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Autistic 9yr old. My educational concerns


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   My oldest daughter is 9yrs old and autistic (PDD-NOS). We just pulled her and her sister out of public school. She had an IEP in place while in public school but none of that is helping us here at home. I don't think it was helping her there either. I could use some help here. I have always had trouble figuring out when to push her out of her comfort zone and when to pull back and let her be. It has been a month of homeschooling and I am seeing some weak areas that I don't know how to address. Or if I should at all.......

Okay her strengths:
*Art -LOVES it.
*Reading- At grade level and again loves it
*Spelling- She has great recall of the spelling words each week. Usually gets them all right
*Science - Loves experiments and such

Trouble with:
*Handwriting - She is learning cursive and doing really well with it but it isn't perfect so she beats herself up about it
*Math- She knows her multiplication tables, fractions, and can tell time in a book. However when she has to apply the facts to real life she doesn't understand how. We are seeing this with the LOF books as well as here in the home. I show her a whole square in a book and ask her what is half and she can answer correctly. I ask her to break something in half for the twins and she breaks it into thirds. That sort of thing.
*Language arts- We just switched to a different approach and that seems to be going well. Before she would cry when she didn't understand the material.
*Reading comprehension- When she reads on her own she struggles at recalling the facts afterward. When I read it out loud she does well. She was flunking this in ps.

What I am worried about: There just seems a problem with the connection between her book work and her real life implementation. Also a problem with reading comprehension and logic/critical thinking work (riddles, word problems, anything that needs "deep" thinking).

I know there are developmental issues, I know she has trouble with critical thinking. I am just trying to figure out if there is something I can do to help her or if this is just something in the "wiring" of her brain that we need to figure out how to work around. We have taken all the pressure off of her when it comes to school work since it stresses her out and makes her cry (She was crying a lot in school and was scared of her teacher). No testing or anything like that. Whichever direction we decide to take this has to be non-stressful for her. No tears or anxiety (she has A LOT of stress and anxiety through just every day life).

I appreciate any feed back you all can give me icon_smile.gif

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That is a very similar picture to my ds who is also 9 and has HFA.

We have done lots to help his reading comprehension over the years. The materials that brought the biggest gains for us were visualize and verbalize and Linguisytem's Hyperlexia kit level 2. That said, i do think improving his overall social thinking has made the biggest impact for his reading comprehension.

Ds also struggles with anxiety as well, for us the Mind UP curriculum has been really helpful with that piece of the puzzle.

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Did you just pull her out recently? (am I correct in that?)


Couple of thoughts-generalization (and common sense) are often not a strong point for spectrum kids (certainly not for mine-ds9 has HFA) even when they are academically strong. Often it helps to really support step by step the obvious thought processes that are getting missed. "How many kids are you breaking the cookie in half for? So how many pieces do you need? Should they be the same size or different sizes?" I feel silly when I do it, but it does help. 


My kid was thrilled (beyond thrilled) to leave school, but it took a long time for the angst of school to leave him (many months). So he really wasn't ready to learn for a while, and the new routine took some time to establish. I'd suggest a good, long break. She may prefer the routine of school work (and laws may require it), but go with easy material, lots of read alouds, enjoyable projects, review things. Don't work too hard at fixing her challenges right now. Basically let her get her confidence, find her feet.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I have a 9 year old dd with PDD-NOS as well. It is really hard to know where to push and where to back off. School work = tears more off than not in this house. I am following this thread for ideas. My dd struggles in math, spelling and handwriting.

I am following along with you as well.  My DS7.5 is ASD more towards the high functioning end w/ meds and good days.  We also REALLY struggle with handwriting and in general hatred for the physical act of writing.

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I'm following along.  My oldest boy is 9 next month, we will find out next month whether he has ASD or not.  He struggles w/ all the same things your DD struggles with.  I don't know how to help him. Especially the handwriting.  I'm hoping to find a tutor, though I'm not sure it will help as he can write beautifully in his handwriting book and copywork.  It just doesn't transfer over to his own writing :(

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My 9 y.o. DS with Asperger's seems to struggle with a slightly different flavor of issues, though many relate to abstract thinking, math, etc. I thought I'd chime in about the handwriting since that's more similar. There are some good handwriting threads out there already, and some threads on dysgraphia.


