Over the last couple of years, terms like dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia have been used more frequently within our school settings. How comfortable are you discussing these terms with families and staff members? Let’s discuss my go-to tips that I have found most helpful. If you want to watch a replay of the live recording where I discuss this topic, please click here.
The Right Definition
When parents and teachers approach school psychs and suggest students be evaluated for dyslexia, dyscalculia, or dysgraphia, the first step is to clarify the definition used. Many people still think of dyslexia as difficulty with letter reversal. Some use the term dysgraphia and refer to sloppy writing while other times it is referring to difficulties getting thoughts onto paper. Here are some things to consider when discussing these terms with others.
- There are many definitions of dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia. Ask parents and teachers to be specific about how they are using the term.
- Ask for concrete examples of the student’s struggles to help determine the reason for referral.
- Understanding the reason for referral determines who needs to be added to the assessment plan and which assessment tools could be used during the evaluation.
Have you ever heard of the “Dear Colleague Letter”? The U.S. Department of Education created this document and discusses dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia and their relation to IEP documents and eligibility determinations. If you are interested in downloading this document, please click here.
Reading, Writing, and Math Success
Once our reason for referral is clear and we forward into the assessment process, school psychs need to know what goes into reading, writing, and math success. Are there specific skills students possess that are innate to their learning? Are there skills that need to be explicitly taught? Which processing areas contribute to a student’s ability to read, write, and solve mathematical problems? It is also essential to understand what your assessment tools measure and the assessment tools utilized by other IEP team members. Here are some questions to ask yourself.
- Which areas of reading, writing, and math do achievement batteries such as the WJ and WIAT measure?
- Which assessment tools measure more specific reading, writing, and math areas that your district owns?
- Are my tools looking at skills differently than broadband achievement tests?
The Power of a Summary
How can school psychs discuss dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia in their reports? Near the end of your report is where you discuss eligibility for special education, the definition of a specific learning disability, and the SLD identification model. Right before this is where I like to synthesize all of the findings from the comprehensive assessment and where it makes sense to me to talk about dyslexia or the other terms. How do I address these terms? Many states, regions/SELPA’s, and school districts have adopted specific definitions for dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia. For instance, in California, our State Department of Education created dyslexia guidelines, and I utilize that definition within my psychoeducational report. If you are unsure about your state’s guidelines, check with your local region/SELPA or state association. When all else fails, ask your special education director for guidance.
What are some standard definitions of dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia? Are there report-writing tips to make reports easy to understand yet detailed? What skills are needed for students to learn how to read, write, and solve math problems?
Guess what, school psychs? You’re in luck! Summer Boot Camp 2023 has a dedicated session to learn all things dyslexia, dysgraphia, and dyscalculia. Join me for this presentation this summer, or catch the replay! Click the button below to learn all about the sessions this summer.
Did you know we also accept purchase order forms from school districts? If your district is interested in paying for you and your colleagues to participate in Summer Boot Camp, click the button below!