Dyslexia Laws

Michigan is one of twelve states that does not have legislation regarding dyslexia in place. Check out Brainspring’s latest blog written from one of our tutor’s perspective. Although everyone at Brainspring may have differing opinions, we strive to highlight the diversity within our company. What are your thoughts? Are you familiar with the law(s) in your state?

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What Michigan Can Learn from Other States with Dyslexia Laws

There are lots of things Michigan can learn from other states about the implementation of dyslexia laws. It’s fair to say that Michigan, along with several other states, doesn’t feel the need to provide adequate services to students who are affected by this specific learning disability. It’s safe to say that if you asked most people whether dyslexia should be addressed and recognized in schools, I believe most them would say yes. So why are there still some states that don’t have dyslexia laws? This is an issue that is perplexing and hard to answer. Well, first we must understand the US federal laws on this matter. Per the article, “How IDEA Protects You and Your Child” by Andrew M.I. Lee (understood.org), the two main purposes of the law are to protect the rights of children with disabilities and to give parents a voice in their child’s education.

On the surface, it looks as though IDEA is looking out for the best interest of parents and children, however, if you dig a little deeper the true picture emerges to the forefront. There are 13 disabilities that IDEA covers and to be eligible for services a child must be found to have at least one of those disabilities. Some of the disabilities include Autism, Emotional disturbance, Hearing Impairment, Health Impairments (most commonly ADHD and ADD), and Specific Learning Disabilities (including dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia, among others). The main problem is that although IDEA recognizes dyslexia as a specific learning disability, it does not set an agenda as to how individual states address students with dyslexia in their schools. Most states have noticed this and have enacted dyslexia laws that have accomplished what IDEA was set out to do. It seems rather feeble that the US federal government would not mandate a law that each state must adhere to in order to help students that are struggling to read. There is something fundamentally wrong with this situation. Isn’t that what a Free Appropriate Public Education is all about; looking out for each and every student especially those with disabilities?

So how does Michigan correct this issue? How does Michigan learn from other states that have dyslexia laws?

First we need to define dyslexia and how it affects children. This might be a simple idea but many teachers do not know exactly what encompasses dyslexia. If you asked me before I began working for Brainspring, I would probably have told you that it affects peoples’ ability to read. Furthermore, I would probably have said that students often see different letters on the page or they confuse letters, viewing them as reversals. This is true but not entirely true. I see myself as a passionate teacher and I view most of my colleagues in the same light, however, I don’t think many teachers have a good grasp on what dyslexia is and how it affects children. With this mind, I think it’s crucial for Dyslexia advocacy groups to come to schools and inform teachers of what the disability is. Like I said before, teachers are passionate people and when you inspire teachers to make a difference they will rise to the occasion. Moreover, I really think when teachers realize the severity and implications of dyslexia this could be the fuel that ignites the fire for Michigan lawmakers. Teachers need to lead the charge to affect real change. Until then, Michigan will be one of several states without Dyslexia laws.

Joe Trobaugh

Joe is a tutor at Brainspring Learning Center in Grosse Pointe.

4 Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing this, Stephanie. You are right on target; so many classroom teachers do not know or understand exactly what dyslexia can be or it’s many facets. Given the proper information on this multi-dimensional struggle then teachers could intervene, differentiate, and support students at early ages thus lessening later learning difficulties. The tools and strategies are available, more than ever before, to meet children with any part of this complex struggle. Michigan does need to get ahead on this one. Again, thank you for sharing and passing this on!

    • Stephanie Castillo

      Thank you for your response. We agree that dyslexia is finally getting the attention it deserves and support is available like never before. Hopefully, with legislation, teachers will gain the tools and training needed to reach this population of learners. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Dear ANYONE WHO CAN HELP MY CHILD….. I am at a dead end, and told there was no one left that could possibly help my child with his Dyslexia … He is in third grade and attends Columbia Primary in Columbia MS…. For three years I have begged for testing because of his inability to read or spell…. I was told over and over he must fail first. So this year I paid for private testing and took it Sped Director Ms Hood… She said his test DID fall under the criteria for an IEP ruling. School began test, and those test came back with the criteria for reading disability also! This last Wed. I went in to sign his IEP ruling…. They told me he could NOT HAVE a SLD ruling for Dyslexia, that MS state doesn’t recognize Federal Ed Act (I thought the Civil War and the Constitution said otherwise!?!?!?) …. That my child HAS TO HAVE AN ADHD ruling and they would get him help under that ruling… I was also told to start his ADHD MEDS, because that sometimes cures the Dyslexia in kids…. I am repeatedly told it doesn’t matter what his ruling is, none at all, they will help him with his reading under his ADHD ruling… I understand that… But if the ruling doesn’t matter AT ALL, as they state to me over and over…. Why not give this child his SLD ruling? I contacted MS Board of Ed this am and sent them all the paperwork from school and test, the Speech Path told me as far as she saw on testing, his ruling should be SLD not ADHD… He has no problems at school from ADHD, only reading problems! He scores a first grade reading level on his third grade Star test!!! Well, I called sped director and told her what MS Ed Board told me… She called them and told them that HER Committee decision was their opinions and there was nothing THEY COULD DO! So after that, MS Board emailed me that they couldn’t interfere or help my child… That NO ONE CAN SUPERSEDE Sped Directors ruling except MAYBE THE SUPER INTENDANT , who is the Sped directors BFF… They’re both even retiring together this year…. So please please please help my child, point me in ANY DIRECTION that I can go to help him get a fair and correct IEP school ruling… Because if the MS STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION can’t do anything NOW, even though they admittedly said prior to Ms Hood’s call that she was WRONG… Who CAN HELP?? All I am asking for is for my child to have an IEP ruling for SLD, reading disability, and I have a Fed Letter from Oct 2015 stating that under Fed Ed Act, Dyslexia IS LISTED UNDER SLD, doesn’t Fed Act supersede Any State interpretation? It does according to the Constitution??? Every child with Dyslexia reading disability at this school is under and ADHD RULING!! ADHD is a medically treatable disability… Where a reading disorder SLD is the responsibility of a school.. Even though the Sped Director actually told me in one of our meetings that ADHD MEDS can sometimes cause the Dyslexia to go away….. I’m not a highly educated woman, but if ADHD MEDS could fix Dyslexia, Dyslexia would be called ADHD…. And these kids deserve better than this from a public school system that “hides” there disabilities in documentation, and discriminates them into an unimportant group! Please help

    From a desperate mom, only wanting to help my child get an education he deserves… Elizabeth Berry Beasley
    PS…. His learning disability is his problem in school… He is being discriminated against because THAT would be a legal obligation from the school.. Where as an ADHD IS MEDICAL! I had one advocate tell me to take ADHD and be grateful they will throw some therapy in their for goals… It’s discriminating against his larger TRUE disability!!!!

    • Stephanie Castillo

      Elizabeth- We are so sorry to hear about your difficulties in finding the support your son needs. Our advice would be to find an advocate in your area. Different people can interpret laws differently. Advocates know the laws and are also on the side of the child. Wrights Law (http://wrightslaw.com/) is a great resource and should provide you with a starting point. Best of luck and we hope you find support.

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