J's report

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Malika, Dec 21, 2012.

  1. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    J had his end of term report today. It said, summarising and translating obviously, that he could not manage to concentrate for very long, that he still lacked elements that would enable him to read and write properly, that the one-to-one help he has been receiving is very valuable to him, that even though he obviously had good powers of reasoning, he got a bit lost in higher numbers... From the assessments of each skill, he is clearly much stronger in maths than reading/writing.
    Does this clearly show learning difficulties, I wonder? Would he be helped by medication for this sort of thing (I fear the answer might be yes...) Of course it is early days and he has only just turned six. But I'd be interested to know your thoughts.
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Malika, I had serious LDs and J may too. I never took medication. One-on-one was the best thing anyone could ever do for me. It could bring me from a failing grade to an A or B. I also lacked the ability to concentrate so that one-on-one also helped me focus. There was more give and take in that setting than when a teacher was droning to the class. That used to make me tired and start me day dreaming.
    medications are supposed to be for attention. I tried them. They did not work for me. They made me more hyper. They do help some kids, not all. Rarely do they solve every problem and the problems you now have will likely remain. Do you know ANYTHING about the birthfamily? Could be he inherited some Learning Disability (LD) problems or maybe mom drank, which can cause problems, or maybe she just plain did not get good nutrition or prenatal care.
    in my opinion if the one-on-one helps, be happy you found an intervention that works and go with it. I would stop looking for a total solution...a fix. There is no 100% fix. There is no way to tell how he will do as the years go by, but I can tell you that you are in for some surprises. Can't tell you if they are good or bad, but he is going to change. They all do :)
  3. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    I'm 100% with MWM. My guess is that there IS some sort of a learning disablility as it relates to reading/writing. Is there any way you can have him evaluated by someone GOOD for those issues. As for the attention, if a 1:1 helps, stick with it. Medication isn't always the answer. In our case, it slows difficult child 1's brain down enough that he can take other things in, directions, learning skills, other "teachables". Know what I mean??
  4. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Thanks MWM and TeDo. Of course the trouble with conventional schooling is that it judges by a kind of general standard, not seeing the child in himself or herself so much. In his own terms, J has made amazing progress - in September, it seemed like he couldn't learn some of the letters of the alphabet, couldn't begin to read syllables, etc. Now he does all that, relatively fluidly. He still seems to get mixed up with b and d... and has problems recognising what he actually knows, with him often being unable to decode a longer word without help; often takes him a long time to get there and though he reads syllables that he has worked on, he seems far from being able to read a piece of text he has never seen. I realise all this points to some Learning Disability (LD)... worse luck :)
    He should be getting an evaluation from a speech therapist but they are all booked up far into the horizon... he should be seeing one once a week by now. I will start working with him a bit every day, though that is likely to be a fight... he doesn't want to work with me. There is a way of getting children with a diagnosis a one to one aide in school for some hours every week but it is long and complicated... masses of paperwork, I think.
    It raises the old chestnut for me... would J be better off in an alternative school. I don't see this getting better. The primary school system here - sorry, elementary :) - is really dry and unappealing to the child's imagination and creativity. Mostly French grammar and maths. I can't see J being able to engage his interest and concentration well. At the same time, he needs to be able to learn to read and write properly...
  5. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Kids can learn just as well in alternative/creative learning environments. In fact, not all kids are conventional learners. If there is a creative school that can engage J's imagination and keep him focused, I'd do it. Not all kids learn the same way...in fact, it's pretty boring. You have a bright, imaginative little boy there who has trouble paying attention and learns well when somebody is giving him personal attention. By all means, cater to this and play into his strengths. Many, many kids all over the world suffer because they do not learn best in conventional classrooms. If my parents had not paid tutors to one-on-one teach me math (I am the opposite of J), I would never have learned math at all. The money came out of their pockets, but there weren't many alternatives and little help back then. Do what you need to do for your cute little boy. Any good school should teach him the basics. The key is to make him love to learn in his own, unique way.

    Good luck.
  6. buddy

    buddy New Member

    I dont know about assessment protocols in your neck of the world but what makes it so hard here as far as specific learning disabilities is that children at that age only need to get very few answers correct to be within normal ranges. So, it tends to come down to gut feelings and risk factors.

