Question on Visual Motor Integration

Discussion in 'Special Ed 101' started by PollyParent, Oct 15, 2007.

  1. PollyParent

    PollyParent New Member

    As I'm preparing for my son's annual IEP (on Wednesday morning. Eek!), I find that I have a question regarding Visual Motor Integration and possible hyperlexia.

    I'm preparing to ask the school district to have his texts on computer, and to have texts available to him in a recorded format. He definitely processes information better aurally and orally, and he has had persistent problems with writing and refusal to complete worksheets. Most of his behavior problems come from him throwing worksheets to the ground or ripping them up. I have asked again and again that he not be made to complete worksheets or that his aide read them and have him dictate the answers. (Not surprisingly, every time they have done this, and he has been willing to do so, he completes the worksheet accurately. The rationale for not continuing to do this is that they are trying to keep in in the classroom, and the dictation needs to occur in the hallway. Once he is in the hallway, he has a lot of trouble re-entering the classroom.)

    He has been diagnosed with Asperger's, Anxiety, and Intermittent Explosivity. His Asperger's seems to have elements of hyperlexia. I have recently noticed, for example, that although he has listened to the first three Harry Potter books, he is unable to recognize or to sound out the names of familiar characters as he reads book four on his own. So although he tests very high in reading comprehension, he is having significant difficulty in decoding multisyllabic words.

    From last year's school district psychoeducational report, I read the following:

    <div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">According to the results of the WISC-IV, difficult child is currently functioning the average to superior intellectually (Verbal Comprehension IQ=128, Perceptual Reasoning=108, Full Scale IQ-120) ranking at about the 91st percentile relative to other 8 year olds. The 20 point difference between his Verbal and Perceptual abilities is significant, suggesting that he is able to comprehend and express verbal concepts better than he is able to understand visual and visual motor tasks and think nonverbally. Relative to other 8 year olds as well as to his own performance, difficult child demonstrates superior short term auditory memory, word knowledge and understanding of vocabulary, and verbal abstract reasoning abilities. Relative to his own performance, difficult child has a weakness in his visual perceptual abilities and understanding spacial relationships. It should be noted, however, that difficult child's weaknesses are still within average parameters when compared with peers of his chronological age and no processing deficits appear to exist.

    On the VMI, a measure requiring difficult child to copy a series of increasingly complicated designs, he earned a score indicative of high average visual-motor integration and organization for his age. </div></div>

    There's further discussion in the report about his inability to concentrate, his withdrawal in the classroom, his own feelings of low self-worth, aggression, his lack of social skills, and his significant anger control problems.

    I took him to a private educational consultant (who is not able to make the IEP meeting) and she pointed out that in comparison to his other abilities, he does show a weakness in this area, and that for him it is a frustration. She recommended getting his texts in a recorded format. I also plan to ask again for him to be able to type his answers and essays and to receive further instruction in keyboarding or touch typing. He can dictate a well formed paragraph, complete with topic sentence, supporting details, description, and a conclusion, but he will not write it down. Then he has difficulty typing it, so he forgets what he said and gives up.

    So, as I make this request, how do you think the school district will respond? I'm expecting them to come back with the need further assessments, but I'm nervous that those assessments will not show a need for accommodations if his problems do not rise to the level of disability. How do I respond to their request for further assessments? Can I hold them to the "weakness" demonstrated in their own report?

    I'm trying to point out which accommodations and interventions HAVE worked and building on those in this IEP. My main request is that he immediately begin social skills training with a properly trained teacher, limit his unsupervised interactions with groups until his has built skills, and continue his one-on-one tutoring with an extremely gifted and patient retired teacher that the school district has provided for him. Even the tutor has noted that difficult child would do better with recorded information and conversational learning styles, and he is prepared to advocate for that in the IEP, which he will attend.

    Does anyone have a child with Visual-Spatial-Motor integration deficits? What accommodations and interventions have worked?

