Probably not a week goes by where I don’t hear stories of parents frustrated that their struggling child is not receiving any services.  At least in New Jersey, this is often because of the child’s overall FSIQ (i.e., Full Scale Intelligence Quotient).

Without being told this directly, a child is often ineligible for services because the IQ is simply too low for there to be a big enough discrepancy between the IQ and the weak reading, spelling and writing skills.

Federal special education code within IDEA (Individuals with Disability Education Act) makes no reference to the FSIQ:

Specific learning disability means 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, including conditions such as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia.

(ii) Disorders not included. Specific learning disability does not include learning problems that are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor disabilities, of intellectual disability, of emotional disturbance, or of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage.

Regardless, in many states there seems to be a notion that each child has a number stamped in his/her brain that determines whether a child will be seen as eligible  or not for services.

One can almost imagine a long line of struggling children who are going to be either offered services or not.

Each child’s number is reviewed:

OK…kids…step forward…we need to check the number in your head.  Let’s see.  This one has a 92.  That score’s in the lower portion of the average range, the 32nd percentile…there’s probably not going to be much help for you.  Next up!  Here’s a 103.  That’s a little higher in the average range.  Maybe you’ll get something if your reading is bad enough.  Uh, oh, here comes a tough one, an 85 – that’s the 15th percentile. Sorry, not likely to be much help for you.  Oh good, here comes a 115, the 85th percentile.   You’re really smart.  I bet you’ll get help.”

Even though parents are not told this as bluntly or directly, the message for those on the lower side of the curve is, “We’re sorry, but state regulations are such that there has to be this very large discrepancy between the number that’s stamped in your child’s brain and his reading score. Otherwise, you’re just out of luck.”

In other words, a child is often held hostage to his/her IQ.

We need to face that no matter the number in the child’s head, struggling is struggling.

When a child is a weak swimmer struggling in in the deep end, we don’t just shrug and say, “oh well.”

We take the child to the shallow end and teach him how to swim.

Copyright, 2021
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