My almost 7 year old son has had delayed speech (after 2.5) and now in first grade has had a very hard time learning his sight words and learning to read. He is many reading levels behind the other kids and we have a history or dyslexia and ADHD in my family (my father and myself) so we were pretty sure he has dyslexia.

His teacher also saw red flags and the school started the process of evaluating him for an IEP. They did the special education eligibility testing and saw many weak areas (auditory processing, working memory, picture vocabulary, sentence recall), but the scores alone didn’t qualify him because he had many strong areas as well; but based on the tier 1 and 2 interventions not working, he qualified for an IEP where he will receive Wilson method 5 days a week (60 min) and an auditory memory therapy (proven computer based program) 3 times a week.

We are very happy with the school’s plan as it seems they are being proactive and understand the importance of early intervention.

My question is, even though my son seems to be getting all the interventions he needs, should we have him officially tested for Dyslexia? My gut says ‘yes’, the more information we have about his struggling areas and the cause, the better off we will be helping him. But many people at the school and other parents have said, no, it’s not worth the money or stress since he’s getting what he needs.

I just don’t want to make the wrong decision and wish later that we had him officially diagnosed. Are there accommodations or other things that he will need eventually that would require a specific dyslexia diagnosis, because the school’s diagnosis is ‘reading disability’? Thanks so much for any information or advice.


Dr. Pierson's Response: 

There are a couple of reasons to ultimately have your son tested for dyslexia. One is that it will give you a word to use when you talk with him about his difficulties with reading, spelling, and writing that is more specific than Learning Disability or Reading Disability. A good comprehensive assessment will also inform the intervention. Furthermore, the data can serve as a baseline for determining progress.

I am sorry that your son had to fail first with RTI before getting the help he needs. I am hoping that you are able to get him intensive intervention this summer. The good news is that you've gotten him early so he can hopefully begin to catch up with his peers. Continue to expose him as much as possible to activities that he enjoys so he builds his world knowledge.