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Parenting a Child with LD or ADHD

a need to learn more from parents!


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Joined: Nov 03, 2005
Posts: 69138
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Posted Feb 27, 2002 at 7:48:44 PM
Subject: a need to learn more from parents!

I am an Educational Assistant student and I am working with students with learning disabilities. As part of my studies and to gain further insight, I wonder if I may ask some questions of parents of children with learning disabilities out there? When and how did you become aware of your child's learning disability? Was he/she officially diagnosed and in what way? What are the major issues and challenges you or your child face in the school system and what are the strategies you have found to work? What are your frustrations and recommendations to educators to improve their understanding of teaching children with learning disabilities. I hope I am not offending anyone out there - I have chose working with children with disabilities - both physical and cognitive, as a career and I am eager to learn all I can. I know that parents are our greatest teachers with regards to their own children and have a lot of experience to share. I would love to hear your stories and comments. Thanking you in anticipation.

Lynne

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Anonymous
Joined Sep 23, 2014
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Posted:Feb 28, 2002 7:21:24 PM

We became aware of our childs disibility when he started failing third grade. He had already been held back in Kindergarten. He was a very loving, pleasing child and he tried very hard. His teacher suggested ADD so we took him to see a psychiatrist. He of course was diagnosed ADD and put on meds.
After that his scholl hearing check was inconclusive as it always was, so we took him to the pediatrican yet agian. It wasn't until after we suggested a refferal to an Audiologist that we discovered he had a significant hearing loss.
We then also questioned his eyesight, so we asked for a referal to an optomologist. We discovered that he needed a strong pair of glasses. We were absolutely puzzled as to how this could get past the school and the pediatrician. But it did.
We then questioned the ADD diagnosis but after trials with stopping the medication, we eventually were convinced that he needed the meds too.
There was no real improvement in his grades and it wasn't until we met a parent of a child who has LD, that we learned about the disibility testing which was performed by the school. Basically the parent told us that you have to be very loud and very persistant to get any kind of response from the school. We did just that.
They told us that there was a very long list to test children making us feel guilty for waiting for them. We waited. We finally got to meet with the psychologist. She told us that ADD children usually appear to have LDs but they usually do not. I remember sobbing in her office like a baby.
Six months later he was found to have a learnining disibility.
He made some progress with his grades . The next year was a night mare. Fifth grade and and all we heard was..."We are just too busy","If we do that for your son we will have to do it for everyone", "Children need learn how to be responsible for themselves at this age"," Children with disibilities sometimes have the same goals year after year", " He seems to be a different child at home than he does at school", "It seems your child has learned helplessness", " Maybe his medication is not strong enough".
His grades continued to decline. I learned that his tests were being modified in Science and S.S. The teachers would not communincate with us and anything we asked for at the IEP meeting was denied for one reason or another. Keep in mind this is a upper middle class school district.
I began to educate myself by posting here and reading, reading, reading, on all the wonderful websites. I started learning the vocabulary and using it at the IEP meetings. I asked for measurable goals and I asked what his progress was. I got BS answers but I started to be respected and listened to. Suddenly they weren't bucking me anymore. Lo and behold they put him with their best team of teachers for sixth grade and guess what. Not one ounce of trouble this year, grades have improved, and no modified tests. Their explanation...my child has matured. That in my opinion is BS...my child is the same child he has always been...it's the teachers that are different.
Where am I now.......We have an impressive looking IEP. Does it matter? I don't think so. If you want to know the truth I don't believe it is even looked at. They are going to do what they do, regardless of what any of the children's IEPs say. They follow their curriculum plan and help him keep his head above water in homework. I do get more respect now, but I am fighting to get concrete data on my sons progress.
Are there good caring teachers out there?...absolutely...and thank God for that. Do they have to answer to administrators who have to many children to care for and not enough money...absolutely.
Without the really good teachers that my son has been lucky enough to have been placed with...I would hate to think where my son would be now.
I wish you the best and commend you for what you are about to do. I may join you some day!!
Sorry for the length...I am done for now. God Bless!

