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Should this child be evaluated?


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We're in the midst of having my second oldest diagnosed with some learning disabilities, which I've written about in my other thread. And my youngest needs to be evaluated for dyslexia, so that's on our to-do list.  I'm wondering now about my 12 year old DD.

 

She has always had a terrible time with math.  We tried many different curriculums before finding one that works for her (CLE). She is behind but is working very hard to catch up, sometimes doing more than one lesson per day.  I know that CLE is working for her.  She gets many things wrong when doing the lesson, but we go over those corrections together every day, and by the time she completes the unit test, she is doing well enough to get A's. This is amazing for her. She has always been good at memorization and calculation and knows her math facts well, so that goes a long way toward getting the problems right. 

 

On the other hand, she misses the story problems.  Almost every single time.  I'm helping her figure out techniques for tackling them.  But she just doesn't seem to be able to think through the problems.  When I am working with her, even guiding her through the thinking part step by step, she just can't grasp things. I will say things like "You can't expect the answer to just pop into your head.  You have to think through it."  I can't see the wheels turning.  It's like there is a switch in her brain that is not turned on. So yes, she is progressing in math.  But no, she doesn't really understand things that require logic or reasoning skills. She's going to have more trouble with higher level math.

 

Same with writing. Always has been a struggle. She's been working on WWS1 (still on the early lessons), and her writing is very basic.  Simple sentence structure. Spelling not great (I admit we've dropped the ball on this one and need to work more on it). She completes the assignments, but there is no depth to them. No original thoughts.  The last one she did pretty much was just changing the provided outline into complete sentences.  When I work with her on editing and show her how to vary her sentence structure, etc., she will willingly follow my guidance and improve her work.  But she cannot do it on her own. I'd say her writing is about a fourth grade level. She's completing sixth grade this year.

 

She's a great reader.  But I recently started her on CLE Reading level 500 (note it is a level down), and she has trouble with inference.   She answers the questions in a very simple way and doesn't seem to be using higher level thinking skills.

 

DS10's recent evaluations showed he was weak in visual perception skills, and I happened to have a workbook on that from Critical Thinking Co. on my bookshelf, so I pulled it down to go through it with him.  It's the PreK-1 book, so it's very easy. He did okay on the few pages that we tried.  Then the other kids wanted a turn.  To my great surprise, DD12 had trouble. There is a section where you look at a figure on one page, then turn the page and pick out the identical figure from a group of several that are similar.  She could do it, but she had a 30 second delay where she had to think about it.  We didn't have a chance yet to do any of the other activities, but this is a preschool book. She was struggling.

 

She has never had logic or reasoning skills.  I thought it would kind of kick in as she matured.  But it doesn't seem to be improving. Do you think she just needs more time, or does this sound like a learning disability?

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She has always had a terrible time with math.  We tried many different curriculums before finding one that works for her (CLE). She is behind but is working very hard to catch up, sometimes doing more than one lesson per day.  I know that CLE is working for her.  She gets many things wrong when doing the lesson, but we go over those corrections together every day, and by the time she completes the unit test, she is doing well enough to get A's. This is amazing for her. She has always been good at memorization and calculation and knows her math facts well, so that goes a long way toward getting the problems right. 

 

On the other hand, she misses the story problems.  Almost every single time.  I'm helping her figure out techniques for tackling them.  But she just doesn't seem to be able to think through the problems.  When I am working with her, even guiding her through the thinking part step by step, she just can't grasp things. I will say things like "You can't expect the answer to just pop into your head.  You have to think through it."  I can't see the wheels turning.  It's like there is a switch in her brain that is not turned on. So yes, she is progressing in math.  But no, she doesn't really understand things that require logic or reasoning skills. She's going to have more trouble with higher level math.

