Looking for advice on how to proceed...

Posted by: sj4iy

Looking for advice on how to proceed... - 11/03/20 11:17 AM

My son (9) was diagnosed with ASD when he was 6. I have no doubts about this diagnosis at all so this is not about that. We have suspected for some time that he was gifted mathematically (was very good at puzzles early on, was doing mental math at 2, could add and subtract small numbers at 3, taught himself how to count above 10,000 and how to multiply at 4, etc), but I was advised to wait until he was older to test because of verbal difficulties.

He was tested by the school 2 weeks ago for that as well as a suspected learning disability with writing, here are his index scores (forgive me I don't have the breakdown of those scores):

VCI: 116
VSI: 132
FRI: 144
WMI: 91
PSI: 98

FSIQ: 120
GAI: 133

He had a meltdown while he was copying sentences during the test and refused to finish.

The outcome was that he was rejected for both a GIEP and an IEP. They said that "he gets all of the enrichment needed by small groups based on MAP scores". Small groups for math do not exist, they only exist for reading scores...he was also dropped down a level because of his behavior last year. They also determined that his writing problem is caused by "laziness" and being unwilling to do something he doesn't enjoy. The school wants us to accept a 504 which gives him nothing more than he already has (which is 30m a week to talk to a therapist not affiliated with the school). I am unsure how to proceed and would appreciate any advice given. Thank you.

Posted by: Wren

Re: Looking for advice on how to proceed... - 11/12/20 11:48 AM

are you able to use online programs to enrich and get him learning ahead? Then see how he responds. How motivated he is. Try and expose him to different things and see if he is motivated by special interests, like space, marine science, geology and then you can get a better gauge of his abilities. And in the meantime find someone who may test privately, at a university or somewhere.
Posted by: aeh

Re: Looking for advice on how to proceed... - 11/12/20 01:03 PM

Welcome!

Sorry to hear that your situation is not as responsive as one might like. Math enrichment can be challenging for elementary schools to manage (even though it should be easier, in some ways!), since "enrichment" in mathematics often involves grade advancement or cross-grade instruction.

I'm also wondering a bit about whether there are vulnerabilities in fine-motor skills or motor automaticity, given the history of suspected learning disabilities in writing, and the meltdown when asked to copy sentences. Behavior always means something. You may wish to investigate further evaluation by an occupational therapist. Also, while obviously you would have a better sense of the ASD diagnosis than I would, ASD-type presentation with writing/fine-motor challenges sometimes coexists or is a rule-out with other diagnoses, such as apraxias and dyspraxias. (BTW, how is his oral expression or dictated writing?) Especially since you mention early speech difficulties, which quite often are in the mix with dyspraxia. So also something that might be worth exploring--likely best done in a hospital/clinic evaluation.

Depending on your state of residence, you may be able to indicate that you are not satisfied that the evaluation addressed all areas of suspected disability, and request that the district contribute toward an independent evaluation. (Actually not that hard to establish, since they didn't fully evaluate writing.) Even if they do not, dyspraxia is a medical diagnosis, so evaluation of the non-academic portions may be covered at least partially by your health insurance, with a PCP referral.
Posted by: sj4iy

Re: Looking for advice on how to proceed... - 11/15/20 07:40 AM

Thanks for replying ^^ He's always avoided drawing, writing and coloring ever since he was little. He caught up with speech when he was three and I would say his oral skills are above average from what others have said to me (it's hard for me personally to hear it because I'm around him all the time, if that makes sense). We've never had him evaluated for a specific problem, but issues at school and over the past few years with writing are what prompted the evaluation. I do have a private evaluation being done by a pyschiatrist in December. I just don't want him to fall behind in his writing by the time I can have him evaluated again at school. I don't know if she can evaluated for a learning disability or not, but at this point it's all I have. Btw I live in PA, if that helps. I'm not familar with the laws when it comes to education, but we can't afford to pay for a private evaluation.

I really appreciate everyone's help and suggestions. It's just disheartening because he's always been borderline ever since he was little and we've constantly been rejected for services and programs because of it.
Posted by: sj4iy

Re: Looking for advice on how to proceed... - 11/17/20 11:27 AM

We've used Prodigy but he plays it when he wants to. In the summer we use workbooks, and he learns very quickly (although he hates memorizing facts and prefers to simply work them out). He's very interested in rocks and gems, space and building things. He started building adult lego sets when he was 5 and now we try to get him different types of building material so he can make robots and structures. He also loves different kinds of puzzles, especially 3D puzzles. He loves reading but mainly about non-fiction (although he does like bunnicula and stick dog). He also loves flowers and plants, and enjoys growing vegetables.

He wasn't an early talker or an early reader, so there's always been a big "if" about his educational needs. We've arranged private testing with a psychiatrist, although that won't happen until December. One thing I've already seen is that he feels bad about not being able to write as easily as other kids, and it worries me that he will only see the problems and not the things he's good at. We've already seen that some already, and it's not something I want him to grow up believing.
Posted by: aeh

Re: Looking for advice on how to proceed... - 11/24/20 03:51 PM

Here's some information on IEEs in your state:

https://www.elc-pa.org/wp-content/upload...014.pdf#page=34

The psychiatric evaluation would look at the ASD angle, and any other emotional/mental health diagnostic considerations. For a learning disability evaluation, you would need a psychoeducational eval (like the one that should have been completed in your school) or a neuropsychological evaluation.

