Fact: Intelligence has no bearing on disability or need. Even individuals with genius level IQs can have a disability that affects their ability to access the curriculum.

A student with a disability and “high cognition” can have needs (organizational skills, homework completion, social skills, counseling, and classroom behavior, etc.) that need to be addressed through special education and related services.

IDEA does not require schools to help a child reach their potential. However, OSEP does say that the school should “consider information about outside or extra learning support provided to the child”.  This would include support the family is providing directly or through tutors, assistive technology, related service providers or information on the amount of time the child spends studying and doing homework.

Students with dyslexia or reading disabilities have difficulty learning material that they must read, despite a high intellect. Despite the increased use and availability of technology, some schools are not aware of or willing to provide the technology to allow students to listen to textbooks and materials, or to use technology for writing.

Texas laws on dyslexia and the state Dyslexia Handbook require schools to provide students with dyslexia with multi-sensory instruction and other supports to assist them in being successful learners and readers. Supports include assistive technology.

TEA is required to develop a plan for integrating technology into the classroom to help accommodate students with dyslexia. “The plan must; (1) Determine the classroom technologies that are useful and practical in assisting public schools in accommodating students with dyslexia, considering budget constraints of school districts; and (2) Develop a strategy for providing those effective technologies to students.” TEC 38.0031

A child with dyslexia who does not receive services through special education may be eligible for services through Section 504. The student could receive services through the Texas dyslexia program or accommodations through the “basic” 504 program. This could include assistive technology, or accommodations on the state academic assessment.

If a written request for a special education evaluation is made, the district must respond in 15 school days. If they say no, they must provide a prior written notice explaining why they are refusing to evaluate. This document can provide a basis for challenging this decision. The parent can use the dispute resolution processes allowed by IDEA.

Recall the law

“(1) Each State must ensure that FAPE is available to any individual child with a disability who needs special education and related services, even though the child has not failed or been retained in a course or grade, and is advancing from grade to grade. (2) The determination that a child described in paragraph (a) of this section is eligible under this part, must be made on an individual basis by the group responsible within the child’s LEA for making eligibility determinations.” FAPE 300.101(c)

“Child find also must include— (1) Children who are suspected of being a child with a disability under § 300.8 and in need of special education, even though they are advancing from grade to grade;” Child find 300.111(c)(1)

“The IDEA is silent regarding “twice exceptional” or “gifted” students. It remains the Department’s position that students who have high cognition, have disabilities and require special education and related services are protected under the IDEA and its implementing regulations. … a child must meet a two-prong test to be considered an eligible child with a disability: (1) have one of the specified impairments (disabilities); and (2) because of the impairment, need special education and related services. For example, a child with high cognition and ADHD could be considered to have an `other health impairment,’ and could need special education and related services to address the lack of organizational skills, homework completion and classroom behavior, if appropriate. Likewise, a child with Asperger’s Syndrome could be considered under the disability category of autism and the individualized evaluation would address the special education and related services needs in the affective areas, social skills and classroom behavior, as appropriate.” “Moreover, it has been the Department’s long-standing position that, in general, it would be appropriate for the evaluation team to consider information about outside or extra learning support provided to the child to determine whether the child’s current academic achievement reflects the service augmentation, and not what the child’s achievement would be without such help.” .” US Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSEP), 1/13/10 letter

Possible comments

“Yes, my child is making passing grades and has passed from grade to grade, but they have needs in the area(s) of (organizational skills, homework completion, social skills, counseling, and classroom behavior).”

“My child has significant needs in the area of social skills/behavior. I am requesting an evaluation in these areas.”

“We provide our child (direct support/tutoring, outside tutors, related service providers, assistive technology). These supports are part of the reasons that they are passing.”

“My child spends (X amount of time) studying and doing homework most nights. This is much more than most students spend.”

“My child has a reading disability or dyslexia. Despite being highly intelligent they read slowly and struggle in understanding what they read. By having a computer or device read material to them, they can learn more material and more quickly. So I am requesting that this support be provided to them through Section 504 or IDEA.”

“How are you implementing the state technology plan to provide effective technologies to students with dyslexia?”