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Dyslexia in Texas

When my daughter was first diagnosed with dyslexia, I was struck all at once with the enormity of the task that lay ahead – how would she learn to read? I even went through a period of grieving, which is actually very normal for parents when they first find out that their child has a disability. 
It may seem overwhelming at first to learn that your child has dyslexia. But despite the difficulty associated with dyslexia for both parents and kids, there is great hope and great news for you and your child, especially living in Texas. Thanks to a robust law passed more than 20 years ago in our state, dyslexic children are protected in Texas better than in any other state in the country. 
But parents must understand the laws in Texas in order to make sure their public school implements dyslexia services correctly. It’s up to you, Mom and Dad, to make sure that your child is receiving the dyslexia services he needs and deserves at school.
How can you come up to speed? Everything you need to know is right here in the Texas Education Agency’s The Dyslexia Handbook. But with 100 pages of information, you may find yourself with a lot of questions – I know that I did!
This is where a newly formed group, Decoding Dyslexia Texas (DD-TX), comes into play. Started just 9 months ago by myself and a few other Texas moms, DD-TX is part of a national parent-led movement (now in 38 states) that aims to inform and educate parents across the country about state-based dyslexia laws and help them make sure that their dyslexic children are getting appropriate services at school. After all, standing up for our kids with differences is one of the most important things we can do to help them learn and grow. DD-TX also points parents to local and national online resources such as the Texas PTI Network and the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD).
For Texas parents of dyslexic kids there are lots of other resources to turn to for hope and help. But in the meantime, here’s what’s most important to know about dyslexia under our state’s great dyslexia laws.
Can I ask for my child to be tested for dyslexia in kindergarten?
Yes, you can! According to The Dyslexia Handbook, children showing signs of dyslexia MUST be tested for dyslexia starting in kindergarten. Write down the signs you see and ask for full dyslexia testing in kindergarten – not just a screening.
Does my school have to provide a trained dyslexia teacher for my dyslexic child on their school campus?
Yes, they do! Read more about it in The Dyslexia Handbook, page 20.
Does my school have to accept my child’s outside dyslexia testing?
According to Texas law and federal IDEA law, schools must consider outside testing when evaluating a child for a specific learning disability, including dyslexia. Plus, in Texas, children with dyslexia are eligible for school-based dyslexia services. So bring in your child’s medical diagnosis as proof that your child is dyslexic and therefore eligible for services at school. Many parents prefer to avoid school-based testing to avoid a denial of services. Try starting with your pediatrician.
Can my child’s school-based dyslexia services be given on a computer?
According to The Dyslexia Handbook, no. School-based dyslexia services cannot be given on a computer. So if your child is not being given dyslexia services by an actual trained teacher, you need to speak up and ask for alternatives.
Published October 2013