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Parenting a Child with LD or ADHD

LD or not-how to know?


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Joined: Aug 01, 2008
Posts: 6
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Posted Aug 01, 2008 at 2:24:38 PM
Subject: LD or not-how to know?

I am searching for answers to my daughter’s struggles any advice on what to do. I apologize for the at-length description but I didn't want to leave anything important out.

She is a 7th grader at a suburban middle school in MA. Against my instinct I started her in kindergarten on the younger end (August baby). She had passed the screening test and everyone said she was “bright”, she’ll do fine. Long/short after a child study was done she repeated first grade ( she wasn’t following age appropriate multiple directions so the thought was she needed more time.) She did fine in the second pass at first grade and fine in second grade. She had excellent teachers both years—the classrooms were very dynamic. In third grade she had a teacher in her last year before retirement and although she was possibly a good teacher in her day, she did not serve my daughter well. My daughter would describe her as boring; she taught mostly from her desk and was absent 13 times when I finally complained. My daughter had a hard time staying engaged. She would make comments like “Shannon if you don’t pay attention I’ll tell your mother”. “Shannon if you don’t pay attention I’ll write it on your report card”. Shannon would come home upset because in her mind she was trying her hardest and it wasn’t enough. Things got to the point that her academic self-concept was so low I intervened and went to the school psychologist. She arranged for a child study to be done including the Conner’s scale. The Conner's scale did not indicate she had attention issues but as a result of the study she did receive regular ed remedial tutoring in English and math the remainder of that year and in math the next two years. Her 4th grade teacher was very dynamic and she had mostly Bs and her 5th grade teacher was known on the grapevine to be a bit too lax—another teacher in his last year before retirement—and she got mostly Bs. Because of her low MCAS scores in grade four (bottom of “Needs improvement”--just above “Warning”) I asked for a core evaluation which was done and uncovered no areas of weakness. She just finished sixth grade and will enter seventh in the fall.

In my observation and hers there is a big disconnect between her effort and the output (grades). She works very hard to be a good student and this discourages her. She spends an average of two hrs/night on homework EVERY night and ends up in tears at least once/week. When she works she is typically on-task and seems to have all the habits of a good student--she puts her homework first, she studies, she is organized, she plans ahead and she works independently. Compared to my son she has amazing executive function skills and appears to be on task when she works. She receives our paid private tutoring in math and of course we help on homework as needed. In spite of all this (and the fact that we held her back under the assumption that her struggles were developmental) she struggles to comprehend and retain information and she is getting mostly Cs and Ds in all core subject areas—nothing above a B-. We met with her teachers and one teacher said he might question a small weakness in processing speed but this did not show up on the testing. The school psychologist suggests she may be "internally distractible".

Grades themselves aren’t important to my husband and I, rather what is important is that she is doing her personal best however; what she is clearly and loudly articulating to us is grades are important feedback to her. I see her loosing will with comments like: “what is wrong with me that I can’t get better then a C??” and lately “why should I bother, I'm only going to get a C”. She is asking for help when she makes comments like “I am trying my hardest and it’s not working” and “I wish just one time I could get a 100”. Our chief concern is her academic self confidence and the continued motivation to succeed not slip.

Despite our efforts and meetings with teachers Shannon’s struggles remain a mystery. On the grand scheme her problems are not major however, they are important to her (and my husband and I).Testing has not reveled any rationale for the disconnect between her motivation to “be a good student” and “get good grades” and the end product (grades), between what we see and what teachers see. I have a few observations (below) however, without a Dx disability I don't feel I've been heard.

Could all this be the result of inadequate preparation in the elementary grades? or is there something more that is not showing up on the tests? Should I ask the school to retest or should I bring her to a neurologist? If she does see a neurologist, will it be worth the investment? Do I really have her labeled as attention deficit before something can be done? Maybe she does not have attention issues, maybe the teachers are in fact, boring and not tapping in to her learning style. Why can't the teacher's just acknowledge she works hard and wants to be a good student and tune into what works for her and differentiate the instruction accordingly? As we start off the new school year, should I attempt to explain all this to the teachers or just see how things go?

observations:

• Shannon need a dynamic, engaging classroom environment.
• Shannon does her best work with teachers whose discipline style tends towards the positive. Negative statements designed to motivate her have the opposite effect; positive encouragement about her abilities/constructive feedback about her work have proved key.
• Shannon requires ample differentiated instruction and consistent and frequent repetition of concepts before they “stick”.
• At the beginning of the school year when she approaches her work a lot of times she’ll get stuck—akin to writer’s block (suggesting a problem with fluency) but after she gets to know the teachers and the routine this usually eases up however she still struggles.





