# New to SN forum, looking for ideas for DS8 who is not grasping reading or math...

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I originally posted about this on the K-8 board, many of the wonderful people there suggested I post to this board. This is the post. I decided not to try to copy and paste my questions/replies from there, but I will try to go into them again.

ETA: In reading this, I realized he also sometimes "transposes" sounds. For instance sound out t/o/p but then when asked for the word say "pot". This isn't an every time thing, but often enough that it is a problem. He will also flip sentences when repeating after me. "The cat was named Kit. Kit was gold." becomes "Kit was gold. The cat was named Kit." This is often enough that I went to reading him one sentence at a time, even from two sentence pages in books.

I'll continue with math in the next post. I'm afraid this is getting too long to follow (or post ;))

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Okay, math. He can recognize numbers. He can also count something and tell me how many it is, then write the number. He can't add, though. One of the interventionists said it was "like he doesn't understand the VALUE of the number." For simple math problems, two plus two, he will count from one....obviously this makes adding 18+2 a bit tedious. They had just started doing subtraction (which he doesn't really "get" at all without someone physically showing him I have this many, take this many away, how many are left?) WITH BORROWING. I had no idea how to explain the concept of borrowing from the tens when a) he didn't understand what the tens were and b) he couldn't subtract even simple numbers. They wanted to just keep teaching him at the same level as his peers but assign him extra worksheets/computer time in intervention to "help him understand." I didn't really see how this would work, as he didn't have the basic skills to build on. I did, on the recommendation of another poster, print some pages of JUMP math. FTR, he did fine up until the page where you are asked to circle numbers written correctly. He circled almost everything. When I would point to, say, the three that was lying on his side and said what number is this, he would tell me it was a 3. Same for a backwards seven. It's like their orientation means nothing to him. I tried pointing out the correct forms and asking him which ones were different, he didn't seem to understand what I was asking him.

I want to have him evaluated with a vision therapist, I found one an hour away and she appears to be a "Fellow". I thought this meant she had less training but apparently a Fellow is what I want? I also think he needs to see a pediatric neurologist but I have no idea where to start on that. We took our oldest to see a pediatric neurologist when he (DS12) was five, but that man has gone out of practice.

We also have to wait until our insurance changes.I carried our insurance until I quit to HS, now DH's company will pick us up but not until mine runs out at the end of January. Mine was BCBS of TN, DH's will be BCBS but based in IL so I'm not sure if the dr's network will change. I don't want to start something under my insurance and then have to change dr's next month if that dr is now out of network (can I add here how much I detest insurance?) Anyway, ideas? I am overwhelmed. I don't think leaving him in PS was an option. He was too old to repeat grade levels, and I'm not sure it would have helped anyway. I just don't know what to do our where to start at home.

I should also mention that he is probably ADHD, he is always in motion and rarely plays with toys. He would prefer to ride a bike, play a sport, or just run like a wild indian :tongue_smilie:I have been really leery of medicating him, though, because my DH and his family have all dealt with addiction issues at different times in their lives. DS acts SO much like DH, personality wise, and he is obsessive sometimes about things. I'm afraid of introducing a powerful drug..... DS has started to play occasionally with toys, and even told me the other day about a simple story line he'd made up for his Imaginext people that he'd set up (It is good guys vs bad guys), that would NOT have happened six months ago. He would have just been throwing them around the room or ignoring them. I have seen a dramatic improvement in his "wild" attitude since bringing him home. I'm :bigear: ....

ETA - he will also ask the same question over and over. If we say "What did I say?" he can repeat what we told him. I haven't decided if he just doesn't "process" the meaning of the answer or if he doesn't like it and keeps asking to see if he will get a different one LOL He is extremely persistant...today it was raining and he asked to play outside. I said no. He informed me that it wasn't lightening and he would come in if it did. I said no. He then repeated "It's. Not. Light-en-ing!! Play outside?" I'm one of those "no means no" people and it drives me batty. FWIW, I'd have let him play in the rain BUT he also will not go anywhere (including into an adjacent room) alone. So he would have then pitched a fit that neither other child wanted to go with him.