    In the end the best thing at his age may be to learn what would be done with a child who has challenges in this area. For forming letters for example if there is a french equivalent of "handwriting without tears" that kind of method works for any child but is therapeutic for kids who struggle with typical methods. Quin did not learn to form letters until second grade when a therapist bought the program (I bought it at home too, it is quite inexpensive) and he learned to form every letter very quickly. It is used for kids who have difficulty forming letters for a variety of reasons. There is also a cursive companion.

    I would do the same for reading protocols. Using what you know about his learning style, pick methods that match that.

    If you can find some form of expert who could do this kind of testing while he is so young that would be great, but they could be useful anyway for giving ideas for kids at risk of having those issues.

    Just thoughts.....

  7. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Thanks Buddy :) Actually, in terms of forming letters, J has no trouble at all - he writes rather beautifully, surprisingly perhaps (well, when he wants to... sometimes it's just a big scrawl). The problem seems to be that it takes him SO long to learn what other kids learn really quickly... and then he forgets what he has learned until it has been repeated loads of times... and yet he is clearly above average intelligence in some ways. I did some reading with him today and it is really painfully slow. He needs to be prompted on each letter, each syllable, just about, even though he "knows" them and no way can he just look at a word and read it right off. So I don't know what would help with that??
  8. whatamess

    whatamess New Member

    These things do not point to an Learning Disability (LD). Fluent reading may not occur until age 8 and it would still fall within "normal" standards. It seems no matter the progress J makes, it is never enough, that there must be some malfunction responsible for what would be looked at in education and special education circles as typical development. I realize this board is for parental support, but there is something to be said for speaking for the child.
  9. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Thing is, whatamess, I am completely at sea here! I simply do not know what is "normal" and what indicates learning difficulties in this area... I see J making progress and also really struggling with reading. I'd love it if it were all just progressing at his own rhythm, without being proof of any dys... The school seem to be telling me there is a problem. I intend to work with him a bit every day, I think that could make a difference - and the key seems to be being completely positive and encouraging with him. That makes him want to learn and to try, as I have very often seen. I hope you're right! :)
  10. whatamess

    whatamess New Member

    I think that whatever extra help he receives is great and it sounds like it is helping him and regardless of disability or not, if you've found successful ways to move him forward that is all anyone can ask for. I think you underestimate your own power and ability to help J in the moment and long-term by knowing so intimately (as most involved parents do) his strengths and weaknesses. I also think, that you are quite like-minded to me, in that, no professional will truly ever know J in a way that provides answers and strategies that are more insightful than what you already know and act on.
  11. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    It does sound like there is a learning disability happening, but there are also adhd looking issues also. Of course those could be auditory processing or sensory integration or other issues, or it could be adhd.

    One thing you said stuck out to me. You said that you would work wth him but it would be a fight. It really does NOT have to be a fight. it is very possible to structure a lesson around something the child likes. It is often a better way to learn because you are interested in what you are doing/learning. I used to structure Wiz' lessons around a theme. For example, we spent 2 months on dinosaurs. His math, reading, writing, science, etc... were all about dinosaurs. If you have ten T Rexes and five more come over to play, how many T Rex are at your house during the playtime? That type of question made math FUN and memorable. This was 3rd grade and we were homeschooling because the local school wouldn't give any evaluations or IEPs. yes, they were required to do so, they just ignored those requirements and it wasn't worth the battle. I also used candy and cooking and anything else that motivated him. If you are doing addition, why not use M&M's rather than little pictures of apples? At one point we let him eat the M&Ms for any problem he got correct.

    The year before that, I volunteered in his school. I worked with one little boy who could NOT learn his alphabet (this was a 2nd grader). I drew a little alphabet book and use Halloween items and in about 2 weeks he knew the alphabet. It was easier for him to understand AND to comprehend than the regular alphabets where A is for apple. He started to have FUN and then the learning was able to happen.

    You can google 'thematic lesson plans' or 'thematic units' and find all sorts of ideas and lessons that other people have created. I would highly recommend using experiments, cooking, nature walks, and other things that he truly enjoys and wrapping the lesson up in those things. You don't have to say "lets work on math' or give ANY indication that you are 'teaching' or 'working' or 'practicing', you can just do a fun thing and get the concepts across that way. Cooking is esp easy for math. For writing, there are LOTS of writing prompts that can help you help J to write a story or learn punctuation, etc.....

    This approach is esp helpful in learning because the more senses you have involved when you learn something, the more memorable the lesson is.

    I would also suggest you read up on Montessori teaching because that can be very effective, esp with children who do not succeed in the normal classroom environment.
  12. svengandhi

    svengandhi Well-Known Member

    Malika -

    I have 5 kids and each one is different. Oldest boy was hyperlexic and read at 3. He's mildly Aspie and was/is ADD; medications helped him to a point. He is 22 and delivers pizzas after dropping out of college. His IQ is 135. daughter was in a gifted kindergarten but did not read fluently until she was in 3rd grade. She just up and decided one day that the books the higher level group read were more interesting and she approached her teacher, who gave her a plan and within 2 weeks she was in the second highest group. The first highest consisted of her best friend, who is simply brilliant. Third child is difficult child. He refused to read until the summer between 2d and 3rd grades when I told him he could go to the movies alone with his older brother to see "Holes" if he read the book and told me about it. The next book he read after that was "Harry Potter." He refused one on one and would hide under the desk when the reading teacher came to get him. Number 4 is easy child and he is classic dyslexic (as is H, but H is till this day in denial about his own ADHD). easy child's school used the Orton-Gillingham and Wilson methods to teach him to read. His reading comprehension scores are in the 99th percentile on the tests on which he has extra time; he struggles with reading speed. He is currently a junior in HS and I have him attending a police science/criminal justice program half days with the other half at the regular HS. Baby boy is 13 and in grade 8. He was diagnosed with mild dyslexia last year. He had visual issues and really didn't become a fluent reader until 4th grade. He is now my second most voracious reader (daughter is first).

    None of my kids has ever taken medications except for oldest boy and difficult child, who took Ritalin in grade 1 before everyone agreed that there was nothing implusive about him - he is determined. That's when his diagnosis was changed to ODD.

    J just turned six. Reading is not a skill that always comes easily. All of my kids have IQ's over 130 and only one read by 6. I would be very pleased by the fact that his reasoning skills are advanced. If France has an equivalent of O-G or Wilson, find a school or tutor who will use it. It's intended for dyslexic kids but it can help other kids as well.

    Good luck.
  13. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Thanks for your input.
    Well, the French idea is that children should be reading fluently by the end of the equivelent of your second grade, not before, so I don't think massive pressure is on. I'd love for it all to be normal but if I'm honest with myself, I have to say that there have been signs for so long that something is not quite right in terms of J's learning certain things... just in the sense that it takes him SO long to acquire what other children acquire easily and quickly - eg colours, days of the week, numbers, letters, etc. He is definitely the slowest in his class for all that. This despite him being bright and intelligent. It's silly he's not seeing a speech therapist; I tried to make contact with her last summer but never could get hold of and when I finally did in the autumn, she was all booked up as far as the eye could see... no other speech therapist has any availability around here. There are alternative methods here, but you need to find people able to teach them... I suppose we just struggle on for the moment, with J being slow and "behind" the class.
    No, I know it doesn't have to be a fight, susiestar :) It is a fight when I try to do his homework with him during the week... he's bored with it and I think he's really exhausted mentally in the evening after school. But yesterday, for example, I did a couple of pages of a kind of French revision book I bought and, with lots of encouragement and praise, he really got into it - demanded to do two more pages when I'd finished!
  14. buddy

    buddy New Member

    I understand how it could seem like this, but I think a couple of things complicate this...... first, this is her only child and child development is not in her past, so she feels the need to make sure things are ok. Second, he does have issues and knowing that early intervention helps there is always a question as to whether you could help him avoid other issues--(and there is information she doesn't know from his bio history)-- And, finally the biggest in my mind is that this school system pushes kids so much earlier than here in the USA and it seems to be quite different from what malika's background is too.... and if I got a report saying that my child was not up to snuff compared to the other kids I'd be pretty confused as to whether this is a function of the culture or a reflection on my child, etc..... I mean, they are the teachers, the professionals, and they are saying he is behind his peers.

    To me his progress has never been presented as not good enough....just a bit of a rollercoaster, and lots of concern. There has been a lot of pride shown in how he has progressed. And it seems that Malika is of a nature that she wants to be sure she is doing right by him and (time to hit me on the head Malika) questions her own ability to work on things even more than his. I think whatamess said something similar....I totally agree with love, smile.

