Jump to content

Menu

Red flags for Learning Disability? (x-posted)


Staceyshoe
 Share

Recommended Posts

I'm realizing that my youngest has an extreme preference for Visual Spatial Learning style. He's obviously very bright (and has some spectacular spatial abilities), but sometimes I wonder if he's *capable* of learning through traditional auditory methods. At what point does learning style cross the line into a learning problem? When do you start to consider whether there is a learning disability causing such an extreme preference in learning style? Are there any "red flags" I need to watch for?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I guess for us, even though I had an inkling for YEARS before we sought diagnosis, what finally tipped over was me.

 

I could no longer adapt EVERYTHING for ds, as my younger child was also needing my attention. He was not reaching any independence (with me as his scribe and reader). His abilities were holding back his progress and not allowing him to reach higher level materials that he was clearly intellectually prepared for.

 

Also, although I could accomodate ds, if, god forbid anything ever happened to me, I knew he would NOT be able to function in a traditional brick and mortar classroom. For our family, it became a goal to help ds reach independence so that he could function in such a classroom, if need be.

 

We sought diagnosis to understand all we could about ds LD, help him understand about his learning, support me in helping to teach ds and find appropriate resources to help meet our goals.

 

Good luck!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One possible red flag for 2E would be a student whose performance does not line up with his ability (as you perceive it to be, which can be shown by actual testing). So, a bright student might perform only average or below average in some or all subjects.

 

For a 4 y.o., unless there's a specific weakness you are seeing, I wouldn't be concerned. Not all VSLs have auditory weaknesses. If you have concerns, look at specific symptoms of auditory processing problems and see if any of them apply to your ds. As for whether he is capable of traditional auditory learning, I'm sure that will show itself soon enough. I'd guess that it would become more clear in the next few years as he starts reading and writing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hidden
I'm realizing that my youngest has an extreme preference for Visual Spatial Learning style. He's obviously very bright (and has some spectacular spatial abilities), but sometimes I wonder if he's *capable* of learning through traditional auditory methods. At what point does learning style cross the line into a learning problem? When do you start to consider whether there is a learning disability causing such an extreme preference in learning style? Are there any "red flags" I need to watch for?

 

I would love to share my perspective with you to see if that helps you reframe your vantage point. First, we all learn through preferred input modalities, which comes through our senses. The three most common are visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Most of us use two, and can often do the third when one of the two are paired with it. So, a kinesthetic learner can take in auditory when explanations are being made while doing the project, for instance.

 

You asked if he *could* do the traditional auditory input modality (my emphasis). I'm not sure it's traditional more than it's the primary method schools use to teach. Since most of us were schooled, we think that teaching by auditory methods is the "norm." In actuality, it's simply the overused, easiest-to-implement method adopted by schools. Yet, schools KNOW they should be more diverse. It's just more work. In our homeschools, we can do things differently and honor the other input modality preferences of our children.

 

Last, our society is a specialized one. Actually, I would say humans have always been specialized. We all have strengths and weaknesses, but it's our strengths that we usually pursue our career in and bless the world with. I usually say that schools are a generalist education, but in actuality, they are a weakness-based education. Since they want to provide a generalist education, how they do it is they have their (arbitrary!) checklist for a grade, look at what the child can already do (probably their strengths), check that off the list, see what's left, and that's what they concentrate on. So, instead of allowing a child to go higher in their gifts, they set those on a shelf and make them trudge through the other stuff (some being weaknesses, others being non-interest).

 

Again, in our homeschools, we can do things differently. I have a son who was highly gifted in spatial tasks. In his young years, he showed it through creating his own mazes, building with LEGO all day, and playing around with math manipulatives. At 9, he took an interest in the piano, in which he played spatially (saw how the notes fell in space and how that attached to the keys on the piano falling in space). By 13, he warped into computer programming. He's now in his college years pursuing computer programming with a minor in math. Being highly spatial provided the foundation for his gifts that he has to bless the world with. It's a wonderful thing.

 

I was able to "translate" our homeschooling experience (I have almost five graduates so far), and I wrote up what we did here (it has stages similar to WTM): http://www.therightsideofnormal.com/resources-2/collaborative-learning-resources/a-narrative-explanation/

 

Hope something helps in your situation...

Link to comment

Call me crazy, but you already have indications of how his auditory is doing. You're doing phonics with him and presumably some math facts, skip counting, that sort of thing. Does he comprehend? Is it sticking? Do Bible memory verses or poetry stick?

