My daughter is 10 and is at the end of her 5th grade year headed to her 6th. We (myself and her teachers) have suspected she has dyslexia since she was in 2nd grade. She has been doing well with the help she gets in the classroom so far. Everyone told me to wait for a 504 Plan or IEP until she really needed it. With 6th grade fast approaching, she will be switching classes and will have 6 different teachers. Now is time for a 504 Plan and they told me I need to get a medical diagnosis for her and I can’t seem to find a place that does testing. I was hoping you could point me in the right direction; I’m feeling defeated and just want to get her the help she will need.

Thank you.

Dr. Pierson's Response: 

First of all—a learning disability does not require a medical diagnosis and neither does dyslexia [1]. We teach students to read in school; if she is struggling, then the school staff can assess her skills.

You, as her parent, have the right to request an evaluation for a suspected learning disability, which is a part of the special education process, whereas as 504 Plan falls under general education. In general, students with 504 Plans receive accommodations, whereas those with IEPs receive direct intervention plus accommodations.

Now, that said, in Michigan, it can sometimes be difficult to get a dyslexia diagnosis through the schools. Here [2] is a piece that I wrote about that.

You may need to get an outside assessment. I have found that many times, when my clients have a diagnosis and come to the school with a good assessment report, it helps the school staff identify needs and ways to intervene.

On related note, there are the number of states that do not have dyslexia legislation [3], but there are many that do.

More aggravation.

Let me know if you have other questions.