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Lori W
Joined Aug 01, 2008
Posts: 6

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Posted:Aug 01, 2008 3:01:12 PM

PS: more info on Shannon's testing...

WISC scores : Verbal Comp and Working Memory-High average, Perceptual, Processing and Full Scale-Average.
WJIII: Written Lang, Reading, and Oral Lang-all scores average. Math skills-mix of average and high average.

no suspect scores on sub-tests.

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scifinut
Joined Jul 11, 2005
Posts: 550

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Posted:Aug 01, 2008 5:44:28 PM

You may want to look into an outside evaluation. A neuropsych eval by an outside evaluator may give more information about what is going on. It might also be helpful to have her tested for anxiety disorders. Anxiety could be why it takes her a bit to get "into the swing" of things with new teachers, make learning new concepts difficult because they aren't familiar yet, and why she responds best to dynamic, positive environments. Her anxiety over grades could also be puting a roadblock in her learning.

scifinut mom to: ms 16, bp/adhd/anxiety/complex ld mr. 20, add/dyslexic I hear and I forget I see and I remember I do and I understand. -Anonymous

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majorv
Joined Jun 01, 2008
Posts: 26

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Posted:Aug 01, 2008 8:13:30 PM

Anxiety could very well be part of the problem. It certainly wouldn't hurt to talk to her teacher and let her know about your daughter's learning style and your concerns. The teacher might be more observant and keep you posted on anything she notices. By talking to her you'll also probably find out her teaching style. Hopefully, they match.

It's tough to figure out what's going on when achievement and IQ scores are all about average. My son has problems related to receptive language and has difficulty understanding verbal instruction if there aren't many visuals. You might consider talking to her pediatrician.

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Beth
Joined Feb 22, 2008
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Posted:Aug 01, 2008 8:32:53 PM

I would definitely look into an independent evaluation. There is a great web site
http://millermom.proboards107.com/ that is a great resource. There are a number of people there who can review your daughters test results and give you feed back. If you do go there, post your daughters test scores, including the subtest scores. They have been a tremendous help to me. Good luck.

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Lori W
Joined Aug 01, 2008
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Posted:Aug 04, 2008 8:56:30 AM

Thank you all for your input. I have follow-up questions then that I will post in a new thread.

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annette10dance
Joined May 13, 2008
Posts: 91

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Posted:Aug 05, 2008 8:43:43 AM

Most physicians do NOT agree with grade retention. In fact, it is an archaic practice that should be ceased. Again, there is no evidence that grade retention helps a child to improve in school.

My son is classified as special education. He has low language scores and low memory scores. He is reading at a first grade level. He will be going into a special education third grade classroom . He has strengths too. He is good in math and has an opportunity of being placed in a regular math class.

I like reading Dr. Mel Levines book "A mind at a time", "The myth of laziness" and "Keeping a head in school". It talks about learning problems and how some kids have memory problems. It talks about output problems.

Has the school tested her long term or short term memory? Her working memory is okay, but what about short term memory?

Our school does a detailed evaluation with language (expressive and receptive_, fine motor, gross motor, and a psychoeducational test which provides information about memory, reading and comprehension and analytical skills.

I recently did a vision processing test with my son. It showed convergence insufficiency and he needs vision therapy. Actually, the 2 eyes are not working together to read across the page. In 3rd and 4th grade, everything is visual or auditory. My son is weak in both areas. So, if we can improve his visual memory and recall, he can overcompensate for auditory memory and recall or Central Auditory Processing (CAPD). A good book to read is "when a child struggles;the myth of 20/20 vision" by Dr. David Cook.


You need to do alot of reading and homework. See a Neurodevelopmental Pediatrician that can spend some time with you and your daughter to find out what her global delays are and the best way the school can help her.

I know you want to rely on what the school says or does, but you have to do your own homework in this area and follow up with a physician. Let us know how things are going.

Annette

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Lori W
Joined Aug 01, 2008
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Posted:Aug 05, 2008 5:42:47 PM

Well, I can see now why a physician may not agree with grade retention! :) I will definitely get a copy of Dr. Levine’s book at the library. The school did not test her long or short term memory so far as I can tell. Only the Working mem. I assume this would be part of a neuro psych? I’ve not seen any signs of memory problems, only perhaps in her test performance. Would a vision test be part of a neuro psych?

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scifinut
Joined Jul 11, 2005
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Posted:Aug 05, 2008 8:36:35 PM

Vision testing would need to be done by an educational optometrist or vision therapist. This testing would not be part of a neuropsych eval. This is also not testing a regular optometrist would do.

http://www.children-special-needs.org/

http://www.visionhelp.com/

scifinut mom to: ms 16, bp/adhd/anxiety/complex ld mr. 20, add/dyslexic I hear and I forget I see and I remember I do and I understand. -Anonymous

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Rosco P. Coltrane
Joined Jun 28, 2007
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Posted:Aug 06, 2008 11:14:02 AM

Working memory is basically the same as short-term memory.

