Friday, September 23, 2011

Dyslexia: How long do you wait before you seek help?

It’s September! Your child is starting to struggle with reading. How long should you wait to get help? Should you wait until November, December, January? After all, his teacher needs a chance to help him. Will it pass if you just show patience and encourage him to do better?

Our Response
Usually, it won’t pass, so don’t wait. Make a formal request to the school to evaluate his reading and related needs and to provide whatever services he needs to become a successful reader. A good evaluation, supported by quality resources, should help your child and his teacher.

Our Reasoning
  • “More than 88 percent of children who have difficulty reading at the end of first grade display similar difficulties at the end of fourth grade” (Juel, 1988; in Leipzig, 2001).
  • “Longitudinal studies show that, of the youngsters who are identified as having reading problems in the third grade, approximately 74% remain reading disabled through the ninth grade. This appears to be true even when special education has been provided. It should be made clear, however, that interventions applied after a child has failed in reading for two or three years may not be effective for several reasons, including the student’s declining motivation and impaired self-concept” (Lyon, 1996, p. 66).
  • “Three-quarters of students who are poor readers in third grade will remain poor readers in high school” (Shaywitz et al., 1997; in Leipzig, 2001).
  • “Educators and researchers have long recognized the importance of mastering reading by the end of third grade. Students who fail to reach this critical milestone often falter in the later grades and drop out before earning a high school diploma. Now, researchers have confirmed this link…. Results of a longitudinal study of nearly 4,000 students find that those who don’t read proficiently by third grade are four times more likely to leave school without a diploma than proficient readers…. While these struggling readers account for about a third of the students, they represent more than three fifths of those who eventually drop out or fail to graduate on time” (Hernandez, 2011, p. 3).
More Information
Chapters 3 and 4 of Reading Disabilities: Beating the Odds ( will show you what to look for. They list the questions you need to ask the school to answer in its evaluation. If you don’t ask the right questions, you may not get the right answers.

Chapter 5 will show you how to evaluate the quality of the school’s evaluation and how to use it to help your child get a program that increases his chances of success.

Hernandez, D. J. (2011) Double Jeopardy: How third-grade reading skills and poverty influence high school graduation. The Annie E. Casey Foundation; Center for Demographic Analysis, University at Albany, State of New York; Foundation for Child Development,

Juel, C. (1988). Learning to read and write: A longitudinal study of fifty-four children from first through fourth grade. Journal of Educational Psychology, 80:437-447.

Leipzig, D. H. (2001). Top 10 things you should know about reading. NY: LDOline.

Lyon, G. R. (1996). Learning disabilities. Special Education for Students with Disabilities, 6 (1), 54-74, p. 66.

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