    PollyParent
     
  2. Martie

    Martie Moderator

    Hmmm,

    I believe what you say about how your difficult child learns best but it is odd that his VMI would be in the above average range. The VMI also taps fine motor coordination and motivation, so it is far from a perfect measure. The school district may use it to show "no disability." In that case, I would go for the behavioral/frustration component. difficult child should not be left to rip up worksheets he can do via an accommodation. It is not good for him and will become "a problem" that does not need to be there.

    Therefore, combine what you want in a BIP and ask for social skills training--with the emphasis on "qualified" teacher. This approach may get you what you want without taking on the "disability" or not fight because there is a clear negative impact.

    Good luck on Wednesday--let us know what happens.

    Martie
     
  3. Sheila

    Sheila Moderator

    I agree to go with-what works.

    What does the Occupational Therapist (OT) evaluation say about motor skills?
     
  4. PollyParent

    PollyParent New Member

    He has had two Occupational Therapist (OT) evaluations done by the school district last year.

    The first found that he had difficulty with handwriting, and that he avoided it, but offered no suggestions as to how to mitigate his frustration. Further suggestions for the classroom teacher included "Henry Occupational Therapist (OT)" first thing in the morning and before coming back into the class after recess. This was never implemented. I still am not clear on what the Occupational Therapist (OT) thought the classroom teacher was supposed to do first thing in the morning with him. Certainly the classroom teacher was not trained in "Henry Occupational Therapist (OT)." No gross motor deficits were noted. A further suggestion, which I objected to in writing, was to place a five minute timer at his desk to encourage him to stay on task. It is my experience that timers cause him anxiety. He is not able to work during the five minutes but instead focused on how little time he has left as the timer clicks down. Overall it was a very disappointing Occupational Therapist (OT) evaluation.

    (There's an interlude here where son refused to enter class at all, his aide quit, and within about four weeks, his entire environment had changed. The police were called on him one day when he dove under a desk and refused to come out, eventually making threatening statements about doing harm to himself if they didn't leave him alone. When the police arrived, he took it as them escalating the situation. He was fairly traumatized by it all (dry heaves, persistent nightmares, phobias about police cars pulling us over). After a week off school to find him a different aide, he came back to school, and when he was loud in the hallway outside his classroom, another aide, a friend of the first aide, tackled him to the ground. After that, he started eloping from school and from home and refusing to even enter the hallway near his classroom, let alone do work in the classroom. Then he had a new case manager assigned who requested a more in depth Occupational Therapist (OT) analysis.)

    The second Occupational Therapist (OT) was not complete, as difficult child refused to participate in the second day. A written report was never prepared as the evaluation was not complete, but preliminary verbal reports were that no gross motor deficits were found. At this time he started staying in school (although not in his classroom -- in a conference room with a specEd teacher), so we decided not to stress him by re-evaluating him for Occupational Therapist (OT). He declared that he hated this Occupational Therapist (OT) therapist because she "thought the worse of him," and that "she talked down to him."

    I had hoped that at the start of this year we would reassess for Occupational Therapist (OT), but that has not happened before the date of his annual review.

    I'm not adverse to assessing, but I really would just like to relieve his frustration so that he has a CHANCE at improving his behavior, and not wait on interventions until every possible test is run.

    When he's on the computer, he's calm. When he's asked to write, he explodes or refuses to complete work. I wouldn't say that he's easy peasy on the computer, but he's not throwing it to the ground either.

    I guess that's truly the best argument I can make, now that I've typed it out here.

    I'd still be interested in learning more about interventions for children with visual/spatial/motor issues.

    PollyParent
     
  5. Sheila

    Sheila Moderator

    Our difficult child has motor skill delays. Occupational Therapist (OT) helped tremendously. It's my understanding that motor skills are the foundation upon which all further learning is based. If I knew then what I know now, we would have hit Occupational Therapist (OT) early and hard.