A neuropsych could also look at the apraxia/dyspraxia rule-out, and possibly tease out the differential diagnosis among ASD, dyspraxia, anxiety, etc. In addition to the question of dysgraphia/specific learning disability--written expression.

You could try places like CHOP:
https://www.chop.edu/centers-programs/psychology-services

Just make sure to bring all of your existing testing with you, so they don't administer duplicate testing, which invalidates the second administration.

You may be able to get a pediatrician's referral for this. Make sure to include the concerns with his delayed fine-motor development, so the appropriate areas of suspected concern are assessed.
Posted by: sj4iy

Re: Looking for advice on how to proceed... - 12/14/20 12:01 PM

Update:

The independent eval is complete and the psychiatrist said that my son is indeed twice exceptional and the school is not making enough accommodations for him to succeed in the long run. Because of that she wants to add a diagnosis of ADHD (which she said is stretching it but that the boredom he is experiencing at school is manifesting in inattentiveness where it's interfering with his work). She is hoping that this will force the school to take action. She also suggested getting in touch with an advocate (which I have) to help fight the school on his behalf.

Moving schools and homeschooling are not options at this point...I'm hoping we can come to a resolution that will help him overall. Thanks to everyone who have offered advice. If anyone still has advice on how to fight a school for an IEP/GIEP for a 2e child, I would appreciate it.
Posted by: aeh

Re: Looking for advice on how to proceed... - 12/16/20 04:45 PM

Thanks for the update.

Personally, as a professional I am a little uncomfortable with attaching diagnostic labels that are "stretching it" for the purpose of making the school take notice, especially when there is likely a legitimate second exceptionality. You only need one disability to trigger the child-find process and disabilities protections. She could just as easily have diagnosed him with Specific Learning Disorder--written expression, which would equally pressure the school to properly evaluate him in that area.

Also, I find that labeling inattentiveness due to instructional mismatch as ADHD contributes to school systems dismissing instructional mismatch as a genuine cause for inattentiveness in the future, which just perpetuates misconceptions about giftedness, and encourages school systems to view all symptoms of inadequate challenge through a disability lens. (E.g., suggesting that you should medicate him for ADHD, rather than that they should instruct him at his appropriate gifted level.) In any case, the standard menu of educational responses for ADHD would not address his gifted needs, nor would it fully respond to any writing disabilities, so this might result in sending the team down non-useful rabbit trails.

Not saying your evaluator isn't operating professionally, or with the best interest of your child in mind, but just adding some alternate professional perspective from someone with a deep pool of school experience.

A good, knowledgeable advocate can definitely be an asset. Make sure to interview any advocate you consider retaining regarding their views on and experience with twice exceptionality.

ETA: although it would be better to have SLD diagnosed by a neuropsych, technically it's in the DSM, so a psychiatrist is allowed to diagnose it.
Posted by: sj4iy

Re: Looking for advice on how to proceed... - 12/27/20 01:34 PM

Originally Posted By: aeh
Thanks for the update.

Personally, as a professional I am a little uncomfortable with attaching diagnostic labels that are "stretching it" for the purpose of making the school take notice, especially when there is likely a legitimate second exceptionality. You only need one disability to trigger the child-find process and disabilities protections. She could just as easily have diagnosed him with Specific Learning Disorder--written expression, which would equally pressure the school to properly evaluate him in that area.

Also, I find that labeling inattentiveness due to instructional mismatch as ADHD contributes to school systems dismissing instructional mismatch as a genuine cause for inattentiveness in the future, which just perpetuates misconceptions about giftedness, and encourages school systems to view all symptoms of inadequate challenge through a disability lens. (E.g., suggesting that you should medicate him for ADHD, rather than that they should instruct him at his appropriate gifted level.) In any case, the standard menu of educational responses for ADHD would not address his gifted needs, nor would it fully respond to any writing disabilities, so this might result in sending the team down non-useful rabbit trails.

Not saying your evaluator isn't operating professionally, or with the best interest of your child in mind, but just adding some alternate professional perspective from someone with a deep pool of school experience.

A good, knowledgeable advocate can definitely be an asset. Make sure to interview any advocate you consider retaining regarding their views on and experience with twice exceptionality.

ETA: although it would be better to have SLD diagnosed by a neuropsych, technically it's in the DSM, so a psychiatrist is allowed to diagnose it.


I agree to some extent. The problem is that he does have some characteristics of ADHD...and we can't be sure whether it's caused by boredom at school because there's nothing to compare it to. He's never been properly challenged in such a way that we can determine it one way or another. The school won't move him into more challenging classes and the school won't help him out with his problems. So there's no baseline for comparison. Right now his behaviors match those of ADHD, whether it's being caused by a lack of stimulation or not, it's hard to deny it. No, there is no intent to medicate based on this.

The hope is that I can talk to an advocate (I have contacted a place near where I live) and go over my options for what to do. The plan is to hopefully get him into a proper classroom environment and then re-evaluate to see how it has affected his behavior and then see if there is a further need for a treatment plan. But until then, we need to treat it as ADHD behaviorally. That's how it was explained to me...I'm okay with that because I realize that there could be factors affecting it.