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SOunds like a full evaluation would be in order. The neurologist or a developmental pediatrician would be a good place to start (and you might need both). Can you call the insurance you will have and find out who is on the list of providers (most Children's hospitals will take almost all insurances) and get an appointment scheduled? Around here you can wait 6 weeks to many months to get in for the first appointment.

The ADD/ADHD could be really interfering with his ability to learn. Once we started meds for my daughter she gained 2 years of academic skills in under 6 months. She could finally focus long enough to learn. Obviously though you want to know what is behind his behaviors before starting meds.

As to the addiction thing----there is a well supported theory out there that some teens/adults SELF MEDICATE with drugs and/or alcohol because they don't get the proper medication they need. I have personally seen that.

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Thank you. I will look into finding a dr now, I hadn't thought about the wait time to see them. See what I mean? Over. Whelmed. Lol That's a great idea. Anyone able to recommend people in either the Nashville or Memphis Tn areas? I can get to either one easily. We've been to Lebonheur and Vanderbilt in the past, trying to determine why he is growing so slowly.

I do think about the self medicating thing. That might have, honestly, been my DHs problem. I didn't know him then and my take on it was that he was undisciplined and basically a brat as a kid. Over te years, I've begun to question if he would have been labeled ADHD and medicated if he were a child now. Our oldest was a bit ADHD-ish, he has outgrown it. DS8, though, is much more physically "balls to the walls" than the older ever wa though. Oddly enough, none of DS8's teachers ever saw him as hyper. He was always a model of behavior until the bell rang at 3, then it was like he opened the flood gates on energy. I've been letting him sleep more and take breaks during the day and he is markedly calmer in the evenings. It actually went from me dreading the 3-7 hours to them being somewhat enjoyable. He still wants tons of attention but is attempting to gain positive attention now.

How does one find a homeschool friendly neuro psych or dr? I don't think our gp will say anything, he has seen how ds has struggled, but I do wonder if he will be "for it", kwim? Taking him back to ps isn't an option right now. We were dealing with weekly migraines, growth problems, beginnings of signs of anxiety and depressions (he was really noticing that other kids could do things he couldn't, and would comment on it), and the behavior issues.

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I just finished reading through all the posts in the k-8 board. That poor kid! He's really been abandoned by the system, hasn't he?

One thing I noticed: as far as academics go this child has really not had anything in the way of instruction. It looks as if he went to school and did his time, but didn't really have anyone who sat down with him to figure out why he wasn't learning. So I think your decision to take him out of that environment was a good one.

As far as academics go, I would tend to lean toward materials that involve one-on-one instruction more than an open-do the worksheet type of thing. He didn't get much phonics, so that's a good place to begin with his reading. I would probably try to find a program that didn't have a great deal of writing with it, since he struggles with fine-motor skills.

I've used The Webster's speller with my struggling reader and had some real breakthroughs with finding out how he sees a word. I found that he really did have to spell something that was unfamiliar before he could break it down and decode it. But his difficulty could be very different from your son. Still, I think phonics overall is a good place to start.

For the handwriting, you might look at Handwriting without Tears as a program. And if you can, and if he might enjoy it, try to get him doing some painting or chalk drawing outside. Painting helped my son to develop his hand coordination for writing, as did tracing his letters.

For the math, I would certainly get a curriculum that is heavy on the visual side of things. Even if he memorized all his facts and could spit them out at you he wouldn't be getting the explaination of things that he needs in math. We use MEP because it is good on the mental math side of things, but also because the number line is a big part of that curriculum. My son needed to see how the numbers related to each other to get why 3 and 7 are ten. I could show him that with crayons and cubes all day. It did not make sense to him until I showed him that addition and subtraction are just like directions on a map. To get to 10, start at house 3 and take the 7 hops from number to number to get to 10.

That may give you something to work on while you wait for evaluations, which are clearly indicated from the problems your child has had.

The weight issues along with the ADHD really has me thinking about some food sensitivities, but given that he already has problems I sure wouldn't do a whole lot with his diet until you've had him evalutated. That said, I would make a real effort to keep all dyes out of his system if you can. There is also some indication, I believe, that a little bit of caffeine can be helpful for focus in ADHD children. At any rate, both of my boys have their morning cup of tea prior to math and it really helps.

