Attending an IEP or 504 plan meeting can be intimidating for parents. Walking into a crowded office with an intervention specialist, a classroom teacher, the school principal, the director of special education and a speech therapist compounds the overwhelming concern for the immediate situation. Does your child have a learning disability? What special actions must be taken? How will this positively or negatively affect your child’s attitude toward school or the future?
It’s important to understand that the goal of your child’s school is to provide your child a free and appropriate education (FAPE) that may include an IEP or 504 plan that offers accommodations and/or services. These services allow your child to learn in the most effective way and access the curriculum.
The problem, however, is that some state and local education agencies are reluctant to use the terms dyslexia, dyscalculia and dysgraphia, when those terms are applicable. If your student has trouble recognizing the letters of the alphabet, struggles to match letters to sounds, has difficulty learning new words and has trouble rhyming, these are signs that he/she may have dyslexia. When your learner is in the middle school and he/she struggles with reading and spelling, grasping a pencil or using proper grammar, this could be a sign of dysgraphia. Likewise, a young child who struggles with processing mathematical equations may be coping with dyscalculia.
Nevertheless, some schools will not place these terms on important documents. Perhaps, it’s over concern for labeling a child. Whatever the reason, it does a disservice to parents and children to avoid these terms. Identifying the problem is the start at finding a proper solution.
There is good news: Michael K. Yudin, Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services in the United States Department of Education, released a letter in October 2015 that should bring encouragement to parents and educators....