Dyslexia: Oh, No You Didn’t…

Dyslexia - Oh No You Didnt 500aDownload the PDF version of this article here.

Go ahead, say this with a finger wag and a head bob and then fantasize about doing that during an IEP meeting. It’ll be fun. Ok, so I had a little fun with the title when thinking about all of the crazy things I have heard in IEPs lately and I wanted to make you smile and relieve some IEP stress; I could spend all my time lambasting people, but I thought it would be more productive if I used the comments as a springboard to describe what the underlying problem is when you hear these types of comments and how they help you advocate for a child with dyslexia (how is that for a run-on sentence I couldn’t figure out how to fix – Oh, no I didn’t).

Heard in a middle school IEP meeting for a child with dyslexia:

Local Educational Area (LEA) representative: “Well, kids with dyslexia really can’t learn to read after elementary school anyway.”

Oh, no you didn’t.

As a former adult literacy professional for over twelve years, this one made my skin crawl. This statement reveals a lack of dyslexia awareness and knowledge. It also reveals a bit of a hostile IEP team who isn’t buying the whole ‘dyslexia thing.’ This is very common at the middle and high school level. This is your opportunity to educate the team. You can remind them that much of the brain research using fMRI technology actually used adults as their subjects and they did show a remarkable brain change as well as improvement in reading. This is also your opportunity to educate them about brain plasticity and the remarkable way the brain can change with the appropriate instruction – at any age. You can remind them that people with strokes recover with physical therapy all the time. Finally, you can guilt them by reminding them that millions of adults in literacy programs all over the world would be disappointed to hear a school tell a parent that their child doesn’t stand a chance to learn to read. I wonder if you will be able to hear a pin drop when that conversation is over…

Heard in a sixth grade IEP meeting at an elementary school:

Resource teacher responding to my question about whether or not she was trained in the LiPS program she was offering to use: “No, I am not trained, but my next door neighbor is.” Oh, no you didn’t.

You know, I am not sure if this needs an explanation, but I will give one anyway. This comment reveals to you that the resource teacher is unaware that she does have to have some training to implement a program like LiPS, just ask the good people at Lindamood-Bell. This was even more egregious though since the principal leaned forward and said to the teacher in question, “But YOU are trained in LiPS, right?” and the teacher leaned in right back to her and said, “No, I am not.” So, I took the opportunity to ask her again, for the record, are you trained and she maintained that she was not. This reveals to you that the principal and IEP team was trying to pull a fast one on us (the teacher was being honest and professional; the principal, not so much). So, this would be your opportunity to continue the line of questioning about which program they are using and who will implement it. As an aside, this teacher went on to tell me she didn’t want to end up in one of my articles, but it was too late – she was already infamous in my mind and on my keyboard. If that teacher is reading this, my apologies, it was too good of a learning opportunity to pass up, but I do appreciate your integrity.

Heard about a third grader with dyslexia during a conversation with a parent of a child who had just been identified with dyslexia:

Resource teacher: “Well, he can’t have dyslexia because he knows some sight words and kids with dyslexia don’t know their sight words.”

Oh, no you didn’t.

Wait, what? What exactly does that mean? Because he knows some sight words he does not have dyslexia? Let’s be really clear, this is ridiculous. This reveals to you, once again, a lack of awareness about dyslexia. This is particularly disturbing to me because this teacher has actually taken our courses and she was speaking to a parent of a child that I had just assessed. Luckily, the parent is savvy and knew this was rubbish. However, if this were to happen in an IEP meeting, this would be your opportunity to educate the team about dyslexia. Perhaps share this short 4-minute video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zafiGBrFkRM or bring a copy of this article: http://www.dyslexiatraininginstitute.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/All-About-Dyslexia.pdf. The next step is to request an IEE.

Heard in IEP meeting at the end of second grade:

Uttered by the reading specialist: “ I don’t want to write a spelling a goal because spelling is just too hard for him.”

Oh, no you didn’t.

Isn’t the fact the spelling is too hard for him the very reason we need to have a goal for him? What this tells you is that the IEP team is teetering dangerously close to lowering the bar for this child. It may also be telling you that the team does not know how to teach spelling to this child and therefore is avoiding it. This is your opportunity to remind the team that the needs drive the goals and the goals drive the services. Therefore, the need for spelling instruction dictates the spelling goal. Sheesh!