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Anonymous
Joined Sep 23, 2014
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Posted:Feb 28, 2002 8:08:51 PM

My daughter always struggled with reading and spelling. I spent a lot of time with her working on sight words because she just couldn't manage to sound out words. I bought basal readers, and we worked hard. Writing caused many fits, pencil breaking, screaming, etc. The teachers offered no help. They said she was stubborn, a late bloomer, etc. One even said that spelling didn't matter, that spell check would solve her problems (yeah right, it will fix "through" when she spells it "frew") Not one teacher ever mentioned dyslexia, ld or the need for testing. "What are you so worried about, she is such a nice, creative child" one teacher said. I like her to be literate so she can get a job, I replied.
Finally, one teacher said she should repeat the grade, I was livid. How can you say there is no problem, offer no help and then tell a child they need to repeat. I had her tested privately, superior global IQ, functioning 3 year behind in reading and writing. We did a lot of research, joined the local Ld Chapter, found an excellent tutoring service, did Fast Forword and LIPS, now a year later she is on the honor roll. Languages will always be difficult, but managable.
The moral is, a parent has to educate themselves, find the right program and pay for it if the school will not. You have to ignore the teachers when your gut tells you things aren't right. Most teacher, even many so called specialists have not kept up with the revolution in LD teaching, so much has changed about what we know about the brain and learning in the last 10 yrs. Many are using outdated and useless reading programs on their ld students. They are identifying them much too late (should be done no later than Kindergarten) and then not giving them sufficient hours of remediation.
We moms and dads should be congratulated for our efforts, but for the most part all we receive is scorn. But, in the end all I care about is getting my kid back on track.

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Anonymous
Joined Sep 23, 2014
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Posted:Mar 01, 2002 12:22:20 PM

Hi Lynne,
How wonderful that you are taking the time to ask parents! I like your attitude. I have a 9 year-old son who was identified two years ago. We battled with the school in kindergarten and 1st grade. They were telling us there were problems but it was too early to test for learning disabilities. By the 3rd quarter of first grade, they warned us that he was in danger of failing and that they suggested retention. WRONG!!! We refused and he moved on to second grade and we (the parents) insisted on testing. Low and behold he had significant learning disabilities. The major obstacle which I find the most frustrating is the resistance on the part of the school to just "tell it like it is." They are very stubborn with information. In order for me to learn about my son's disabilities I had to do the research on my own. I really don't know if I was not asking the right questions or if they just don't know as much as we parents assume they do. Even though they say that they want the parents' input (we are supposedly equal partners in this) they want it done their way. Since the beginning they provided services by "pullout sessions" with my son. And from the beginning he complained that he did not want to be pulled out of class. I told the school this at EVERY meeting, I wrote letters, etc. Might there be a more "creative" way to help this child who according to their documentation "shows anxiety with being removed from class" and "parents express concern of child's self-esteem with pullout sessions? IEP solution: Include 10 minute social worker consult w/teacher." It's been a struggle all the way. According to them, this is how they offer services. They have told me on several occassions "You are the adult and must force him to do what is best for him." Well, it finally "hit the fan." This year (4th grade) my son tells us that he would rather be dead then have to go to school. Thanks to them we are now seeing a private pyschologist. Because again, even though his anxiety and desperation is being caused by school, they cannot help him. Their reasoning, "since he has a problem with being singled out and pulled out of class for special ed sessions, it would upset him to pull him out for counselling by the pyschologist and/or social worker." Oh I'm so frustrated at this point! His teacher this year told us in a parent/teacher conference that at home we must take control of this child because some day he is going to be in charge of his own house and if this keeps up he will not be able to do it well. WHAT???? The child has a learning disabilities. She had a long list of complaints to share with us about two months into the school year. Everything on the list had to do with his disabilities and his weaknesses. When she finished her list I calmly asked her if she had read his full case study which would address all of her concerns. She replied no, she had not read his folder. Absolutely unbelievable. All parents of special ed kids have heard this one . . . "I have __ (number) of kids who have an IEP, I can't possibly get to all of their records" Personally, I find this comment unacceptable especially if you are going present a parent with a list of complaints about their child, they need to do their research first. Anyway I could go on and on. I wish I could offer some strategies that have worked for us but we have not found any yet. I can tell you what I would like to see happen. I truly think that the reason why there are so many parent/school conflicts or misunderstandings is for two reasons. Lack of communication and lack of appropriate and continuous training for teachers regarding disabilities. Just like when you go to the doctor, you are counting on the fact that as a medical professional, he/she knows more than you. I hold the same true for educators, I really hoped they could "guide and educate" us through this sometimes heartbreaking process. That is not the case. As awful and disheartening as it sounds it is the "us and against them" mentality. There needs to be more educated teamwork between home and school. I believe this would help to lessen the conflicts. Parents truly want to believe that their children are in capable hands everyday. Many times this trust is broken but I certainly think that it can be improved. I'm sure you will make a wonderful teacher if you maintain your concern. Please remember that parents REALLY want to work WITH the school for the good of their child. We really do not have the time and energy that it takes to constantly battle, but we love our children with all of our hearts and we would be doing them the biggest disservice by not advocating for what they need. Many times a lot of the arguing comes from lack of information and lack of straight-forward communication. Beauracracy and money tend to get in the way.
Good Luck to you and THANK YOU FOR YOUR COMPASSIONATE APPROACH! Your best work can be done by truly trying to understand these misunderstood children. They really are precious to us.