As far as finding a home-school friendly group of neuropsychologists to look at your son, I'd be less concerned about how they feel about the homeschooling and more concerned about what they recommend for his education and physical well-being. I didn't get enthusiasm from the group that examined my son (hFA) some years ago and at first I was really bothered by that. But I did take a good look at what was recommended for educating him and implemented that plan as best as I could. (A structured day was a part of that.) It just turned out that for him a well structured day at home in a controlled setting has been the very best he could have had in the area where we live. Sometimes professionals get hung up on what they see as the best overall, and not always the best for this particular child, in this particular place and time. At least, that's my opinion.

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Just going to say -- we had a similar experience last year with pre-reading skills in K.

They were happy to say what he couldn't do and give worksheets he couldn't do. But -- to sit and work with him? They did not know what would work.

I did have some guidance from them -- I knew from them he was poor in learning the letter names and sounds, phonemic awareness (knowing first and last sounds in a word, rhyming), and blending.

They were just like -- he can't do it. We give him the worksheets and he doesn't do them. Although -- I liked a lot of things about his K teacher and she did teach these things so that other kids understood them.

But -- commisserating, and saying my son is doing a lot better now that I am working with him one-on-one and have researched how to teach him. I have my own doubts still and everything is not perfect, but still it is like night and day.

Edited by Lecka
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Wow- big hugs to you. Way to go to step in there and do what your son needs. It is frustrating when YOU know your kids needs something more, but doesn't "qualify" for help.

I am a new homeschooler as well - just started this last fall. I have taken my one dd for a full eval. Do start calling now, as I started the process in August, and we just finished meeting with "the team" in November, but didn't even begin to really get started with help until this week (they told me they would get things scheduled in the new year, they never did). So start now.

Yes, I had a neuropsych guy that was a jerk, but not all of them all. Once he realized that I was trying everything I could do to help my dd, and he heard of the enormous class size, etc., he mellowed some.

I had looked a little into Auditory Processing Disorder. What the child hears is not the same as what we hear. The SLP my dd met with explained that some kids have a big APD, and others have a little apd. The little ones are more subtle and don't run into trouble as much into elementary school.

Good luck with your journey! Hope can I help.

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You wanted to know how to find a neuropsychologist or developmental ped or... I don't know where you are, but basically you want to google search a large city near you or your state capital. Pick a label, any label, plus the type of doc and the name of the city. So you could google search "Austin neuropsychologist adhd" and see what you get. (I'm just making that up, I have no clue where you live.) Or have your ped get you a referral through a children's hospital. When I was doing my searches, I picked the target city and came across referral lists posted on ped websites in that city. So by the time I picked mine, I had seen his name in a number of places, kwim?

These neuropsychs I called were all happy to talk to me for a few minutes and let me describe my situation, let me see if I liked them, let me gauge how comfortable they were with homeschooling (or whether they were biased against it, not a situation you want to get into), etc.

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One thing I noticed: as far as academics go this child has really not had anything in the way of instruction. It looks as if he went to school and did his time, but didn't really have anyone who sat down with him to figure out why he wasn't learning.

Yes, this was exactly how I felt. I eventually got so frustrated with it. I started looking at homeschooling so we would have the time to pursue actually finding the REASON he wasn't learning like the other kids, and finding how to reach him.

Wow- big hugs to you. Way to go to step in there and do what your son needs. It is frustrating when YOU know your kids needs something more, but doesn't "qualify" for help.

It is VERY frustrating. I had my oldest tested by the school because he just could NOT grasp the math. As a sixth grader, he tested on a third grade level for math. However, his language scores were high (7-9th grades) and brought his composite score up to grade level so they told me he couldn't have extra help in math. So basically, they acknowledged that he was way behind in math, but, since he could read well, he clearly didn't need their help with math :glare: I know that is just how the system is set up, if they could have helped me (within their program) they would have done so. It didn't help me, in the end, though. My DS 8 is so much further behind where DS 12 was at that age, I didn't even want to think what we might be looking at when DS 8 reached 6th grade...after years of being left behind.

