Is it too late?

Discussion in 'Special Ed 101' started by mistmouse, Sep 16, 2006.

  1. mistmouse

    mistmouse New Member

    I am wondering if it is too late to do anything to help a child who is now in sixth grade and it seems obvious to me she has dysgraphia and dyscalcula, or that there is a high probability. This is a child who has an IEP, but she qualified under an ED lable as well as the gifted.

    Much of her education has been self teaching, or my interventions to try to help her learn things, as she has had very little time in the classroom due to many complications of the IEP being followed and such. She basically has had third grade and fifth grade in a regular classroom where she received daily instruction in the curriculum from the teacher. Due to her intelligence and that most of the work was done at home, so therefore no time constraints, she had managed to stay on grade level. This year in sixth grade it is becoming obvious she cannot maintain the same standards of work, partly because the work is harder, and partly because she cannot write legibly enough for the work to be graded sometimes, and partly because if she does laboriously take the time to write legibly, she does not have time to complete her assignments.

    I always suspected the dysgraphia, but they discounted any problems regarding that, rejected my independent findings regarding visual motor difficulties, but did write accommodations into the IEP. She has an AlphaSmart and is supposed to get reduced writing, but it isn't happening. The AlphaSmart is in the room, but when she needs it, she has to get up and walk in front of the class to get it and she does not want them looking at her, so she doesn't use it. I have tried to encourage her to use it, but I think along with not wanting the other kids to look at her, and that they ask questions, is that the adults told her in the first few days of school that they knew she could write legibly if she just took her time. Yes, she can if she takes two hours to do a 30 minute assignment, and she can't do it consistently.

    As for the dyscalcula, she has never been able to memorize basic math facts, such as when she looks at 6+7 she doesn't automatically remember that is 13, she has to add it on her fingers or count points on the numbers or something. I have never been able to find a way to help her learn her multiplication tables either, we have used many different strategies to attempt to help her learn those. She still uses tick marks on her paper to count it up, or other ways to determine the answer, and often loses track of what she is doing because she can't read what she has written in the borders. Then of course it takes longer than allowed to be able to come up with the answers.

    Until this year she has been able to maintain an A-B grade level, but this year, with increased demands she is struggling and will be lucky to make a C average. Previous to now she has compensated with her intelligence and been able to get by.

    After all this rambling, I guess my question is what can I do to help her overcome these unidentified problems? I am sure it would be pointless to bring it up at an IEP meeting, because their testing is always going to show she has no deficits (funny how that works, isn't it?), and I am not sure what can be done at this late date to help with dysgraphia and dyscalcula, since she is in sixth grade.

    Thanks for any help.

  2. Martie

    Martie Moderator


    Sixth grade isn't ALL THAT old. Is it time for a re-evaluation? The school district is still (under IDEA 2004) to reevaluate every three years unless you waive it. Don't do that, obviously.

    I would ask for a school district re-evaluation and then get an IE. Your difficult child either needs to get some help so she can learn to write better/faster or she needs to learn to compensate, i.e., type. As far as the calculation problems, these also desereve investigation. A caculator can be used for math facts but not for math reasoning. There is a crucial difference between them and both need to be assessed.

    I hope you can get some traction with your school district on this.

  3. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    Has NonVerbal Learning Disorder (NVLD) ever been considered for your daughter?
  4. mistmouse

    mistmouse New Member

    Martie, I am sure if I refresh your memory you will remember we have been to due process twice with this school district, and even a win with the HO and review officer, didn't cause the school district to listen. However, we remained in litigation through the fifth grade school year, and they worked beautifully to follow the BIP and IEP, resulting in a successful school year with large growth in behavior control. At the end of the year they tested her as reading with a GE of 11.6, which I was surprised by, but was probably fairly accurate. She had been reading Harry Potter books and AR testing quite well on them. The reading test done just a couple of weeks ago isn't quite as high, but it is still showing her to be reading at a GE of 9.6 after being out of school for the summer. As for the re-evaluation, I don't guess she is technically coming up for that, since when we were going to due process the school district requested an evaluation, but it was only a psychological evaluation, and I think it pretty much focused on proving/disproving any effect that not following the IEP had on her emotionally. I doubt they are going to agree to a full re-evaluation at this time. If I were to try to set this up and have medicaid pay for it, what type of professional does she need to see? She has seen a variety of professionals over the years, but it was mostly to determine whether there was something causing her to be aggressive or it was to determine emotional state before a due process hearing. Does she need a neurological evaluation or what does she need?

