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    #224817 - 11/03/15 10:44 AM SST Meeting - what would you do?
    suevv Offline
    Member

    Registered: 08/10/12
    Posts: 381
    Hi Wise Folks,

    Some of you may recall my post from a few days ago where I described how DYS/PG/2e DS8's second grade teacher came to the "shocked" realization that he actually, really, truly could not control his behavior in some settings.

    The way she worded it was a little ruffling, but I was grateful that she was paying enough attention to realize it. She does seem to be a caring and thoughtful teacher. And she has asked the school to have an SST meeting for him.

    I need advice on how to make the best of this opportunity.

    Here is some background:

    The principal seems to have her heart in the right place, and the school psychologist knows DS and has helped him on and off over the past couple years. They have both done much to help him work on managing emotions and behavior. They are his allies, and defend his sincere efforts, even while pressing him to keep working. Positives.

    On the other hand, the school offers no services for gifted kids. I'm on Site Council for the school (a planning committee for school objectives/goals). A number of other parents on Site Council also have gifted kids - guess why they're on Site Council wink. Each of us has put forth goals to support gifted kids (e.g., "each student progresses one year"). These are consistently shot down, with the focus instead being on the segment of kids performing below grade level (e.g., "reduce the number of students reading below grade level"). Not so positive.

    There are rumors (e.g., from my pediatrician) of under the radar accommodations. There is a third grader taking fifth grade math. DS was allowed to take out library books above his assessed DRA level (gasp). A few other things - all very hush-hush because the entire district is awash in families that take Competitive Parenting to the hall of fame level, and would raise holy heck if they found out about something their kids weren't getting.

    OK - sorry for the long background.

    The meeting is 11/30. Today I got the list of attendees. They include Teacher, principal, School Psychologist, an outside Counselor contracted to our particular elementary school and a "Behaviorist."

    I looked up the behaviorist on-line. She is an autism expert and worked at the STARS Clinic in Walnut Creek, CA, before coming to our school district.

    DS has been assessed twice by third parties - once at 3.5 years, once at 6 years. He has not been found to be on the spectrum. He is PG, dysgraphic and stealth dyslexic. Based on counsel from others, and from a school board member who has also been a counselor for our family, we have not shared the assessments with the school.

    Have I reached a tipping point where I need to share the assessments? Do I need to let them know he has been assessed for ASD? Or just let them do their thing and then see how it goes? As is the case for many of our kids - he is ASD-ish in some ways, even if not ASD.

    I don't know the implications of going either way. I am so leery of handing over that assessment to the school. On the other hand, an IEP could be a huge help if it had the right things in it. And the assessments could fast track that a little, since they are certainly "unusual." And they could help prevent an outcome where they address 2e but not PG.

    And I guess I would have to be sure they don't give him a WISC IV since it's been less than 2 years since he had that.

    Argh - I'm spinning.

    Thanks for any thoughts on how to optimize this opportunity,
    Sue

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    #224819 - 11/03/15 10:56 AM Re: SST Meeting - what would you do? [Re: suevv]
    LAF Offline
    Member

    Registered: 06/15/14
    Posts: 469
    I can't answer to the rest of it, but behaviorists don't just work with autistic kids- they often work at offices that may deal with those primarily but they do see other kids that have behaviors that are counterproductive to themselves and/or the school. They are like OTs but for behavior- they try to troubleshoot to find a solution. The behaviorist will likely know pretty quickly that your DS is not on the spectrum. However, if for some reason they don't, you can share anecdotally that several experts have stated that he is NOT on the spectrum. But I don't think you need to share anything with the school at this point, but telling them you have already had confirmation that he is not autistic will hopefully steer them into figuring out the right path (but only if you see them going down that path). But I defer to others who have actually gone through the IEP process as I have no experience there.

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    #224821 - 11/03/15 11:10 AM Re: SST Meeting - what would you do? [Re: suevv]
    ConnectingDots Offline
    Member

    Registered: 09/06/13
    Posts: 848
    They won't do any assessments prior to the meeting, correct? I would not hand over the assessments at this point. You could consider taking a copy of the key sections to show, but not hand over. And of course, you can tell them about the WISC if they start heading down that road.

