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Gifted & LD

The following are past questions and answers from Dr. Larry Silver on this topic.

My daughter takes AP classes and gets good grades but shows signs of a learning disability. How do we get her tested?

I have a 12-year-old daughter who has shown signs of dyslexia for the past six years. She was finally tested and diagnosed through our school this year.

I also have a 15-year-old daughter who will be going into the tenth grade and is very concerned about also having symptoms of dyslexia. She has always been in honors classes and is presently in all AP classes for next year. She works extremely hard to make A's, but struggles with spelling and her handwriting has been bad in the past (although it is improving).

She always gets a bad grade when she has to write an essay. She says she struggles at putting her thoughts together, etc. She also had trouble in geometry — she had to check the formulas over and over because she transposed numbers very easily.

She is very concerned about having to take the PSAT and SAT and worried she'll get a bad grade on the essay portion of the test. She took the SAT in seventh grade as part of the Duke Talented Identification Program and scored very well except on the survey part.

What can I do to get her tested? Considering she makes A's in honors classes, I doubt that the school district would readily test her. This is the problem I had with my youngest daughter. She compensated well and we had tutors, and it would take us hours to do homework, but she would make A's. It wasn't until this year, when she didn't pass the standardized mandated Texas test and was failing, that the district finally tested her.

You are correct that formal testing would be the only way to clarify if your older daughter has a disability. It might be that she has learning disabilities that are reflected in a different way than with your younger daughter.

Since she is doing so well in public school, I doubt you could get these studies done there. You will have to find a private psychologist (or diagnostic team) to do the psycho-educational testing. The results will help you find out what your daughter might need. These data would be required if you requested accommodations for the PSAT or SAT.

Can our daughter be both gifted and learning disabled at the same time?

My daughter is in a Gifted and Talented program in our school corporation and is in the fourth grade. Since starting the program last year, we (along with her teachers) have noted a difficulty in spelling. She excels in everything, except reading aloud, retaining what she reads and spelling. Her state tests came back and confirmed she belongs in the gifted program. All her scores were well above average, especially Math. Her spelling score was in the 39th percentile, still in the average range but on the low end. It has also been noted, whenever she works on her own in class, she is not able to sit still (she rocks or shifts back and forth) and has even been seen to flex her hands so bad she is not able to type on a computer, hold a pencil or even write.

Whenever we look over our daughter's work, we have to ask her for clarification on several of her words because her words are not spelled anywhere close phonetically. Her teacher suggested that an evaluation be done to determine what kind of learning disability our daughter has. This teacher has been working with the gifted program for over ten years so we feel very confident in her opinion of the situation. We were told testing would not be granted because she does not have the scores or classroom grades to support her difficulties.

How is it that our daughter can read through her entire state tests, score well above average, do well in all her subjects and not be able to spell or restate what she just read? Is this a simple case of needing to learn phonics or could there be a disability that needs diagnosed? Your help and any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Meredith

Meredith,

I strongly support her teacher's suggestion that an evaluation be done to clarify why she is having these difficulties. You can be bright and gifted and still have learning disabilities. In my mind, contradictions are clues. The testing should help to clarify the reasons for her difficulties. If, with the support of this teacher, you still cannot get your school system to do formal testing, you might have to seek a private professional to do these studies.

When should my daughter be tested again for LD?

Our 13-year-old daughter tests well for reading (consistently the 90+ percentile for her grade level), writes beautifully, and draws/paints exceptionally well. She also has a lovely singing voice and had some success for three years as a Suzuki piano student. (The emphasis with this method is on hearing, rather than reading the music.)

On the other hand, math has been consistently difficult and despite repeated lessons, she has great difficulty interpreting--or even remembering the names of certain musical symbols. (I have assumed that the math and music problems are related.)

In addition, she is very disorganized, and though she will sometimes remember to write assignments in a planner, does not have the presence of mind to check it later. As a result, books stay in the locker or wherever she left them.

She also has serious problems memorizing lines of poetry, songs, or scripts and though she would like to participate in drama clubs, she does not trust that she will find the words at the right moment.

My sense is that this isn't simply a problem of confidence. He is a bright kid but is having serious problems in school. She was tested in second grade when the math problems began to surface. Results were 'inconclusive.' Should she be tested again, and what for?

Thank you,
Mary

The only way to clarify where your daughter's areas of learning strengths and learning weaknesses are is through formal testing. These studies are called psycho-educational evaluations.

If such studies were done at age seven, they would not be valid at age 13. She will need to be retested. These studies will help to clarify her areas of learning abilities and, if present, her areas of learning disabilities.

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