So, there you have it. The most absurd things I have heard in the last six weeks, yep just six weeks. Trust me there were many more that we just couldn’t remember. I hope it made you smile, but more importantly, I hope it helped you with your own IEP experiences. So, next time you hear something nonsensical, what are you going to fantasize about doing? Oh, no you didn’t…

26 thoughts on “Dyslexia: Oh, No You Didn’t…

  1. cali nichols

    My son’s first grade IEP meeting in response to me asking that one of his goals be that he is at grade level in reading by the end of third grade.

    “That would be cruel!” says the school psychologist

    Reply
    1. Princess

      The teacher is correct. It is cruel and unrealistic. That would be like saying you can be an astronaut in 1 year instead of 8.

      Reply
  2. Jennifer Nagel

    I was told at my daughter’s IEP meeting that if she were put in special education she may have lower expectations for herself and her general education teacher may have lower expectations for her. How insulting, when all my daughter wants is to be able to read.

    Reply
  3. Irene Tackett

    The third grade teacher stated during the IEP meeting that students who know how to spell is because their parents read to their kids since birth. Those parents who read to their kids, sometimes, they don’t spell as well, and parents that didn’t read at all to their kids, those students can’t spell.

    Reply
    1. Liz Higgs

      That is such rubbish! I read to my boys since the day they were conceived and both of them are having trouble with Dyslexia.
      Oh, and I can’t spell to save my life.

      Reply
  4. Sandy

    EXCELLENT article! I’ve run into so many similar situations right down to my own son’s where one of our administrators told us our son would “probably never read well.” When I said he wants to go to college, the admin said, “HE is NOT College material! You just need to lower your expectations.” He was in 4th grade. She was WRONG. We homeschooled to overcome dyslexia and did what the school seemed incapable of doing. My son subsequently went to a large state University and earned his B.S. degree Magna Cum Laude! We have GOT to end the ignorance about our Learning Abled Kids!!

    Reply
  5. Debbie McDonald

    My dyslexic daughter is 14 years old. When she was in year 3, her teacher said to me, ” You might have to face the fact that she may never learn to read”
    When she was in year 6, I called a meeting with the principal and the classroom teacher in October. Her homework hadn’t been marked all year. I know this because I did her homework every week! I signed it “by Mum” I also wrote, “Please adjust Alyssia’s homework as discussed in week 1, Term 1.” When the principal challenged the teacher for neglecting my daughter’s needs all year, her response was, ” Sorry, I just forget that she’s dyslexic because she’s so bright”

    Reply
  6. Joan Risher

    Letter from my 1st grade teacher hanging on my law office wall: “Most of Joan’s trouble seems to be great immaturity which shows up in reading, in complete inability to concentrate on a written page, or learn vocabulary”.

    Reply
  7. Leticia Villarreal

    The school Physiologist at my son’s IEP meeting told us ” Your son is getting more time of services than other children with same disabilities ” When we were trying to add more minutes of services because he was not making improvement. Like …you should be happy with what you are getting .
    I couldn’t believe she actually said that .

    Reply
    1. Princess

      Parent,
      If you did your job at home, your child wouldn’t need so much extra time at school. Why don’t YOU get trained in interventions and do them with your child. Our public school system isn’t designed to parent children.

      Reply
  8. Shawna Geber

    I have a question. When you are told that the teacher doesn’t have training in a particular OG program such as Lindamood-Bell that they state they will use, what is the next step? Do you find they just use it as they see fit? Are they then obligated to get training?

    Reply
  9. Amy

    I was told by our insurance company that chose to start denying my child needed services that they were doing so was because “he had reached his max potential”……at 6 years old. Bunch of penny pinching bums who know nothing about children with dyslexia!!

    Reply
  10. Suzanne Arena

    3 years with a ‘Reading Specialist’ in small group and after coming out of an IEP meeting I demanded my child moved to another school in our district at one of the IEP meetings. The Reading Specialist walked over to me in the hall after the meeting and said: “I know how you feel, I have a 17 year old son with Dysgraphia and he has a touch of reading difficulties, but he’s got lots of technology to help him and your son is a sweet and nice boy…..he will get there.” I told her to leave and walk away from me now and NEVER talk to me again. The harm she is causing to children is mind boggling. I put in complaints against her and never was acknowledged…..kinda like what they did to my son!

    Reply
    1. Princess

      You are an unbelievably, ungrateful parent. Teachers can’t help that your child has a learning disability. Teachers do the best they can every day to help children. Unfortunately teachers are paid only a fraction of the pay that childcare workers receive and they are expected to work miracles with a child. Parents: If your child can’t read, YOU need to do something about it. Get your own training and work with your child at home. Lower your expectations. Some people are just NEVER good readers, just like some people are never good at anything athletic or the same as some people can’t sing. Get used to it. Don’t blame others for your child’s disability.