She did not evaluate for learning disorders because this eval was supposed to be in conjuction with the school (and the school said they would test for learning disorders, but instead used the IQ test and information from teachers to determine whether there was indeed a learning disability for written expression). I full intent to have him evaluated again for a problem with written expression, but I need a referral to do so.

There is NO PLAN to medicate. We have not done so up to this point and I have no plans to do so, nor is there any recommendation to do so. The diagnosis currently fits the criteria for ADHD...and there is an acknowledgement of mitigating factors and therefore the only recommendations are continued therapy and a change in curriculum.
Posted by: aeh

Re: Looking for advice on how to proceed... - 12/30/20 11:06 AM

To be clear, I had no sense that you had plans to medicate...I was more concerned that, in my experience with school systems, the knee jerk response of the school to this diagnosis is to hint either subtly or openly at medication, which sometimes is accompanied by resistance to seek any other solutions...but it appears that you are already rather near that point regardless.

I hope you are able to connect with an appropriate advocate, and to get a referral for an evaluation expeditiously.

And thinking back over your earlier post, it occurs to me that some of the school personnel might benefit from some additional inservicing on ASD, if they are that quick to label rigidity (a known characteristic of ASD) as defiance. And they have a history of responding weakly to behavior.

I would discuss with your advocate the value of adding a functional behavioral assessment (FBA) to a request for independent educational evaluation (preferably conducted by a BCBA or psych), given the testing behaviors, and the evaluator's interpretation of classroom-observed behaviors (writing problems, and being dropped down a level in math for his behaviors) in that light.

I think this is a pretty open and shut IEE request, actually. The referral question included writing difficulties. They didn't successfully assess his writing skills. He has a history of behavioral problems, and the evaluator ascribed additional academic problems to his behavior, but they didn't formally assess his classroom behavior. Based on the information you've provided, it seems clear that it is a defective evaluation, and the district should pay for (or contribute to, depending on your state) the independent eval as an appropriate remedy.
Posted by: sj4iy

Re: Looking for advice on how to proceed... - 12/31/20 03:07 AM

I understand what you mean about some parents feeling pressured into putting their child on medication by the school...but it's not something we would consider.

I really appreciate the advice and the specificity of your answer, because it will help us when we are talking to the advocate about what is happening and what we are hoping for. At this point in time, school feels more like a daycare and we end up doing all of his missing assignments after he gets home. It's not a sustainable solution.

I will look into getting an FBA and IEE and I'll ask about the procedure for reimbursement when I talk to an advocate. I'll update once I have. I'm thankful for all the advice I've beeng given.
Posted by: sj4iy

Re: Looking for advice on how to proceed... - 04/25/21 12:35 PM

It's been a while, but wanted to give an update:

The school has reassessed my son for a new 504 because of the new diagnosis for ADHD. I'm working with an advocate to gather information to request an IEE as well as a diagnosis of dysgraphia (writing continues to be his biggest educational challenge so far).

The school has continued to ignore his need for enrichment and challenge, so I have been doing what I can at home with programs, workbooks and games to help him progress. His recent map rit scores (3rd grade Winter) are 228 in math, 216 in reading and 215 in science (which they just added). Despite this, the school has kept him in a small group that is meant for kids with scores below his own (13 out of 20, with group 1 being the highest).

The new 504 meeting is in May, so hopefully I'll have more information then. Thank you to everyone who helped out.
Posted by: indigo

Re: Looking for advice on how to proceed... - 04/25/21 01:37 PM

Originally Posted By: sj4iy
... ADHD... dysgraphia... new 504 meeting is in May...

In case any of the information at these links may be of help:
- Understood.org - 107 articles on dysgraphia
- Wrightslaw.com - special education law and advocacy - includes 272 results for dysgraphia

IEPs and 504s:
1) Wrightslaw - SMART IEPs -
https://www.wrightslaw.com/advoc/articles/plan_iep_goals.html

2) Measurable goals for IEPs discussed in a resource linked at this old post -
http://giftedissues.davidsongifted.org/B...html#Post210194

3) This old post discusses IEPs/504s and suggested wording -
http://giftedissues.davidsongifted.org/B...html#Post234023

4) This old post links to IEP/504 resources including FAQ Pop-ups -
http://giftedissues.davidsongifted.org/B...html#Post235889
Posted by: Wren

Re: Looking for advice on how to proceed... - 04/26/21 04:44 AM

I have say that I am so impressed indigo how you are always on top of all the necessary links.
Posted by: sj4iy

Re: Looking for advice on how to proceed... - 04/26/21 10:00 AM

Thank you for all of the links! I really appreciate all the help people here have given.
Posted by: indigo

Re: Looking for advice on how to proceed... - 04/26/21 08:50 PM

Glad if something in the list is helpful!
Sometimes, locating pertinent information can be elusive, like finding a needle in a haystack.

