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    #248845 - 05/14/21 05:04 PM Re: Looking for advice on how to proceed... [Re: sj4iy]
    aeh Online   content
    Member

    Registered: 04/26/14
    Posts: 3990
    It is entirely natural and appropriate to be a bit emotional. This is your child, and you care about him.

    (Of course, the emotion can be part of the motivation, but it probably shouldn't be the decision-maker for your advocacy efforts, since emotion doesn't always fit well with strategic thinking.)

    I've already listed some of the areas I think would be important and reasonable in an independent evaluation in earlier posts. Remember that you have options: an IEE through a school-contracted evaluator, or a PCP-referred medical (neuropsychological) evaluation, with the focus on apraxia/dyspraxia. The latter may or may not include extensive written language evaluation, but it will definitely open up the area having to do with physical handwriting skills and the appropriateness of assistive technology, and can address executive function skills that have a lot of impact on writing in his case and in others, such as some of the ones you have alluded to (idea generation, initiation, organization, emotional self-regulation). You could also do both, in order to get both a proper evaluation of written expression (throwing the pencil does not count as having been evaluated in this suspected area of disability) and data to rule in/out apraxia/dyspraxia.

    There are also some things you might try at home to help with some of the stress points at school. When possible, I'd suggest having him use speech to text (or typing, if he's willing to try that) to generate first drafts. I'd also do an internet search for graphic organizers for writing, and try a few different ones with him. One or more of them may click with him. Even better if they have electronic copies that you can dictate/type text directly into. Graphic organizers also help a bit with the problem of forgetting his sentence while telling you, as their design is to work on one sentence at a time, with the cues for each point already there. (Much like an old-fashioned hierarchical outline, but with visual spaces instead of capital Roman numerals.) His teacher is already using a good strategy for idea generation, which is to give him topics, instead of leaving it open-ended. Once he's reliably able to write to a provided topic, the next step would be to give a circumscribed topic area, and help him come up with two or three specific subtopics of an appropriate scale for the assigned writing, and then pick one to write, moving toward independent generation of those specific subtopics.
    _________________________
    ...pronounced like the long vowel and first letter of the alphabet...

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    #248846 - 05/14/21 08:17 PM Re: Looking for advice on how to proceed... [Re: aeh]
    sj4iy Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 10/30/20
    Posts: 23
    Thank you so much again for all of the great information. I have found a neurodevelopment center at the children's hospital and I plan to get a referral from our pediatrician. I have spoken to my husband about the process for an IEE, and it's something we are considering. I will definitely ask them about apraxia and dyspraxia.

    We have started giving him typing games to play and the advocate has suggested several speech to type programs. I had never heard of graphic organizers, but I've looked them up online and I think they will be great to use. So thank you.

    I've asked the school about allowing him into the STEM 3D printing club next year. It's usually only reserved for 5th graders so I'm hoping they will allow him in a year earlier. I don't know how that will turn out but I'm hoping.

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    #248850 - 05/15/21 07:20 AM Re: Looking for advice on how to proceed... [Re: sj4iy]
    indigo Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/27/13
    Posts: 4957
    Originally Posted By: sj4iy
    I had never heard of graphic organizers, but I've looked them up online and I think they will be great to use.
    Graphic organizers and other helpful info presented by Understood.org (as linked upthread). It may be worth your time to explore that site a bit.

    This is also GREAT advice...
    Originally Posted By: aeh
    (Of course, the emotion can be part of the motivation, but it probably shouldn't be the decision-maker for your advocacy efforts, since emotion doesn't always fit well with strategic thinking.)
    You may have better success with your advocacy efforts if you think strategically. For example, finding areas of agreement to build on, such as traits you observe and traits the school observes. Great stepwise detail at Wrightslaw and the crowd-sourced parent tips for advocacy, linked upthread. A school website may also be a great source of information, if policies and practice statements are posted online, and the gate-keeping criteria for various classes and programs are transparent. If wading through the information seems daunting, possibly your advocate could assist?


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    #248851 - 05/15/21 07:26 AM Re: Looking for advice on how to proceed... [Re: sj4iy]
    indigo Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/27/13
    Posts: 4957
    Originally Posted By: sj4iy
    I guess what I'm really tired of is
    1. going to the school for help
    2. being told there's nothing wrong
    3. getting a private assessment to say yes there is
    4. getting only the bare minimum of help

    This may indicate a weakness in the advocacy approach.
    Great resources and guidance posted upthread, to assist with advocacy.

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    #248904 - 05/31/21 05:38 PM Re: Looking for advice on how to proceed... [Re: indigo]
    sj4iy Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 10/30/20
    Posts: 23
    In all fairness, this was the first time I have used an advocate. I can have him privately evaluated for dysgraphia (apraxia/dyspraxia) then go back to the school again and request another evaluation for an IEP, but the biggest issue after that is enrichment. The only real concession we got was the school allowing him into the STEM club a year early. The school relies on the teachers to provide evidence of giftedness, not the parents or anyone else. This is the problem, considering no teacher ever recommended him to be assessed in the first place. I did it based on a private psychiatrist's assessment. So it's almost set up to fail because the school completely relies on teacher's assessments as to whether or not he fits the definition of gifted in the state of PA. Which is how we end up in the situation where a teacher can think he's behind because he didn't memorize his multiplication tables.

    I'm just not sure how to work with the school when they seem intent on doing the bare minimum at all times. At the same time, the only private school that would work for him is monetarily out of reach. Homeschooling isn't an option, because he hates it and doesn't do well.

