What is the definition of dyslexia?
The International Dyslexia Association defines “dyslexia” in the following way: Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge. (Adopted by the International Dyslexia Association Board of Directors, November 12, 2002)
Indicators for dyslexia
- Delay in learning to talk
- Difficulty with rhyming 9
- Difficulty pronouncing words (e.g., “pusgetti” for “spaghetti,” “mawn lower” for “lawn mower”)
- Poor auditory memory for nursery rhymes and chants
- Difficulty in adding new vocabulary words
- Inability to recall the right word (word retrieval)
- Trouble learning and naming letters and numbers and remembering the letters in his/ her name. Aversion to print (e.g., doesn’t enjoy following along if book is read aloud)
Kindergarten and First Grade:
- Difficulty breaking words into smaller parts (syllables) (e.g., “baseball” can be pulled apart into “base” “ ball” or “napkin” can be pulled apart into “nap” “kin”)
- Difficulty identifying and manipulating sounds in syllables (e.g., “man” sounded out as ͬŵͬͬĉͬͬŶͬͿ
- Difficulty remembering the names of letters and recalling their corresponding sounds
- Difficulty decoding single words (reading single words in isolation)
- Difficulty spelling words the way they sound (phonetically) or remembering letter sequences in very common words seen often in print (e.g., “sed” for “said”)
Second Grade and Third Grade:
- Many of the previously described behaviors remain problematic along with the following:
- Difficulty recognizing common sight words (e.g., “to,” “said,” “been”)
- Difficulty decoding single words
- Difficulty recalling the correct sounds for letters and letter patterns in reading
- Difficulty connecting speech sounds with appropriate letter or letter combinations and omitting letters in words for spelling (e.g., “after” spelled “eftr”)
- Difficulty reading fluently (e.g., slow, inaccurate, and/or without expression)
- Difficulty decoding unfamiliar words in sentences using knowledge of phonics
- Reliance on picture clues, story theme, or guessing at words
- Difficulty with written expression
Fourth Grade through Sixth Grade:
Many of the previously described behaviors remain problematic along with the following:
- Difficulty reading aloud (e.g., fear of reading aloud in front of classmates)
- Avoidance of reading (e.g., particularly for pleasure)
- Acquisition of less vocabulary due to reduced independent reading
- Use of less complicated words in writing that are easier to spell than more appropriate words (e.g., “big” instead of “enormous”)
- Reliance on listening rather than reading for comprehension
Middle School and High School:
Many of the previously described behaviors remain problematic along with the following:
- Difficulty with the volume of reading and written work x Frustration with the amount of time required and energy expended for reading
- Difficulty with written assignments
- Tendency to avoid reading (particularly for pleasure)
- Difficulty learning a foreign language
Some students will not be identified prior to entering college as having dyslexia. The early years of reading difficulties evolve into slow, labored reading fluency. Many students will experience extreme frustration and fatigue due to the increasing demands of reading as the result of dyslexia. In making a diagnosis for dyslexia, a student’s reading history, familial/genetic predisposition, and assessment history are critical. Many of the previously described behaviors may remain problematic along with the following:
- Difficulty pronouncing names of people and places or parts of words
- Difficulty remembering names of people and places
- Difficulty with word retrieval x Difficulty with spoken vocabulary
- Difficulty completing the reading demands for multiple course requirements
- Difficulty with note-taking x Difficulty with written production
- Difficulty remembering sequences (e.g., mathematical and/or scientific formulas)
Since dyslexia is a neurological, language-based disability that persists over time and interferes with an individual’s learning, it is critical that identification and intervention occur as early as possible.
(This information was taken from Texas Education Agency “The Dyslexia Handbook 2014 Edition.”)
When should a student who is experiencing reading difficulties be considered for placement in an instructional program for dyslexia and related disorders?
If a student is not progressing in the general, remedial, and/or compensatory reading programs in school and other causes have been eliminated, the student should be recommended for assessment.
Can students in kindergarten and first grade be assessed for dyslexia?
Yes. The identification of dyslexia in young students in kindergarten and first grade will often occur through the observation of parents/guardians and educators that, despite engaged participation in comprehensive reading instruction, a child with good thinking and language ability shows limited reading progress.
Does the student have to be in a certain grade level before dyslexia assessment can occur?
No. There is not a grade-level requirement for assessment to occur. When a student is considered for an assessment depends on multiple factors including the student’s reading performance; reading difficulties; poor response to supplemental, scientifically based reading instruction; teacher’s input; and input from the parents/guardians.
May a parent/guardian recommend that a student be assessed for dyslexia?
Yes. A parent or guardian may request to have his or her child assessed for dyslexia and related disorders by staff at the school district or open-enrollment charter school. If the school district refuses to do the testing, the school district must provide data to support their reasons for not assessing the student.
Can the parent/guardian bring an assessment from a private evaluator or source?
Yes. A parent or guardian may choose to have his or her child assessed by a private diagnostician or other source. However, to be valid, this assessment must comply with the requirements set forth in §504 and the guidelines in the Dyslexia Handbook Chapter II on Procedures for the Assessment and Identification of Students with Dyslexia. The §504 regulations provide that the group of knowledgeable people have a duty to “document and carefully consider” all sources of evaluation data (34 C.F.R. §104.35(c)(2)). While an outside assessment may be brought to the §504 committee and must be reviewed, it is part of the evaluation data but does not, independently, create eligibility. Instead, the §504 committee determines eligibility based on a review “of data from a variety of sources” (34 C.F.R. §104.35(c)(1).
Must a student fail a class or subject before being recommended for assessment for dyslexia?
No. A student is not required to fail a class or subject or fail the state-required assessment to be considered for a dyslexia assessment. According to TEC §38.003, students should be assessed for dyslexia at appropriate times.
Can a student be considered for assessment of dyslexia even if he or she has passed a test required by the statewide assessment program?
Yes. Results from a state test required by the statewide assessment program are only one source of data to be gathered and considered for possible recommendation for dyslexia assessment. Other information must also be considered, such as teacher information, report card grades, parent information, history of reading difficulties, informal observations of the student’s abilities, response to scientifically based reading instruction, etc.
When a student does not attend the local school district, what procedures are followed for identification of dyslexia?
State statute related to dyslexia, TEC §38.003, indicates that the law pertains to students enrolled in public schools. However, when formal assessment is recommended, the school district or open enrollment charter school completes the evaluation process as outlined in §504 (unless under IDEA 2004). Under §504, upon receiving notice of a parent’s belief that a child has a disability, the school should follow §504 procedures. The school has no duty to provide services unless the student is enrolled in public school.