    TM, No NonVerbal Learning Disorder (NVLD) nor any Learning Disability (LD) has ever been considered for my daughter. In fact it has always been the school district's contention that because my daughter is so smart she should just do or behave however it is she is unable to do so. It seems to me the way they are looking at her handwriting is that she is just lazy and if she really wants to she has beautiful handwriting, but she has to labor quite hard to have that handwriting. It is more as if she is "drawing" her letters than has a flow of cursive handwriting. On the other hand, when she types, whether on the AlphaSmart or the computer, she touch types and types fairly fast for a young child. At this time she is refusing to use the AlphaSmart, one because the other kids watch her when she gets up to get it and then ask her questions, and two she actually believes if she takes enough time she can write 'just like everybody else in sixth grade'.

    Thank you both for your input, and I am so sad that if a child is smart enough they can compensate for things until it gets so late in their education, and that then nobody believes there is a problem, because she didn't fail earlier.

  5. Martie

    Martie Moderator


    I remember your situtation with your school district quite well (unfortunately :frown:) You and Dreamer are tied as far as I can tell for "worst" school district.

    I think you should try to get a neuropsychologist evaluation--but some one else might say that an Occupational Therapist (OT) evaluation would be in order. For a child as old as yours, I think that the combination of memory problems for math facts and handwriting problems in the presence of very high reading ability, suggests a nonverbal "wire crossed" somewhere. I would move her to a computer as quickly as possible if she can type. Those come in middle school--I pretty sure the alpha smarts are a grade school thing.

    I know you have been to due process and had psychiatric evaluations ordered. This is different. Your school district should not be treating this as noncompliance. Sixth grade girls don't usually "like" to have messy handwriting--nows boys.... may not care, but most girls do.

    How are things otherwise?

  6. mistmouse

    mistmouse New Member


    I figured you remembered the situation quite well.

    difficult child did have a neuropscyh evaluation in kindergarten when her initial evaluation took place, but I was disappointed that it didn't entail anything medical like MRIs or such. To the best of my recollection without going and getting the report, it seems that most of it was geared toward the results of such and such test not explaining her "violent" behaviors she was showing at school. I always felt it was an effort on the part of the school district to show why they had not provided difficult child with even an interim IEP while holding her in a behavior classroom, because they wanted it to show she was just an undisciplined child. I am not sure what all tests should have been done, but I know that stands out in my mind the part about it not explaining difficult child's violent behavior. Mind you we had a claustrophobic five-year old who was being put in a small time-out room and the door being held when she couldn't calm down, and the "violent" behaviors documented were her fighting to get out of time-out or when being dragged to time-out. However, I was just beginning this warrior mom journey and even though the neuropsychologist evaluation didn't seem complete, it did have the words that difficult child did qualify all along with what information they had before they sent her for the neuropsychologist evaluation, and that it was their recommendation she be given an IEP. I was under the belief that if we could get appropriate services it didn't matter what we called it, and I still believe that is somewhat true if you have a school district who is going to fight every idea you have for why things are the way they are.

    But, now we have a child who is experiencing difficulties at sixth grade level after staying on grade level through all the changes from being sent home almost daily, to being held in time-out for six or seven hours, to being on homebound for more than a semester, to being moved against my wishes from one school to another, to a 45 day placement under a dangerousness complaint (that stretched out to more than twice that), to finally being returned to regular education in fifth grade.

    As for the Occupational Therapist (OT) evaluation, been there done that. I asked for it during the initial evaluation and they said, she had no need. It was kindergarten so I let it go for the time being. It was brought up again in first grade, nothing done. It was brought up again in second grade by the psychologist who was brought on board after the HO ordered it. A screening was done and they found no need for services, although the report says difficult child was asked to copy a sentence and did so with difficulty and decreased legibility and then she was asked to write a sentence of her own and again did so with difficulty and decreased legibility. At her annual IEP I asked for a complete Occupational Therapist (OT) evaluation rather than just a screening, and they did do one, but again saw no deficits...difficult child is above age level. I requested an independent evaluation and was refused. Would have had to go to due process to get that, so we let it go for the time being since they wrote accommodations and modifications into her IEP. Not that they were followed with any consistency, and mostly not at all. So, I began trying to get an independent evaluation but was having difficulty finding somebody in my area that medicaid would approve. The one the developmental behavioral pediatrician wanted is in a different state, as is she, but medicaid said no. I was able to get a referral from PCP to see an Occupational Therapist (OT) at the hospital here. The Occupational Therapist (OT) was great, and he had worked for the school district before so knew the tests they use, obtained them and administered them. He wrote a report showing difficult child did have visual motor and some other deficits. Took it to IEP meeting at beginning of third grade, it was dismissed as not being of value as they considered the service she was getting "medical" rather than educational so the SpEd director said she would order a new Occupational Therapist (OT) evaluation. Same tests done a few weeks after the ones from the independent Occupational Therapist (OT), but only a few weeks later she is above age level rather than the two years behind. Still couldn't get an independent evaluation without going to due process, but accommodations were written into her IEP. It wasn't until part way into fourth grade they provided the AlphaSmart.