Elizabeth, thanks. I am trying the googling thing. I guess I just want to find someone that isn't a quack LOL We've had DS 8 to so many "specialists" due to his size and they all talk to me like I'm an idiot. Things like, well try hiding nutritious foods in other foods (No duh. I do that already, if he won't eat he won't EAT.) I'm getting weary of "Let's keep throwing tests at him (particularly the invasive ones) and see if maybe THAT is it." I began to believe that they hadn't a clue what it might be, they were just going to go down the list of tests to see if something turned up. Actually, I had one tell me that. His exact words were "We'll run every test we can think of. Throw stuff at the wall and see if it sticks." We didn't go back *sigh* My kid isn't a guinea pig or a pin cushion.

Also, good point on finding one that isn't biased against HSing. That was what I meant in my OP. It's okay if they aren't convinced HSing is the next great thing, I just don't want them to write me off or label me "non-compliant" because I despaired of getting help through the school system.

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You mention that your son is very small. Has his growth rate been tracked by his doctor over time? Has he ever seen an endocrinologist? If not, I'd ask for a referral to one, just to rule out a growth disorder. If he's been growing at a steady rate, and is just small for his age, then that's normal. Some people are just small. But if a child's rate of growth drops over time (like going from the 10th percentile to the 5th, then the 3rd...), that can be a sign that something else is going on.

Some growth disorders have side effects like anxiety, memory issues, etc. Hypopituitarianism, where the pituitary gland does not produce some or all of its several hormones (including HGH), can cause a variety of issues. The pituitary gland produces so many hormones that affect so many aspects of our growth and development. Often, kids with hypopituitarianism will grow normally until about 3 or so, then start dropping off.

Anyway, I figured I'd just throw it out there since the growth disorder thing is close to my heart (my 6 year old has a cyst that affects his pituitary gland), and when I see someone say "He has all these issues and he's very small," that's a red flag to me. :)

Edited by sailmom
typos
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I agree. Sounds like a good all over physical with blood work, possibly a referral to an endocrinologist, neurologist, etc. would all be in order.

I too say that as my girls have mitochondrial issues, grow issues, learning issues, seizures, ADHD, and on and on. There are lots of pieces to their puzzle and you don't want to miss something.

Some kids are just small but if he is quite small considering heritage/parents/siblings then it is worth looking at.

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You mention that your son is very small. Has his growth rate been tracked by his doctor over time? Has he ever seen an endocrinologist?

Thank you. Yes, we've taken him to an endocrinologist at Vanderbilt. He also saw a ped at a satellite office of LeBonheur (sp?) when he was a baby, that ped also kept a close check on his growth. We moved to a local GP because our insurance provider changed, and, also, because the GP could see everyone in our family and have a better understanding of DS "in context". We've been seeing that dr since DS8 was a toddler. He is the one who sent us to Vandy (a bust, BTW, his labwork is always normal.) We've tried taking him off things, like gluten, but not seen any real improvement. We've also had allergy testing done. His appeared to be all enviromental (trees, grasses, cats - basically anything he comes in contact with when he steps out of our TN home... sigh), we did a full course of allergy shots and did notice that it improved other areas such as appetite and slightly improved behavior. He is a much better eater, now, though, than he was even a couple of years ago.

He does seem to grow steadily but it is sooooo slow. He is slowly being overtaken in size by the six year olds he was in first grade with. FWIW, the original ped decided he was likely "globally small" and said that his proportions were fine, just tiny, and that he was probably just going to be little. The ped, himself, was like 5'3.......he said some men just ARE small. I'm "small" myself. I'm 5'4 and 124 pounds but I'm thin. I think DS is a lot like me, I'm not a "foodie" at all. In fact, I have to schedule in meals or I forget to eat/drink. I don't enjoy food or drink, at all. I make meals with the family in mind, but I just eat a plate...I'm not one to get excited over food. I'd rather graze on snack-y type meals all day. I'll eat an apple and cheese, then a bowl of oatmeal, maybe grab a handful of nuts and a banana later. He seems to be more along that line. He eats in bursts, as well. He will pick at dinner, proclaim himself full, and eat a banana later (or similar.)

He IS very sensitive to processed foods. My MIL, for instance, is bad to feed the kids canned spaghetti, bologna, etc.. and he always has migraines/vomiting after eating with her. For that reason, I try to do "drop in" visits with her and cut down on overnights, I've tried to explain the food thing but she doesn't seem to get it.

