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Imthatg1rl
Imthatg1rl asks:
Q:

Special education and other related services available for Dyslexia

I suspect my daughter may have dyslexia, her grades are suffering because of this. A lot of the signs and symptoms are there. I submitted a written request for an initial evaluation for special education services and I went to a meeting at the beginning of the month. They didn't deny my request or the fact that my daughter has problems. They simply wanted to wait and see if interventions will work. I have done some research and found out they can not use interventions to delay the evaluation process. Their argument is that special education will not offer her anymore than their interventions. I know better. I am soon to have another meeting because I once again put in a request for an evaluation. Anyway I want to go into this meeting prepared, so what kind of services and/or accommodations may benefit a child with dyslexia? All answers are appreciated.
In Topics: Special education
> 60 days ago

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EdEd
EdEd writes:
Hi there! It's great that you are looking out for the best interest of your daughter, and looking into all available services. What you are referring to relating to "waiting to see if interventions work" is a new way of providing services to kids called Response to Intervention (or RtI), which also has a "built in" evaluation component. Essentially, it involves providing additional services at increasing intensities until the right amount is reached, sort of like medication from a doctor - often times, doctors will start off with one dose, then increase or decrease the dose depending on how the person responds. RtI is similar - some kids do better with only a small amount of additional services, and don't have to miss as much of their general education curriculum. Some, on the other hand, need a lot more support, justifying the additional loss of class time.

Also, RtI is beneficial not only for individual kids, but for other kids and whole systems - more kids get served, and get served more efficiently and effectively - using RtI, as opposed to traditional special education service delivery models.

You mentioned the "delay of evaluation" - RtI is technically considered a form of evaluation, and is explicitly permitted in federal special education law. So, RtI isn't something that happens before evaluation, but is part of the evaluation process itself, which means that the school isn't using RtI to push back services, but is actually starting services earlier than expected by getting a head start through "Tier II" services (part of the RtI process). If your child doesn't respond well, then more services will be provided, and so on.

When you mention that intervention should not be used to delay intervention, you are right - the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) (US Department of Education) sent out a memo earlier this year clarifying that RtI may not be used to delay evaluation (I've attempted to attach the link to that memo as part of this post). However, there remains some confusion as to exactly what that means, considering RtI is actually part of the evaluation process, and explicitly permitted by the same regulations referred to in the OSEP memo. Still, the memo clarifies that once a parent consents to an evaluation, the district has 60 days to complete the evaluation, which many infer to be a complete psychoeducational evaluation - not just RtI. So, based on that memo, it seems that if you were to consent to an evaluation, the district would be forced to proceed with the full evaluation, or decline to do the evaluation and refer you to a due process hearing if you disagreed with that decision.

All of that being said, best practice for all involved seems to indicate working through the RtI process rather than trying to avoid it. Often times, the school you mentioned is right - kids can get services by the same exact teacher (sometimes even in the same intervention group) as if they had been identified with a disability, but avoid the label associated with special education, and additional lost class time. In other words, in many schools, services provided through RtI and special education aren't even just similar, but are actually the same services through the same curriculum provided by the same teacher (as if the child had been identified with a disability and provided special education). This is because RtI is actually a form of special education - not a way around it.

However, there are times when I've seen districts inappropriately try to use RtI services with a child, such as with a child suspected of having Autism, with no appropriate Tier II services available related to the child's specific behavioral & academic needs. In that case, it would not be likely that RtI would meet the child's needs, and a movement toward a full evaluation would make the most sense.

Another situation when RtI appears to not be a good choice is when a school does not provide any additional resources for the RtI process. For example, some schools use an RtI process, but expect classroom teachers to do all RtI interventions, with additional services with specialized curricula by specialized teachers available only for kids who have been formally identified with a disability. In that situation, I would definitely recommend using the OSEP memo mentioned above as further support for moving straight toward an evaluation, again provided that your daughter's needs were more substantial than a classroom teacher could address.

My overall advice is to consider the specific of your situation, and realize that more isn't always necessarily better. There may be an awesome RtI teacher with a great curriculum perfectly matched to your daughter's needs, all without having to be identified with a disability and miss additional class time. Or, the RtI process might not be appropriately resourced at your daughter's school, with the school using RtI either because it's required or in order to reduce special education enrollment. The bottom line is that there is no uniform way that RtI is being implemented in schools, and therefore no uniformly "right" answer about what you should do. Hopefully the information in this post is helpful as you consider your best course of action!

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O
O , Teacher writes:
Have you had a meeting with your daughter's school yet?  Research Response to Intervention and ask your daughter's school what tier in the RTI process.  Dyslexia falls under Specific Learning Disability.  I am a Special Education in Atlanta and have ten years experience in the public school system in Florida and Georgia.  You have a right to an evaluation by the school and do not need to pay for a private evaluation.  This is your parental right and your child's right to an appropriate education.  
Dyslexia is one of the most ignored disability in the school systems today, don't give up!!!!

Sincerely,
Jeannene O'Connell, M.Ed.
Education Specialist
> 60 days ago

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