Dyslexia Services

Definition of Dyslexia

  1. “Dyslexia” means a disorder of constitutional origin manifested by a difficulty in learning to read, write, or spell, despite conventional instruction, adequate intelligence, and sociocultural opportunity.
  2. “Related disorders” includes disorders similar or related to dyslexia such as developmental auditory imperception, dysphasia, specific developmental dyslexia, developmental dysgraphia, and developmental spelling disability.

TEC § 38.003

Dyslexia is one of several distinct learning disabilities. It is a specific language-based disorder of constitutional origin characterized by difficulty in single word decoding, usually reflecting insufficient phonological processing. These difficulties in single word decoding are often unexpected in relation to age and other cognitive and academic abilities; they are not the result of generalized developmental disability or sensory impairment. Dyslexia is manifested by variable difficulty with different forms of language often including, in addition to problems reading, a conspicuous problem with acquiring proficiency in writing and spelling.

  • International Dyslexia Research Committee
  • National Center for Learning Disabilities
  • National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

The goals of the dyslexia services program are:

  • Providing opportunity to students for acquisition of reading skills
  • Promoting understanding of dyslexia and other language based disorders
  • Preparing teacher trainees for proficiency in scientifically based reading and language instruction
  • Participating in research in literacy and learning issues
  • Disseminating information related to the United States Office of Special Education, Texas State Board of Education, and Advocacy group literacy policies/programs.
  • Supporting families of students with dyslexia through parent support groups and advocacy

Characteristics of students with dyslexia change over time depending on the grade level and/or state of reading (as described by Jeanne Chall in her book, The Stages of Reading Development) that the individual has reached. The following are some signs of dyslexia at different grade levels.


At this stage, children are developing the underlying oral language base necessary for learning to read. Signs that indicate possible difficulties with reading acquisition include:

  • delay in talking
  • difficulty with recognizing and producing rhymes
  • difficulty remembering rote information such as letter names (also phone number and address)
  • difficulty remembering and following directions

Grades 1-3

At this stage, children are developing basic word recognition skills both through the use of word attack strategies and contextual cues. Students with dyslexia will show some of the following characteristics:

  • difficulties with learning sound/symbol correspondences
  • confusion of visually similar letters (b/d/p, w/m, h/n, f/t)
  • confusion of auditorily similar letters (d/t, b/p, f/v)
  • difficulties remembering basic sight vocabulary
  • problems with segmenting words into individual sounds and blending sounds to form words
  • reading and spelling errors that involve difficulties with sequencing and monitoring sound/symbol correspondence such as reversals of letters (past/pats), omissions (tip/trip), additions (slip/sip), substitutions (rip/rib), and transpositions (stop/pots)
  • omission of grammatical endings in reading and/or writing (-s, -ed, -ing, etc.)
  • difficulty remembering spelling words over time and applying spelling rules

Grades 4-8

At this stage, children progressing normally have mastered basic reading skills and are now expected to learn new information form reading. Many students with dyslexia continue to have significant difficulties with developing word recognition skills and therefore have trouble coping with more advanced reading activities necessary to succeed in the upper elementary grades and beyond.

  • significant difficulty reading and spelling multisyllabic words, often omitting entire syllables as well as making single sound errors
  • lack of awareness of word structure (prefixes, roots, suffixes)
  • frequent misreading of common sight words (where, there, what, then, when, etc.)
  • difficulties with reading comprehension and learning new information from text because of underlying word recognition difficulties
  • if underlying oral language problems exist affecting vocabulary knowledge and grammar, difficulties in comprehension of text will occur
  • significant difficulties in writing related to problems in spelling as well as organizing ideas

High School, College, and Adult

Students at this stage are expected to analyze and synthesize information in written form as well as acquire factual information. Although many individuals with dyslexia may have compensated for some of their difficulties with reading, others may continue to have problems with automatic word identification.

  • continued difficulties with word recognition which significantly affect acquisition of knowledge and ability to analyze written material
  • slow rate of reading
  • continued difficulties with spelling and written composition
  • difficulty with note taking in class
  • trouble learning a foreign language

Clinical Characteristics of Dyslexia

What is the primary deficit associated with dyslexia?

  • Phonological awareness – awareness that words, both written and spoken, can be broken down into smaller units of sound and that the letters constituting the printed word represent the sounds heard in the spoken word.