Certain WISC-IV subtests tap into short-term auditory and visual memory.

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crella
Joined Sep 28, 2008
Posts: 1

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Posted:Sep 28, 2008 2:36:28 AM

Hi, I know this is an old thread, but the title got my attention.

I am quite concerned about my niece, she's 16. I've been worried about her for about 8 years now...I know it may be none of my business, but I worry just the same. Unfortunately, her mother takes any suggestion that her daughter may need help as an insult (even though phrased kindly 'Do you think B might need a little extra help in math? She seemed perplexed by her recent assignments') and blows up, 'Not MY child!''How dare you say something's wrong with my child?'. As they years go by, however, things seem to be getting worse and my brother is quite concerned as well.

I have been wondering all these years if B might have a learning disability. When she was 8, I remember her putting one of a pair of dice away when we went to play Monopoly 'I don't understand two dice, mummy said I can play with just one'. A year later it was about the same..if we played with both dice, she'd have to touch each of the dots and add them up, whispering to herself as she did. She mouthed the words as she did all school reading as well. Around this same time she had a terribly hard time trying to learn to read an analogue clock, my father gave up and changed all the clocks to digital readouts after spending 6 months or more trying to teach B to read a clock face.

Another problem I noticed from ages 8-10 was impulsiveness, taking food off the counters or out of the freezer and eating it without asking, when we'd go shopping it was a constant litany of 'Please put that down' 'Don't touch that please' 'No, I'm not buying that''Please stop touching things'.

Now, as I said, she's 16. She is failing school, all her report cards are all Fs or Ds and have been for the past three years. She 'doesn't know' why she can't do the work, I don't know how she's being promoted and not helped somehow(but that's another problem I suppose).

All these years we've had a constant pattern of her tripping, falling, crashing into furniture as well.

Another aspect is that she scribbles all over her belongings, school books, backpack, all her notebooks, handbags,and she breaks things all the time ,just seems to mess with them till she breaks them...she's on her 3rd or 4th cell phone because she twists and breaks them. When I visited her last month, in that time she broke numerous pens, and broke the elastic that ran through a bracelet and ruined it, three days after she got it as a birthday present. My mother says (when upset)that she's not going to give her anything anymore 'because she just breaks everything' It seems she's always unconsciously picking at things.

She has a boyfriend and he is teaching her elementary school math all over again. He says she does not understand fractions or long division at all.She cannot spell, she messages me on MSN with everything written phonetically.

B's mother does not see it, or denies it. I saw what I considered symptoms long ago and my brother, who teaches high school, said he thinks she may have an LD. I dont' want to say anything without being somewhat sure, but if she has an LD and doesn't get help,she's going to be in serious trouble once she gets out of school.

The more I see, the more worried I get. Does this seem like LD, or behavior problems? I want to be sure before I say anything and start WWIII. However, I feel strongly that someone has to help this girl!

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annette10dance
Joined May 13, 2008
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Posted:Sep 28, 2008 10:43:48 AM

I really enjoyed reading Dr. Mel Levine's books "A mind at a time", "The myth of Laziness" and "Keeping A Head in School". I found the information to be most valuable and many times, I go back and re-read certain sections.

My son was not retained. He is in special education 3rd grade class and doing well. He also had difficulty following multi-step directions. This was address in speech therapy when he was in first grade.

I have to agree, that if a child has 1 bad teacher, and misses learning a concept, that child is lost in that subject for several years. So, it seemed like your daughter caught up to learning when she had a better teacher.

Dr. Mel Levine's book "The Myth of Laziness" explains alot about output failure. There is even a story about a straight A student who plagerized a paper because she experienced "output" failure when writing.

My son had a psycho-educational evaluation done by the Child Study Team. The Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children (KABC-II) shows short term memory scores, plannng, visual processing, long term storage and retrieval, crystallized ability and fluid crystallized intelligence. He also had an occupational therapy evaluation and speech therapy.

My son has low language scores and low memory scores. This means, learning new material will take a long time and he could be on level 1 reading materials for a period of 1 -2 years.

Also, in higher grades, everything is visual or auditory. My son has weak auditory processing skills. So, he is getting vision therapy for convergence insufficiency. I am hoping he will be abbe to overcompensate for weak auditory skills. The book "When a child struggles: The myth of 20/20 vision" by Dr. David Cook is a good book to read too.

I think some reading can help you to identify the weakness in your child. You will then be able to ask the Child Study Team for more detailed evaluations in specific areas. Let us know what you find out.

Annette

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