Hope your meeting goes well!
(BTW, have you read the collection of discussion threads on advocacy and meeting prep?)
Posted by: sj4iy

Re: Looking for advice on how to proceed... - 05/13/21 09:34 PM

I had the new 504 meeting today. Before I go on, during the fall he was also tested for a writing disability...I will put the scores here:

His WIAT III scores and percentiles were:

Reading Comprehension: 123 (94)
Math Problem Solving: 123 (94)
Alphabet Writing Fluency: 80 (9)
Spelling: 91 (27)
Sentence Composition: 89 (23)
Sentence Combining: 111 (77)
Sentence Building: 70 (2)
Essay Composition: NS (he had a meltdown and hid under the table)
Listening Comprehension: 120 (91)
Receptive Vocab: 109: (73)
Oral Discourse Comprehension: 123 (94)

Latest Map Scores:

Math: 228 (99)
Reading: 216 (93)
Science: 215 (95)

The school psychologist said he did not have dysgraphia and that he avoids writing because he doesn't like to do it, even though he had a full on meltdown doing the writing portion. So, none of that was really addressed at today's meeting and I was shot down when I disagreed that he avoided his work because he didn't like it. He didn't receive many meaningful accommodations and there have been some big problems at school with behavioral problems.

When I argued that he's avoiding work because he doesn't like writing and he's bored, I was also shot down and told "He is not twice exceptional" because he didn't memorize his multiplication tables (he prefers to do them in his head). When I said that he hasn't learned much in 3rd grade Math, the principal used his Map scores to try to 'prove' that he jumped up that far because of Math Class. I said that he he has been above the 95th percentile in math since Kindergarten all but two times...and one time he just decided he didn't want to do it. I was called a liar (not literally but it was absolutely implied) by several people when I said that he's being treated unfairly because of his problems (even though I have proof that he was put in a small group below his ability because of his behavior).

At this point I have no real hope of getting real help from the school willingly. I think the fact that he twice exceptional is making it really difficult for him to receive an IEP and a GIEP.

In some good news he was accepted into both Northwestern's CTD program for the summer and John Hopkin's CTY program for the fall (through the pilot program) for both math and reading. Thanks for reading...sorry if it's not terribly comprehensible.
Posted by: spaghetti

Re: Looking for advice on how to proceed... - 05/14/21 05:19 AM

Sounds like the meeting was a bit contentious. I'll start with a possible school point of view-- the small group may be how he learns best. Does he need someone close by to help him keep on track? I do think that schools do not like it when parents "know best". Some do and I love those schools, but some school teams have a thought in their head about what a child with special needs looks like and if your kid isn't it, they look for reasons why you're wrong.

Second, not sure why the school says no writing disability. This is a time when an outside assessor may be helpful. The profile looks similar to my dysgraphic though the testing gurus will certainly have something more reliable to say on this. Mine had other tests also.

What about writing in school? Do they have work samples? How's the handwriting? How's the timed writing?

How I would approach it is that he may or may not meet their criteria for a disability in writing, but emotionally, he is learning to hate writing. He has a negative emotional response. What can we do to support him?

And I'd teach him to type pronto.
Posted by: indigo

Re: Looking for advice on how to proceed... - 05/14/21 05:53 AM

Sorry to hear the meeting did not go well.

It appears that being advanced in math and having difficulty with written expression are the two major issues discussed at this meeting, and each issue may not have been addressed individually?

Hopefully you've read and studied the contents of previously posted advocacy links. For now, I'll dive into the topic of dysgraphia. Please do not feel obliged to answer these questions on the forum, they are only meant to help guide/organize, not to have you share information publicly.
- What evidence do you have of dysgraphia?
- Is your evidence documented?
- Have you had an independent evaluation for dysgraphia? Have you received the results?
- Has the school conducted an evaluation for dysgraphia? A functional assessment? Have you received the results?
- Have you researched online, including UNDERSTOOD DYSGRAPHIA (https://www.understood.org/en/learning-t...ding-dysgraphia), WRIGHTSLAW DYSGRAPHIA (https://www.wrightslaw.com/info/read.dysgraphia.facts.htm, https://www.wrightslaw.com/blog/dysgraphia-504-or-iep-for-dysgraphia/, etc) and other websites designed to present information to the population at large?
- Do you see your child exhibit signs listed in this checklist article, or other dysgraphia articles online? Have you asked the school which of these items they observe?
Originally Posted By: article
1. Cramped grip, which may lead to a sore hand
2. Difficulty spacing things out on paper or within margins (poor spatial planning)
3. Frequent erasing
4. Inconsistency in letter and word spacing
5. Poor spelling, including unfinished words
6. Missing words or letters
7. Unusual wrist, body, or paper position while writing
8. Difficulty with creative writing
... Children with dysgraphia may be able to contribute fantastic ideas verbally or in a group conversation scenario, only to find themselves challenged when it comes to the actual writing task. This is not uncommon in children with dysgraphia and is proof that just because they canít necessarily always get the ideas out onto the paper, that they are not poor thinkers or that they lack ideas.

While this may seem a painstakingly slow and arduous task, taking this type of step wise approach based on facts may help identify some area of agreement with the school. Agreeing on the identification of the problem(s) is necessary in order to come to agreement on potential solution(s).

ETA: Did your advocate attend the meeting? What is your advocate's thoughts/advice on what transpired and next steps to take?
Posted by: sj4iy

Re: Looking for advice on how to proceed... - 05/14/21 01:40 PM

Creative writing is the worst. He can write all day about information (especially rocks and minerals), but the moment his teacher gives him a topic to choose himself on something else...he can't do it. His mind goes blank and he's actually sat in class the entire period staring at a blank piece of paper while the other kids are doing their work. It's so bad that the teacher now gives him a topic to write about. He still struggles to write it, so my husband and I help him structure the essay so he has a plan to follow.

