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Devising an IEP

Elementary School Expert Advice from Barbara Potts

Q: I just had a meeting to see if my son should be tested for an IEP. They said during the meeting that they don't know if he has a processing problem or a reading disability. Can you tell me the difference? To me, they seem they would go hand in hand. I have two other sons with reading disabilities and also wonder if this can run in families.

A: It is often difficult to determine exactly what is going on with a child who is having reading problems. A reading disability is usually diagnosed when a child has trouble with written letters and words. A processing problem can involve the jumbling of both written and spoken words. There may be strategies written into your son's IEP that will address both issues.

As you have seen in your own, learning differences are often found in several members within a family. Many authorities believe that in a family with a person with learning differences, there is a 35-45 percent chance that other family members will show signs as well.

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Barbara Potts has worked as an elementary school counselor for many years. She has a BA in psychology from Wake Forest University, and an M.Ed. in Guidance and Counseling from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.


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