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Special Education Requirements; Dyslexia Solved

April 1, 2010
By Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts

Question: After testing, the school eligibility team said my daughter is not eligible for special-education help. She is now in third grade and has had learning problems since first grade. What more can I do?

-- Still Has Problems

Answer: Both you and the school obviously agreed that your child had problems. However, for some reason, she is not eligible for special services. Hopefully, why this happened was explained to you. The school's hands are tied, as they have to follow very specific federal guidelines in providing special-education services.

At this point, you can go to the school district's director of special education and ask for an Independent Educational Evaluation. You have the right to this evaluation at public expense. And you must be provided with information about where an educational evaluation may be obtained as well as the agency criteria applicable for independent educational evaluations. To understand all this, you need to become familiar with the federal law on Independent Educational Evaluation.

Once you have the new evaluation, the eligibility team will meet again to see if your child meets the criteria for special-education services. Because the entire process is quite complex, you might want to talk to an advocate who can help you understand exactly what your rights are. You must understand that the new testing results may or may not lead to your child being eligible for special services. If your child is still found ineligible and you don't think the team is following federal guidelines, mediation is typically used to solve this conflict. In extreme cases, complaints may be filed with the state, or even lawsuits filed.

Instead of having your child re-evaluated, you might find it simpler to see if you and the school can work on a plan together to help your daughter. It could mean having a tutor, more remedial help or any other intervention.

Question: I am writing to tell you about how my daughter's dyslexia problem was finally resolved after several years. Her problem was a vision problem -- convergence insufficiency. Once she went through treatment (vision exercises), she was not frustrated any longer with reading problems. Now she is 16 and reads books like there is no tomorrow. I hope this helps others think about ways to deal with their children's reading problems.

-- Solved Problem

Answer: You are absolutely right that vision problems can contribute to problems in reading. Any child who is experiencing reading problems should have his or her vision checked by an eye-care professional. It is important to mention that the child is having reading problems, because routine eye exams don't usually detect vision problems that may be part of reading problems. Furthermore, people receiving the diagnosis of convergence insufficiency may have 20-20 vision.

Convergence insufficiency is an inability of the eyes to turn toward each other -- or sustain convergence -- making reading and other close work difficult. Studies vary greatly on the incidence of convergence insufficiency in children, from being rare in those younger than six to as high as one in eight for fifth- and sixth-graders.

Send questions and comments to Dear Teacher, in care of Mahoning Valley Parent, Box 395, Carmel, IN 46082-03295, or log on to www.dearteacher.com, or e-mail DearTeacher@DearTeacher.com.

 
 

 

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