    Is there a reason you have not wanted to share the WISC scores with them? (Not handing over, but showing.) I wonder how much of the behavior could be exacerbated by the lack of gifted accommodations... and also am wondering if this group would read anything on that subject.

    Good luck!

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    #224822 - 11/03/15 11:18 AM Re: SST Meeting - what would you do? [Re: LAF]
    suevv Offline
    Member

    Registered: 08/10/12
    Posts: 381
    Many thanks LAF. I have no experience with behaviorists, so great know their scope.

    Sue

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    #224823 - 11/03/15 11:25 AM Re: SST Meeting - what would you do? [Re: ConnectingDots]
    suevv Offline
    Member

    Registered: 08/10/12
    Posts: 381
    Thanks CD. I've heard anecdotal stuff from people about sarcastic "special snowflake" responses to third party assessments. And I've seen some rolled eyes in Site Council meetings that lead me to believe that's a real concern. I believe that some of the behavior is a result of the un-accommodated PG side of the equation. But I'm not confident that the school would. I guess I'm hoping to get there with this SST.

    Also, when DS was first assessed, I called the district special ed office to ask about how they handle stealth dyslexia. The director told me it wasn't a real thing and basically hung up on me. So I'm concerned they'd just toss the opinion/assessment because that was one of the conclusions.

    I could hand over just the scores, though, as you suggest. They are clearly pulling in folks with expertise. And no - they won't do anything before this meeting, I don't believe.

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    #224825 - 11/03/15 11:53 AM Re: SST Meeting - what would you do? [Re: suevv]
    ConnectingDots Offline
    Member

    Registered: 09/06/13
    Posts: 848
    I really hope that the meeting turns out to be their attempt at making things right for your son!

    I'm just getting over worrying about "special snowflake" comments myself. It's not about being special, it's about getting each child what they need. So frustrating that educators don't all get that... this is where we as parents wind up telling them what scores and assessments mean, because it's not what they know. Over time, I've become more and more confident that I (based on my own research and reading) know more than most of the people who are standing in the way...

    I'm not sure I would even hand over the scores, but I would have them handy and walk over and show them, tell them what that means in plain terms... then put them back in my file. :-)

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    #224834 - 11/03/15 01:13 PM Re: SST Meeting - what would you do? [Re: suevv]
    polarbear Offline
    Member

    Registered: 09/29/11
    Posts: 3363
    I would first look at this meeting for what it is (from the school's perspective) - from what you've written, it sounds that it is being put together to address concerns about behavior. It also sounds like the school has done a good job of bringing in people who can provide meaningful input to the meeting - that's all good. It does not sound like the intention of the school is to address gifted differentiation, which is one of your goals (unless I misunderstand your question). So - my approach would be two-pronged: first and foremost, think through what you need to to understand what's going on at school that's related to the behavior concerns and go in prepared to have a discussion focused on that. If you think that lack of gifted services is part of the equation, prepare yourself to address that. One of the things you can do is to request that a gifted ed rep be present at the meeting - if there's a gifted teacher at your school that could be the person, if not, you could ask for a gifted rep from the district.

    The next thing I'd suggest is to really think through sharing the evaluations. I am not sure I understand why you haven't shared them - if your ds is dysgraphic and stealth dyslexic, then he most likely could use accommodations or possibly remediation with academics - have you asked for that previously? I've found with my own 2e kids two things that are key:

    1) sharing a private evaluation with the school doesn't guarantee that the school will accept the results or feel they need to act on them, but it also has never ever hurt to share an evaluation. For my kids, it has helped, because it gave the school a context in which to better understand their strengths and challenges.

    2) Challenges with behavior in early elementary were as often related to the 2nd e as to the first - often more so. It's really easy as the parent of a gifted child to think that behavior issues in the classroom are due to low level of challenge or boredom etc... but it's really *really* important to put necessary accommodations in place for the challenges. When my ds was struggling in early elementary prior to diagnosis, not one adult recognized that his problem behaviors were happening because he was very aware that every other kid in class could do something he couldn't do. Mix that in with a high cognitive functioning level, and he was overwhelmed with not understanding *why* he was different. Putting accommodations for his disability in place asap was key to helping him function in a way that allowed for his gifts to be apparent to others. He's in high school now, and although those early elementary years were tough for him (and for me as a parent, because I felt he should be receiving much more academic challenge)... getting accommodations and remediation in place paved the way for him to have access to the gifted education he wanted and needed in middle and high school.

