With Public Schools Use The Words Learning Disability, Learning Disabilities & ADHD and NOT Dyslexia

This article from the West Palm Beach Examiner on Dyslexia, highlights a real problem with the words Dyslexia, Learning Disability, Learning Disabilities and ADHD.

The case is about Terry Dunn-Fischer, a committed and caring Naples mom, who had her child assessed by a psychologist, and the determination was her child had Dyslexia -- the school did not recognize the report -- arguing that Dyslexia was not a qualifying condition for Special Education -- and Terry went through what we call either Dyslexia Hell or Special Education Hell.

As a Parent, a Professional Educator and the President of the Learning Disabilities Association of Florida - we want to inform and empower parents to recognize that:

  • In Florida a Learning Disability and ADHD are qualifying conditions for an IEP or Individual Education Plan -- which is the plan that is developed once your child qualifies for Special Education -- at present, Texas is the only state we are aware of that allows a students to qualify for Special Education and an IEP with a diagnosis of Dyslexia
  • When you are getting a psychological testing -- make sure you work with professionals who know the system and can guide you accordingly.  Two examples:
    • Nick had Dyslexia -- and the psychologist tested the child for a Learning Disability -- found that Nick had the required discrepancy between his performance and his potential (i.e. the child needs to have a 15 point discrepancy between his performance and his potential to qualify for Special Education).  The district accepted the report -- the school psychologist did some extra work and all was well
    • Allison had ADHD, was getting passing grades, and the school told her that ADHD did not qualify a child for Special Education and an IEP - this used to be true, but since 1997, IDEA (the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act) was changed to allow ADHD to qualify a child for Special Education if it significantly impacted their education and they would benefit from Special Education Services -- under what is called OHI - or Other Health Impaired -- if the ADHD signficantly impacted the  child's academic performance and they would benefit from special education services --  unfortunately, neither the psychologist or the parents were aware of this.  Here is an excellent article on students qualifying for an IEP with ADHD even if they are passing.   
If you suspect a learning disability and/or ADHD and are asking for your child to be evaluated -- you want to be specific - "I want a child study team formed to evaluate my child for a Learning Disability and ADHD  You want to date the letter, get it to the school ASAP, and make sure they meet your state's requirement -- Federal law requires testing within 60 calendar days, but allows states to set their own requirements -- Florida gives schools 60 school days -- which can be much longer with summer holidays, weekends and school holidays.

This confusion with the word Dyslexia - is best solved by using the words Learning Disability and ADHD.

Mira Halpert (R) developed and directs the 3D Learner Program (R) for students with Dyslexia, a Learning Disability and ADHD -- and she uses the term right-brained learner to describe these kids -- because they learn best when they see and experience information.  Mark Halpert is both the Executive Director of the 3D Learner Foundation, a 501(c)(3) and President of the Learning Disabilities Association.  Click here for more information on 3D Learner and on the Learning Disabilities Association - FL or call me at 561-361-7495.