I noticed this myself when doing workbooks with him. He can tell me the answer straight away, but tell him to write it down, and it's like he can't remember what the words are. I have to repeat word for word what he came up with. That was when I realized something was wrong, that it wasn't normal for a kid his age.

Other issues he has:

-He writes his letters and numbers from the bottom up so his letters are often uneven in size
-His spelling is very bad and one of his worst subjects
-He erases a lot
-He needs lined paper or his sentences will not be straight
-He doesn't always use capital letters or punctuation
-He complains that it makes his brain tired
-He sometimes flips b and d and 9 and 6, but he does not have trouble reading them out loud
-He uses his finger for spacing, otherwise the words would not be evenly spaced

The advocate did attend the meeting and was helpful in getting him some measurable accommodations (before they were not measurable) in writing. However, I think he needs therapy for writing, especially when it comes to putting his thoughts on paper. I see the problem only getting worse as he gets older.

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

We're on our third cycle since he started school. We have no good private options and homeschool hurts him socially, since it is difficult for us to arrange playdates.

Also, to answer spaghetti:

The school didn't do small groups at all this year. Also, they only have them for reading, not math. Also, he has been wrongly placed in a lower small group based on his behavior, and not his academics...and I was only informed of this a year later. The school even used the fact that he was SUPPOSED to be in a lower reading group (although he never was) as a reason why he wasn't gifted in math and science.

The stupidest thing I heard was that his math teacher said he couldn't be more advanced than 3rd grade math because "He had to do the multiplication facts in his head instead of knowing it rote" and "he got an question wrong the other day". I never made him memorize the multiplication tables because he's known how to multiply in preschool...why confuse him when he already knew how? He's always been able to do it in his head. And I don't get how missing a question is somehow indicative of not being advanced. I wish he had a teacher who actually cared.

Thanks to everyone who has been helpful in this. Sorry if I'm somewhat emotional.
Posted by: aeh

Re: Looking for advice on how to proceed... - 05/14/21 05:04 PM

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.
Posted by: sj4iy

Re: Looking for advice on how to proceed... - 05/14/21 08:17 PM

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.
Posted by: indigo

Re: Looking for advice on how to proceed... - 05/15/21 07:20 AM

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?

Posted by: indigo

Re: Looking for advice on how to proceed... - 05/15/21 07:26 AM

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.
Posted by: sj4iy

Re: Looking for advice on how to proceed... - 05/31/21 05:38 PM

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.
Posted by: aeh

Re: Looking for advice on how to proceed... - 06/01/21 10:20 AM

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.
Posted by: sj4iy

Re: Looking for advice on how to proceed... - 08/26/21 08:58 AM

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.
Posted by: aeh

Re: Looking for advice on how to proceed... - 08/27/21 07:03 PM

Thanks for coming back with updates! Sounds like you have a thoughtful set of plans and advocacy roadmaps in place.
Posted by: sj4iy

Re: Looking for advice on how to proceed... - 02/02/22 09:21 AM

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.
Posted by: aeh

Re: Looking for advice on how to proceed... - 02/02/22 06:39 PM

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.
Posted by: indigo

Re: Looking for advice on how to proceed... - 02/02/22 07:01 PM

A few thoughts came to mind as I read your post.

- You earlier mentioned that he had not memorized his multiplication tables. Have you worked with him at home to support his learning?
- - If he is visual, you could help him "see" and "picture" the multiplication.
- - If he is auditory, there are songs for multiplication, that once memorized may easily come to mind when he needs to recite multiplication tables.
- - As an alternative, there is always classic "drill," the no-fun, timed tests from years gone by. wink Drill sheets can now be found online.

- If you believe your child may need or benefit from tests for learning disabilities or dyspraxia, you may want to focus on arranging for that, prior to changing schools.

- Are classes in his areas of interest and ability currently available from Northwestern CTD and/or JHU CTY?

- Are you able to home school?

- Regarding being bullied and an outcast - - Are you able to invite any child(ren) over to play, or plan a meet-up with one or more families at a local spot such as a pizza place, museum, zoo, or park? Are there any other groups of children he could meet (city recreation department, sports team, volunteer activity at pet shelter, church, etc)
Posted by: sj4iy

Re: Looking for advice on how to proceed... - 02/05/22 02:58 PM

Originally Posted By: indigo
A few thoughts came to mind as I read your post.

- You earlier mentioned that he had not memorized his multiplication tables. Have you worked with him at home to support his learning?
- - If he is visual, you could help him "see" and "picture" the multiplication.
- - If he is auditory, there are songs for multiplication, that once memorized may easily come to mind when he needs to recite multiplication tables.
- - As an alternative, there is always classic "drill," the no-fun, timed tests from years gone by. wink Drill sheets can now be found online.

- If you believe your child may need or benefit from tests for learning disabilities or dyspraxia, you may want to focus on arranging for that, prior to changing schools.

- Are classes in his areas of interest and ability currently available from Northwestern CTD and/or JHU CTY?

- Are you able to home school?

- Regarding being bullied and an outcast - - Are you able to invite any child(ren) over to play, or plan a meet-up with one or more families at a local spot such as a pizza place, museum, zoo, or park? Are there any other groups of children he could meet (city recreation department, sports team, volunteer activity at pet shelter, church, etc)



1. I meant that his teacher said that he couldn't be gifted if he didn't have his multiplications memorized. He knows them without memorization since he was 3yo.

