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    #233009 - 08/20/16 07:05 AM Looking for advocacy support and advice
    ChasingTwo Offline
    Member

    Registered: 06/07/16
    Posts: 72
    We will be discussing SSA in math for DYS DD6 with her school this week. There is a long background here but ultimately, as her parents, we do not feel whole grade acceleration is her best option this year. The school agrees with us on that. They recommended SSA in reading and math if she passed their tests. She has passed math and will take reading on Monday. They are already backing down on the SSA in math supposedly due to her distractibility during testing. I am very familiar with asynchrony and also with her propensity to avoid work she finds unstimulating. They are not so well-versed in gifted traits, unfortunately.

    We have decided to push for SSA in math, because I believe that's truly where she belongs, and in-class differentiation for reading (because she would need more than one year advancement here, and will thus be more likely to read at the appropriate level for her if we make this "concession.") One class change will be plenty challenging for her EF skills as well, two would be pushing it too much I think.

    Please share any advice or success stories with SSA in early elementary as we go into this. I suspect they are concerned about the logistics of running two separate grade classrooms so that subject time coincides, requiring buy-in from both teachers.

    Thank you!

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    #233010 - 08/20/16 07:55 AM Re: Looking for advocacy support and advice [Re: ChasingTwo]
    polarbear Offline
    Member

    Registered: 09/29/11
    Posts: 3363
    Re advocacy strategies... it sounds like, as you say, there's some reason the school doesn't want to do the SSA (could be logistics, could be teacher buy-in, could be not wanting to have other parents request the same, could be a whole bunch of different reasons). When advocating you're in a situation like this, I've found it can help to do three things:

    1) keep the conversations very focused and direct - in this case, keep repeating - the original agreement was passing the test, and your dd's passed the test.

    2) ask for "data" - when the school brings up distractibility during the test, ask what exactly happened, and ask if distractibility such as this has been an issue before in her regular classroom. If it hasn't, ask why it would be a concern going forward. If it *has*, point out that she's been successful in spite of it, so why is it a concern now.

    3) put everything in writing. This doesn't have to be formal letters, just follow up every meeting and every conversation with a brief email in which you restate what you understand to have been discussed and decided, and then end with "if I've misunderstood anything, please let me know."

    In this situation, I'd also ask a very specific question about the reason (in person, not in an email at this point) - something like "We had an agreement that dd would be SSA in math if she passed the math test. She passed the test and now the issue of distractibility is brought up. Is there anything else going on that is impacting this decision, such as planning logistics, teacher buy-in etc."

    Best wishes,

    polarbear

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    #233012 - 08/20/16 09:08 AM Re: Looking for advocacy support and advice [Re: ChasingTwo]
    ChasingTwo Offline
    Member

    Registered: 06/07/16
    Posts: 72
    Thank you, polarbear. That's just what I was looking for. I think she has shown some distractibility in the classroom, but as you say, she has been successful despite this and hasn't been labeled a "trouble maker." And this should actually be evidence to move her up, not hold her back.

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    #233023 - 08/20/16 01:19 PM Re: Looking for advocacy support and advice [Re: ChasingTwo]
    puffin Offline
    Member

    Registered: 12/11/12
    Posts: 2035
    I thought DYS provided advocacy?

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    #233025 - 08/20/16 02:03 PM Re: Looking for advocacy support and advice [Re: ChasingTwo]
    ChasingTwo Offline
    Member

    Registered: 06/07/16
    Posts: 72
    I'm not an expert on the organization, but I don't think they do the advocating for you. If that's not true, please let me know.

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    #233030 - 08/20/16 09:55 PM Re: Looking for advocacy support and advice [Re: ChasingTwo]
    ElizabethN Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/17/12
    Posts: 1390
    Loc: Seattle area
    They provide support for parents to advocate, but they don't do it for you.

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    #233032 - 08/21/16 06:42 AM Re: Looking for advocacy support and advice [Re: ChasingTwo]
    blackcat Offline
    Member

    Registered: 05/23/13
    Posts: 2154
    My DS was accelerated 3 grades for math, but it was never viewed by anyone as inflexible or written in stone. They put him where he needed to be based on his test scores with the thought that he could be moved somewhere else if it wasn't working. The difference though is probably that they have the math schedules aligned and a lot of kids do this so there isn't a lot of complicated schedule manipulating. Probably 15 percent of my daughter's 5th grade class went to 6th grade for math, for example. DS is unfocused as well and his written output is terrible because he has dysgraphia. But it would be the same way in the regular classroom so why not put him w/ the correct level material? I think when schools' get hung up on "output" rather than "learning" is when you the brick walls get put up.

