Questions Every Parent of a Child with Dyslexia Should Be Asking the IEP Team
If your child has been diagnosed with Dyslexia and receives special education services through an IEP, there are several critical questions for the IEP team. Having a clear understanding of your child’s specially designed instruction is key for you to be able to meaningfully participate and advocate for your child.
Is my child receiving research-based reading instruction?
The IDEA requires that IEPs include special education based on peer-reviewed research to the extent practicable. There are certain research-based programs that are proven to be effective for students with Dyslexia when provided with fidelity. Parents should know which programs are being used and which programs were previously used so they can gauge whether the IEP is meeting their child’s needs.
How often is my child receiving the instruction?
Many IEPs do not specify the duration and frequency of specially designed instruction other than in generic terms. Parents should understand if a reading program is used daily, for how many minutes it is used, and in what setting so they can determine if a program is being implemented with fidelity, meaning according to the recommendations which were determined from the research. Likewise, parents should ask about the peer grouping in terms of size and levels of the other students.
What areas of reading are being addressed by the program and monitored by goals?
Parents should ensure that there is a match between their child’s reading deficits and the areas targeted by the reading program(s) used and the goals in the IEP. Students can and should have multiple reading goals to separately address each area of need. Also, as students with Dyslexia often struggle with spelling/encoding, the IEP should discuss how this skill will be taught and supported and an additional goal may be needed.
What are the certifications of the teacher who is providing the instruction?
It is important to ask whether the teacher providing reading instruction is appropriately certified and trained in the reading program. Different programs require different levels of training. Parents can (and should!) understand the level of training for the staff members involved in delivering this critical instruction.
What assistive technology (if appropriate) may be available to my child?
The IEP team should consider whether assistive technology is required to support the child. This may be in some or all settings depending on the individual circumstances. Parents should be involved in these decisions. If one type of assistive technology is not a fit for your child, do not hesitate to ask for other options to be trialed and explored.
How is my child functioning emotionally?
Students with Dyslexia too often experience emotional difficulties related to their learning struggles. The IEP team should be aware of any difficulties and should be prepared to address all of the child’s needs in his or her IEP. Likewise, Dyslexia, a language-based learning disability, can have far reaching impact beyond reading. The IDEA requires that a child’s needs be met in his or her program regardless of whether they are typically associated with the eligibility classification (which is typically Specific Learning Disability). (For more on whether IEP teams should be using the term Dyslexia versus Specific Learning Disability, click here.)
Have questions? We offer free initial consultations in our special education cases. If you have additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact the attorneys at McAndrews, Mehalick, Connolly, Hulse & Ryan, P.C. by calling any of our office numbers or by clicking here!