Dysgraphia and Dyscalculia and the Individual Education Plan (IEP)

Note: On the IEP, you must use specific terms for disabilities to get proven treatments for each disorder.

Individual Education Plan (IEP) is needed when a student fails to keep up with regular instruction and academic demands. The IEP should describe the student's error patterns and difficulties in detail, and list grade-level goals and appropriate Supports, Aides (ex. tools, supplies, assistive technology), and Services (ex. Occupational Therapy, Vision Therapy, Teacher Consultant) to fix (remediate) the problems, and accommodate / support learning and communication, in spite of skill deficits.

Eligibility for Help.  SLD (Specific Learning Disability) is a category of disability eligibility on the IEP, as defined in the IDEA law, which covers birth to age 21. Specific disabilities within the SLD category, like Dyscalculia and Dysgraphia, must be stated in the IEP, to indicate proven interventions for each disorder.

Goal: Independence.  Every significant problem and error pattern should be addressed in the IEP with specific interventions. Beware of common supports like, “reader for exams, scribe, extended time, reduced assignments, preferential seating,” which are not necessarily warranted by the student’s needs, and do nothing to cure skill gaps, increase learning efficiency, and accomplish independent learning and communication.

Labels.  Schools often refuse to use scientific terms for learning disorders, preferring "SLD, Specific Learning Disability in Written Expression," for Dysgraphia, and "SLD in Math Computation or Math Reasoning," for Dyscalculia. LDs (ex. dyslexia) often share symptoms but can affect students exclusively. The Federal Department of Education advised schools to use scientific terms on IEPs and to set grade-level IEP performance goals for Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, & Dyscalculia.

Disability Laws. Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) defines a disability as a condition that limits a major life activity, like learning. Individual Ed Plans (IEP) under ADAAA, are called "504 Plans,” and cover children and adults.

The IDEA law applies to students, birth to age 21. Specific Learning Disability (SLD) is defined in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), as “a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, that may manifest itself in the imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations.” IDEA’s SLD excludes learning problems caused by visual, hearing, or motor disabilities; intellectual disability; emotional disturbance; or environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage.