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What am I dealing with? (possible learning disability)

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I have recently posted about my daughter who is struggling in second grade public school.  She will be 8 in June and was recently moved into RTI tier 3 (90 minutes of one on one for reading and math).  I have met with her teacher and requested testing.  She believes she needs to be tested as well but has informed me as has her principal that it probably will not occur until after the beginning of next school year.  She scored in 10th percentile for reading and math in her last STAR Assessment.  I have been afterschooling her and it has been very enlightening.  I truly believe that I am dealing with a learning disability of some sort.  Her school is ready to promote her to 3rd grade and there is no way she is capable in my opinion and I will be homeschooling her.  I will be meeting with her pediatrician to discuss my concerns but in the interim I wanted to list some of the things we are dealing with to see if anyone has some insight to offer.


She struggles with math.  She does not know her addition facts to ten proficiently in spite of studying them and using xtramath daily.  She cannot grasp before and after in relation to numbers.  She cannot recognize without counting the bars of the abacus that there are 10-ten on it or 100 beads overall even though we have drilled this for two months.  We are currently using Right Start A and it seems like the whole 1-ten, 2-ten method of teaching is throwing her for a loop. She seemed to be fine with it initially but now as we progress past 100 she cannot put it together. She cannot see patterns in math equations (example, 1+a number always equals a number higher). She cannot count or make basic change (when asked to make change for a $10 after receiving $8 she handed a $20). Her rote memory is very poor.  There are many other issues but I am having trouble putting them into words.


With LA, she is below grade level in reading but has made significant progress with Dancing Bears Fast Track.  Unfortunately, none of it has transferred over to her spelling.  We can study the blend oo  and she can read the word food easily but 20 minutes later she would spell it fud.  She can read a word in text and the same word can be the line below and she cannot recall it.  She has a terrible time with basic spelling. She can do an exercise with silent "E" with words lined up in a row and she will spell tale, pale, sale and whal (she does not recognize the pattern) and we have drilled it dozens of times. Her comprehension is poor and her thought process (I am sure there is a better way to express what I am trying to say) is immature.  For instance, she read a passage about forests and was asked to tell whether she preferred leafy trees (changing leaves) or pine trees and why.  Her answer was leafy trees because they have cute animals.  There was nothing in the passage that even mentioned animals. 


Her sibling, 18 days her junior (they are adopted), is doing well.  He is about average in math and above average in relation to his peers.  The differences between them both cannot be missed.  She was born drug free and her mother tested negative throughout her pregnancy.  She is a precious angel and I want to help her be the best she can be.  It breaks my heart to see her work so hard and become so frustrated.  It is stressful to say the very least. 


I truly appreciate any thoughts, ideas or support you can lend.  Thank you for reading if you have made it this far. 

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She definitely could benefit from an evaluation. My experience with school district evals is that they are by limited to only looking at specific things. They are mostly looking at skill levels, not the reasons behind why the skills are low. They could do basic assessments and tell me whether or not my son qualified for special education, but not dig into which pieces were missing and what was making them hard to learn. Since he qualified for special ed, they did their standard remediation programs which weren't at all targeted to his specific needs.


I had to get private testing to get thorough evals done (processing speed, working memory, phoneme sequencing, etc.) THAT is the info that actually helps you design specific intervention. I recommend you look for a psychologist that does psychoeducational testing. Ours took 2 days and we got a big report when we went back for the results.

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I had to get private testing to get thorough evals done (processing speed, working memory, phoneme sequencing, etc.) THAT is the info that actually helps you design specific intervention. I recommend you look for a psychologist that does psychoeducational testing. Ours took 2 days and we got a big report when we went back for the results.




The PS here is completely worthless when it comes to evaluations. We got the information we needed via private testing. It was about $500-600 if I remember correctly, and it included the WISC and Woodcock-Johnson tests, as well as a few other things. I only wish we'd done it sooner, instead of wasting a year in PS hoping to get an evaluation through them. A year of RTI did nothing but coach him to (barely) pass the standardized tests — so then they could claim he was at grade level, when he totally wasn't. Not to mention that he's gifted, so the discrepancy between ability and performance was even more dramatic.

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I'd encourage you to cross post your message to the special needs board. There are some wonderfully helpful moms there.


I don't recognize your particular issues, but I would encourage you to pursue the testing. For us, testing through the public schools has always been wonderful. They did all the tests people mentioned above, the WISC, Woodcock-Johnson and all the tests to find out what the exact issues were and how to best address them. Not all school districts are created equal. If money is tight, and they will do the testing, there is no harm in going ahead. However, the school district will be slow and if you can afford private testing it can be more thorough and faster. In some areas a good developmental Psych will have a 6-12 month waiting list though, so you just never know about the faster thing.


That said, when dealing with public schools, put your request for testing in writing. I don't care who you've talked to or what they have said. Once it is in writing, you will start a clock running. They will have deadlines measured in school days from the date of the request. The clock is not officially running until you have something in writing that you have given them or they have given you. Here, they would have 30 days to gather facts and meet with you, 60 days to test and another 30 to gather results and meet again, and yes, those are school days, summer vacation, weekends and holidays don't count. At this point, you might not get results until November. 


Best wishes. It will be a long road with this little one. I am glad you are looking for help. It will give her the opportunity to reach her full potential, whatever that may be.