2. He is very visually oriented. The school knows, and we used many tools that are visual. He is not good with auditory instructions.

3. I have focused on finding an answer for my son over the past 8 months. It's surprisingly difficult to find a private psychologist/psychiatrist who diagnoses learning disabilities in my area. Most people simply treat it. There is one person who can do it that I've found, but she wouldn't take the case until he was fully vaccinated. I recontacted her recently, and I can't do anything until June. And nothing is in network, so I'm paying $2500 out of pocket to do this.

4. I'm attempting to get him into another school. Timing is timing. Homeschooling is not an option right now.

5. Covid is a major issue when it comes to play dates, sleep overs, etc. We don't go to church, and while we do museums and schools, he still wants a friend at school. That doesn't change. We try to make home life as fun as possible, but school is a different thing. We don't want to do another online class at CTY or CTD right now and interfere with school.

I guess I'm looking for how do I go about an IEE or making the school change their decision. The school makes a 504 but they didn't even talk to his teachers about his writing struggles. I had to go over it. Now he's ignoring assignments and not caring. Getting bullied on top of that just makes everyone worse.
Posted by: aeh

Re: Looking for advice on how to proceed... - 02/05/22 05:25 PM

Were you ever able to request an IEE in writing? And if so, what was the school's response? To recap/expand from my earlier comments re: IEE, some of the points to consider raising would include:

1. defective evaluation in the area of written expression. As the examiner was unable to obtain a normative assessment in all aspects of the suspected disability area of written expression, the district's finding of no disability in this area is not data-driven. Notably, they also ignored a writing score that was below average (Alphabet Writing Fluency), and one that was even lower in the below average range, bordering on low (Sentence Building). If they claim that the assessment was adequate, then these low scores should have been addressed with more seriousness in the eligibility discussion.

2. defective (nearly non-existent) assessment in areas of suspected disability that were suggested during the evaluation process, in behavior and self-regulation (executive functions). The behavior described as a meltdown when presented with an extended writing task was portrayed by the district as having sufficient clinical significance that they drew the conclusion that his writing performance deficits were purely behavioral in nature. Given the intensity of the resistance, that is a clear indication that further evaluation efforts should have been directed toward identifying any possible disabilities related to behavior, such as self-regulation or sensory-motor triggers.

3. defective (absent) evaluation in areas of suspected disability related to dysgraphia (which was part of the referral question), as an occupational therapy evaluation was not conducted, despite normative and clinical data suggesting fine-motor concerns (PSI significantly weaker than other cognitive measures, below average AWF, extreme emotional/behavioral response to a lengthy complex fine-motor task (Essay Composition)).

4. As the district has already demonstrated and admitted that they are unable to complete an effective comprehensive evaluation, the requested remedy would be a comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation at district expense, including assessments in expressive language, written expression, executive functions, and emotional-behavioral areas, and an occupational therapy evaluation, including fine-motor and sensory processing. (Note: they explictly acknowledged that they were unable to complete a valid evaluation of his written expression skills by claiming that the low scores and refused subtests were underestimates of his skills in those areas, even though they are consistent with his classroom performance.)
Posted by: sj4iy

Re: Looking for advice on how to proceed... - 02/20/22 04:22 PM

Originally Posted By: aeh
Were you ever able to request an IEE in writing? And if so, what was the school's response? To recap/expand from my earlier comments re: IEE, some of the points to consider raising would include:

1. defective evaluation in the area of written expression. As the examiner was unable to obtain a normative assessment in all aspects of the suspected disability area of written expression, the district's finding of no disability in this area is not data-driven. Notably, they also ignored a writing score that was below average (Alphabet Writing Fluency), and one that was even lower in the below average range, bordering on low (Sentence Building). If they claim that the assessment was adequate, then these low scores should have been addressed with more seriousness in the eligibility discussion.

2. defective (nearly non-existent) assessment in areas of suspected disability that were suggested during the evaluation process, in behavior and self-regulation (executive functions). The behavior described as a meltdown when presented with an extended writing task was portrayed by the district as having sufficient clinical significance that they drew the conclusion that his writing performance deficits were purely behavioral in nature. Given the intensity of the resistance, that is a clear indication that further evaluation efforts should have been directed toward identifying any possible disabilities related to behavior, such as self-regulation or sensory-motor triggers.

3. defective (absent) evaluation in areas of suspected disability related to dysgraphia (which was part of the referral question), as an occupational therapy evaluation was not conducted, despite normative and clinical data suggesting fine-motor concerns (PSI significantly weaker than other cognitive measures, below average AWF, extreme emotional/behavioral response to a lengthy complex fine-motor task (Essay Composition)).

4. As the district has already demonstrated and admitted that they are unable to complete an effective comprehensive evaluation, the requested remedy would be a comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation at district expense, including assessments in expressive language, written expression, executive functions, and emotional-behavioral areas, and an occupational therapy evaluation, including fine-motor and sensory processing. (Note: they explictly acknowledged that they were unable to complete a valid evaluation of his written expression skills by claiming that the low scores and refused subtests were underestimates of his skills in those areas, even though they are consistent with his classroom performance.)


Sorry it took so long to respond, there were some things I was waiting on.

1. We have not requested an IEE yet because we are scheduled with a psychologist who tests for learning disabilities and also tests for giftedness. We will meet with her in May and see what she says first. She told us that she wants to look at the report the school originally did and give her opinion on that, as well. It was give us ammunition in our fight for accommodations.

