Cannot Teach My Child to Read? – No Way!

“Your child is reading 7 grade levels below his peers.”

How would you like to hear these words?

That is what we heard after years of working with the school on behalf of our son who has ADD/LD and dyslexia. He was going into 8th grade as a primer (first grade) reader. He could comprehend at grade level but could not read, write, or spell at grade level. He was good in math and all other subjects.

We learned late about his diagnosis of dyslexia.

His IQ was in the normal range, but he had a reading and writing disability. We had been working with the schools since he was in 2nd grade and we noticed that he had severe problems in reading and writing. These problems got worse as he continued in school but did not get the help he needed. This is what we did …

We Knew We Had to Do Something – Requesting Evaluations

We requested many reading and writing evaluations from the school. We also requested outside evaluations.

IDEA provides parents the right to request outside evaluations (paid by the school) if you disagree with the results of the school’s testing.

After the last test at the end of 7th grade, we were at our wits end. We began to work with our son to teach him to read. The school had a one on one reading tutor that could not help him. We knew we had to do something.

The last school evaluation showed that our son did not improve ½ year in a year. We asked the team for direction. They did not have any ideas for us.

A friend of mine suggested reading the book “Overcoming Dyslexia” by Sally Shaywitz. You will find it in most libraries or in the Advocate’s Bookstore. This opened our eyes.

We learned that all children with my son’s ability level can learn to read with the right scientifically based program.

Evaluation Results and Recommendations

We contacted the IDA (International Dyslexia Association) and requested a list of reading tutors in our area that have scientifically based reading backgrounds. We were lucky to find one close to us. We had this tutor complete an evaluation on our son. She recommended using the Wilson reading method and Alphabetic Phonics to help him.

The good news, she told us she could teach him to read!

The school is obligated to provide FAPE and teach all students to read and write. Since the school did not have anyone in the school system trained in Wilson Reading, they agreed to pay to have our son go to this tutor. They also provided transportation.

Our son excelled. He saw the tutor 5 days per week for one and one half periods per day. He met with her for the next 6 years participating in a “social graduation” with his classmates but continuing the reading and writing until 2 years after graduation. He finally graduated at age 20. Students (who do not graduate with a regular diploma) may continue education through the end of age 21 if the team believes your child needs it. (20 U.S.C. 1414(c)(5)(B))

Using Test Data to Get Results

The strategy we used to get what we needed for our son was the school’s own testing showing no progress. We believe that the school gave in because it was less expensive to pay for the tutor than to go to due process. We believe they would have lost at due process.

Yes, it would be nice to think the school did it for the right reasons and maybe they did… Either way, my son was reading at 10th grade level when done with the Alphabetic Phonics program and is reading higher now.

He is in college now and successful. He uses a reading assistance program on the computer called Read/Write Gold and that helps as well.

Do not let anyone tell you your child cannot be taught to read. He or she can learn to read with the right programs!

More information please contact me at


Sharon Lutz (Sharon L.) of Ohio is a parent of 3 sons with learning disabilities (ADHD and Dyslexia). Sharon is an advocate for her sons and has 25 years of experience working with school districts and the IEP process. She is a member of the Learning Disability Association.

Sharon is happy to share her information with parents so that others can benefit from her experiences in advocating for her children.

She started a parent advocate group that was successful in sharing ideas and strategies as well and providing information to parents and the community.

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1 Comment on "Cannot Teach My Child to Read? – No Way!"

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Catherine l
03/07/2013 10:40 am

Excellent job, contacting Dyslexia organization! I too faced SpEd directors in multiple districts that just repeated over and over “your child will never read, get used to it”. I trained myself in LMB, then in Orton – Gillingham and Finally Wilson. They worked! My child reads at 4 th grade level with 10 th grade comprehension after 4 years of intervention. He still is receiving intervention “appropriate interventions” And hopes to graduate with a modified standard diploma In 2 more years. Keep advocating people, and use your data Collection. Works every time. Cat