diagnosed with dyslexia. I am not sure where to go to find help. The diagnosis is Specific reading disorder (with double-deficit dyslexia) and visual tracking deficit. I did have a meeting with my daughters school but they are not doing anything at this time. She gets pulled out of class for additional reading help but they will not set up an IEP or anything specific for the dyslexia. There is so much information to absorb. Where do I find what my daughters rights are? I want to make sure I am doing everything I can to get her the help she needs. Any help would be greatly appreciated. My daughter is 8 and in second grade in a public elementary school in southwest Michigan.

Dr. Pierson's Response: 

I'm sorry that the school is not attending to her dyslexia diagnosis, but this is not the first time I have heard this, unfortunately. Here is a piece I wrote about that issue. I have information here about her rights and lots more about special education under the other tabs.

I'm hoping the professional who did the assessment made it very clear in the report how she should qualify for services. When we do an assessment at 3LI, we always write specifically what areas of the MI Special Education code for the specific learning disability that we think the student qualifies for services under (e.g., basic reading reading fluency, reading comprehension, written expression). That doesn't mean our kids get an IEP every time, but it can help. I also find it helps if you can bring an advocate with you to the school meetings. That doesn't always mean much either, but I do find that when I attend a meeting I can help the parents get a feel for whether it is even worthwhile to have their child pulled from gen ed for services in the LD room. If the teaching staff are not trained in teaching reading/spelling to students with dyslexia, then it's probably not worth it, and you have to go outside of the school to get the right intervention.

If her scores are below the 10th percentile, then she SHOULD qualify for services under the category of specific learning disabilities. Once qualified, though, you then need to know whether the school staff have been trained in structured literacy (SL) intervention. It has been my experience that the majority of teachers have not been trained in SL, including those in special education.

I hope in regard to the visual tracking that no one told you that vision therapy will "fix" her dyslexia. It will not. Yes, the eyes need to work together (I'm not saying she doesn't need a bit of work there), but what she needs is SL intervention. Here are 2 pieces about the lack of evidence for vision therapy.

Here is the provider list for MI from the International Dyslexia Association (IDA), but there is no one listed in Muskegon. I recommend getting a copy of Dr. Sally Shaywitz's book, Overcoming Dyslexia, as that will help guide you in how to help her. Dr. Shaywitz wrote the book for parents. The only 'update' is that she did not use the term structured literacy when she talked about intervention because that phrase wasn't coined until 2014 by the IDA (and she published her book in 2003). The intervention Dr. Shaywitz discusses is SL.