What symptoms are the direct result of this deficit in phonological awareness?

  • Inaccurate and inefficient single word recognition
  • Difficulty sounding out (decoding) unfamiliar words
  • Inaccurate spelling

What are the consequences?

  • Slow and inaccurate text reading
  • Poor reading comprehension
  • Variable difficulty with the symbol code for reading and writing, including:
    • Alphabet letter names
    • Letter-sound associations
    • Letter forms and direction in writing
  • Difficulty with written expression
  • Limited time spent in reading activities

What other language-related characteristics may be seen?

  • Difficulty finding the correct spoken word or rapidly retrieving names
  • Difficulty repeating and pronouncing words precisely
  • Difficulty with verbal short-term memory

What attributes may be either a complication or an asset?

  • Oral language
  • Attention
  • Motor coordination
  • Visual-spatial reasoning
  • Mathematics

Basic Language Skills is a structured, sequential, multisensory approach to teaching basic reading and spelling skills. Featuring a comprehensive approach to literacy instruction, Basic Language Skills equips teachers with skills and strategies that link:

  • reading and written expression,
  • decoding and comprehension,
  • mechanics and composition,
  • direct instruction and opportunities to read and write.
Basic Language Skills is an expansion and extension of the Orton-Gillingham-based Alphabetic phonics program. Developed by Suzanne Carreker, director of teacher development at Neuhaus Education Center in Houston, TX, the program incorporates the latest research findings in the areas of literacy and best instructional practices. The program emphasizes the regularity and predictability of the English language.Due to deficiencies in the processing of phonological information dyslexic students do not readily acquire the alphabetic principle when learning to read. The instructional techniques of Basic Language Skills instruction are characterized by phonemic awareness, graphophonemic knowledge, language structure, linguistic patterns, and processes (19 TAC § 74.28). Instructional approaches include explicit, individualized, and multisensory strategies (19 TAC § 74.28).
Daily activities in Basic Language Skills lesson include:

  • Instant Letter Recognition
  • Phonological Awareness, with an emphasis on phonemic awareness
  • Discovery Learning of a New Concept
  • Review of Letter Sounds and Basic Linguistic Concepts
  • Reading Practices at the Word and Text Level, designed to develop accuracy and fluency
  • Syllable Division and Morphology
  • Spelling
  • Handwriting
  • Comprehension and Composition
  • Oral Language Development
Basic Language Skills is appropriate for reading/dyslexic specialists, special education teachers, and private therapists. Because of their extensive training, Basic Language Skills teachers possess flexibility to work with both struggling and dyslexic readers in their areas of greatest need, adapting the pace of the program to each student’s needs.

Major Findings from NICHHD-Supported Research Programs

  • Reading disabilities affect at least 10 million children in the United States (Yale University).
  • Epidemiologic studies indicate as many females as males manifest dyslexia; however, schools identify four times as many boys as girls (Bowman Gray School of Medicine, University of Colorado, Yale University).
  • Reading disabilities reflect a persistent deficit rather than a developmental lag. Longitudinal studies show that of those children who are reading disabled in the third grade, approximately 74% remain disabled in the ninth grade (Yale University, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education)
  • Distinguishing between disabled readers with and without an IQ-achievement discrepancy appears invalid. Children with and without discrepancies show similar information processing, genetic, and neurophysiologic profiles (University of Colorado, Bowman Gray School of Medicine, Yale University, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education).
  • The ability to read and comprehend depends on rapid and automatic recognition and decoding of single words. Slow and inaccurate decoding are the best predictors of deficits in reading comprehension (Yale University, Bowman Gray School of Medicine, University of Colorado, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine).
  • The ability to decode single words accurately and fluently is dependent on the ability to segment words and syllables into phonemes. Deficits in phonologic awareness reflect the core deficit in dyslexia (Yale University, University of Colorado, Bowman Gray School of Medicine, University of Miami, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine).
  • The best predictor of reading ability from kindergarten and first-grade performance is phoneme segmentation ability (Bowman Gray School of Medicine, Yale University).
  • There is strong evidence for genetic etiology of reading disabilities, with deficits in phonologic awareness reflecting the greatest degree of heritability (University of Colorado).
  • Disabled readers do not readily acquire the alphabetic code due to deficits in phonologic processing. Thus, disabled readers must be provided highly structured programs that explicitly teach application of phonologic rules to print (Bowman Gray School of Medicine).
  • Longitudinal data indicate that systemic phonics instruction results in more favorable outcomes for disabled readers than does a context-emphasis (whole-language) approach (Bowman Gray School of Medicine).
  • Children at risk for reading failure learn to read words more fluently and accurately if they are explicitly taught phoneme awareness and sound-symbol relationships (University of Houston, Florida State University, University of Colorado, University of New York at Albany).
  • Instruction in phonology does not generalize to better text comprehension spontaneously; children also need to be taught how to read fluently and comprehend the meaning of what they read (Florida State University, University of Houston, University of Colorado).

