Emotional Disorder or Dyslexia?

Parents often don’t believe me when I tell them that most school psychologists have had no training in dyslexia. But I get emails like this every day: 

From a school psychologist in New York:

I would LOVE to attend your Screening for Dyslexia conference.

Our number one question during RTI meetings is if there is a possibility a child might have dyslexia. This topic is vague to me even after years of reading and doing independent research.

Yet as the “expert” at these meetings, I struggle with remediation techniques that may work after I screen a student and determine deficits.

Or from this school psychologist in Colorado:

I am a school psychologist in Colorado. I agree to your notion that we have no specialty in diagnosing dyslexia, however the prevalence of parents’ requests seems to grow and grow. Unfortunately, when parents cannot afford outside assistance, we are the only ones that are left.

I have been to several workshops, symposiums, etc, yet do not feel completely educated on the subject. Do you recommend any books or specific journals on the topic? How about books that may target age groups lower than 8 years old in looking at dyslexia?

That lack of knowledge causes this:

My son just finished second grade and is dyslexic. I am sure of it. His father is dyslexic, and his father’s father is dyslexic. He has almost every single warning sign listed on your website and in many of the books that I have read.

Yet when he qualified for special education services in May, they classified him as having an “Emotional Disorder” — even though his reading scores were really, really low. The school considers “average” anything from the 16th percentile to the 85th percentile, and his reading score was exactly at the 16th percentile.

The school psychologist told me that my son’s anxiety and depression were “off the charts” and that he CAN read — but his anxiety gets in the way and he becomes “too stressed out” to read.

When I tried to explain that he was most likely anxious and depressed because he CANNOT read, the psychologist just flippantly said, “So it’s one of those which came first things — the chicken or the egg.”

They never looked at his spelling (which is horrible, with all of the classic dyslexic spelling mistakes) or asked him to write anything (he HATES to write, even a few sentences).

His IEP only lists services for emotional issues (meet with the counselor once a week). What do I do? Just let him flounder?

He won’t be able to read the board or any of the books used in third grade. Do I just let him founder with no accommodations? That seems so cruel.

He already hates himself for being “stupid and different” — his words, not mine.

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