That probably went way off track LOL But, yes, we've had him to various specialists and had tests done for whatever any dr can come up with. So far, everything comes back "normal" ranges. I do think that his smallness is affecting his overall neurological function, but I can't seem to hammer down anything supporting that. My mother and I go round and round with ourselves over whether he is small because of a neurological/hormonal thing or if he might have issues due to the smallness. It's sort of the chicken and the egg conversation for us, "Is he small because of his problems, or does he have problems because he is small?"

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Well, I thought I would update......as much as I can. I have spoken with our family GP and basically fell apart in his office about YDS. I showed him his report card from the first 9 weeks of school (all low C's with the notation that he "is a hard worker and is obviously frustrated with the material.") Our doctor said he was so sad to see that and noted that DS had only missed one day of school and was never tardy so it wasn't like we were wishy washy with going/getting to school. He's treated us for years and he knows how worried we are about our kids and how many places we've taken YDS for medical testing and how hard we've fought for ODS to be met on his level academically. He actually told me he was glad I was homeschooling. He said if more people would have the courage to take that step he could quit writing so many prescriptions for ADD/HD because that was usually just a bandaid for a child that didn't fit the PS mold. We did discuss my concerns about medicating him due to DH's history and his family history. He said he completely understood, but if it came to it we could go with a low dose, non-stimulant...anyone done that? What are they and how do they work? I thought the whole POINT of ADD meds was that it WAS a stimulant? He is getting us in with a neuropsych to look at YDS. We are so lucky to have such an understanding and caring doctor, he genuinely likes our kids and goes to bat for his patients.

I do have a question - should I try to rush him in to the vision therapist's office BEFORE the neuro-psych or does it matter? I'm convinced he does have vision problems and will need VT, but I also think there is far more to it and we will need a "bigger" diagnosis that a NP could give....thoughts?

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No big helps for the academic side of things or the further testing etc for your ds. But on the intestinal upsets. 2 thoughts, 1 is that your were sick due to drainage but now because of this super strong antibiotic you hav killed off all good bacteria in your untestines. I still joke that the best diet I ever was on was when I had a lung infection. First I was too sick to eat and then the antibiotics killed everything in my guts and i had the same problem as you are having. I ended up losing 20 lbs by the time it was all said and done. I finished off the antibiotics and then had to take another pill along with probiotics to heal my guts. Start taking a probiotic now to help offset the damages done by the antibiotic.

the other thought in regards to IBS, I have this, (well since I refuse to have any sort of scopes put anywhere to check for sure that it is not chrohn's or something the dr and i just say it is IBS). Stress and caffiene set it off big time. Of course when I am stressed I do not sleep well so then I increase my morning caffiene and within 20 minutes I am running for the bathroom. You may find that cutting caffiene and focusing the things going well in helping your son etc helps reduce the symptoms. That said I still think you problem is a combination of the drainage from infection with super antibiotics evicting every bacteria in your body not just the bad ones.

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Thanks. I only just started the antibiotics yesterday though and the stomach issues have been going since last Thursday. They were

Actually my first symptom before I knew I had any sinus. So far so good this morning. I slept better than I have in a while last night and I wasn't I'll the minute I woke up today. Still waiting to see as my tummy is still a little funny feeling but fingers crossed. I'm hoping it was just a result of drainage and not breathing well in my sleep or something. We will see. Dr did tell me to eat yogurt and drink buttermilk. I also have some probiotics pills I may take. Just waiting to see if I flare up again today as that will determine whether I have to go to the hospital.

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Well if you're going to take a probiotic, get a GOOD one. I take Primadophilus Optima, and it's terrific. They actually have one that's even stronger, but it's really really expensive. The Optima is awesome. NJKelli has dealt with CDiff, so you should search for her posts.

It's probably going to take longer to get into the neuropsych than the VT, so you can schedule both. But you definitely need to find some ways to work on your stress. You sound like it's eating you apart. Do you have someone to talk to or anything you're doing for yourself? Watch your diet and cut down on bread and flour (for the sinus thing). Sometimes when we are stressed we eat more junk trying to comfort ourselves. You want to take walks more or bubble baths or things that don't hurt you. Have you thought about massage? Honestly, it's the best thing ever. One hour with someone who will listen to everything you want to pour out. Makes you feel better on the outside and the inside too. Treat yourself. :)

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