In May 1998 the State Board of Education revised the guidelines for serving dyslexia readers. The present handbook, The Dyslexia Handbook: Procedures Concerning Dyslexia and Related Disorders, provides school districts and parents with additional information regarding the state’s dyslexia law and its relationship to federal laws, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).


38.003 Screening and Treatment for Dyslexia and Related Disorders

  1. Students enrolling in public schools in this state shall be assesed for dyslexia and related disorders at appropriate times in accordance with a program approved by the State Board of Education.
  2. In accordance with the program approved by the State Board of Education, the board of trustees of each school district shall provide for the treatment of any student determined to have dyslexia or a related disorder.
  3. The State Board of Education shall adopt any rules and standards necessary to administer this section.
    1. “Dyslexia” means a disorder of constitutional origin manifested by a difficulty in learning to read, write, or spell, despite conventional instruction, adequate intelligence, and sociocultural opportunity.
    2. “Related disorders” includes disorders similar to or related to dyslexia, such as developmental auditory imperception, dysgraphia, specific developmental dyslexia, developmental dysgraphia, and developmental spelling disability.In this section:


§74.28. Students with Dyslexia and Related Disorders

  1. The board of trustees of a school district must ensure that procedures for identifying a student with dyslexia or a related disorder and for providing appropriate instructional services to the student are implemented in the district. These procedures will be monitored by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) with on-site visits conducted as appropriate.
  2. A school district’s procedures must be implemented according to the State Board of Education (SBOE) approved strategies for screening, and techniques for treating dyslexia and related disorders. The strategies and techniques are described in “Procedures Concerning Dyslexia and Related Disorders,” a set of flexible guidelines for local districts that may be modified by SBOE only with broad-based dialogue that includes input from educators and professionals in the field of reading and dyslexia and related disorders from across the state. Screening should only be done by individuals/professionals who are trained to assess students for dyslexia and related disorders.
  3. A school district may purchase a reading program or develop its own reading program for students with dyslexia and related disorders, as long as the program is characterized by the descriptors found in “Procedures Concerning Dyslexia and Related Disorders.” Teachers who screen and treat these students must be trained in instructional strategies which utilize individualized, intensive, multisensory, phonetic methods and a variety of writing and spelling components described in the “Procedures Concerning Dyslexia and Related Disorders” and in the professional development activities specified by each district and/or campus planning and decision making committee.
  4. Before an identification or assessment procedure is used selectively with an individual student the school district must notify the student’s parent or guardian or another person standing in parental relation to the student.
  5. Parents/guardians of students eligible under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, §504, must be informed of all services and options available to the student under that federal statute.
  6. Each school must provide each identified student access at his/her campus to the services of a teacher trained in dyslexia and related disorders. The school may, with the approval of each student’s parents/guardians, offer additional services at the centralized location. Such centralized services will not preclude each student from receiving services at his/her campus.
  7. Because early intervention is critical, a program for early identification, interventions and support for students with dyslexia and related disorders must be available in each district as outlined in the “Procedures Concerning Dyslexia and Related Disorders.”
  8. Each school district may provide a parent education program for parents/guardians of students with dyslexia and related disorders. This program should include: awareness of characteristics of dyslexia and other related disorders; information on testing and diagnosis of dyslexia; information on effective strategies for teaching dyslexic students; awareness of information on modifications, especially modifications allowed on standardized testing.

Become a Certified Academic Language Therapist, Texas Licensed Dyslexia Therapist, or Board-Certified Behavior Analyst through the Houston Lantrip Center for Literacy and Learning.