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Steven A. Greenburg, Education Law
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Is dyslexia under-identified at U.S. schools?

Sometimes, parents of special needs children encounter difficulties in their efforts to ensure their child’s particular education needs are being met. Among these can be challenges in getting their child’s school to acknowledge that their child has special needs.

A recent APM Reports article pointed to dyslexia being a condition that may be particularly under-identified at U.S. schools.

According to estimates from scientists, the rate of dyslexia among American kids falls somewhere between 5 percent and 12 percent. However, data points to the reported diagnosis rate for the entire disability class that includes dyslexia (specific learning disabilities) being only 4.5 percent among U.S. public school students.

The article also noted multiple incidents of parents encountering difficulties in getting their child’s school to acknowledge that their child had dyslexia. Additionally, the article noted that dyslexia screening is rare at schools.

What sorts of things might be contributing to the under-identification of dyslexia at U.S. schools? One possibility raised in the article was schools being reluctant to identify children as dyslexic due to the various requirements such an identification can trigger.

Why does it matter whether a school does properly identify a child’s special needs? Well, whether a child’s given special need is acknowledged by their school can impact what particular education services they have access to. Whether they get education services for their particular special needs can, in turn, affect some very fundamental things for a child. For example, for students with dyslexia, it could impact their development of reading and writing skills at school.

So, what a parent does when they encounter difficulties in getting a school to acknowledge special needs their child has could have major long-term impacts on their child’s education experience and life. So, when a parent encounters this challenging situation, they may want the assistance of a lawyer deeply knowledgeable in the rights and options parents have when navigating special education issues with schools.

Source: APM Reports, “Hard to Read - How American schools fail kids with dyslexia,” Emily Hanford, Sept. 11, 2017

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