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Running Out of Time to Teach Your Child to Read!

12/05/13
by Sue Whitney

My 11 year old 6th grader has always struggled with reading, phonics, spelling, and his handwriting is atrocious.  He is diagnosed with Auditory Processing Disorder. The most recent private evaluation discovered a major math delay.

His middle school says he didn’t need any support and wanted to deny him services.

We drafted an IEP with 3 well written goals, including Reading Comprehension.  The final IEP completely omitted the reading goal!

Last meeting – No PLOP. No goals. No services. Now they want to evaluate again.

We have no money for a tutor, advocate, or attorney.

  • Can I go to Due Process without one?
  • Will mediation be the better route?
  • How can I continue to advocate for him?

You Need an Attorney at Due Process

I do not suggest that you go to due process with a multi-million dollar school district without an attorney.

You do not know how to do that. You need an attorney to tell you if you have a case, and how to frame the case.

Running Out of Time

Since you are unable to hire an appropriately trained tutor, an advocate, or an attorney, you will need to provide what is needed through another route.

You can take the training and practicum necessary to teach reading. You can take the training necessary to become an advocate. Or, a combination of both.

Both of these options take time your son does not have.

Follow the evaluator’s recommendations for the beginning point for the reading instruction.

A specific program may not be appropriate for your child unless phonological awareness is already at a certain point.

If you plan to tutor your son, find out where and when training in your area in various approaches will be available.

For advocacy (and training), contact an advocacy organization in your state.

Direct Systematic Reading Instruction

You mention goals, but nothing about direct systematic reading instruction. At your son’s age he may very well need 2 hours a day or more of instruction to catch up.

Hopefully the evaluation has detailed recommendations on that. Hopefully the IEP you requested follows those recommendations. Hopefully all your requests have been in writing.

You brought a problem to the School District. The School District thinks that more testing is needed to gain information on solving the problem.

I would not stand in the way of that testing, since they seem to think it is necessary before they can move on.

Finding a Cost Effective Solution

Your son is on track to remain illiterate if the family follows the path you are on. If there is nothing you can do about that, then that is how it will be.

Do look again at your financial situation. If there is anything the family can do to get second jobs, or reduce vehicle or housing costs, then look into that sooner than later.

I hope you are able to find a solution you can afford.

In my opinion the most cost effective thing you can do now is to hire an experienced advocate to review your son’s file and make recommendations for next steps.

Or, depending on what the evaluation tells you, hire an appropriately trained tutor for 5-15 hours a week.

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5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Helpkidsread 12/31/13 at 7:12 am

    My daughter is having low listening comprehension skill problem. your blog is useful but i request you to kindly help me to overcome this problem in detail. i have applied almost all strategies that were in my mind..

  • 2 Wrightslaw 12/12/13 at 1:43 pm

    Lesley, Thanks for taking the time to write. It’s good to know that we’ve been able to help. Also good to hear that you were able to act as your child’s tutor.

    More parents need to tutor their children but many seem to think they can’t do it if they aren’t trained as educators. Who taught Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson to read and write? In several languages? No “trained educators” in the old days. ;-)

  • 3 Lesley 12/10/13 at 10:23 am

    I just wanted to leave a positive note.

    I looked at this website a lot back when my son was in K. Teacher wanted to retain him, we declined (thanks to my husband ) b/c his Dibels screening having low scores.

    Anyway — fast forward — he is reading on grade level in 3rd grade. I worked with him at home with two mail-order reading programs, I read Overcoming Dyslexia, etc.

    I have had a good partnership with my son’s school 90% of the time.

    Just wanted to say — I appreciate this website.

  • 4 Margaret 12/08/13 at 5:09 pm

    Sue, do you have any references for the lead comment “If the school hasn’t taught your child to read by 3rd grade . . .”. I would like to have references that I can use when making this point with families and schools.

  • 5 MORNING 12/06/13 at 2:46 pm

    Sue, you paint a realistic picture about what parents can do and I appreciate that. What is hard for some parents is that we didn’t realize we were entering an arena that would involve attorneys, lawyers, gatekeepers, etc. We (parents) always thought that education has a common goal–to educate the child. In some cases, we were wrong.

    Many cannot afford attorneys–especially the ones skilled in special education law.

    You will need to get intense remediation for him. Don’t wait. You have many options as Sue outlined. On your own, you can research assistive technology and work with the school. Also, I hope your child has outside school activities to help build self-esteem and confidence. Everything helps at this point.