“Dyslexia is Not a Learning Disability”

My granddaughter is in 2nd grade. She cannot read.

She was diagnosed with dyslexia by a psychologist and a special educational consultant. At present she is receiving 15 minutes a day with the Special Educator.

When we requested tutoring with the Special Educator, we were advised that dyslexia is not considered a learning disability.  What we should do next?

Although the special education law specifically lists “dyslexia” as a learning disability (20 U.S.C 1401 (30)), it’s a mistake to fight with school officials about labels.

You need answers to these questions:

  • Did the school find your granddaughter eligible for special education?
  • Does she have an IEP?
  • Is there a private school for kids with dyslexia in your area?
  • Are there tutors who are specially trained to teach dyslexic children in your area?

Your course of action depends, in part, on the answers to these questions.

Bottom line: Your granddaughter must be taught how to read by a teacher or tutor who has specialized training in Multi-Sensory Structured Language Instruction. (Fact sheets about dyslexia and multisensory instruction)

Your granddaughter will not learn to read by spending 15 minutes or 15 hours with a special educator who does not have the training necessary to teach kids with dyslexia to read. (see The Best Kept Secret in Special Education and No Offense, But It’s Alarming That So Many Children Are Not Learning to Read)

You and the child’s parents need to educate yourselves about dyslexia and how kids with dyslexia learn to read. Begin by reading articles in the Doing Your Homework series by Suzanne Whitney. Sue is an expert in dyslexia and other language learning disabilities.

Contact the International Dyslexia Association (IDA) for a list of schools and trained tutors in your community.

The Scottish Rite Learning Centers provide free tutoring for children with dyslexia, and training for tutors.
Learn more at  http://www.childrenslearningcenters.org/

Ensuring that a child with dyslexia receives the educational remediation needed to be a proficient reader isn’t easy.

Pete Wright was diagnosed with dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, and “minimal brain dysfunction” in 1954, when he was 8 years old. In the 1950’s, educators didn’t know about dyslexia or how to teach dyslexic kids to read, write and do math. (Three Generations at the U.S. Supreme Court). Sadly, with schools insisting that “dyslexia is not a learning disability,” this changed in most parts of the country.

More than 50 years ago, Pete’s parents educated themselves and made sure he received the remediation he needed to be a proficient reader. In those days, it was much harder to find information about dyslexia and appropriate remediation. If you educate yourself and are determined, your granddaughter can get the remediation she needs to be a proficient reader.

Don’t give up – the stakes are too high!

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28 Comments on "“Dyslexia is Not a Learning Disability”"

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11/22/2015 3:00 pm

The statement “Your granddaughter must be taught how to read by a teacher or tutor who has specialized training in Multi-Sensory Structured Language Instruction.” is not quite accurate. I was born in 1947 & couldn’t read until I was 15. So about 1962. The tutor who got me to read, Mrs Curry, is unlikely to have ever heard of ‘multi-sensory structured language’. What she had was endless patience plus experience with bright, underperforming kids. When you demand specific qualifications you make it seem impossible for parents who live in parts of the country/world where such teachers don’t exist.

09/03/2015 12:19 pm


My son attends an Oklahoma City public school. He is 7 yrs old and in 2ND grade. They recently rewrote his IEP because we changed districts. They want to have him in the Special ED class for 2 hrs a day to work on assignments he can’t finish in class. My husband and don’t feel like this is going to help address his difficulty with reading and math. So we did not sign the IEP. The principle said Oklahoma does not recognize dyslexia as a learning disability. WHY?!? The special and Reg ED teacher both said have little knowledge about dyslexia and NO training. What should we do? We know he is not going to get what he needs!

10/06/2015 8:32 pm

Look into Barton reading and spelling and tutor him yourself.

07/22/2015 4:17 am

How is dyslexia not a learning disability? It impairs their ability to learn because they cannot correctly interpret the information that they are reading; hence being a learning disability.

02/09/2015 6:17 am

thanks for sharing such an useful post. its really knowledgeable and useful for me.