My son can write beautifully, but not efficiently. He can copy much better than he can write. He cannot seem to write, spell, capitalize, space, form letters, etc. all at once. One thing at a time is more like it. It's getting better, but he has a dysgraphia diagnosis. We are teaching him to type, but that takes time as well. In the meantime, I scribe for him as necessary. This year, his handwriting has started to come together much better. He had been taught ball and stick writing in K and then a loopy style of cursive in 2nd grade. He likes the cursive, esp. the loops, but since neither style of writing is automatic, it's been hard for him to use cursive with efficiency. This year, he finally started dropping the ball and stick writing and picking up new habits where he makes his letters more continuously. It's helping a lot. (I think ball and stick writing is evil--b, p, q, d, all feel the same, and you have to keep picking up your pencil and aiming it in just the right place. I digress.) Some threads will mention Dragon and other speech to text software--those all have a learning curve as well, but people find them helpful. My husband struggles with writing neatly enough and large enough at the same time, and his writing (particularly cursive) is not as automatic as it is for some folks. Seems to run in the family. Anyway, DH uses Dragon at work, and after a frustrating time getting it up and running, recommends it to lots of folks. He can write, but it's never been fun for him, and he has to write a lot for work.


Spelling is interesting--my son did really well on spelling tests in school without studying, but it doesn't translate to anywhere but spelling tests. He likes keyboarding, but he HATES typing nonsense letters, so he tends to fizzle out after a while. Next year, we are going to try Sequential Spelling since my son is pretty good with patterns, and we'll try AVKO keyboarding. The AVKO keyboarding has some silly phrases, but you type real words pretty early on, and the patterns go along with Sequential spelling. I have no idea if any of this will work out, but we'll give it a go.


My son does really well with word problems--can't help there. He's an excellent problem solver in general. I have heard others suggest using the Fan Process books by Singapore math to teach story problems. Comprehension comes into play with some social thinking stuff in fiction, making inferences, and abstracting information to write an introduction/conclusion for a paragraph. We use Inference Jones from Critical Thinking Company (they have books and CD-roms). I recommend the book because the CD will tell them whether they are right or wrong, and then give them the thinking behind it. With the book, you can control that process and talk them through the thinking without giving it all away if they get the answer wrong at first. Either way, there are samples online of both the book and the CD version. For abstracting information, we're working on outlining skills and graphic organizers to help him see main ideas and supporting points. For literature, I am trying to discuss books with him more than I normally would. I think we might do some plays that we can read aloud next year to help him think through characters and what they are thinking.


I hope those are helpful starting points. I haven't said anything until now since the nature of my son's issues seem to be just a little bit different even though he has the same diagnosis, but I thought I'd try to answer what I can. Sorry it's not more precise.

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My older son can copy but he cannot write as well from memory.  It just deteriorates.  I am being told he has dysgraphia (by OT but she cannot officially diagnose).  We were given a copy of some information from

www.handwriting-solutions.com  by her. 


He has got test scores (from OT eval) that explain why this is the case, though I am vague.  But it is like ---- his visual memory is very poor (or something like that).  A lot of his visual processing skills are low, in the low teens. 


He made gains with OT but he was not able to copy legibly before OT, so that is what his gain was.  He was helped with his coordination, too. I am actually very pleased with his progress, although he still has major problems with handwriting.


I spend a lot of time making sure that his teacher at school understands that he cannot write as well with some tasks as with other tasks, he is trying hard. 


You can try OT and/or VT and some kids do have improvement that way!  But he may have dysgraphia.  Maybe that will be included in the testing he will have next month?  Or maybe you can ask about it then? 


(This is my son who does not have autism, but the thing of --- he can copy but it doesn't transfer to other writing, sounds very similar.) 


Edit:  I looked back at the page I linked to --- what the OT wanted me to see was the bolded --- that improvement may not transfer to actual school work.  So he has improved and he has had some transfer, but for some things his handwriting falls apart, and that is just what it is.  He needs to have understanding of that from me and from teachers, and at some point accommodations (he has informal accommodations right now of his teacher and I writing things down for him as needed). 




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