    A while back I heard something about left-handed children who hold their hands straight and write the same as a right-hander does, rather than the turned upside down way most left-handers write (don't know if I am explaining it correctly) are also left-brained rather than the typical left-handed/right-brained and vice versa. I am wondering if this is also contributing or if it is another sign of what you are saying about a nonverbal "wire crossed" somewhere.

    I don't think we will get a computer in the elementary school classroom. They have ones for the teachers in there, but the only other one is for taking the AR tests and if it was made available for difficult child then there would be no computer for the other students to take the reading tests on to make their AR points.

    I think it is some of what you are saying about sixth grade girls not liking to have messy handwriting, only it carries over to not wanting to be using the AlphaSmart because it makes her "different". I had hoped we could get through sixth grade in spite of the refusal to use the AlphaSmart, adn in 7th grade she would be given a laptop along with all other 7th graders. However, this is the last year for that program because they lost their funding. So, difficult child goes to 7th grade next year, but the laptops for students program doesn't exist anymore so this year's 7th graders were the last to benefit from that.

    As for how things are going otherwise? difficult child's behaviors are mostly under control. I could not have asked for a better teacher, sped teacher, and aide last year in being supportive, and consistent in following difficult child's IEP and BIP. It is what I always predicted, if the IEP was followed completely and consistently, then difficult child could progress both academically and socially in the regular classroom. Add to that that difficult child has matured to the point of now being embarrassed to "lose it" in front of her peers, and it has resulted in an overall spectacular success behaviorally.

    It is that very phenomenon of now having the behavior issues somewhat in the background, that makes it more obvious with the academic problems along with the more difficult requirements of sixth grade. I have always believed she had dysgraphia, but was fighting a bigger battle at the time, you know what I mean? The dyscalcula possibility hit me when I began trying to figure out what could be making such a drastic difference in her math grades this school year. I knew she was unable to learn basic math facts, but in reading some info on other posts I came across a link that discribed dyscalcula and I said, "that is my daughter".

    We are still in litigation with the school district, and I am not sure there are resources to add to the fight, so I am probably going to be on my own to try to rectify this.

    By the way, I haven't posted in quite some time because I am aware of somebody within the district monitoring my activity on this board and printing out my posts and sending them to the school district's attorney. This came out when some of the forwarded posts came out in discovery in preparing for trial. As you know I had this problem the first time we went to due process, and at that time I had Fran delete my registration and all posts. Then a few months later I reregistered, with no personal identifying information, but some way they are tracking it, so I assume unless they read thousands of posts until they found ones that sounded like what is going on in the litigation, then it must be through my email address.

    Thanks for any and all help. You have always been a great source of help Martie, as has Sheila. It is a shame I can't give and get more support because of the fear of whatever I write being read by school district personnel and passed on to their attorney. I have never given them the name of this site, and have no idea how they found it the first time.

  7. dreamer

    dreamer New Member

    Uh....yikes. and wow.
    I am so sorry.
  8. Martie

    Martie Moderator


    The "wire crossed" is a figure of speech. Northwestern used to say it about my easy child who had a serious expressive language delay in the presence of otherwise high ability. I do not think that MRIs are yet capable of revealing these subtle glitches.

    Personally, I believe your school district simply falsifies test results because the person who found out what they were using got different scores than they did a short time later.

    I do not know very much about how to get evaluations. done under medicaid. The good news is your difficult child CAN learn some sort of compensation for both of her problems because she is so bright. It is always better to NOT have a problem, but difficult children who are bright have wider options in learning compensatory strategies. The downside is that they sometimes never get services or get them too late to matter because they don't fail "enough."

    I'm glad your difficult child is doing so much better behaviorally in regular the classroom. I knew she could do it if she got the chance. It doesn't seem that this year's teacher is as good. Any chance last year's teacher has an opinion on the handwriting and math. Not to put her on the spot--but you might wat to ask her if she did things that helps that were not committed to paper because that was not the major focus last year.

    Let me know if I can do anything else--I don't know what that would be--but feel free to e-mail but don't go through the site--my e-mail is public--I hope your school district can't read regular e-mail. The sicko thing is if they are going through posts, it is at tax payer expense.


  9. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    Your email address is readable by the public if you have it as visible in your profile. You probably should check at My Home that it's not publicly visible. There's a box to check or uncheck.
  10. mistmouse

    mistmouse New Member

    Yes, I knew that it was readable by the public, but when I deleted my original registration and then reregistered, it still meant somebody had to find me in some other way before they were able to tie me to my email address. When I first reregistered, I didn't have my email address visible. At this point I could go and change that to make it no longer visible, but they already know my screen name so unless I completely delete this registration and then start over, they will still be able to track me by that. It then means I am starting over on this board and nobody then knows who I am, and to tell all of you means I am putting the history out there again for them to read and "find" me again. I can't understand what they hope to gain by tracking me on this board, but I certainly feel violated.