01/21/2015 4:45 pm

I am a retired teacher of 37 years in Ky. I am walking in a mine–field right now. If there is a law on the books regarding dyslexia but the school/system says that dyslexia is not recognized as a learning disability, what should I as an educator say. I have been saying “dyslexia is not recognized as a learning disability” but the fact is, it is a law. Confusing!

03/22/2016 5:42 pm

Dyslexic is a LD to ADA
Some schools are so dumb
Don’t sign if they deny the help
Many kids who go to Se have dyslexia
My son was in Se under OHI he has dyslexia and ADHD he was in Se all his years of school

08/15/2015 1:05 pm

I was wondering if you could share an update about your grand daughter. I am also in KY and my daughter is 9 yrs old.

12/06/2013 6:26 am

My daughter loves books more than toys now that she is Home Educated. When she was in school she could hardly read. After just one year of Home School, she is reading big books. She got a letter from Prince William about her singing stories.

Children with memory problems must not be bullied to learn, they need time and compassion. When my daughter reads and gets stuck on a word, we write it down and she learns how to spell it. It does not matter if she forgets how to spell this word the next day, because that is part of her memory problem. The most important thing is that we are making progress!

I would love to know what dyslexic children think of my daughters singing stories. She is a great role model for children who hate reading.

Research Pat Dixon on You Tube about dyslexia maths. Interesting stuff!

11/26/2013 10:40 am

my son was diagnosed with double-deficiet dyslexia. we were told he fell into the 1% severe category. We took him to be tested by a psychologist who did an IEE. that evaluation changed our world. i educated myself and also hired an advocate to attend my IEP meetings. When we were not getting the appropriate education my son needed to learn we hired an atty. He was placed in a private school for a year. That school improved his self esteem and confidents. He also rec’d the Wilson Reading Program. We definitely closed the reading gap. Today he is in 10th grade at a catholic High School with NO IEP. He is getting A’s & B’s and is no different then his peers. In order to help your child YOU must educate yourself. I spent 6 mos going to school on Saturday’s to become an educational advocate. i travel to conferences. He is a success today!!!!

09/03/2015 12:53 pm

I would love to get info on the conferenced you have attend and your experience as an educational advocate!

08/03/2013 12:30 am

Do the school districts today (2013) have an obligation to give children with dyslexia special services. Or….does the law no longer require them to assist this child.

Dean T
06/10/2013 10:37 am

I am a 70+-year-old male that was never diagnosed with dyslexia or any other type of learning disability. In the late 40’s through the rest of my schooling I would suffer through humiliation and embracement of not being able to keep up with my school friends. It took me many years of “self teaching” to combat my dyslexia. Understanding my problem I did graduate college and was a successful businessman. It is sad that it has taken so many years to acknowledge the existence of dyslexia. Thankfully there have been studies and procedures for treatment and education.

04/04/2012 10:06 pm

At the end of the day, we parents have to find what works best for our kids, and an IEE isnthe best way to figure it out. Not all children are dyslesic and most schools do not have resources or staffing to truly individualize instruction. Parents must understand the law, get outside help if necessary and insure that the chid is getting remediation early enough so he or she is ahead of the game and not levels behind his or her peers.

Sharon L.
09/27/2010 11:56 am

Denise My son is dyslexic and he has learning disabilities. He was on an IEP and when we proved that the school was not teaching him to read and not providing FAPE they paid for an outside tutor from 9th grade to one year after he was supposed to graduate (he did a social graduation so he could still be considered a student). He saw the tutor 5 days a week for an hour a time. The program was alphabetic phonics the only thing that worked for him. He started as a non-reader and is now reading at 10th grade level. The school is obligated to pay for a free and appropriate public education and reading is appropriate. All the other students get it for free why not our children. thanks.

