My Child Was Just Diagnosed With Dyslexia…Now What?

My Child Was Just Diagnosed With Dyslexia…Now What?

From my perspective, every feedback session (i.e., the session where I share the results and diagnosis) is different.  Every child is different.  Every parent is different.  And what I say at every session is different.  It all depends on so many factors.  That said, I will say the majority of parents tend to feel as a sense of relief.  Parents are my main referral source and in most cases the parents know something is wrong with their child’s reading.  So once they find out their child has dyslexia, in my cases it is not a surprise, and can provide a way of describing (or accounting for) their child’s reading difficulties. That said, although there are some positive aspects of receiving a diagnosis (i.e., an identification or etiology of the child’s reading problem), there can be a sense of sadness as well.  No one wants their child to have a disability.  And a diagnosis of dyslexia signifies their child has a disability (i.e., in reading).  Moreover, it is also common for parents to blame themselves; WHY DID I NOT DO SOMETHING SOONER is something I frequently hear.  My response and approach to this is for the parents to not even go there.  The fact that the parent had their child evaluated and their problem identified shows that they are a good, loving, compassionate parent.  Plus dwelling on what someone could have done differently in the past is futile; you will not get anywhere.  It is important to take a strength-based approach, a positive attitude, and move forward.  After all your child needs you and your guidance from here.


So one thing that is important for a child with dyslexia is that they received specialized instruction.  This might be in the form of schoolwork (e.g., an Individualized Education Program [IEP]).  To me, one of the main benefits of an IEP for a child with dyslexia is the access to individualized, specialized, and targeted instruction.  Additional practice (i.e., keep reading) is great, but that in itself will not remediate reading problems.  Children with dyslexia need to be taught differently.  And some of the best people to do this are special education teachers. Alternatively there are numerous highly qualified dyslexia tutors in Scottsdale, Phoenix, Paradise Valley, Mesa, Tempe, Chandler, Peoria, each.  You can find dyslexia tutors throughout every populated part of Arizona.  When I refer to a dyslexia tutor I look for an professional that not only has experience but familiarity with a systematic program that is designed for children with dyslexia.  Some great approaches are Orton-Gillingham, Barton Reading & Spelling Program, Wilson Reading System, Lindamood-Bell, Read Naturally, and All About Reading.


Accommodations and modifications are ways of “leveling the playing field.”  Accommodations are when there is something added to help the student with dyslexia (e.g., extra time on tests due to slow/laborious reading).  Modifications are when you change the task to assist the student with dyslexia (e.g., shortened assignments, allowing the student to complete only the odd numbered items so we focus on quality over quantity).  Both accommodations and modification can greatly assist the dyslexic reader.  Of importance, teachers at the elementary level typically accommodate students more than the middle and high school levels.  That does not mean elementary teachers are better or nicer than middle or high school teachers; I am definitely not saying that.  Rather, it is a general philosophy thing; high school teachers generally look for students to begin developing more autonomy whereas elementary school teachers generally look at providing assistance to diminish the difficulty of a task.  I always think it is important to document student’s accommodations and modifications early on.  That is because when the dyslexic reader goes to apply for accommodations on various standardized tests (e.g., ACT, SAT, college exams, GRE, MCAT, Bar Exam, LSAT, etc.), the governing body will request to see the child’s history.  And it is much easier to obtain accommodations when the history is known and stated.  I also take this in account myself; if a freshman in high school never received extra time on tests in the past and always did fine on them, why would they need them now?  Likely that would not be due to dyslexia, but could be related to something else (e.g., emotional problems such as anxiety).


My goal of every evaluation that results in dyslexia is to provide the parents with a systematic roadmap of how to remediate their child’s difficulties.  Having the etiology identified is one thing, but knowing what to do is another.  Fortunately, I work in private practice and at a local public school district.  I can navigate both settings really well.  Please do not hesitate to reach out for some free advice (602.699.4543). I look forward to helping you and your child 😊 Dr. Andersen