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Anonymous
Joined Sep 23, 2014
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Posted:Mar 01, 2002 12:31:53 PM

I would like to recommend a video for you in case you have not seen it. It can be found in most libraries. "How Difficult Can This Be" by Rick Lavoie is a seminar where he puts educators, parents and friends of the learning disabled through exercises that showed them how it feels to be learning disabled as well as some helpful advice. Very helpful insight, but it made me cry.

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Anonymous
Joined Sep 23, 2014
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Posted:Mar 01, 2002 5:56:01 PM

I just wanted to say that I saw the same video and I felt the same way.
I would also recomend seeing "When the chips are down" this to is by the same guy. Also a web site to check out is www.Schwablearning.org.
I thought this might help those of you who are interesting about learning more
about children with a LD. Let me know what you think. Nancy

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Anonymous
Joined Sep 23, 2014
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Posted:Mar 04, 2002 7:13:29 PM

Hi Mo:

Thank you so much for your very frank and information post, I really appreciate hearing from you. I wish I could say how surprised I am at the kind of responses you were getting from your son's school, but unfortunately, your story seems to be the norm rather than the exception. I applaud your tenacity, it must take a tremendous amount of energy to keep going and a huge degree of self-control when you probably feel like screaming at the school, and no doubt sometimes at your son. I found it particularly interesting when you talked about the respect you gained from the school by being educated and able to go into meetings with "all your ducks in a row". This would have sent an incredibly powerful message to these educators and obviously you got through to them that you were not going to be set aside - you were there for the duration. Again, I applaud you! Does your child have an Educational Assistant (Teaching Assistant - there are so many titles for this job!) working with him? If so, for how long and with what success? If he doesn't have an EA, have you asked about the possibility? I think we tend to look more at what children can't do rather than what they can do, so I would like to ask you what your child's strengths are, what does he love to do, does he ever speak about what he wants to be when he grows up? Thanks again, Mo, for your wonderful post and I wish you, your sone and family all the luck in the world.
Lynne

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Anonymous
Joined Sep 23, 2014
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Posted:Mar 04, 2002 7:17:07 PM

Hi Annie:

Many thanks for your email and I greatly appreciate your candour in talking about your daughter. You have done a wonderful job in educating yourself about LD and helping your daughter - your hard work has paid off and I'd like to say congratulations to your daughter for being on the honour role. That's an excellent achievement! I must agree with your view that teachers are not keeping up with the latest research into LD. I have always found it amazing that teacher do their degree, get their teaching certificate and enter the classroom but at no time is it mandatory for them to take a course in special education! Food for thought, eh? I'd like to ask a couple more questions - I think we often become too preoccupied with what a child can't do and forget to celebrate the things a child can do. What are your daughter's strengths, what does she love to do, what are her ambitions and how do you see the future for her and for your family? Once again, thank you so much Annie for your reply and I absolutely applaud your efforts!
Lynne

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Anonymous
Joined Sep 23, 2014
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Posted:Mar 04, 2002 7:22:47 PM

Hi Lisa:

Thank you very much for your fantastic email, I was absolutely riveted by your account of your struggles. I have had a couple of replies from other parents of children with LD and I'm sad to say that their experiences mirror your's. I agree with your comments that continuous training is needed forteachers. I find it quite worrying that teachers do not have to take a compulsory course in special education and so many enter the classroom with no real knowledge, experience or strategies for working with children with disabilities. What does your son love to do, what are his strengths, what are his ambitions and how do you see his future? I ask these questions because I feel we sometimes tend to focus more on what a child cannot do, rather than what he can. You mentioned the video "How Difficult Can This Be". I have seen it and it is excellent. It really does provide a great insight into how children with LD must feel in the classroom. Thanks again Lisa for your reply, I really do appreciate you taking the time to write.
Lynne

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Anonymous
Joined Sep 23, 2014
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Posted:Mar 05, 2002 9:56:38 AM

Just a quick note. I think times are changing now, that special ed courses are being required even for general ed teachers. Of course, this is only good for those who are becoming new teachers, not for the ones who've already gotten their degrees. But with all the "special" kids that are in the classrooms, any teacher worth his or her salt would take extra courses, do research, and learn more!

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