    I can't remember all the strategies/accommodations we used but recall a couple. Those days were so bad that I think I've tried to block them from my mind. lol

    One accommodation was reduced author writing and reduce clutter on worksheets. One was trying to teach difficult child to use a blank sheet of paper to cover, say half the page of math problems. Tried to teach him to use graph paper so he could learn to align numbers in a column appropriately. Tried to teach him to use ruler or half-sheet to place under the sentences he was reading. Scribing worked very well, but it's definitely not something one would want to continue indefinitely if there's therapy to improve the situation.
     
  6. Kjs

    Kjs Guest

    difficult child had same type of report back from school testing. WE have always known writing was difficult for him, but excused it to the fact that he skipped second grade and that is where they learned cursive.

    We were not really aware of the difficulty until the testing last year. He is in 8th grade this year. The IEP wasn't complete until the last week of school last year.

    What has worked is the use of the computer for all free form writing assignments. There is a computer in each class, and he has access to it for any essay questions on tests, any writing assignment. If the computer is not available, he is able to go to the library.

    He chooses to take some assignments home. Even the worksheets (exception = Math). He can type 100 WPM, so he finds it so much faster and easier to type the questions, or just the answers and we staple it to the worksheet. Much less frustration, much less fighting. And..If he forgets to turn it in, or is lost by himself or teachers (don't know which, but many have been lost) we have a copy of all assignments on the computer. (and if it continues to be an issue with Math, we will photo copy all assignments)

    He has written into his IEP the use of email or a flash drive to send incomplete assignments home to work on.

    Also added to IEP this year is "extended time outs" In which case, they will call me if the anxiety/frustration level is very high, and I can pick him up for the day, for an hour, what ever it takes. That we did one day, and you could see the relief just looking at him. Some days all the counselors, social workers, teachers, staff members are just too difficult to deal with. I wasn't aware of that option. Principal pointed that out.

    Good luck. IEP's make me so nervous.
     
  7. PollyParent

    PollyParent New Member

    I just got off the phone with the Director of Special Education, who will be attending the IEP. I told her essentially what I was looking for, a more structured day, social skills training, upping the curricular "rigor" in a one-on-one setting and then using the classroom experience as a test of his social skills, and having text books on computer. Was a little nervous about what her response would be, and that I was giving her time to prepare a significant rebuttal to my requests.

    I was on the phone with her regarding an entirely separate issue, and then she mentioned that she would be at the IEP, and I asked why, she told me (evaluation of a district employee) and then she asked how combative I expected the IEP to be, and then I told her what I was going to request. I have a singular relationship with her as I am also a Board member. It's all a bit odd.

    She indicated that with the exception of finding someone who was really qualified in social skills training, that nothing I had brought forward was surprising and that the District would be saying yes to most everything. We'll have to work out in the IEP some particular issues regarding his aide, the scheduling of my son's day, and how exactly we are going to implement the social skills training part. I was pretty pleased.

    Lest any of you think that I'm getting this because I'm a Board member, uh, no. If anything it's been harder to get services for my son because the school district doesn't want to be seen as favoring the child of a Board trustee. And then I have the unequaled pleasure of having my son's last IEP addendum contents leaked to the town newspaper. Joy of joys. The paper didn't print the details, but the editor did tell me over the phone that "he knew everything there was to know about my son" while congratulating himself that he hadn't yet printed anything. I FAXed him a copy of the Federal student privacy laws. Now he's angry at me. Yay.

    I still have a he77 of a lot of work to do before tomorrow morning, but I'm feeling less nervous about the meeting itself.

    I'm not really a fan of IEPs. I'm not sure that anyone on this board is.
     
  8. PollyParent

    PollyParent New Member

    Update on how the IEP went.

    First of all, it was held in a very small room with lots of adults sitting on kiddie chairs. Odd.

    Second, we met for almost five and a half hours.

    Third, my son stayed in the meeting, because he wanted to know what was being discussed and wanted to be able to talk about himself, for about four hours.

