My Son has LD: How Can I Get the School to Teach Him to Read?

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My son has  learning disabilities and an IQ of 56. He will be in the 6th grade and is reading at a 1.6 level.  He should be reading at a 3rd grade level.  I’ve requested help and all the school will say is that he is making progress. How can I get the school to teach him to read?

You are on the right track, but you do not have enough information and I am not the person the ask.

First: You need to be sure that the IQ test used was an appropriate one.

Some rely more on verbal abilities than others and sometimes that makes a big difference in the score achieved. You need to rule out that the 56 is not a measurement of the learning disability, rather than cognitive ability. A language disability or an auditory processing problem may need to be ruled out.  Second

Second: The full scale IQ score is not helpful in the case of a learning disability. You need to have the subtest scores, and thorough recommendations.

Third: It is extremely helpful to have a private sector evaluator state findings, and make recommendations for educational programming.

How to Find a Good Evaluator

Your state branch of the International Dyslexia Association may be able to give you the names of good evaluators in your area.  Talk to someone on the board of the state branch.

There is a list of evaluators online, but all evaluators are NOT created equal.

Then call special education attorneys who represent parents, and advocates, in your state  and ask them for the names of good evaluators. You will find lists here: and here

Call the private special ed schools in your area that take students with learning disabilities and ask them for the names of good evaluators.

You will start to hear the same few names repeated. Choose from these. The best evaluator for the job may not be one that takes insurance.

Appropriate Reading Programs

The appropriate reading program for one student with a learning disabilities can be a poor choice for another student with learning disabilities. Ask the evaluator to name some appropriate programs. The evaluator is the best person to recommend programming and to comment on particular approaches that would not be appropriate for a particular child. The school is not required to use programs named by an evaluator, but if you hire a known expert, they would be foolish not to consider the expert’s recommendations for programming.

Understanding Your Child’s Test Scores

Also read this to be sure you understand the tests that have already been done .

The Legal Definition of Reading

Your son’s reading instruction so far may not have been complete. This is the legal definition of essential component of reading instruction:

The term ‘essential components of reading instruction’ means explicit and systematic instruction in-

(A) phonemic awareness;
(B) phonics;
(C) vocabulary development;
(D) reading fluency, including oral reading skills; and
(E) reading comprehension strategies.

It is also important to know if the IQ has dropped over time. This sometimes happens with inadequate instruction. The private sector evaluator should ask you for copies of all previous testing so that he/she can analyze and report on increases or decreases in skills over time.

  1. If your son has an IQ of 56 he is not learning disabled. He is mentally handicapped. (mentally retarded). To truly be learning disabled you must have an average IQ between 85-115 and some type of processing weakness.

  2. I would strongly urge you to challenge the IQ score by getting an outside evaluation. Many times a child will not respond to an evaluator due to lack of familiarity or testing exhaustion. In public school many diagnosticians are overloaded with cases and will not take the necessary time to use different assessments to ensure the scores are as accurate as possible. This score will influence expectations for your son for many years, though it should not define him or the services he is given. My granddaughter received a low score like this and she is being taught to read because we know her capabilities and know that she doesn’t perform for strangers. Keep up the fight in a reasonable manner.

  3. Look into the Edmark reading program. Is specially designed for low IQ and has been found extremely effective. The scope, sequence and progress monitoring are very easy to follow so you will be able to monitor with the school whether your child is making necessary progress. If progress is slower than predicted, be sure to have intensity increased. Reading is a life skill you do not want to give up on!

  4. If he really does have an IQ of 56, he does not have a learning disability as defined by IDEA. While a cognitive disability is a disability to learning, an “average to above average IQ” is part of the legal definition of Specific Learning Disability.
    Having a cognitive disability doesn’t mean he cannot learn to read. I am making progress in tutoring a kiddo who has an IQ in the 60s with a sequential, phonic based, directly-taught, multi-sensory approach.

  5. I agree with the above comments. Some items to remember that if you do not agree with the score or evaluation you may request an outside evaluation at the school’s expense. We did that when our son was diagnosed dyslexic and was reading at first grade level in 8th grade. When he was young the school told us his IQ was 75. He is 20 years old now and reading at 10th grade level with an IQ of 90. This means that the testing was testing his disability like stated above. We requested a non-verbal IQ test be done and my son’s IQ magically came up. This is not possible. This means he never had the lower IQ to begin with. We went to international dyslexic assoc. for a list of tutors & found one that taught our son to read. The school paid for all of the tutoring.

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