09/25/2010 1:04 pm

I actually think it is important that a child who is dyslexic is diagnosed correctly. Dylexia is a learning disability, but not all learning disabilities are dyslexia. A dyslexic child will not learn to read in tehs ame way as non-dyslexic children, as established in thsi article. However, schools that do not differentiate their methods will offer “more of the same” instruction that never worked in the first place. Sadly, mos tparents find that they will ahe to offer teh appropriate tutoring on their own, which can greatly depend on their own financial means.

09/21/2010 8:09 am

Good info about a learning disorder.

According to the DSM IV TR:

A Reading Disorder is also dyslexia.

A. Reading achievement, as measured by individually administered standardized tests of reading accuracy or comprehension, is substantially below that expected given the person’s chronological age, measured intelligence, and age-appropriate education.

B. The disturbance in Criterion A significantly interferes with academic achievement or activities of daily living that require reading skills.

C. If a sensory deficit is present, the reading difficulties are in excess of those usually associated with it.

Hope this helps

09/16/2010 11:04 pm

A friend of mine had a daughter who was diagnosed as Dyslexic in elementary school, who is now on the honour roll in high school. Her mom did the research and found her tutoring that was specifically tailored to Dyslexia, and it worked. All it takes is effort and persistence, and it can be overcome.

09/14/2010 10:35 pm

Linda: The local community colleges are usually very receptive to adults with learning disabilities. Contact the counseling center, they will test him for free and give him the accommodations he needs to succeed. Good luck to all of you.

09/14/2010 10:34 pm

To learn more about dyslexia from the comfort of your computer you can also take online courses in dyslexia and Orton-Gillingham at the Dyslexia Training Institute at http://www.dyslexiatraininginstitute.org.

09/10/2010 3:14 pm

I am reaching out to this community. Today I had to withdraw my son from a local technical school. I was told “what takes him 3 weeks to learn only takes the other students 1 week.” He is heartbroken. He was in the WELDING class,that is his passion to learn. Apparently he also was having great difficulties staying on task when left alone.
My son left high school 2 years ago because he was placed in a self-contained classroom for many years of his education, based on a psychological examination. What was diagnosed was CAPD (Central Audio Processing Disorder). He has since taking the GED exam and has passed 3 of the 5 areas. He needs to retake the Social Studies and Reading.
Does anyone have knowledge on where I should go with this matter. Every direction he tries to take to better himself leads him into a bigger brick wall.

08/13/2010 2:52 pm

You would be hard pressed to get a specific instructional program, such as Orton-Gillingham or Wilson, noted in the IEP, as it creates a problem if that student moves to a district without that resource. IEPs are based on the student’s needs, not specific programs.

Private tutoring would not be the financial responsibility of the school as it is private. If the tutoring was provided to a home schooled student to meet an IEP then the school district would be responsible due to their obligations to provide FAPE for children in their area.

Gina D.
08/11/2010 6:45 pm

If she receives private tutoring will the township reimburse her?

07/29/2010 12:49 pm

So, is it possible to get this written into a child’s IEP, to have a tutor in the Orton-Gillingham based program?

Sharon L.
07/27/2010 3:10 pm

My son is dyslexic. He went through the testing process and was easily found to have a learning disability. What I did wrong was to let him fail to prove that the school was not not teaching him to read.

When he was in 9th grade and reading on the 1st grade level, the school reluctantly hired an outside tutor 5 days per week. He finished the reading program last year. He was 20 and went from a non-reader to reading at the 10th grade level. The program used was Wilson Reading and Alphabetic Phonics. With this program and a trained tutor, he learned to read.

If the school had taught him to read in 2nd and 3rd grade, my son would not feel so negative. He feels like he missed out on a regular childhood because he always needed help and was in the school resource room where no one taught him to read.

07/27/2010 12:51 pm

This is a fairly common problem for parents, so this is an important resource for parents.

07/27/2010 7:28 am

The Freemasons, as a charitable outreach, provide free services to teach dyslexic kids to read. They use Orton-Gillingham. If we hadn’t gotten their assistance, our daughter wouldn’t have learned to read as the school she attended used ineffective techniques.