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IN THIS ISSUE: FIGHTING FOR APPROPRIATE
Dear Pete and Pam:
First, I want to thank you for your
informative web sight. It is a big
help to parents who are trying to deal with special education
departments that often do not adequately address the needs of these
My son began special education during
his second grade year. He is now
in fifth grade. When he entered special education, his
was 1.3. After 30 months of special education, his reading level
2.3. He is falling further behind, not closing the
I have done a great deal of research
about the components an appropriate
reading program for learning disabled children. I requested
school use a program that is structured, systematic, sequential,
repetitive and phonologically based. The school insists
strengths are “reading in context” and “employing a variety of different
strategies to decode words,” i.e. picture cues, context cues etc.
2.5 years, they have focused on this. Despite this, the test scores
that Paul is falling further behind.
Our special education supervisor
attended the last IEP meeting because I
refused to sign the IEP. She said that our school district
purchased the Wilson Reading System for all resource classes
district. Wilson is a great system – it’s based on Orton-Gillingham
principles of remediating dyslexic children.
I was very encouraged by this - until
I saw that the resource room
teacher knew very little about the Wilson program and was convinced
my son still needed reinforcement in “alternate reading strategies.”
Although the IEP says Paul will receive
45 minutes of “pull out
instruction,” his teacher will only use the Wilson Reading System
a week. On the other three days, she will put him in a reading group
where she teaches “alternate reading strategies.” When I asked
Paul receive Wilson Reading System instruction five days a week,
principal said they were “trying to meet me half way.” She said
“not entitled to dictate the method they chose to use to remediate
I requested additional time
to review the IEP and did not sign it. We
agreed to meet at the end of October. Should I sign the IEP and
grateful for two days of Wilson? I am tired of fighting with
feel like giving up but my son is too important.
You’re right – your son is too important.
You can’t give up. From your
description, it does sound like your son has dyslexia. After 2.5
of special education, he made 1.0 year of progress in reading. The
that he made so little progress is evidence that the method being
with him is not working.
Unfortunately, school culture
prevents school staff from realizing that
sometimes, parents really do know what their children need. To get
son the kind of help he needs, you need to have an independent expert
who can say that your son needs a program that is “structured,
systematic, sequential, repetitive and phonologically based.” Most
schools give outside experts some credit for knowing what children
To find an expert who understands
the educational needs of dyslexic
children, contact the International Dyslexia Association
The International Dyslexia Association
has an excellent web site.
IDEA-97 places schools under increased
pressure to use educational
programs that work, i.e., that have a track record of success.
works” for dyslexic children are reading programs that are based
“If the only tool you have is
a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”
Unfortunately, your experience with
the resistant teacher is not
unusual. If your son’s teacher was trained in “whole language,”
not know how to do anything else. It’s better that you know this.
We are building a Special Education
Advocate’s Bookstore on our web
site. We asked other attorneys, advocates and experts to recommend
for the Bookstore. Here are some books that have been recommended:
“Educational Care” by Mel Levine.
Recommended by everyone!
“Dyslexia: Theory & Practice
of Remedial Instruction” by Diana Brewster
Clark and Johanna Kellogg Uhry
“The Dyslexic Scholar” by
You can find these and other good
books in the “Learn About Education”
section of our bookstore
It’s strange that school districts
so often resist using
Orton-Gillingham programs – staff in an Ohio district even referred
to O-G as a
“cult.” O-G programs are not new.
Did you know that Pete has dyslexia?
In second and third grade, he had
Orton-Gillingham remediation. Every day after school, he had one-on-one
tutoring by Diana Hanbury King who later started the Kildonan
School in New York. He had tutoring two years. He also attended
a summer residential program. This was in the early 1950s – more
BTW: we have added the new Second
Circuit decision in Bartlett v. New
York Law Examiners to the Law Library. The Bartlett case
reasonable accommodations for a dyslexic person who took the bar
The decision was issued on September 14, 1998.
And to get up-to-date information
about changes to the web site, check out "What's New?" -
this is where you'll find announcements about new uploads, new cases,
and so forth.
Dear Pete and Pam:
Thanks for your advice. I spent time
today contacting organizations that
could recommend evaluators who understand the needs of dyslexic
Paul was screened at a school in
Seattle that uses the Slingerland
Method of Instruction. Slingerland is one of the organizations
that I called
about recommendations for an independent evaluation.
I also called every resource teacher
in our district to find out what
methods they use to teach dyslexic children. It seems that
most of them
are using different programs. It is up to the teacher to decide
what method to use or whether to use any
curriculum at all.
I had some success. One school
uses Slingerland for their resource
students. Another school uses the Wilson Reading System. Perhaps
move my son to another school if I cannot resolve the IEP issue.
I have done a great deal of reading
from your web site and plan to order
your advocacy package.
I am trying to maintain a good
paper trail. I made a chart of my son’s
progress based on the test results on the Woodcock-Johnson
Psycho-Educational Battery-Revised for the past three years. I have
copies of all paper work sent to the school by me and received from
I hope we will be able to resolve
our differences, but I want to be
prepared if we cannot. I want to thank you for your quick reply