2. We were also waiting to see the results of the charter school lottery we signed up for. He did not get in. We are looking at tutoring to give him some kind of enrichment while we are waiting for the new assessment.

3. The school is not implementing the 504 that he has right now. I cannot find any information about what to do about that.
Posted by: aeh

Re: Looking for advice on how to proceed... - 02/20/22 06:49 PM

So the thought in requesting an IEE is partly that -- depending on how IEEs work in your district/state -- you may be able to get a voucher from the district that pays for the eval that you are discussing with the psych in May. When you talk to her, that should probably be part of the conversation.

I am sorry the school lottery did not work out, and even more sad for you that his 504 is not being implemented appropriately. It is a legal document generated under federal law, and expressly relates to discrimination against students with disabilities. I am not normally quick to suggest litigation or related strategies...and this move would likely torpedo any hope of working collaboratively with the school (but given what you've described so far, perhaps it's past being a factor), but you should know that failure to implement a 504 plan can result in complaints to OCR (Office of Civil Rights). If OCR decides to investigate, they pretty much have a free hand to turn over any rock they feel like, including in areas not expressly named in the original complaint. So schools and districts -really- don't like OCR investigations. If this is a direction you might consider, it would be helpful to consult with a special education attorney, who should also have other helpful thoughts on how to increase the likelihood of 504 compliance (perhaps less drastic ones). Your upcoming psych consult might know some resources, since often people in her position get pulled in as expert witnesses.
Posted by: sj4iy

Re: Looking for advice on how to proceed... - 02/21/22 02:44 PM

Thanks for the information. We have considered talking to a lawyer about the 504, as well. My hope is that the outside evaluations and information can put pressure on the school accommodate him more. We also thought the same, that it was a last ditch effort because it will make negotiating with the school from now on nearly impossible. I don't want to sue them, of course, but he needs help, educationally and socially.

The psychologist we have an appointment with did mention that she has experience with education lawsuits, so it's nice to know that someone has that experience.

In a bit of surprising news, I contacted the people at PAGE (pennsylvania association for gifted eduation) a couple of days ago and to my surprise, they quickly got back to me. They even set up a zoom meeting with a gifted education director in PA for the day after tomorrow. So this person might help me figure out what to do next and give me some information. I'm honestly surprised they are being so helpful.
Posted by: aeh

Re: Looking for advice on how to proceed... - 02/21/22 05:31 PM

Oh, I do hope that this new resource turns out to be helpful! Nice to hear that someone was responsive.
Posted by: sj4iy

Re: Looking for advice on how to proceed... - 04/27/22 03:30 PM

Another update, since some things have changed. I thought I'd come back and let you know what's going on since everyone has been so helpful here:

1. He has started pulling hair. He does it more at school and the reason he gives: he's bored. His grades are starting to go down and his enthusiasm about school is very low at this point. It's very worrying and we are working on helping him with his therapist and psychologist.

2. We decided on putting him in Sylvan for enrichment tutoring. He's been there for a month and is really enjoying it. They tested him and found that he's on an 8th grade level (he's in 4th grade), and they are working on knowledge gaps. I talked to the director today and she said that they could get him some noise canceling headphones to help him concentrate (because it can get pretty loud in the center during that time slot). The tutor is also in contact with his math teacher.

3. The Director from PAGE gave me some really good information that we intend to take to the school district over the summer or next school year, along with his tutoring information and the private therapist assessment that is coming up (for learning disabilities). We are hoping this helps in our favor this time around, but I don't have my hopes up. I'm glad that he's getting some enrichment through tutoring, and we plan to keep going with it and maybe even add more days as we go through it.

Thanks for reading. I appreciate any and all advice.
Posted by: indigo

Re: Looking for advice on how to proceed... - 04/27/22 06:17 PM

Observing certain attitudes/behaviors may signal that a change is needed and may be overdue.
1) http://giftedissues.davidsongifted.org/B...html#Post174817
2) http://giftedissues.davidsongifted.org/B...html#Post230029
3) http://giftedissues.davidsongifted.org/B...html#Post241385

The hair-pulling may now be a child's imperfect coping mechanism, attempting to deal with the deep stress of feeling trapped and helpless as his hopes, brain cells, and natural curiosity die off at the hands of the school system which does not meet his academic needs. Can the child be provided with some semblance of control/influence over his learning environment, with academic challenge and support based on his ability and readiness? Unfortunately, if the maladaptive behavior is not quickly replaced with a different form of fidgeting which does not result in self-harm, it may become an ingrained pattern (diagnosed as trichotillomania, a mental disorder).

Meanwhile, it is great that the child receives challenge/support/enrichment outside of the classroom. Although it falls far short of the challenge/support the child should be receiving throughout the school day, it shows the child that you understand and care about his academic needs, and that he can talk to you about his unsatisfying/boring school day experiences.
Posted by: sj4iy

Re: Looking for advice on how to proceed... - 04/27/22 09:59 PM

1. I absolutely agree about change. We have been discussing the possibility of homeschooling next year if nothing gets changed, at least until we can find another school for him to go to.

2. My daughter wants to go to an art charter school the year after next. If that happens, we will have more freedom to move to a district that is more accommodating. That is, if he doesn't get into a charter school of our choice first.

