Hello, I have a 6 year old that I adopted as a foster child.

No one will consider that she could be dyslexic, I have fought as hard as I can. We even had a hearing with the school district and lost. I had her tested from when she was going into early intervention she was 18 months in 2010. We are moving to Virginia in November. I don't know anything about how they deal with special education. How can I help her?

Any information would help. Thanks.

Dr. Pierson's Response: 

First of all -- special education services are mandated at the federal level, so she will have service in VA if she qualifies. http://dyslexiahelp.umich.edu/parents/living-with-dyslexia/school/know-your-rights. I found this "Parents Guide ..." that you might find helpful. You can read it here [1].

I'm not sure how they interpret the law in VA, but here in MI, despite the word "dyslexia" being listed under Specific Learning Disability (SLD) in the Special Education Rules, the schools, by en large, do not diagnose it. That said, they do diagnose SLD & that is how our kids with dyslexia get services. It also sounds like your daughter would qualify for services under Language Impairment, so you should ask for an evaluation by a speech-language pathologist as well.

Your daughter certainly should be demonstrating growth, particularly if her cognitive skills are good, which is inherent in the definition of dyslexia, and she is receiving systematic, research-based, intensive intervention. I've got information on what good intervention looks like here [2].

If you are not satisfied with her evaluation by the school team, you have the right to request an IEE (Independent Educational Evaluation) by someone outside the school district. From our glossary "IEEs are requested by districts and/or parents when there is disagreement about a student’s diagnosis." You might also consider getting an advocate to go to meetings with you. You can read about this by visiting this [3] page.

A good resource for parents is Decoding Dyslexia Virginia -- you can search for them on Facebook. Decoding Dyslexia is a parent-organized, grassroots group. I would connect with them. Here also is the list of providers from the IDA-VA (click here) [4]. You might want to contact someone on this list, depending how things progress. Not everyone diagnoses, though, so you will need to ask his/her skill set, particularly if you want an assessment. Read about diagnosis and assessment here [5].