    (This is just my processing of things, I'm not trying to defend or speak for you Malika....so if I'm wrong tell me to shut up-- I get what whatamess is saying because as I've said in prior posts this particular thing would not be viewed as much of an issue here...YET) Im just sharing how I respond to you and what goes through my head as I read your posts. Indeed I think if you were here in the usa you maybe wouldn't be triggered to worry as much because I suspect no one would be saying anything less than whatamess is saying.....that he is for that skill...falling within a normal range. That can work for us and against us because it does mean that kids with true disabilities in their future would miss out on possible early intervention--I've worked with several parents who have kids who have red flags in other areas and in first/second grades when they struggle (but are still "within normal limits" ) are dismissed by some teachers and especially admin who dont want to add interventions, then by third and fourth grade it becomes clear a small % of them do have a specific Learning Disability (LD) on top of whatever else is going on, I get how that can feel frustrating to them)....

    Bottom line, Malika, your gut is saying to be on top of it, (we do say to trust your gut and I stand by that) and he has other areas of concern that can be manifesting similar to an Learning Disability (LD) at this age. As long as you can put it onto perspective in real life and enjoy activities and family time....(assuming that it seems bigger here because this is what one talks about here, the concerns)...well, then I think it is smart to ask and to provide activities that are fun and helpful as they would be for any child. As Susie said, find natural fun things to work on his reading and go with it.

    For Q, he has never gotten into books. That is how most reading is taught. He couldn't even write his name in first grade, absolutely could not read those stupid guided reading books (not a stupid program, was stupid for him). He really learned his letters from store and road signs. He then learned to read. His fluency increased tremendously when I allowed him to search and read sports sites and he read articles on NASCAR drivers etc. So, recently the school reading system showed him at a fluency of a sixth grader and comprehension much lower. But if you give him a non fiction sports article, he will stop and ask all by himself what words he does not understand mean and can tell you all about the articles afterwards. news articles are not usually written at a super high level but his comprehension is better than what is tested.

    Using standardized articles about sports teachers have found him to read at an eighth grade level and comprehend at a fifth grade level.

    Just shows how a high interest can make a difference, their brains have something to connect old and new information to. He will never be a great reader but he can read more than many non disabled Americans.
  15. whatamess

    whatamess New Member

    There is a bit of a pattern to Malika's posts, which indicate to me an overall need to somehow have a disorder explain how J fits (or doesn't fit) into a very narrow set of parameters regarded as "normal". Personally, I think differences are so discriminated against, that differences in movement, sensory, or learning to read have to be categorized as right (normal) or wrong (disability). I really think that even if J were at some point diagnosed with a learning disability or adhd or whatever it still comes round to how each parent will support that child. I think it is fair to look at the posts Malika presents when things are going swimmingly and J is progressing, to a fleeting comment about a particular struggle, to that struggle now becoming a big focus, remediation (consisting of rules laid out, changes in routine, more 1:1 help, etc), and within days to weeks J has learned enough or routines or boundaries are changed enough that he is functioning up to par. I see this as parenting a bright and strong-willed child and needing to be right there with him, I don't see this as indicative of disability. But that is my opinion and really that is all we as distant onlookers can say. For J, I just feel a need to counter a bit of the immediate throwing out of diagnosis's to Malika because I think it is not to J's benefit. I do see Malika as a very concerned and effortful parent who very obviously cares about her son. As always any of us can take or throw away any and all of what anyone else has to say. Just trying to give a different perspective. I think J sounds like a delightful child.
  16. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Hmmm, well, cough, cough, I am still in the room, lol :)

    I wouldn't think my posts bear much analysis as a constant thread... Basically, I am often thrown for six by J's oppositionality/impulsivity/difference. My own ideal situation would be to have a quiet, calm, intellectual-type child who does what I ask and is polite and well-behaved - or at the very least a boisterous, lively one who does what I ask and is polite and well-behaved :)

    I'm joking but actually I'm also telling a certain truth (alas). I didn't bargain for ADHD plus when I adopted J and I didn't bargain for bringing him up essentially alone. I'm also living in a society that is ultra-codified, ultra-conformist and has virtually no knowledge of or tolerance for differences such as these. I am challenged to the max by J's behavioural difficulties and by his learning differences is about as honestly as I can say it. So, yes, I am certainly biased in favour of J being normal and delightful rather than unusual and obnoxious as is sometimes the case... I don't know whether medications would help him. Instinctively I'm against but then sometimes I think... why not try it, what if his life was transformed and he stopped being the object of so much scolding and semi-exclusion?