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Some schools have useful and thorough testing with lots of worthwhile support.  Most don't.  As Momto2nds said, put your request for evals in writing but if they can't get those evals until next school year at the earliest and you are planning to homeschool I would suggest you look at a private eval through a neuropsychologist.  Shop around for neuropsychs with a really good reputation and check your insurance.  Sometimes it is covered and sometimes it isn't.  And prices vary widely between practitioners.  You want someone who will not only give a thorough, detailed eval that checks for strengths and weaknesses but someone who will actually take the time to really explain the results, not just hand you a piece of paper with a bunch of numbers on it.  And confirm that you will be allowed to call again to ask additional questions once the results sink in.  A really well done eval is worth its weight in gold.  Otherwise you and your child may work and work and work to try and get past the difficulties but not make a lot of progress because you are only really shooting in the dark as to what those difficulties may actually be.


And yes, as others mentioned, posting on the Learning Challenges board may net more concrete info.  Reading through past posts there may help a lot, too.  Also, you might want to read the following books, look at the following sites etc.  The better educated you are about possibilities the more likely you will be to determine if the person you are checking out for possible evaluations actually has a clue what they are talking about (many don't).


Recommended resources:

The Mislabeled Child by Brock and Fernette Eide



The Dyslexic Advantage by Brock and Fernette Eide



Overcoming Dyslexia by Sally Shaywitz



Homeschooling Your Struggling Learner by Kathy Kuhl



How to Homeschool Your Learning Abled Child by Sandra Cook (posts on the LC board sometimes)

Can't find the link...


How the Brain Learns Mathematics by David Sousa



Various Ronit Bird books (does some amazing stuff with math remediation)



Plus look at the Barton Reading and Spelling site for some free info on reading issues...



There are other resources but I think that covers a lot of basics.

Best wishes...

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Thank you ladies so much for your generous replies.  Since this is all new to me, I do have a question for those of you who have been there.  What testing is imperative?  What are some questions I should be asking?  I live in a small town in east Tennessee and my teenager is currently seeing a therapist.  I spoke to her yesterday and she said she does provide psychoeducational evaluations.  What questions did you ask of your provider regarding her educational background and experience with testing.  I am also in close proximity to larger towns with many more doctors and resources.  I guess what I am trying to determine is if she is the best qualified to perform the evaluation or if I should do more research.  Her fee is reasonable and that is a consideration since I will be paying for it although it is not the overall deciding factor.



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You should definitely come over to LC and post.  I haven't done the ps evals, so I don't have all the right terms.  I do know from my own calls locally and from talking with ladies on that board that you have the federal law that *requires* them to do evals within 60 days once you write the letter requesting them.  To this point what you've done is ask.  Once you write that letter, it changes things.  The struggle is the budget of the school district, but it doesn't change the law.


The best way to evaluate a particular psychologist is to find out their qualifications and then ask them upfront what tests they would likely run, how many hours of testing they'd do, how many pages long their report will be, and what their attitude is toward homeschooling.  In general with testing more is better.  Sometimes a psych will do the WISC and WIAT (IQ and achievement testing) and stop there.  That will take a couple hours, and then the rest of the fee is for talking with you and writing the report.  A more involved eval will have more hours of testing and a lot more tests.  They can run the CTOPP for phonological processing, do tests for attention, for motor control, all sorts of things.  I took my dd to a neuropsychologist, a psych specializing in the brain, and he did 2 days of testing, 6-ish hours, and wrote a 6 page report.  That's pretty typical in our area.  He's on the advisory board for the state dyslexia association and has had positive experiences with homeschoolers.  Our experience was EXTREMELY helpful, and the detailed testing gave me information that I refer back to frequently, even two years later.  It was a turning point for us, and the amount of information we got was pivotal in that.  This is not testing you're going to do often, so you want the MOST testing you can get.


Can you find any homeschoolers locally who have done evals through your ps?  If you could talk with them, they could tell you how they went, how much was actually done.  It really varies with the ps system.  Some systems do an amazing job and some are so stretched they don't really get done what you need.  It just varies.  I wouldn't *assume* the ps eval can't work out until you've talked with someone who's done it that way in your district.  It would be ironic if the ps psych would have done more than your therapist.  You just need to talk with people and find out. 


RightStart sounds too hard for her, even though it's level A.  I love RS.  I used it with my dd with great success.  My ds is totally different though.  He couldn't recognize dot patterns without counting and just nothing seemed to be clicking even though he tests so far as very, very bright.  For him I'm using Ronit Bird.  I think the hard thing with what you're describing is that you can't tell if it's overall low IQ or if it's learning disabilities or what.  Getting the information from the testing will help you target that better.  Ronit Bird is very detailed work for dyscalculia.  I can imagine situations where RB is not appropriate and where something more focused on gentle rote, say R&S, might be appropriate.  


On the reading, some of what you're describing is visual memory.  It could be a learning disability or IQ issue, yes, or it could indicate a vision problem.  You could, just as a matter of checking, take her to a developmental optometrist (find through COVD.org) and do just a regular vision check, asking them to *screen* her for the developmental vision stuff.  My dd had some vision issues that affected her school work, so that's the tack I take with my ds, taking him there for his annual check and having them screen him while they're at it.  


It's great that you're pursuing evals.  She deserves them, and she deserves them way sooner than fall.  The ps should do them in 60 days once you write that letter, and they may be adequate.  Just talk with local homeschoolers and find out.  It's going to vary with the school.  If you want to go private, then I suggest talking with others to find out what psychs they've been using and what your options would be if you drove a bit further.  You want the most information you can get, since they're all going to be about the same price per hour.

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