I am a mother of an 11 year old daughter who is currently in 6th grade and has an IEP. I wonder if traditional public schooling is the best and/or only option I have for her? The IEP team is urging that my daughter be placed into Special Education class for Math and English in junior high for next year. I can not believe that this would be the best option for her. She has no behavioral problems. Thus far, with the small group intervention and workload modification her IEP has provided, she still can not complete academic tasks successfully on her own. My question is this, can dyslexia students succeeded in a traditional public school from junior high through high school or is it better for them to go to a school that specializes in dyslexia? Do people homeschool their dyslexia children and take them to dyslexia centers for additional training? If you are a parent with limited dyslexia knowledge or training is it a recipe for disaster to homeschool them?

I am not sure if these are questions you can answer. We just received her diagnose this past January. While it has been a relief to finally have an answer, we feel like we are in the dark about everything relating this. I appreciate the time you took to read this email. Thank you for providing a resource for dyslexics and their family members.

Dr. Pierson's Response: 
To answer one of your questions--yes, dyslexic kids can succeed in traditional public schools WITH the right kind of intervention and support. Intervention should use research-based techniques, be systematic, explicit, and, ideally, intensive. Here's a piece [1] I wrote last spring about the topic of finding the right intervention, and although I was talking about summer services, much of it might be informative to you. The challenge is that dyslexia has not been the focus of training programs in many of our schools of higher education, so you need to be sure that your daughter's LD teachers have indeed been trained in the treatment approaches for dyslexia.

That said, there are indeed people who homeschool their children. Should you go that route, I've got programs here [2], many of which are undergirded in Structured Literacy, such as those that use Orton-Gillingham approaches. The Barton Reading Program was designed for parents and is quite detailed relative to that aspect, but it can be cost prohibitive for some. Lousia Moats' books [3] is very good and may be helpful and is less expensive.

If you need to work with her at home, one idea would be to secure the consultative services of a clinician or tutor. At my private practice, we frequently consult with parents on these issues -- the parent observes us working with the child for part of a session; we meet together to discuss; they go home and work; and then come back after a period of time for the next step.

I do think it would be wise to invest in a GOOD comprehensive assessment [4] of her spoken and written language skills so that you know exactly where her strengths and weaknesses lie. I typically refer people to the provider list for their state from the International Dyslexia Association (www.eida.org [5]).

Given that your daughter is 11, in addition to any specific work she needs in learning sound-letter correspondences, it will be very important that she learn Latin and Greek roots, prefixes, and suffixes [6].

I have a lot of information under the Professional portal [7] on the website that addresses all of the different areas that we target when working with a dyslexic student. Although written for professionals, it will give you an idea of the different skill areas, and which ones you may need to get professional advice or help in targeting.

Those are my initial thoughts. Hopefully, some of these suggestions can get you going in the right direction. Let me know if you have other questions.