      Reply
  11. Erin

    Our favorite was when we asked the special Ed teacher if she was trained in Wilson. Her response “No, but I have the manual and can follow it!” I’m pretty sure the creators of Wilson disagree!!! We have since switched schools and have a Wilson certified teacher.

    Reply
  12. Senja Ruuska

    My sons special ed teacher said, ” maybe he will outgrow it “. She said she had seen one student do that. One out of how many? Seriously?

    Reply
  13. Jill

    I was told at mt child’s school that kids with dyslexia ” just need to learn to cope!”… No intervention needed…just better coping skills!

    Reply
  14. Christine

    I was told by my son’s 1st grade teacher that all we can hope for is that he will turn out to be a functioning member of society! Really? That’s the best she could say? If only she knew how to teach reading as well as be hurtful!

    Reply
  15. BelleAndNani

    I was told by my daughter’s resource teacher that ESY was only for mentally retarded children. I guess she outgrow her mental retardation THAT YEAR ONLY! She had been in ESY every year before her comment!?!

    Reply
  16. Pingback: On again, Off again... Our journey with Dyslexia

  17. Amy Butler

    At my 9th Grade IEP meeting, my school psychiatrist said many incorrect things but the one thins that really stayed with me was when she told me that “You can’t take AP English 11, there is too much readying, it will be TOO HARD. You definitely need to take regular English 11.” When she said this i knew i could easily prove her wrong because she was just incorrect. Now I am a rising senior in high school and in AP English I earned a high A, and it wasn’t that hard to do.

    Reply
  18. Rosemarie

    My son is now 22. When he was 3, he had speech therapy and we were warned that this is a red flag for reading issues later. He went from the 7th to the 85th percentile after 9 months of speech therapy. Obviously the quality of the intervention matters. He did go on to have reading issues. His father and two sisters are also Dyslexic. My problem was trying to convince the school he needed services. He would enter Title I reading every Fall and then get exited every Spring. I was told that he did not qualify for special education because his basic skills were good, if given enough time. And, they said, Dyslexia is not a diagnoses, just a term that tells them nothing. So we went to Children’s Hospital and got a diagnoses of Dyslexia and my son qualified for a 504 plan. We insisted on testing for special education. His receptive vocabulary was quite high, around 130 but his processing speed was about 89. Your son is perfectly average the school said, because the scores averaged to average, yet not one score was average! So, we pursued reading therapy through Children’s hospital. Fortunately, his elementary school gave him special education services even though he did not have an IEP. But after that, he got nothing. By high school he was on the road to failure and the school tried to steer him into the vocational program two years before he was even old enough to attend. We explained that our goal was that he attend the university. They told us we were unrealistic. He would start each semester with high hopes and goals. After 3 weeks he would fall behind and quit going to class. In 9th grade his reading comprehension was college level but fluency was 3rd grade. The vice principal actually told me that they had many students with that same profile who were straight A students. Right! Several teachers said that they did not believe he had Dyslexia, he simply was “not engaged”. So, he became the label. He would rather be seen as a student who could but didn’t want to, rather than a student who wanted to succeed, but couldn’t. My son was very successful in equestrian activities and the school told us we should take take him out of the one thing that he was successful at, as a motivator to do better in school. Go to Hell we told them. After a friend committed suicide on report card day, we told our son that we cared about him and that his grades did not define him. Finally, in 10th grade, he was identified as twice exceptional, that is, gifted with a learning disability. Each condition often masks the other, but with a little effort, a student can be identified and given the proper services. He moved to a GT center program. It literally save him from putting a bullet through his head and I will be forever grateful to the director and her staff. He learned about himself as a 2E learner and made some close friends. I would like to say that he brought his grades up and graduated but that was not the case. It was too late for that. He quit school but did go on to college, where he was allowed to write his own accommodations and makes A’s and B’s. The accommodations that were refused him because he wasn’t on an IEP were standard in college. I found out later that a student with his IQ should have been put on an IEP because his performance was so much lower than his ability. But, with RTI, the school was able to avoid that, although I don’t understand why they fought it so. So, if your child is on an IEP, know your rights and be grateful that you have clout. If your child doesn’t qualify, pursue a 504 and if they have a high IQ, fight for appropriate service. It should not have taken until 10th grade to identify my son as a twice exceptional student. The fact that he was a minority certainly played a part in how they viewed him, so parents of color, be vigilant.

    Reply

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