Far too often, NCLD hears similar stories from parents across the country that schools may be reluctant to use the terms dyslexia, dysgraphia, or dyscalculia in a child’s Individualized Educational Plan (IEP), instead opting for the umbrella term of specific learning disabilities.
While it is true that SLD is one of the 13 disability categories outlined in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), it is also true that dyslexia is also explicitly mentioned in this law. Additionally, dyslexia and dyscalculia are mentioned as specific subtypes of learning disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V).
Why it’s important to be specific
Currently, there are 2.4 million students who have specific learning disabilities and receive special education services provided by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 (IDEA). The most common types of specific learning disabilities are those that impact the areas of reading (dyslexia), math (dyscalculia), and written expression (dysgraphia). They may co-occur with other disorders of attention, language and behavior, but are distinct in how they impact learning.
Appropriately including dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia on a student’s IEP will help ensure that the instructional strategies, interventions, goals, and objectives outlined in the IEP match with the students’ specific needs.
That’s why NCLD believes it is appropriate to make specific mention of these subtypes of specific learning disabilities in an IEP.
As a first step in making this happen, NCLD – and over a dozen other organizations such as the National PTA – have formally asked the U.S. Department of Education to issue guidance to states and school districts to explain that it is acceptable to use ‘dyslexia’, ‘dysgraphia’, or ‘dyscalculia’ and to examine current policies to make sure that use of these terms is not discouraged. House Dyslexia Caucus Co-Chairs Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Julia Brownley (D-CA) are also sending a letter to the Department of Education to support this guidance. Call your representative to urge him/her to sign onto this congressional letter.
Our hope is that the Department will use this opportunity to clarify this issue for families and educators, so that students get the services and supports they need. We will be sure to share any response as soon as it is issued by the Department.
Share your experience
As the U.S. Department of Education prepares to respond to our letter, we hope you will share your experiences. Why do you think it’s important to use these specific terms in your child’s IEP? Let us know by tweeting @LD_Advocate.
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