 

I went back and checked your posts, and it says you had your older ds evaluated last year. So it may put you at ease to have this dc evaluated as well at some point. I know I plan to have my ds evaluated. That way you can just get it figured out. Sometimes adhd goes with VSL, so sure there's a possibility of something like that. However it's hard to distinguish at age 4. You might just be seeing the difference in personality and thought process compounded 20 times by a very high IQ. Might be something or it might be nothing.

 

Are there things going on that concern you or is it a solely theoretical concern for the future?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sometimes adhd goes with VSL, so sure there's a possibility of something like that. However it's hard to distinguish at age 4. You might just be seeing the difference in personality and thought process compounded 20 times by a very high IQ. Might be something or it might be nothing.

 

:iagree::iagree:

 

Somehow, I missed this was for your younger kiddo. I was directing my response toward an older kid. I think OhE. advice is good for you younger child....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I looked back at our own history and thought hard about this. I agree with pp- at 4yo, it's nearly impossible to tell. And as kids grow, they sometimes learn to compensate for their issues so that they may not seem to have a problem, even to "experts". But they will have a wide variance on "good days" and "bad days". Compensation is a double-edged sword! My best advice is to read up, keep an open mind, and if issues still persist (especially relative to his overall cognitive level) go for a dx with someone well versed in VS needs.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Check your library for "Discover Your Child's Learning Style" by Mariaemma Willis and Victoria Kindle Hodson. I found the information in this book invaluable when my oldest was almost four and we were just starting out on our homeschool journey.

Edited by Guest
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you all for your responses! Yesterday was the first time it occurred to me that perhaps there is a learning problem, and I thought I would throw it out and see what some more experienced folks had to say. I'll be re-reading your responses again and again as I absorb your information and perspectives!

 

You're doing phonics with him and presumably some math facts, skip counting, that sort of thing. Does he comprehend? Is it sticking? Do Bible memory verses or poetry stick?

 

 

The thing I'm noticing is just a HUGE difference in his ability to learn visual information vs auditory information. I don't recall ever teaching him his letters or numbers (though surely we did at some point). It seemed like he just knew them. No one taught him right or left--he figured it out himself at age 2. Also at age 2, he could tell me which way to turn at every intersection even miles from home on roads we'd never travelled together. It's like there's a map in his brain. His memory for the image of a word is amazing, but he doesn't recognize the word again if the font is very different or the word is capitalized. (I actually stopped answering his question "what is this word?" because I could see that he was never going to sound out words if I did that.) He builds elaborate lego structures and train tracks that would be impressive for a kid twice his age. He started doing 500 piece puzzles (with more proficiency than I can) around his 4th birthday. He was fascinated with maps and easily memorized the names of the states without us really trying to teach him--just answering his repeated questions.

 

On the auditory side, we sang a little song about the days of the week (he loves music) for 9 months until it sunk in. A few days off from singing, and he forgot it all. I want him to learn our address, so we've been saying our street name aloud together multiple times a day for a month. (There's construction happening so plenty of opportunity to throw it out there when a cement truck or something captures his attention.) He was able to come up with it for the first time yesterday--after probably 100 repetitions. He is learning phonics and how to sound out words.

 

Hearing is acute according to dr's screenings and our observations. But speech has always been difficult. For a while, he fell below the range of "normal" in his vocabulary. He's now 4.5. He's understandable but doesn't make certain sounds so articulation isn't great. He doesn't use pronouns or prepositions correctly. His speech patterns are immature. Occasionally word order is mixed up and we need to interpret his meaning. He often needs to concentrate to spit his words out at all (but other times, it's automatic). He might say, "Do I have to eat ice cream?" instead of "Can I eat ice cream?"--that kind of thing that we've learned to interpret for him but can confuse others. (Again, not always but it's not unusual either.)

 

The thing that I am seeing is that he seems to just instantly "get" anything that's visual. I sometimes feel like anything that's purely verbal just does in one ear and out the other. It doesn't stick. He is actively listening--even singing/saying something along with me. Is this an extreme learning preference? Just the way his brain is wired? A sign of immaturity and a still-developing brain? Or a sign that there is a possible learning issue that I need to be watching for?

 

SORRY this is so long!:001_huh:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Your child sounds like my 12 yo when he was little.. He can put new puzzles together upside down. When very young, we incorporated a lot of clapping and movement for memory work.

 

Your child is still very young. My 4 yo knows the alphabet and numbers, and I've only purposely worked with her on subitizing. When first learning letters, I believe it's common for children to have difficulty shifting between fonts, and you mentioned never formally teaching him letters anyways. Continue to provide an enriched environment and work to his strengths. As he matures, should you think he requires testing, ensure he is given and IQ test. IQ score compared to actual achievement indicated problems with my son.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The weaknesses sound a lot like my son when he was 4. The strengths -- for him those things are interests, but he is not advanced.

 

He also had a hard time following oral directions -- in group situations, I would see him always copy other kids instead of directly respond to the leader. For me, I always was down where he could see me and would be clear and maybe point for him a little.... it was not a problem at home, but I could see he had trouble following directions.

 

I think my son is on the dyslexia side. I think it is worthwhile to read Overcoming Dyslexia. Some of his articulation and (maybe?) word-finding issues might be listed as warning signs there, and it might seem to fit him, or it might not. My son has had only articulation and speech-sound discrimination out of all the warning signs. (Speech-sound discrimination is when some words sound like the same sound, b/c they are hearing two sounds the same; or when consonants are slightly clipped at the end of a word, they have no idea which consonant it is, and so sets of words all sound like homophones, so there is some extra effort there to figure out what has been said.)

 

There is a lot that can be done early -- with some extra help kids can do very well. My son is doing well now, and he was unable to segment or blend at all when he finished Kindergarten. He is reading right on grade level now for starting 2nd grade. (This is a lower level than what I think a lot of people think is early-2nd grade.... he can read Frog and Toad with some effort.)

 

For dyslexia (speaking of my son) there is a big emphasis on multisensory learning and/or teaching kids in the most effective way. For my son this means he doesn't learn well from narrative stories (he doesn't pick up little details, he doesn't pick up vocabulary well that way), so that is not how I introduce anything. I go out of my way to introduce whatever I can in a non-fiction picture book, b/c that is how he will learn vocabulary and concepts. Then he can apply that some when he goes into a narrative text -- it is not vice versa. This is not optional -- this is how he learns best. Just to let him do a narrative text is not an option, b/c he will not pick it up that way -- the scaffolding is required.

 

I think on one hand ---- read the dyslexia book, think about his phonemic awareness, think about his articulation (and if he might need speech therapy...... my son has done a lot of speech therapy and it really helps him). Definitely try different multisensory methods recommended for dyslexia (which on some level is just kids who respond well to multisensory teaching).

 

On the other hand ---- if you have to repeat an address 100 times, sure, there are rote things that can only be learned that way. A lot of them come up in Kindergarten (this is my experience with my son). It does just take repetition for some things. But for everything else ---- look into different ways to teach him something and teach him that way. And even with repeating an address there are maybe different ways to practice that (though I can't think of any off the top of my head, lol). My son is in 2nd grade now and the demands of rote memorization seem to be much less than they were in Kindergarten -- he is playing much more to his strengths now. So I think that is important to keep in mind. (I mean -- in Kindergarten, it was important if he could write the letters and numbers and if he could recite things.... in 2nd grade it is more about what he understands.)

 

I also wonder -- he might be a context learner... and then you are better to sit down and explain to him how addresses work, that evens and odds are on opposite sides of the street, seeing where the numbers start (if they start at a cross street somewhere in town), if you can go on a parallel street and see if the numbering is similar there, etc..... that might be something that makes that crazy number stick in his head more than repetitions. My son can be like that. You get used to it, lol.

 

edit: Articulation and speech does NOT always mean dyslexia, at all, but I think it is worth looking at. If it doesn't sound like your son, no problem. I would have liked to be looking at phonemic awareness when my son was 4.5 instead of being in a scramble when he was 5.5 and 6, but it is just a possible red flag. I think, too, he is still young for some of the memory things to be a "sign" of anything.

Edited by Lecka
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Stacey, the brain, especially in a pg, g, or bright dc, has a lot of energy to put somewhere. If one area of development is not working correctly, the brain redirects that energy elsewhere. So you are correct in sensing that your ds's incredibly advanced vsl skills could reflect the redirecting of energy from his speech development that wasn't working correctly. I would find him a very good speech therapist, one who is super good at expressive speech or apraxia, and see where that gets you. Every speech therapist I called when researching for my ds was willing to talk with me on the phone, so that's what I would do. Don't just get a run of the mill speech therapist, because they're not all the same. With the things you're saying, I would research apraxia, just to see. If it's not, then talking with a therapist who's very good at it will at least help you sort out another direction to go. Unintelligibility, difficulty getting out thoughts, expressive and receptive language that don't match up, articulation problems, these all fit together into a pattern of what can be apraxia. And like I said, if it's *not*, talking with someone who specializes in it will point you in the direction of someone more helpful. They'll all talk with you for free (by phone, not an appointment), so it's just free information to help you sort it out.