 

Same with writing. Always has been a struggle. She's been working on WWS1 (still on the early lessons), and her writing is very basic.  Simple sentence structure. Spelling not great (I admit we've dropped the ball on this one and need to work more on it). She completes the assignments, but there is no depth to them. No original thoughts.  The last one she did pretty much was just changing the provided outline into complete sentences.  When I work with her on editing and show her how to vary her sentence structure, etc., she will willingly follow my guidance and improve her work.  But she cannot do it on her own. I'd say her writing is about a fourth grade level. She's completing sixth grade this year.

 

She's a great reader.  But I recently started her on CLE Reading level 500 (note it is a level down), and she has trouble with inference.   She answers the questions in a very simple way and doesn't seem to be using higher level thinking skills.

 

FWIW, there could be a learning issue of some sort that doesn't rise to the level of an official learning disability.

 

On the one hand, the issue with steps in word problems and with writing could be a sequencing thing.  On the other hand, your dd is good at memorizing, which I thought was more of a sequential strength.  Is she a visual-spatial learner (VSL)?

 

Another possibility might be a language processing issue - my dd13 was (is?) like this, having difficulty with making inferences, which lead to difficulty with figuring out what word problems meant.  In testing, this showed up as a lower verbal score on the WISC compared to perceptual reasoning score, followed by detailed testing with an SLP that showed a relative weakness in auditory reasoning and auditory comprehension - Eta, wait, maybe those weaknesses were separate from the inference weakness - I can't remember :huh: .

 

 FWIW, multiple SLPs have told me that inferences are a skill that can be improved.  We did a year of language therapy with an SLP for the inference issue, though IMO that's something that can be worked on at home instead - there are a number of inference workbooks out there.  I think dd has probably improved most due to the reading and discussions in her language arts class at school, which, from seeing the assignments, were relatively challenging.  Her latest standardized test scores still show the relative weakness in reading comprehension, though her teacher has told her that her grammar and writing are quite good.

 

I think that just shows that detailed testing is the only way to pick apart your child's specific strengths and weaknesses.  I also agree it's a good idea to rule out vision stuff (my dd had such an issue).

 

Just my two cents - good luck getting to the bottom of things.  Nothing like having lots of puzzles in your family, eh? Never a dull moment :)

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I think this is all worth evaluating. Make sure you get an exam with a developmental/COVD optometrist too (I don't remember if that was mentioned in the other thread).

Other daughter (DD8) was evaluated a year or so ago by a COVD because of her reading difficulties (she also has a weird thing where she can wiggle her eyeballs around at will).  But DD12 and the boys have not been screened.  It's probably worth it to make an appointment for all of them. 

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FWIW, there could be a learning issue of some sort that doesn't rise to the level of an official learning disability.

 

On the one hand, the issue with steps in word problems and with writing could be a sequencing thing.  On the other hand, your dd is good at memorizing, which I thought was more of a sequential strength.  Is she a visual-spatial learner (VSL)?

 

I've never thought of her as VSL. I looked at your link, and she has more auditory learner qualities.  Except for the analytical stuff. And her handwriting is not great.  She skips details when following directions (will only do one part of a two-part thing, for example). In ballet, she excels at technique -- it just comes easily to her.  I think maybe she is a kinesthetic learner? She's always liked hands-on things in school, crafts, etc. I'll have to ponder this more.

 

Another possibility might be a language processing issue - my dd13 was (is?) like this, having difficulty with making inferences, which lead to difficulty with figuring out what word problems meant.  In testing, this showed up as a lower verbal score on the WISC compared to perceptual reasoning score, followed by detailed testing with an SLP that showed a relative weakness in auditory reasoning and auditory comprehension - Eta, wait, maybe those weaknesses were separate from the inference weakness - I can't remember :huh: .

 

Another thing I haven't really thought about, since she was an early reader. I just noticed the inference thing when we started this new curriculum.  Somehow I'm thinking it  is more of a problem with reasoning skills than language skills, but it's possible. Maybe they are linked?

