What is Dyslexia?

OSPI uses the definition of dyslexia adopted by the 65th WA State Legislature, 2018 Regular Session.
Dyslexia means a specific learning disorder that is neurological in origin and that is characterized by unexpected difficulties with accurate or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities that are not consistent with the person's intelligence, motivation, and sensory capabilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological components of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge. (E2SSB 6162) 


How Widespread is Dyslexia?

As many as 15-20% of the population as a whole have some of the symptoms of dyslexia. About 5% of the school population nationwide has a learning disability in reading that qualifies them for special education. 


Dyslexia Characteristics

Dyslexia is difficulty with language. For people with dyslexia, intelligence is not the problem. The problem is language.

People with dyslexia may struggle with reading, spelling, understanding language they hear, or expressing themselves clearly in speaking or in writing. An unexpected gap exists between their potential for learning and their school achievement. No two people with dyslexia are exactly alike because dyslexia ranges from mild to moderate to severe to profound. Therefore, someone with dyslexia may not have every single symptom listed below. But they will have many of them.

General Symptoms of Dyslexia During Childhood

  • Delay in learning tasks such as tying shoes, telling time
  • Difficulty expressing self
  • Inattentiveness, distractibility
  • Inability to follow directions
  • Left-right confusion
  • Difficulty learning alphabet, times tables, words of songs
  • Difficulty learning rhymes
  • Difficulty learning to read
  • Mixing order of letters or numbers when writing
  • Reversing letters or numbers

To suspect a diagnosis of dyslexia, a cluster of symptoms must be evidenced – not just one symptom.

  • No one will have all these symptoms.
  • All people have some of these symptoms.
  • Look for clusters of symptoms.
  • See At-Risk Checklist for grade-specific warning signs



Both parents and teachers can use the following printable checklist(s) to help identify warning signs. Click the link corresponding to your student's grade to download the checklist.


Woodland Dyslexia Parent Support Group

RISE UP for Dyslexia is a group of parents in the WSD who would like to build a network of support for children with known or suspected dyslexia. We will share stories, successes and struggles and discuss topics such as 504 plans (accommodations), IEP’s, outside of school tutoring, ways to support at home and more. Our group welcomes the parents/guardians of any student regardless of grade. Our desire is to remain focused and positive on ways to support our children. Contact Tammy Graham via email with any questions at tdgraham@cni.net


Procedure for Identification

All Kindergarten through 8th grade students in Woodland School District are screened multiple times each school year for reading fluency. If a student is failing to make expected academic progress and/or exhibits characteristics which may indicate being at-risk for dyslexia, he/she may be recommended by the teacher, the parent, or anyone with knowledge of the student for screening.

Teacher Request for Early Literacy Assessment
If a teacher becomes aware of dyslexic characteristics in a student, the teacher will submit a referral to the school intervention team for a dyslexia screener to see if the student shows signs of dyslexia.

Parent Request for an Early Literacy Assessment
Parents/guardians always have the right to request a referral for a dyslexia assessment at any time. The dyslexia screener referral should be submitted to the school intervention team . Once a parent request for a dyslexia screener has been made, the school intervention team will review the student’s academic data to determine whether there is reason to believe the student is showing signs of dyslexia. The family will be made aware of next steps within 30 days of the request.

Privately-Obtained Assessments
A parent/guardian may provide the school any data about their child screened or assessed by a private dyslexia diagnostician or another source. The evaluation provided is part of the evaluation data but does not, independently, create eligibility for dyslexia services. Any submitted dyslexia screener data will be reviewed along with data from district staff and a decision will be made whether to refer for further dyslexia screener under Section 504 or the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). 


Ways Woodland Public Schools are Supporting Dyslexic Students

  • Learning Assistance Program
    • Evidence-based intervention (structured literacy) in small groups
    • Orto-Gillingham (Multi-sensory approach to reading)
    • Barton Reading and Spelling
    • Ongoing progress monitoring through DIBELS
    • Accommodations (504 Plan)
      • Use of assistive technology


Supported Assistive Technology 

  • Chromebook:
    • Google Classroom
    • Talk-to-Text option on Google Docs

Jamie Martin – Assistive Technology for Dyslexia


Parent Resources

Books for Parents:

  • Overcoming Dyslexia: A new and complete science-based program for reading problems at any level by Shawitz, S.
  • Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain by Wolfe, M.
  • Essentials of Dyslexia: Assessment and Intervention by Mather, N. & Wendling, B.
  • Reading in the Brain: The New Science of How We Read by Dehaene, S.

Young People’s Books about Dyslexia:

Web Resources:

Dyslexia TED Talk, Kelli Sandman-Hurley (free on YouTube) Provides a helpful overview of the characteristics of and clues to dyslexia

IDA (International Dyslexia Association) Dyslexia Handbook: What Every Family Should Know


What are the rights of a person with dyslexia?

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) define the rights of students with dyslexia and other specific learning disabilities. IDEA, 504 and ADA are federal laws that protect people with dyslexia against unfair and illegal discrimination. Elementary and secondary education students with properly diagnosed dyslexia showing a significant impact on their learning achievement may receive special services to accommodate and further their academic growth.