    Did the previous evaluators give recommendations in their reports for either remediation or accommodations? If so, is your ds receiving those at school? If not, sharing the reports would be extremely helpful. Even sharing just the diagnosis should be helpful.

    Best wishes,

    polarbear

    eta - I also would try to not worry about someone thinking stealth dyslexia isn't "real" - it's a term that isn't technically defined anywhere (as far as I know) outside the world of the Eides. The reports you have from the private evaluators most likely have enough language that is familiar that you don't need to even mention the term "stealth dyslexia" - mention weakness in ____ (you fill in the blank) etc. Quote from the parts of the report that state relative weaknesses in specific skills. etc.



    Edited by polarbear (11/03/15 01:16 PM)

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    #224836 - 11/03/15 01:48 PM Re: SST Meeting - what would you do? [Re: suevv]
    suevv Offline
    Member

    Registered: 08/10/12
    Posts: 381
    Polarbear,

    Thanks so much for your thoughtful reply.

    For purposes of early elementary - our experience completely aligns with your points re behavior. I sincerely believe that DS's struggles are at least primarily rooted in his 2e-ness and his sense that he is alone and different.

    This is why, to date, we have mostly enriched at home, and supported the school as they worked with him on how to see when he is in trouble and how to control resulting impulses. Honestly - whenever he wants to learn something academic, it happens instantaneously. So I figured that if I could keep the spark alive at home, it was OK to work on the 2nd-e at school for now.

    But this school district - in the heart of Silicon Valley mind you - has NO gifted education services of any kind. There is no gifted ed rep, no gifted specialists anywhere, and they have an allergic reaction any time "gifted" is mentioned. And "gifted" is all over DS's assessments. I just don't even know how to raise "gifted" in the SST or share his cognitive assessments without having everybody just shut down.

    So this meeting is all about behavior because I've never uttered the word "gifted" and you can bet your last dollar that they won't!

    Maybe though it's time for me to buck up and trust them a little. The assessment results were so helpful for us at home. If they'll just SEE them without barfing at "gifted" (or heaven forfend - "profoundly gifted"), it could really help.

    Thanks again. You're helping me be smarter and braver here,
    Sue

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    #224837 - 11/03/15 02:09 PM Re: SST Meeting - what would you do? [Re: suevv]
    polarbear Offline
    Member

    Registered: 09/29/11
    Posts: 3363
    Originally Posted By: suevv

    This is why, to date, we have mostly enriched at home, and supported the school as they worked with him on how to see when he is in trouble and how to control resulting impulses. Honestly - whenever he wants to learn something academic, it happens instantaneously. So I figured that if I could keep the spark alive at home, it was OK to work on the 2nd-e at school for now.


    I am not quite sure I understand how the school can help him with his 2e though, if they don't know about it? That's confusing me a bit. Do they know he's dysgraphic, and just accepted what you have told them without seeing the actual reports?

    Quote:
    But this school district - in the heart of Silicon Valley mind you - has NO gifted education services of any kind. There is no gifted ed rep, no gifted specialists anywhere,


    Which may very likely mean... no matter how hard you advocate you'll get nowhere. I don't meant to sound like Nancy Negative about that - I definitely am not saying don't advocate! Just realistically thinking you may be stuck in a place that has a rigid mindset and/or lack of funds or something beyond you're capability to change the situation.

    Quote:
    and they have an allergic reaction any time "gifted" is mentioned.


    I had to giggle over that one. Long story why, but it made me lol!

    Quote:
    And "gifted" is all over DS's assessments. I just don't even know how to raise "gifted" in the SST or share his cognitive assessments without having everybody just shut down.


    I think (and this is just guessing since I am not there and don't actually know the people involved at your school)... but... I think you can raise it by showing them the assessments and introducing them as "these assessments show what ds' challenges are" (don't use those words, just highlighting the approach. Use the evaluations to explain the dysgraphia and stealth dyslexia, but within that explanation they see the data (and you can explain it) that shows he's PG. Point out that that exacerbates the challenging situation.