3. I have had trichotillomania for most of my life. It started from anxiety and depression, and now it is simply a habit. We are hoping that since it started so recently, agressive therapy now will help my son to not have it become a habit.

4. We are waiting on two assessments: one for the learning disability and another to address the trichotillomania. Unfortunately, nothing moves quickly, so we are doing our best with redirection and finding ways for him to feel satisified in alternative ways.

5. Unfortunately, almost all of the enrichment he's had in his life has come from outside sources and never in school. The school has no academic clubs or extracurricular enrichment activities.

I definitely appreciate the information, especially from the other threads. It was really informative reading through them. I talked to the sylvan director about finding ways of making the experience more tailored to his specific needs and she was very enthusiastic about it.
Posted by: indigo

Re: Looking for advice on how to proceed... - 04/28/22 10:09 AM

sj4iy - I sent you a PM.
Posted by: sj4iy

Re: Looking for advice on how to proceed... - 06/09/22 04:52 PM

New update!

1. My son has finally undergone testing by a private psychologist to see what is going on with his writing. She's writing up the report, so we don't know the results yet, but we're hopeful we'll get some useful information out of it.

2. Private tutoring is going well. He's been there for several months and he's enjoying it a lot. We are considering adding on an extra day per week during the summer because he enjoys it so much.

3. He wanted to learn about chess, so we signed him up for the online chess club at CTY. There were no in-person chess clubs I could find for our area. We have no wish to overload him, so that's all we are signing him up for.

4. He did not get the best grades towards the end of the year because I stopped making him do pointless homework. It was leading towards frustration all around, and I saw no need to push him on it. I told his teacher as much, as well.

Thanks for all of the advice. I'll come back when we know the results.
Posted by: indigo

Re: Looking for advice on how to proceed... - 06/09/22 06:25 PM

Thanks for the update... what wonderful news on many fronts... very positive and encouraging!
Your child is fortunate to have your support and advocacy.
smile

Originally Posted By: sj4iy
... stopped making him do pointless homework. It was leading towards frustration all around, and I saw no need to push him on it. I told his teacher as much, as well.
Coincidentally, this dovetails with an idea or two in some grading reform material which has recently been brought to my attention.

In a nutshell, a defensible grading process clearly defines:
- The purpose of grading,
- Proficiency.

It then follows that grading the completion of "pointless" homework may be seen as punitive:
... - a form of discipling/punishing a student for not completing arbitrary and voluminous assignments,
... - a form of judging how a student spends time outside of school
... rather than functioning how grades "should" function:
... - a form of measuring/communicating a student's uptake and demonstrated understanding of the material.


Links -
1) https://www.amazon.com/Point-Less-English-Teachers-Meaningful-Grading/dp/0325109516 (2020)
2) https://www.amazon.com/Grading-Equity-Matters-Transform-Classrooms/dp/1506391575 (2018)
3) https://www.amazon.com/Get-Set-Successful-Reporting-classrooms/dp/1949539458/ (2020)
Posted by: sj4iy

Re: Looking for advice on how to proceed... - 07/06/22 11:24 AM

We got the results of the testing.

She diagnosed him with Dysgraphia and Processing Speed Disorder (because his ability to follow spoken instructions is a problem in school). She will also recommend he be placed in the gifted program and ask the school to limit school work and homework that involves rote memorization or repetitive work.

He tested at a 7 1/2th grade level for math.
He tested at the 9th grade level for reading comprehension.

She said that she will help us try to get him a GIEP.

His scores dipped a little bit on the WISC V (she said he was being a little careless on some of the tests). But it's still high enough we can make a case for enrichment. He got 18s on both block design and figure weights.

As soon as I get the report, I will take it to the school so we can get a meeting together. Hopefully this gets us meaningful changes to his 504.
Posted by: aeh

Re: Looking for advice on how to proceed... - 07/06/22 05:22 PM

So nice to hear this! Sounds like you have a supportive evaluator who has a good understanding of him.
Posted by: sj4iy

Re: Looking for advice on how to proceed... - 08/25/22 07:54 PM

I've given a copy of the report to the school district. I also asked to have a conversation with the head of Special Education services so that I could tell her what problems we've been having.

-She admitted that the school district hasn't been enforcing or following 504 plans.

-I told her that he needs some kind of enrichment beyond what little they are given him right now. She wasn't even aware that I was looking for a giftedness assessment.

-I also told her that I want him to have an IEP for his writing at the very least. That it's no good saying "he can type, use speech to text or orally answer" in his 504 if they never teach him how to type or offer him a speech to text program.

-I told her that I want more specific accommodations. "More time on tests" means nothing without a specific amount of extra time given.

-I was honest and said that I have been looking at other schools because I feel like he's being discriminated against at this point. Whether it's unintentional or through incompetence, his needs are not being met. I also mentioned the real evidence of direct discrimination against him by his 2nd grade teacher (who put him in a lower reading group for behavior, and not for need).

I'm not sure how well this will be received, but I'm not okay with him being continually ignored. I basically made it known that I'm going to escalate this as far as possible if it's not fixed. I got the papers to sign today to initiate the process, so we'll see how it goes.

Thanks everyone.
Posted by: indigo

Re: Looking for advice on how to proceed... - 09/01/22 01:08 AM

This sounds like excellent advocacy!
Hopefully their follow-through yields positive results.
smile