    On the other hand, everyone in the room really appreciated that I brought coffee for the meeting. It was a good ten dollar investment.

    Gosh, am I tired. It's the next morning and I'm still tired!

    I think the underlying current of the whole meeting was the SpecEd Director saying, "Yes. We have to provide services for this child so that he will be less frustrated. We have to keep the needs of the other children in the class in mind, but let's get the program that we think will work on paper, and then we'll figure out later what the logistics are."

    She must have said about ten times "Logistics are not a topic for an annual IEP discussion."

    But the principal kept hopping in to say that there were no rooms, the child couldn't work in the hall, she didn't have enough staff (even though SpecEd hires them, so it's up to them to provide, not her), and a couple of times she asked Saul a series of very leading questions designed to demonstrate to the group that he didn't have complete control of his frustrations, so offering him differentiated services would be a source of frustration for him, if, for example he wasn't able to navigate a computer program on his own.

    Then the principal asked the Superintendent to be there. No one, not even the Superintendent, knew why she was there, although it seems as if she was invited to witness the conflict between the principal the the Director of SpecEd. Except the Superintendent came away agreeing with the Director that Special Day classes for ED or AS kids at the Elementary level need to be put in place right away.

    THEN, there was the whole aide/case manager conflict. Oy!

    My son's case manager sometimes acts as his aide if someone's out sick or if he's having an exceptionally bad day. We presented the idea that Saul's day was too fluid and confusing for him. He needs to have a discrete schedule of activities inside the classroom (with one or two learning options if he is not up to participating with the class, using the CD-ROM version of the testbook, completing a project from the day before, etc.). Then he also needs separate social skills instruction, outside of the class. He receives four hours a week dedicated one-on-one instruction with an extremely talented tutor, so that should continue, but be built into the schedule so that he can know to expect it. And we need to start seeing his classroom as practice-time for his social skills, building him slowly up to 80% participation.

    Both the case manager and the aide started wailing. We don't have enough staff. Who's going to teach him social skills? We've tried giving him options, it doesn't work. We don't have time for data collection (!), so we can't demonstrate that it doesn't work, but trust me, it doesn't.

    Overall, IEP consisted of about an hour of discussion regarding development of a program for Saul, three hours of interpersonal conflict and whining, and another hour at the end complaining that we didn't get enough done, and now let's see what we can get done before the end of the school day.

    Yikes.

    I don't have anything close to a completed IEP to sign, but on the other hand, no one's asking me to sign off on anything yet.

    PollyParent
     
  9. Mrs Smith

    Mrs Smith New Member

    Logistics are important. What good is an IEP that can't be implemented? Sounds like an attempt by the SpEd Director to make you think they can meet your son's needs when realistically they can't. It's so frustrating!
     
  10. PollyParent

    PollyParent New Member

    <div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Mrs Smith</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Logistics are important. What good is an IEP that can't be implemented? Sounds like an attempt by the SpEd Director to make you think they can meet your son's needs when realistically they can't. It's so frustrating!</div></div>

    OK, I think I didn't explain that well enough.

    The SpecEd director offered that of course there would have to be another meeting to make sure that the logistics worked. But that for the annual IEP, we were still having so much trouble determining what a reasonable goal was, that it didn't do much good to get sidetracked on logistics before we knew what the program looked like.

    On his major goal from last year's IEP, he was supposed to make 80% progress. Last year he demonstrated 39% achievement, and so far this year he demonstrated 41% achievement. His achievement is increased, but is it reasonable achievement? I would say no, and the case manager was saying yes. We couldn't come to a resolution as to whether the 80% standard should stay in place, just because it was there last year, or whether we should rewrite his goals so as to have a reasonable expectation of being met, along with appropriate accommodations. A different goal at 80% success? The same goal at 60% success? What about the third goal where he showed no progress at all? Why keep it in there if there's no movement?