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    #233035 - 08/21/16 08:19 AM Re: Looking for advocacy support and advice [Re: ChasingTwo]
    sanne Offline
    Member

    Registered: 06/30/16
    Posts: 289
    I found this post very interesting as I'm interpreting associations between my son's situation!

    My son was not a candidate for whole grade acceleration at the end of 1st grade in public elementary. I was looking for subject acceleration. He had "normal" and "typical" disruptive/distracted behaviors at school. The school was unwilling to meet his needs through subject acceleration. They were willing to have the gifted coordinator come into his classroom and teach him 1 grade advanced (in spite of him testing 3 grades ahead).

    I pulled him out to a public virtual charter school, accelerated 3 grades straight away, and he finished his 2nd grade school year already 4 grades accelerated in all subjects.

    This is with a 68th percentile FSIQ, if I remember correctly. Turned out his "normal" and "typical" behaviors in the classroom were ADHD. After treatment, his FSIQ was up to 132 and GAI up to 141. (woah!)

    Organizational skills and executive functioning predict academic success. I understand the school's point of view. And I understand yours! If organizational skills and EF are going to be what holds he back, then she deserves to have thse evaluated. A school is unlikely to be accommodating to "my child is just so special, overlook his weaknesses". However, my experience is that "my child is highly capable, but struggles with ADHD" is much more manageable in a school situation.

    For example, my son is now 9 and would be entering 4th grade by age. I presented his virtual school's director with his ADHD dx, private neuropsych, and standardized testing results, and asked "what do we do?!" She took it to the superintendent who approved up to 3-grade skip. She approved further subject acceleration also. She's addressing the ADHD by modifying his pace and homework. My son will have to demonstrate mastery, but homework is not required. He'll be able to record a video of oral answers, for example. He'll start the school year with 2 high school classes, but if the pace is too fast she will cut the classes back to half-pace so he would do one semester class over the whole school year.

    I hope this illustrates the interaction between EF and intellectual ability in academic acceleration. If the school is noting lagging EF, that's something to attend to rather than try to circumvent. IMO

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    #233037 - 08/21/16 11:48 AM Re: Looking for advocacy support and advice [Re: ChasingTwo]
    ChasingTwo Offline
    Member

    Registered: 06/07/16
    Posts: 72
    Blackcat, I think you are right that school logistics are playing a large role in their thinking, because they don't have a lot of experience with this type of accommodation. Plus, I get the feel that they don't want to be "wrong," whereas we are more scientifically minded and open to experimentation to find what works best.

    Sanne, thank you for that perspective. Wow, there's quite a difference in those scores. We do believe she has some degree of ADHD (or is it overexcitabilities?), but every professional we have consulted on the matter so far has just recommended "keep an eye on it," which means to us that it's not very severe so far. Ultimately, in our opinion, if it is not an impediment to her achievement or success, then we don't feel it's necessary to seek a diagnosis or medicate. Could she have picked up a few processing points on the WISC if medicated? Probably. Could she have aced this proficiency exam instead of just passing it? Maybe. But at this point she is still doing what she really needs to do when she needs to do it. She is pretty good at knowing how to pay attention just enough.

    Besides, am I in denial on this? How many 6 year olds wouldn't get distracted during a 50 question multiple choice test of material they knew well? I think the distractibility issue in this case is more one of asynchrony in that she behaves like she is 6. She will need some scaffolding to be able to switch classrooms effectively on her own, at least in the beginning, because that's not typically a skill we ask of 6-year-olds. Does it seem like this is asking too much of a school?

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    #233038 - 08/21/16 12:58 PM Re: Looking for advocacy support and advice [Re: ChasingTwo]
    sanne Offline
    Member

    Registered: 06/30/16
    Posts: 289
    Big smiles over here! My son was like that at age 6. Nothing seemed "off" or "wrong" yet. Someone suggested ADHD in a gifted forum and I was vehemently opposed to the concept. Age 7 came with significant behavioral changes, which led to enough emotional changes for DS9 that I brought him to a psychologist. I was thinking depression / anxiety. Turned out to be ADHD.

    I agree with you to not be too alarmist. However if she meets the diagnostic criteria and the diagnosis gets her where she needs to be academically.... my opinion is "no harm". There's no obligation to begin any treatment - medication or otherwise.

    I believe schools need to meet childrens' academic needs. But sometimes parents need to step into the EF-supporting role. In part of my son's big changes for the coming school year, I am starting Organizational Skills Training for him.

    I also don't think that switching classrooms is too much demand for a neurotypical 6 year old. .... not that I have so much experience with neurotypical children! LOL!

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