 

That's what I would do. When you see strengths you sort of want to think the weaknesses don't exist or are in comparison or aren't an issue. However that disparity is an issue, and the fact is that the brain development can be affected by your choices right now. It's not like brain development and dominance to one side is this inextricable thing you can't affect. You can intervene in the process and do some work that gets the other side working. My ds for instance had the most outlandishly good fine motor skills before we started speech therapy. He begged to write every day (without words, just pointed to pens), and I have pen marks on all my couches. At age 9 months he would sit on my lap and pull the pins from my sewing as I sewed up to the spot on the machine. He would carefully use his pincer grasp to extract the pin and then place it in a styrofoam bowl in front of my machine. Nine months! When his SLP evaluated him at just shy of 2, she said he had the fine motor skills of a 5 yo. Seriously. And yeah, he was super at puzzles, lol. When we started speech therapy and he got some speech, his fine motor started chilling out. You could literally watch the progression that his extreme craving of fine motor would rev back up if we didn't up the speech work to keep pace with his abilities. More speech work, and the fine motor drive would slow down again.

 

Yes, it was a choice. I chose to redirect some of my ds' brain energy away from what would have been really stinkin' shocking fine motor skills at this point (he's just shy of 4 now). But in return he was able to talk. So I don't know if that's what's going on, but it's certainly a *possibility* in your case that there's some redirecting and that a little bit of appropriate therapy and interaction (therapy is play, not torture) could get that other part of the brain going too. It's not like you just have to watch it and can't intervene. I have no experience with pg kids to know how far that curve goes and how much variation is normal. That's why I'm suggesting you find a *good* SLP and talk it through with them. However I think when a mother gut is concerned and when a child is showing actual problems in an area, it's a good point to intervene a bit. Our intervention is play. Expressive language work is done through play. It's just taking it up a step and learning how to make that happen and get that development going in that part of the brain if there's a glitch there.

 

As far as apraxia (which I recommend you research as both a possibility in a mild form and because the therapists who do it tend to be just plain better), the best therapy right now is PROMPT. I hate saying best because it makes implications about people who can't get it. Whatever, it is. They have a locator map at the PROMPT institute, and you could simply call some of them and talk it through. See if anyone has anything that makes sense for your situation. Like I said, every therapist I called was happy to talk with me about my situation. Therapists are $100 an hour, so I appreciate when they take the time to talk with you and help you sort out if they'll be helpful or not. BTW, our therapist is certified in PROMPT. There are multiple levels of training (1,2, bridge, certified, instructor). Actually, I think she's getting instructor training next month. The level 1 people are often people who just took the course for continuing education credits. Talk with a variety of people, that's my advice. You're looking for a gem, someone bright enough to connect with a pg child, someone who can sort out things.

 

So anyways, those are some leads and a possible explanation. Could be something else, but those are the questions I'd be asking. When his receptive is fine, you're not looking at an auditory processing problem. What you're describing is a speech problem with redirecting of brain energy. And because he has SO much brain energy, it becomes shocking. Apraxia has degrees (mild, moderate, severe). My ds has moderate apraxia, so untreated he wasn't even able to speak. There's a whole segment of people with speech problems who DO begin to speak but just have these nagging issues (reticence, intelligibility, grammar, etc. etc.). Those can be remnants of apraxia and it's *not* too late to intervene in there. Good therapy is PLAY. It's just stepping it up and knowing how to use play therapeutically. My ds gets to take his favorite toys and I buy him new things for every session to keep it fresh. Last session they played HEX BUGS for 2 hours! Can you imagine! :lol: The therapist loved it, he loved it, and he came out noticeably better than when he went in. So don't be afraid of speech therapy. You get a GOOD one, and it might be just the thing. But they've gotta be bright enough to keep up with him and specialized enough to know what they're seeing. Don't get a jack of all trades kind.

 

Tell us what you find out! :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you! I was curious how a learning issue would be diagnosed.

 

Ok, I'm trying to wrangle with this for you. You said the thing about him not retaining the days of the week and whatnot. If they are not hearing the distinctions, then they don't necessarily discriminate the speech. But it's sort of this odd connection. Sometimes it's so severe that the kids do get diagnosed CAPD, yes, and need some listening therapies and whatnot. However with my ds I think sometimes it's that the speech isn't there so the processing of the sounds doesn't come so they don't discriminate the words. And he might just be kind of normal (as opposed to pg) on some things. That's where you just talk it through with a good SLP and see where they point you. A therapist like ours actually farms out certain aspects of speech therapy (expressive language) to someone else who specializes in that. And figuring out if you need a referral for a different thing (auditory processing eval, OT, etc.) is also something they do. So you just need to get in that stream and take the first step. One person directs you to the next person.

