My daughter was diagnosed with dyslexia in 2nd grade and has received Orton-Gillingham based therapies for several years. After placing her in a private school for 9th grade, we had her reevaluated for accommodations through the public school system. We have just received her report and it makes no mention of dyslexia at all. I am wondering if this is common? They say she does not meet the criteria for accommodations. Do you have any recommendations for next steps?

Dr. Pierson's Response: 

Typically, once dyslexic, if the initial diagnosis was correct, always dyslexic...That said, your daughter’s dyslexia may now be manifesting as “subclinical.” She may no longer score in the range considered clinically disordered (i.e., it does not fall below the 10th percentile). She may be a "compensated" dyslexic. We know that intervention works, so we anticipate that a student’s skills would improve. Most good diagnosticians know to adjust for this in their assessment and interpretation of the data.

Also, typically, while those with dyslexia do indeed improve their skills and become readers, a good majority of them continue to be slow readers, and therefore, need an accommodation for additional time when asked to do tasks of reading and writing. That is why it is important to have them read and write under time constraints. Many times, I will find that they are accurate in reading, but slow. The Test of Word Reading Efficiency - 2 (TOWRE-2) is a particularly good measure for teasing out continued problems with accuracy and time. The student will frequently do well on the Sight Word Efficiency subtest (i.e., real words), but then still struggle with reading the nonsense words, which requires specific attention to and knowledge about letters-sounds patterns and orthographic rules. Again, a good diagnostician will tease those differences out.

Apparently, the school evaluation didn't even find that she qualified for services under the category of specific learning disorder (SLD)? Again, dyslexia does not go away, although the manifestations of it will hopefully be minimized through intervention. And, new demands can arise at different levels of schooling. If possible, you may want to have your daughter evaluated outside of the school and ask for another IEP.