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    #246211 - 10/14/19 01:41 PM Testing for Dysgraphia in Middle School
    Irena Offline
    Member

    Registered: 05/26/12
    Posts: 1695
    Okay, so this is question about my middle-schooler who has a GIEP and a needs-based IEP (twice-exceptional). The basis for his needs based IEP is "specific learning disorder with impairment in written expression." Dysgraphia. He literally can not hand-write letter but is a very good 'writer' when given tech. His disorder is literally in the mechanics of writing by hand (can not form letters, reversals, can not hand write and thin at same time, etc.) As I have posted before (I think), he is up for re-eval. I am concerned the disorder being documented and continuing to be a basis of his IEP. In his re-eval testing he was merely tested with KTEA-Brief. Of course being gifted, he scored super high. IN handwriting the paragraph section (which I had them make him hand-write instead of type so we could document the disability) he scored "average." So I took a pic of what he wrote and on the essay sheet the tester noted that "no points were taken off grammar and mechanics." She also noted that that there were many "word/letter errors and poor legibility and that handwriting interferes with his written expression ability."

    Anyway. I am concerned this is not enough to document his writing disability. He has aged out of PAL II, which is the only way he got identified int he first place- his scores were so low they had to identify. I am seeing though that there is a test called "Test of Handwriting Skills - Revised" It looks very very similar to PAL but it is normed for higher grades. Should I request that they do this test? Also should i ask for ADHD evals? Executive functioning Evals? All they did was KTEA-brief for the re-eval and I am not sure he will continue to qualify for special ed with just that. Thanks in advance!


    Edited by Irena (10/14/19 01:49 PM)

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    #246212 - 10/14/19 03:33 PM Re: Testing for Dysgraphia in Middle School [Re: Irena]
    aeh Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/26/14
    Posts: 3448
    It would probably make more sense to have him evaluated by an OT, with a visual-motor measure, if you want to establish fine-motor deficits. Although of course, you certainly could ask to look at handwriting. The THWS-R really looks rather narrowly at handwriting of letters, words, and sentences. The PAL-II had a few more elements to it, especially with generation of written language, and fluency. If the school were anticipating a finding of no eligibility, I would expect it to be on the score that his writing when given AT (IOW, absent handwriting factors) is commensurate with his cognition, therefore what he needs is simply the accommodation of AT. In that case, measures purely of handwriting would have limited to no impact on the argument to declassify (since the response would be, why then, use AT). Measures beyond what have already been given would need to address deficits in actual written expression (whether in mechanics or language), not handwriting.

    As to EF, ADHD, etc. evals: by all means ask for them if you, your child, or his teachers perceive concerns in those areas.

    The questions for special education are always 1) is there an impairment (i.e., a documented disability in one of the qualifying disability areas); 2) does the impairment impact access to education; 3) is there a need for skills remediation in order to access education.

    It would appear that your school-based evaluator is setting up documentation to support both 1) and 2). Generally, that signals that she wants to continue to offer 3) as well. So, to begin with, I think the special ed teacher, at any rate, is in favor of continuing the IEP. There's no minimum extent of evaluation necessary to maintain eligibility, so keeping testing to just the KTEA-Brief is not a priori evidence for either dismissal or an inadequate eval. On a reeval, one should evaluate in the areas of suspected disability, to the extent necessary to a) make a finding regarding eligibility, b) outline relevant accommodations, and c) identify meaningful goals (if eligible). When the same team has been working with the student for some time, b) & c) are often already reasonably well understood without additional formal assessment.


    Edited by aeh (10/14/19 03:36 PM)
    Edit Reason: changed my indices

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    #246217 - 10/15/19 07:51 AM Re: Testing for Dysgraphia in Middle School [Re: aeh]
    Irena Offline
    Member

    Registered: 05/26/12
    Posts: 1695
    Originally Posted By: aeh
    The THWS-R really looks rather narrowly at handwriting of letters, words, and sentences. The PAL-II had a few more elements to it, especially with generation of written language, and fluency.


    This is exactly what he can not do (i.e., actually write letters, words, and sentences by hand) So, if this is the case, it would probably be a decent measure to document his disability. Are any of the sub-tests timed? That would be great documentation as well. The test would be given without AT to document the disability. I would think it is reasonable (and advisable) to request specific testing that accurately identifies his present level of functioning in his areas of disability.

    Originally Posted By: aeh
    It would appear that your school-based evaluator is setting up documentation to support both 1) and 2). Generally, that signals that she wants to continue to offer 3) as well. So, to begin with, I think the special ed teacher, at any rate, is in favor of continuing the IEP.


