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My son is 14 years old and in the ninth grade. He was diagnosed with a language processing disorder in third grade. He struggles with completing assignments, and remembering to write his work down. Teachers in high school expect him to be able to self-advocate and ask for extended time on assignments if he can’t finish them in class. He is not doing this as he has trouble asking questions of adults. To top it all off, he is also gifted, which frustrates teachers. They know he is smart and think that he could do the work if he wanted to. How can I help my son?


Oh, how easy it is to blame the victim. Your son is struggling in school and the assumed reason is that he is not trying or doesn’t care. I bet he really is trying and that he cares deeply. Let’s look at what you have written from a “let’s figure out what the problem is?” rather than “let’s assume he doesn’t want to try.”

He was diagnosed with a language processing disorder in third grade. These problems can be improved but they do not go away. They take different forms by high school. One might be writing fluency. He has difficulty organizing his thoughts in order to write. He struggles and looks at the page but nothing comes out. He also has difficulty organizing his materials and time.

Another way the language processing disorder might show itself now is in a receptive and expressive Language Disability. He has difficulty following what is said and gradually gets lost. He has difficulty organizing his thoughts and finding the right words to express him self.

My advice: suggest that his school do a comprehensive psycho-educational and speech language evaluation. (At best, the last one was done five years ago.) If the results confirm my suspicions, ask them to provide services and accommodations rather than complaints. If they refuse, you might want to do these studies privately and take them back to the school. Be your son’s advocate and insist that his teachers stop criticizing and start to help you find out why he has problems. (You are welcome to give them your question and my response.)

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