    Will an IEE help address both the writing issues and the need for enrichment? Or are we out of luck when it comes to the latter?

    Spring Map Scores (3rd grade):

    Math: 234 (99)
    Reading: 220 (92)
    Science 215 (95)

    Edit: I did find some graphic organizers to help work with him over the summer. Thank you for the suggestion.


    Edited by sj4iy (05/31/21 09:09 PM)

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    #248907 - 06/01/21 10:20 AM Re: Looking for advice on how to proceed... [Re: sj4iy]
    aeh Online   content
    Member

    Registered: 04/26/14
    Posts: 3990
    It's possible an IEE may move you closer to supports to address writing, but whether it helps on the enrichment side is very state- and district-dependent.

    Your summer experiment with graphic organizers may help give you some more data on how much support he needs in writing, and also, secondarily, how realistic home-based schooling, even partially, might be.
    _________________________
    ...pronounced like the long vowel and first letter of the alphabet...

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    #249134 - 08/26/21 08:58 AM Re: Looking for advice on how to proceed... [Re: sj4iy]
    sj4iy Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 10/30/20
    Posts: 23
    Hi again. Since my son started the new school year, I wanted to update on what's happening:

    1. We are currently going through the process of finding out whether his writing problem is dyspraxia or dysgraphia. We hoped that typing would help, but the thought to print process is still a major hurdle. The more we investigate, the more we think it might actually be dyspraxia, due to his motor weaknesses that he's had since childhood. We moved him from gymnastics to swimming because in 3 years of gymnastics, he hasn't progressed. We think swimming might be easier for him, as well as help him physically.

    2. We have seriously looked into alternative schools in the area, including private and magnet schools. There are options, but we want to wait until he is out of elementary school before we act on them (especially because most of the magnet schools in the area don't start until 6th grade).

    3. At open house last night, I found out that the school failed to inform the teachers of acommodations made in the 504 plan that had to do with writing. The reading and writing teachers were not aware that they needed to give him topics to write about, as well as lined paper to write on. I informed his therapist (who works for a therapy center that works directly with the school) and she said that she would help. She is also helping us with our search to find someone who can diagnose learning disabilies. We have found some places that can do IEEs, but we want to have all of our information about his needs first before we do anything.

    4. The school has finally implemented small groups for reading and math, but I'm not sure how much it will help him, considering that he is at least one to two grades above level. I'm willing to give it a chance, but if we find that it is not working, I will go back to the school about it. I feel that there is this idea that "well, he's making good test scores and good grades, we don't need to give him anything else"...which is frustrating.

    5. He took an online enrichment course with Northwestern CTD over the summer and did very well. This fall he will take one with JHU CTY and we will evaluate which one is the best fit for him in the future.

    Thanks again for all the helpful suggestions I have been given. I really appreciate it.

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    #249141 - 08/27/21 07:03 PM Re: Looking for advice on how to proceed... [Re: sj4iy]
    aeh Online   content
    Member

    Registered: 04/26/14
    Posts: 3990
    Thanks for coming back with updates! Sounds like you have a thoughtful set of plans and advocacy roadmaps in place.
    _________________________
    ...pronounced like the long vowel and first letter of the alphabet...

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    #249500 - 02/02/22 09:21 AM Re: Looking for advice on how to proceed... [Re: sj4iy]
    sj4iy Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 10/30/20
    Posts: 23
    Very long time since last update, but I'm looking for any advice.

    1. He's in 4th grade, and he's been talking a lot about how much he hates school. He's also refusing to do his schoolwork.

    2. Writing is still a problem, and it's been very difficult to find someone here who tests for learning disabilities or dyspraxia. There's only one person who might be able to do it, but we would be paying out of pocket for testing.

    3. He is being bullied and I've informed the school multiple times, but nothing was done about it until recently. However, he is an outcast at this point and is struggling to make friends at school.

    4. Small groups at school turned out to be a bust. It only takes place once a week and they use it more for review and homework than enrichment.

    5 He did very well in both of his classes from Northwestern CTD and JHU CTY, but we didn't want to overload him during the school year.

    6. We have entered him into two different charter school lotteries, but our chances are slim.

    I'm really worried about the fact that he's stopped trying at school. I don't know how to work with the school on it, because his teachers are convinced he's simply being lazy. I do feel like he's giving up.


    Edited by sj4iy (02/02/22 09:55 AM)

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    #249502 - 02/02/22 06:39 PM Re: Looking for advice on how to proceed... [Re: sj4iy]
    aeh Online   content
    Member

    Registered: 04/26/14
    Posts: 3990
    I am sorry to hear that school is so painful for him right now. I know that homeschooling is not an option for everyone, (and as a public school educator, I am typically reluctant to simply exit the system--but then again, as a homeschool parent, I guess I do that every day!) but at this point, I wonder whether you have anything to lose by giving him a break from this environment. It sounds like the only educational experiences he's had recently that have been positive have been the CTD and CTY classes that attending brick-and-mortar school is preventing him from accessing. He is not receiving anything at school that you might feel like you wouldn't be able to get back if you pulled him out now. And he appears to be miserable.

    At the least, this might be one way to communicate to him that you see and acknowledge his suffering at school, even if the school has not responded to your efforts to improve things. You don't have to cover every subject every year as a homeschooler, so if you just sign him up for a couple of CTD or CTY courses, that wouldn't be an unreasonable way to cover the next few months of school, while giving him some space to breathe, and perhaps regain some of his love for learning. And life.
    _________________________
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