    One of his goals from last year is that he will ask for help before displaying frustrated behaviors 100% of the time. (Ridiculous. I signed it last year without enough research on my part.) OK, that's just silly. Can we give him some training on how to relieve frustration, or make accommodations for his disability, or bring the goal into a reasonable target area? I don't ask for help 100% of the time and I'm not a nine year old boy with Asperger's. So let's work out what he needs to have if we keep those goals in place.

    Then we would get sidetracked on the accommodations, and on logistics, and then the SpecEd director would attempt to get us back to a discussion of goals, benchmarks, etc.

    But I agree -- a plan can look great on paper, but if it's not implemented, then what's the point?

    Which is basically what happened last year. The case manager, the principal, and the aide want it all to stay the same, and the Director of SpecEd, the Behaviorist, and the parents want the goals to change.

    Five hours, no resolution.

    Polly Parent
     
  11. Mrs Smith

    Mrs Smith New Member

    <div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: PollyParent</div><div class="ubbcode-body">
    On his major goal from last year's IEP, he was supposed to make 80% progress. Last year he demonstrated 39% achievement, and so far this year he demonstrated 41% achievement. His achievement is increased, but is it reasonable achievement? I would say no, and the case manager was saying yes. We couldn't come to a resolution as to whether the 80% standard should stay in place, just because it was there last year, or whether we should rewrite his goals so as to have a reasonable expectation of being met, along with appropriate accommodations. A different goal at 80% success? The same goal at 60% success? What about the third goal where he showed no progress at all? Why keep it in there if there's no movement?

    One of his goals from last year is that he will ask for help before displaying frustrated behaviors 100% of the time. (Ridiculous. I signed it last year without enough research on my part.) OK, that's just silly. Can we give him some training on how to relieve frustration, or make accommodations for his disability, or bring the goal into a reasonable target area? I don't ask for help 100% of the time and I'm not a nine year old boy with Asperger's. So let's work out what he needs to have if we keep those goals in place.

    Then we would get sidetracked on the accommodations, and on logistics, and then the SpecEd director would attempt to get us back to a discussion of goals, benchmarks, etc.

    But I agree -- a plan can look great on paper, but if it's not implemented, then what's the point?

    Which is basically what happened last year. The case manager, the principal, and the aide want it all to stay the same, and the Director of SpecEd, the Behaviorist, and the parents want the goals to change.</div></div>

    The good thing is that they seem to be willing to work with you.

    I'm not sure I'm completely following you on the specifics but I would ask you, what is the downside to your son if he doesn't meet his goals? What would lowering them accomplish? What would removing them accomplish?

    Since they seem to be mainly behavioral, I would want to keep them in with at least a 75% (average) success rate. The case manager, principal and aide want him to meet these goals or want to see him attempt to meet these goals. If he doesn't learn to tolerate frustration in an acceptable way, he's going to be in trouble down the road. As long as they are teaching him the necessary skills to facilitate success, I don't see a problem. It took my son many years to meet important life skill goals on his IEP.

    But I think what the people who work with him are saying is if you want to keep his placement the same they won't realistically be able to meet his needs. Maybe in order to do that, he'll need a more restrictive environment with more support personnel.
     
  12. PollyParent

    PollyParent New Member

    Right, but they will neither offer him the training in his current set-up to allow him to learn how to cope with frustration, nor will they consider lowering the goals.

    If he doesn't meet the goals, then they can say that he doesn't belong in the classroom. Except that everyone on the team says that he DOES belong in the GenEd classroom. One of the team members even polled them individually to see if anyone thought it was appropriate at this time to send him to a SDC class or separate program. No one did. Neither the SpecEd director NOR the county speced director feel that he is a good fit for any of the NPS's in the area.

    So if he can't go elsewhere, then he has to stay here. If he stays here, then they have to address how he will meet the goals they put on paper. What's the point of having goals that are not achievable? OR, they can edit the goals so as to be achievable.

    That's where we go round and round.

    PollyParent
     
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