    As I've said to Buddy privately, I just don't think I'm cut out for special needs parenting! And of course normal needs parenting is no cynch... But this is what I've got, this is the hand I've been dealt and I have to play it... It ain't easy. But you all know all about that...
  17. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    in my opinion, you should again consider going to live somewhere that is less rigid. If we lived in France, they probably would have considered my bright and beautiful delight Jumper mentally slow. She DOES have disabilities and did not "get" reading until she was in third grade (that's eight) and had been through Title One (a special booster class for those having trouble with reading) and then when that didn't work they sent her to special education where she DID learn. Kind of scary to me to think that there is a place that puts such rigid rules around how kids should behave and when they should learn and how they should all be alike, like little robots.

    The only difference is that Jumper doesn't have behavior challenges, but her learning problems were far worse than J's. She couldn't do math either. Now she is pulling above average grades mostly on her own because the school HELPED her. She will be going to college in a little over a year. by the way, she is also not one to do exactly what everyone wants her to do. She is unique. Maybe in France they wouldn't like her either (shrug), but she has a ton of friends here and the teachers love her.

    Sometimes, when you describe French culture, I can't help shuddering and thinking that France may not be the preferred place for any of our kids to live. If they don't even know what ADHD is, or they look down on it, or they think it's rare or an excuse, what would they do with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) or bipolar or schizophrenia? You ever think about the UK lately? From your posts, I think J. has issues and some are in my opinion red flags for the future if he doesn't get help. But I think they are blowing it way out of proportion where he lives.
  18. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Why dont you try a small dose of ritalin which is fast in and fast out and see what it does? If it helps you will know it immediately. Dont even tell the teachers. That will give you an unbiased view on things. They wont have the ability to say 'oh he is medicated so its so much better now.'
  19. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    Malika, you may want to prepare yourself to the possibility that you will neither find out what is 'wrong with J' (as in definite diagnosis) nor does he become 'normal.' It seems that ICD definitions (or at least how they are evaluated) for certain disorders are much stricter than DSM and North America. So we will have more kids that are not quite normal (however you define that) but will not be troubled enough for diagnosis. As you know, mine kind of is one of those. J's troubles are not obvious or very severe and he is bright and charming boy, he may well always compensate his weaknesses well enough to never really 'make it' to any clear diagnosis. That will not mean that he doesn't and will not have his special challenges and that you don't have to work with him harder than with more average child. But still, being able to compensate, to raise on the challenge is also a good thing. While with kids accommodations etc. are easier to get if you have diagnosis and clear situation and while also adult life can be with accommodations, difference between adult who needs accommodations and adult who is able to cope with their challenges mostly on their own can mean quite a big difference in lifestyle and life quality. So while just now it would feel so much better to know, what is going on, J's ability to compensate, to catch up and cope can be a huge advantage for him in future.

    Part of your issues may be a strict culture around you. But be prepared to also that if you are able to move to Morocco it may turn out that J isn't that typical for an Moroccan boy either even though you now feel like that. After all while cultures may differ a lot, people do differ much less. A kid who is different from other children in one place is likely to be different from other children also in other culture after they spend some time in that culture and with those expectations. There is also something I have been thinking saying for you and I'm willing to admit I'm quite out of Morocco's current situation and I may be prejudiced but I hope you think few things before moving prmanently to Morocco. Before leaving there on hopes of more understanding culture for J, you may also want to find out about services for learning disabled in there if you have worries with J having learning difficulties. An other thing you may want to think (and yeah, I always think the worst, I'm neurotic and all that) is Morocco's judicial system. You are raising a lively boy. Lively boys are prone to stupid stunts, stupid stunts are at times against the laws. With some bad luck lively boys (especially teenage lively boys) may end up to situations there they will face judical consequences. Severity of those consequences for very similar deeds (that can often be more youthful follies than any hardened criminal behaviour) can be very different in different countries.
  20. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Do those even exist?
    'Cause I haven't met any - at least, not any that haven't been beaten into absolute machines.
    Real kids are... a handful. Every single one of them. Even my almost-easy child (she sometimes is almost there).
    Challenging kids are... at least 4 handfuls.