    I don't have any research or articles at hand that show that 2e students learn how to overcome their 2nd e challenges quicker or easier or better if they are placed academically where their intellect should place them, but we saw that with our 2e ds - in a huge way. He was a kid who could not generate ideas to write *at all* when faced with an open-ended question. It was a huge issue for him, took literally 5 years of speech therapy to get past it, and he's still working at it. But - there was a huge upswing in progress when he was given work at his intellectual level and taught/accommodated what needed to be taught/remediated in order to work at that level. If anyone out there has anything you could take pointing to an actual scientific validity to that idea, it would be really useful to have with you at the meeting.

    Quote:
    So this meeting is all about behavior because I've never uttered the word "gifted" and you can bet your last dollar that they won't!


    Refocus - this meeting is all about behavior because there is a behavior issue. I hope that doesn't sound harsh - that's not my intent at all smile I just think that's the way to look at the meeting, and use this approach:

    Behavior challenge exists -> You share past assessments showing challenges and IQ -> You tie behavior to the challenges -> You advocate that the best way to alleviate the problem behaviors is to accommodate and remediate *at his appropriate instructional level*.

    Memorize some key phrases before you go into the meeting, to be sure you get your point across. I actually used to write my "key phrases" down in my notes for the meetings so that I wouldn't forget to toss them out somewhere in the heat of the moment! One key phrase for you would be to, first, get through the chunk of the meeting where you try to get the school staff to see the correlation between challenge, frustration, and behavior, and then you throw out your key phrase such as "Imagine functioning at this level cognitively and not being able to write a complete sentence (or whatever the challenge is). It's no wonder ds is having a difficult time in class." Then direct the discussion back to how accommodation or remediation might work for challenge x, and bring in the request of higher level of intellectual challenge here.

    [quote[Maybe though it's time for me to buck up and trust them a little. The assessment results were so helpful for us at home. If they'll just SEE them without barfing at "gifted" (or heaven forfend - "profoundly gifted"), it could really help. [/quote]

    My guess is they'll see the other (dysgraphia) etc over the IQ. I've found that anything written out in straightforward language in an assessment garners more attention from teachers and school staff than either IQ #s or achievement test #s.
    I might consider highlighting the specific concerns and/or recommendations in the reports that you'd like to focus the school staffs' attention on.

    I also have another key phrase that I take to these meetings, in the event anyone questions the validity of a diagnosis or report etc: "So, let me clarify. You are saying you don't trust the opinion of a degreed, certified, etc neuropsychologist who is highly respected in our community?" That little phrase usually stops the report-attacks on the spot smile

    Be brave! You're doing a great job thinking through all of this smile

    polarbear

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    #224838 - 11/03/15 02:12 PM Re: SST Meeting - what would you do? [Re: suevv]
    ConnectingDots Offline
    Member

    Registered: 09/06/13
    Posts: 848
    Just a suggestion: what about not using the word gifted, but sharing scores, in context (i.e., percentile and what that means, how infrequent, yes, even in that area, such IQ scores are...). Given the school system has absolutely no gifted anything, I'm going out on a limb to say they know, well, not much about gifted learners. You could share documents about the concept of asynchrony and how that can be expressed in a classroom (your DYS contact should be able to assist in supplying some of these). Ask how they can help him, given his ability profile and his other differences.

    You might say something like "we've been hesitant to share this information, because we get the impression that asking for something based on it isn't often taken well. We don't want to be "those parents," but we do want to share what we know objectively, based on expert assessments, about our son."


    I see where you are coming from, but at least in our experience, it's pretty hard to separate the PG-ness fully from everything else. Keep in mind that your son is both Es. It is only reasonable that the school has some information about both, otherwise, you are only sharing part of the story with them.

    Since you mention becoming braver, may I share two thoughts with you? One is something a friend told me when I was pregnant with ODS. She said she had realized during a doctor's appointment where she didn't feel concerns were being addressed that if she didn't advocate for her daughter, absolutely no one else would. That has stuck with me and guides me as a parent.

    The other is a book I'm currently listening to called "Playing Big," by Tara Mohr. Very empowering for some of us who have confused criticism with reality or let it stop us, among other things. Only speaking for myself, of course. YMMV. :-)

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