Finding Help for my Child

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How do I know my child might need help? View signs of dyslexia by age.

To learn more about expectations and signs of dyslexia, visit these links: 


Reading Rockets link for additional information on literacy milestones and red flags. 

Link to IDA Just the Facts for identification.

How do I decide what kind of provider I need for my child to help in reading and spelling?

To better understand the type of instruction almost all children need to read and spell well, it’s important to understand the new expectations of the classroom teacher and special education teacher.  


NMPED Dyslexia Handbook (2020) provides information on classroom instruction, small group instruction, and Special Education instruction.

Ladder of Reading & Writing Revised Nov 16.png

As the Ladder of Reading & Writing graphic above shows, a good, comprehensive reading program will be effective with 40-45% of children, but even these students will benefit from Structured Literacy (SL) in making them stronger readers and stronger spellers at an earlier age. 

40-50% of children: If your child has not received any instruction in phonics that is structured and sequential, then you may want to start looking for services from a qualified regular education teacher with SL training within the school system. 

10-15% of children: Students who have received a SL education, including small group instruction, but who still have not progressed or who seem “intervention resistant” will usually be referred for an educational evaluation. Some children may need more intensive, multisensory instruction because they are neurologically dyslexic. Their needs may require the training of a dyslexia therapist.

In School:

Not all students with dyslexia will qualify for special education services under SLD-Dyslexia. Students must score at or below the 6th percentile in reading and/or spelling skills and demonstrate a need for specially designed instruction to qualify as a child with a disability. Some students will qualify for accommodations and small group instruction in school. 

Outside School:

Parents can seek outside support for students falling behind grade level with reading and spelling skills.

What training credentials should educational professionals have in specific instructional approaches designed for students with dyslexia?

  • Tier I CLASSROOM TEACHER should have certification by a training course aligned with IDA’s Knowledge and Practice Standards, including but not limited to IDA certification. Because in-class instruction is often not supervised, the provider must demonstrate experience. 
  • Tier II Certification by an accredited multisensory language training institute and/or by ALTA, AOGPE, Wilson, etc. at the Teaching or Practitioner Level. 
  • Tier III Certification by above agencies but training is more extensive and intensive.  These are providers certified at the Therapy Level to work with the most severe.

ALL SWIDA Providers RECOMMENDED TO A PARENT will have provided the following: 

    • Documentation of levels of training completed within the training course. 
    • Clinical supervision requirements 
    • Year and location of the training course and contact information for references from the director, institute, academy, or clinic. 
  • Involvement in on-going, related professional development. 
  • Documentation of the severity of students.
  • References from parents/administrators.

Please note that most therapists have a waiting list for about 6 months to a year.

How do I know if a professional is reputable and qualified?

  • Request references from professionals, parents, and former students, if appropriate.

How do I know if a particular professional is a good match for my child?

  • References from other parents, with similar children, often help clarify this concern.
  • Professionals may vary in their expertise by age level; some prefer to work with older students only, others prefer young primary level students. Some are trained to work with students with multiple challenges (i.e., ADHD, autism); others with just dyslexia.

How long will my child need specialized instruction?

  • It depends on how frequently services are provided. With students who are moderately to severely dyslexic (who have qualified under IDEA), individualized services should be provided 4-5 times per week, with three as a minimum. Sessions should be between 45-75 minutes. The goal of any instruction is that students’ reading and spelling skills close the gap between their skills and their cognitive/language level. This could take two to three years, but can vary considerably depending on the severity of the dyslexia, the student’s age, scheduling, and the existence of other challenges. 
  • There are no quick fixes. Instruction in any area that is not a talent for an individual is always hard work. This is especially true for students with moderate to severe dyslexia. They may need time to “buy in” to their remedial or therapy sessions, but once they realize there is a system to reading and spelling – that it’s not all chaos – they usually appreciate the rewards of their hard work.
  • “Appropriate instruction for students with dyslexia and related language disorders is a process, not a product. For the student with dyslexia, it can be an important initial step toward a lifetime of learning.”

What are the communication responsibilities of the provider/instructor?

  • Instructors should provide parents with an initial written report detailing their child’s current levels of performance in reading and spelling, based on standardized as well as curriculum-based tests. It is advisable to have a trial period of 2-3 months to ensure an appropriate fit with therapist, parent, and program.
  • Instructors should provide on-going progress reports, either orally or written, detailing what short-term goals have been met and/or developed for the near future. Once a year, the instructor should test the student and write an annual report (often needed for an IEP) with details on test scores, progress in reading and spelling, and general achievement goals.
  • REMEMBER: Regardless of whether the instructor works in private practice or within a school system, accountability is important as is communication with parents and teachers.

How do I find a diagnostician to test my child, if the school won’t/can’t test, or if I disagree with the results?

First, before requesting SWIDA’s list of diagnosticians who are in private practice, be aware of two things:

  1. Most diagnosticians follow the dictates of the IDEA-2004 law mandating that evidence of effective instruction has been provided and has proven to be insufficient; and
  2. Schools do not have to accept the results of a private diagnosis.

See for the Pros and Cons of Private Evaluations


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