    So, this was last year's special-ed teacher. And, yes, she was definitely on board with him maintaining his iep and she was great. This year's special ed teacher is either lazy, new and does not know what she is doing, an/or being encouraged to not have him on the iep. I do not trust her at all and we have a new Special Ed Asst Director and I don't trust her at all either (The last one was not great either but she had been with us since my son was in 2nd grade and was totally familiar with him and me and had not caused any problems since he was in in 2nd grade and I had to hire a lawyer and threaten due process). Even with his iep in place, this year's "team" started wanting to take away and/or gradually "lessen" my son's extended time accommodation, they wanted to punish him by dropping points if need to hand in an assignment late (which he also gets extended time for), and then they said "no" to proposed goals. He had no goals in his iep and I wanted a basic EF goal (he really needs help with EF) in his IEP and they originally simply said "no." Of course, I called another formal meeting and put a stop to all of this. Recorded the mtg, demanded a PWN for why they were denying goals and accommodations, etc. and that worked perfectly. But it really highlighted for me that we need to keep this IEP AND that the minute my guard is down they will start to weaken it and take it away. So, I want his disabilities documented as much as I can get.

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    #246218 - 10/15/19 07:57 AM Re: Testing for Dysgraphia in Middle School [Re: aeh]
    Irena Offline
    Member

    Registered: 05/26/12
    Posts: 1695
    Originally Posted By: aeh
    It would probably make more sense to have him evaluated by an OT, with a visual-motor measure, if you want to establish fine-motor deficits.


    Yeah, I guess there is no reason why this can't be done in addition. He definitely has fine motor deficits and this sort of eval (in addition to the PAL) was used to originally identify him and was used in his re-eval before middle school. Do you have any ones that would suggest for a kid in 8th grade?

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    #246220 - 10/15/19 09:02 AM Re: Testing for Dysgraphia in Middle School [Re: Irena]
    aeh Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/26/14
    Posts: 3448
    So the reason I note that a measure of handwriting only may not be sufficient is that handwriting alone is not cause for an IEP. It has to impact educational (aka, academic) progress and require remediation. Especially in high school, where it isn't even in the curriculum frameworks anywhere. That's why measures of writing fluency, and of length and quality of product, are so important. It has to tie back to written expression.

    And on the proposed EF goals: that would be a good reason to seek evaluation in EF explicitly. Most likely through rating scales, in a school-based eval (e.g., the BRIEF-2).

    VM tests: the TVMS-3, Beery-VMI, and DTVP-3 are all design copying tasks, but untimed. The VMI has two modestly timed supplementary subtests (Motor Coordination and Visual Perception), which separate out the motor and perception aspects of visual-motor integration.

    I also would have liked to see measures of academic fluency in all core academic areas (reading, writing, math), as that documents the need for extended time. The KTEA-3 has reading, writing and math fluency measures in it. So clearly the school has access to these measures.



    Edited by aeh (10/15/19 09:04 AM)

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    #246221 - 10/15/19 10:15 AM Re: Testing for Dysgraphia in Middle School [Re: Irena]
    Irena Offline
    Member

    Registered: 05/26/12
    Posts: 1695
    Another thing that has to be kept in mind is that AT does not actually bring him up to a level playing field. He not only needs extra time for processing speed deficits but having to type math, for example, takes MUCH longer and is much more cumbersome than when you write it by hand. The writing disability still substantially affects his education even with AT. The AT is the best option we got but it does not put him anywhere close to equal footing with peers in regards to test taking (particularly in math and science), in note-taking during class, and even with some assignments.


    I am not concerned with "a measure of handwriting ONLY" becasue that will not be the "only" measure he will be evaluated on in his evaluation. But I want it documented and not just skipped because we stick him on an iPad or a computer.

    Also, speaking of processing speed, should I request he be given the processing speed tests again (i.e. WISC V processing Speed indices)? I am assuming he would still score pretty low on these. I do not trust the achievement tests in this regard - seems like no matter how "low" he is - he always comes up at least "average."


    Edited by Irena (10/15/19 10:51 AM)

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    #246222 - 10/15/19 11:14 AM Re: Testing for Dysgraphia in Middle School [Re: Irena]
    aeh Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/26/14
    Posts: 3448
    Fair. I just don't want you to have the impression that documenting a handwriting deficit will definitively support eligibility.

    If you are looking for documentation of overall processing speed, then yes, some measure that is not necessarily academic in nature could be useful, such as the PS speed subtests from the WISC.

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