 

Remind me, can he hear rhymes? Cat/bat/ring--can he pick out the word that doesn't rhyme? Can he hear constants in initial, medial, and final positions? Can he clap syllables? Can he distinguish words with minimal differences? (cat/cut, ship/ship, ship/sip). My ds barely hears the difference between /sh/ and /s/ and so when we work on it for speech we're both helping him say it and hear it. There's actual software to help with that (Earobics) that is good.

 

I'm just saying the development is intertwined and hard to sort out sometimes, sorta chicken and egg. I wouldn't assume LD until you've gone through the therapy steps to work on what can be worked on.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

OhE -- Have I shared this video with you?

 

http://www.readingrockets.org/shows/launching/brain/

 

If you go beneath the video and hit the right arrow until you get to "Baby's First Reading Skills" it talks about the speech discrimination skills.

 

I think the whole episode is good, too.

 

That was fascinating, thanks! And it talks about the very things I've been thinking and saying, that using OG from the beginning *is* therapeutic because it's literally wiring and creating pathways. And to think now technology is showing what we've been intuiting. :D

 

Well good link, thanks. Motivates me to keep going and work harder on my ds's auditory discrimination, etc.! :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There are before and after brain scans in Overcoming Dyslexia, too.

 

My son's big push was when he was 6, so I think your son is still a little guy ;) I do wish I had known about it when he was 5, though. I think he could have done it when he was 5, or at least gotten started.

Edited by Lecka
Link to comment
Share on other sites

There is so much for me to absorb in this thread! I appreciate each of you sharing your knowledge and personal experience. I'll be reading this again and again!

 

Remind me, can he hear rhymes? Cat/bat/ring--can he pick out the word that doesn't rhyme? Can he hear constants in initial, medial, and final positions? Can he clap syllables? Can he distinguish words with minimal differences?

 

We've never done anything with syllables or median sounds. He has been able to identify the first letter of a word after hearing it and was doing this for quite a while before he started reading, so it was purely an auditory skill. (Although the inarticulation of his speech causes problems--like when he was eating rice and announced that "Wice [his pronunciation] starts with W!") He wasn't able to rhyme until he started reading words. Then he could visually pick out the rhymes and has since learned to rhyme using just sound. As far as I can tell, he doesn't have trouble distinguishing similar words. He often substitutes similar words in speech, but that's just because he can't produce some phonetic sounds (i.e., "ship" is "sip" etc).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

OhE -- Have I shared this video with you?

 

http://www.readingrockets.org/shows/launching/brain/

 

If you go beneath the video and hit the right arrow until you get to "Baby's First Reading Skills" it talks about the speech discrimination skills.

 

I think the whole episode is good, too.

 

I watched this and the Biomapping one. Brains are just so fascinating!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It is good that he is identifying beginning sounds and starting to learn rhymes.

 

Those are totally fine to be developing skills at that age -- and it sounds like they are developing!

 

From what you are mentioning now -- for his age, it doesn't sound too risky to me as far as sounding like my son.

 

I don't think he is too young to consider a speech evaluation, though.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

He often substitutes similar words in speech, but that's just because he can't produce some phonetic sounds (i.e., "ship" is "sip" etc).

 

When I wanted to get an idea of where my 3 1/2 year old's articulation was at, I stumbled across "Teach Me How to Say It Right" by Dorothy P. Dougherty, at my library. It can tell you what sounds they should be able to reproduce and by what age, at least in the meantime while you decide what to do about an evaluation.

 

One thing that I think needs pointing out is that a learning difference does not always equate a learning disability. Just because some kids learn differently it does not mean that there is something wrong. You will notice that schools are starting to realize this also and are starting to implement approaches based on different learning styles or multiple intelligences (based on Howard Gardner's theories). Just another aspect to keep in mind.

 

As a visual/ tactile learner I had extra work to do at home, using, what I figured out on my own, worked for me. I had to do this in two different countries, in two different languages, and was able to excel. Having a different learning style has never been a weakness or disability for me and I am not allowing it to be for my boys (both visual/ tactile learners).

 

ETA: A different learning style can be a strength if you choose to see it that way and use it to the child's advantage. You can also work on strengthening areas that the child may need to work on. We work on strengthening auditory skills, in our family.

Edited by Guest
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...