Jul 04 2013

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New Jersey Passes Dyslexia Laws

stacked booksThe New Jersey state legislature recently passed two new laws aimed at helping dyslexic children.  One establishes the definition of “dyslexia;” another requires that all school teachers receive extra training in reading instruction, including dyslexia. A third law, which will establish a pilot program for dyslexia intervention, is still pending.

A similar law was passed earlier this year in Arkansas, and another bill defining dyslexia is now pending in Pennsylvania.

These laws are needed because parents in many states are often given contradictory and inaccurate information  when seeking help for a child who is struggling in school. Sometimes they are told that dyslexia is a “medical” diagnosis, not something that the school can help with, despite the fact that “dyslexia” is among the specifically enumerated disabilities listed in the federal special education law (IDEA). Worse, some parents are told by teachers or school administrators that there is no such thing as dyslexia; or perhaps they are simply told that their school prefers not to use that word. The net result is that parental efforts to seek help are frustrated, as they get caught in a cycle of what one father called definition dysplacia.

The New Jersey law adopts the following definition of dyslexia:

Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurological in origin.  It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities.  These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.”

The definitions included in the new Arkansas law and the Pennsylvania bill are similar.

For information about all state laws concerning dyslexia, and regularly updated information about new legislation, visit the Dyslegia Legislative Tracking Site.

About the author

Abigail Marshall

Abigail Marshall is the Webmaster & Internet Information Services Director for Davis Dyslexia Association International. She is also the author of two books about dyslexia, The Everything Parents Guide to Children with Dyslexia and When Your Child Has ... Dyslexia.

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.dyslexia.com/new-jersey-passes-dyslexia-laws/


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  1. Jonathan

    how could we get a law like this passed in other states? Who do we talk to or how do we get the ball rolling on something like this.

  2. Abigail Marshall

    Here’s a good article that explains how one mom worked to get a law passed in Wyoming:


    A good starting point is to check our legislative tracking site, Dyslegia.com. Begin by searching for your state name to see whether there already is or has been a bill pending. If not, then look for the links under “Advocacy Organizations” and “Legislative Resources” on the right side of the page. Find out who your own state representatives are, based on where you live, and call or write to them.

  3. xristiana sophia

    This is a “new” definition of dyslexia?

    Unfortunately, there’s much more to realized and discovered by the mainstream “experts”.

    Here are a few insights…

  4. Carter

    As an attorney who has a younger brother with dyslexia, I am glad that these laws have been passed to help children with this particular need. My brother did not have specialized assistance when he was attending school and unfortunately his schoolwork suffered.

    I believe it should absolutely be the school’s responsibility to provide additional services for this.

  5. Pete Wright

    Abigail, I was researching which states now have dyslexia statutes and stumbled on this blog. Great job. I just posted a Wrightslaw YouTube video of my Keynote at Richmond VA’s Empowering Dyslexia Day. I go back to the history of Dr. Orton’s 1925 presentation about Strephosymbolia before the American Neurological Assoc. URL is at


    Pete Wright

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