Term “Dyslexia” Not Used In Schools Per Federal Guideline Adopted by Florida
Nov 05, 2013
Panama City- Dyslexia makes it very difficult for children to read, write, and spell. According to the National Institutes of Health, it’s the most common learning disability in our country, so it might surprise you to learn that Florida Public Schools don’t use the term at all.
Just a few months ago 8-year-old Jakob Nelson couldn’t identify letters or numbers. “His problem was so huge he could not take pictures and keep them in his head of letters and numbers,” said Paula Nelson, Jakob’s mom. Now he’s reading. But the journey to get here hasn’t been easy.
“After his Pre-K experience 13 people were ready to put him on a different track rather than regular ed. We stopped it and said not yet, we have much more to offer him and research before that happens. We found someone to test him and identify his major problem being dyslexia with a normal IQ,” said Paula.
The Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the handbook that healthcare professionals use to diagnose patients, dropped the term dyslexia when they published a revised edition in May. Now it includes the same title school districts use, “Specific Learning Disorder with Reading Impairment.” Dyslexia is noted as an alternative term, but does not have it’s own heading. “We never use that word in the school system,” said Bay District School Psychologist Dr. Mimi Bozarth. “Dyslexia is a medical term, a medical diagnosis. In the school system we use educational categories. The child has the same problem, we call it something different,” she explained.
The state says the terms are interchangeable. The Nelson family disagrees. Failing to recognize or regard a dyslexia diagnosis has dire consequences for the child’s future. “Specific testing and intervention therefore is not complete and not individualized at times for those students,” said Paula. “C’s are the goal standard. If the child is making at least C’s then the teacher, and we have excellent teachers in the district, we’d most likely accommodate that child’s needs but that child would not qualify for an individualized education plan,” said Dr. Bozarth.
The Nelson’s would like to see the district use different curriculum to address a dyslexia diagnosis specifically and are trying to rally other parents for change. “It’s just like the parents of kids with autism. That is how they made a breakthrough and had a difference made for specialized intervention for their children,” said Paula.
In the meantime, they’ve hired a retired teacher to teach Jakob at home. They hope to one day return him to a normal classroom.
If you think your child might be dyslexic there are many resources on the web to help identify symptoms and how to address them, we’ve created a list for you.
And if you think your child might have a learning disability, you can request they be evaluated by the district. After they complete the response to intervention process, if the child is eligible, an individual educational plan will be developed.