Your husband needs to know that students who experience these kinds of significant learning problems in school are at high risk for dropping out and/or suffering severe social/emotional consequences due to their academic deficits. The Schwab Foundation for Learning has an excellent website (www.schwablearning.org) with information for parents. You can also contact the Coordinated Campaign for Learning Disabilities at 1-888-GR8-MIND or www.ldonlin.org for additional free information.
There are a number of parent advocacy groups for learning disabilities. They have branches throughout the United States where you can get information and support. Some of these branches hold meetings for parents where they can learn from other parents and professionals. Try the Learning Disabilities Association of America, www.ldanatl.org, at 1-888-300-6710 or the International Dyslexia Association, www.interdys.org, at 1-800-ABCD123.
As far as getting your stepson appropriate services, I'd begin by requesting a free, full psychoeducational evaluation from your local school district. Minimally, you need information about two very critical things to understand your stepson's needs:
1. What is his potential (I.Q.)?
2. How does he compare academically to other students his age?
This evaluation should also give you information about specific learning processes, including language skills, memory, and attention. These processes play significant roles in your stepson's learning. It's very important to know what is getting in the way of his progress in school.
Obtaining an evaluation for your stepson does not mean that his school district will automatically suggest a separate class for him. More and more frequently, supports are offered within the regular class for students with learning needs. For example, assistive technology, including books on tape, might be offered to your son so that he can keep up with the content of the materials in his class at the same time that someone is working with him directly on improving his reading skills. This assistive technology could be provided free or at minimal charge to you. You might also want to contact Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic for more information at 1-800-221-4792 or www.rfbd.org.
No matter what recommendations are made after the evaluation is completed, you have input into what happens next with your stepson. The Complete IEP Guide: How to Advocate for Your Special Ed Child by Attorney Lawrence M. Siegel is an excellent book that walks you through the evaluation process and gives you thorough information about how to get appropriate help for your child.
Knowledge is power. Begin with educating yourself and then you can make informed decisions about the next steps to take for your stepson. Good luck!