 

 FWIW, multiple SLPs have told me that inferences are a skill that can be improved.  We did a year of language therapy with an SLP for the inference issue, though IMO that's something that can be worked on at home instead - there are a number of inference workbooks out there.  I think dd has probably improved most due to the reading and discussions in her language arts class at school, which, from seeing the assignments, were relatively challenging.  Her latest standardized test scores still show the relative weakness in reading comprehension, though her teacher has told her that her grammar and writing are quite good.

 

I've seen Inference Jones recommended on other threads, and I was thinking of picking that up.  We also have some other logic workbooks that we never found time for this year.  She's always been good at grammar until this year (now she's getting B's on her unit tests instead of A's and making the same mistakes over and over).  In her lessons, she usually has a section where she has to do multiple things (circle the adverbs; draw an arrow to the verb it modifies; put parentheses around the prepositional phrases, etc.), and she can't seem to untangle all of the directions and all of the steps to do these multi-step problems.  Always lots of mistakes.  And she's started confusing things she was always good at before. For example, she will identify nouns as verbs.  When grammar was just memorizing and applying it to a problem, she did great.  Now that she has to think it through, it's starting to be much harder. Not sure if I should switch curriculum or if it is good for her to keep puzzling these things out.

 

I think that just shows that detailed testing is the only way to pick apart your child's specific strengths and weaknesses.  I also agree it's a good idea to rule out vision stuff (my dd had such an issue).

 

Just my two cents - good luck getting to the bottom of things.  Nothing like having lots of puzzles in your family, eh? Never a dull moment :)

Thanks!  Lots to think about!

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Inference Jones is awesome. I know because it drives my son bonkers. ;-) You'll want to do them together for a while. I told my son that he has to pretend the person asking the question can't figure it out themselves and explain it to them. That's helped him tolerate it, and he definitely needs work in this area. I would not get the computer version because it gives the answers rather than letting you talk them out with the kid after marking them wrong.

 

Are you familiar with Michael Clay Thompson's grammar? It's very conceptual, and it sounds like that is where she is struggling. It would be risky because it emphasizes the conceptual stuff (which is harder for her), but it might be just what she needs to understand something that is conceptually hard because it breaks it down into manageable pieces. He uses a process of four-level analysis to ID parts of speech, parts of the sentence, phrases, and clauses, and he introduces each of those levels one at a time. No convoluted directions. It's meant to be used discussion style. I can give you more information if you have questions, but the curriculum is available on the Royal Fireworks Press website. You do not have to get the whole program--you can do just the grammar. I would take a look at the lower levels (Island or Town). All of the levels repeat the basic information again, but each year, it gets harder, faster, and adds more information. We take all year to do his grammar, not the recommended "front-loading." The nice part is that if you can make it work and like it, you could use it with more than one kid. All of the levels have an age range, not a grade level. It doesn't have a lot of practice with punctuation and mechanics, but I think that is a plus when you are thinking of using it remedially. You can pick up books for that.

 

I've heard that Winston grammar is good as well, but I haven't used it. It uses color-coded cards (kinesthetic).

 

An evaluation might help you tease out whether or not she was able to get by without being forced to think conceptual, so she's floundering now that it's in the mix or whether she is going to struggle with conceptual information because of an LD or something...or whether it's something different entirely.

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Oooh, I'm glad you mentioned MCT, because I would love to do this.  I've been wondering if it would help her solidify her understanding of parts of speech. I've been wavering, because we love CLE and hate to give it up, but I'm not sure we could do both.  Maybe we could do CLE at a greatly reduced pace, even one or two lessons per week, so that she didn't forget what she's learned there, but mainly do MCT instead?? If we did Island, I could probably combine her with  DS10. He will be fourth grade next year, so I'm thinking maybe I can combine their writing as well and do W&R Fables together.

 

I'm thinking an evaluation would help figure her out.  Not sure if we can do it anytime soon, because of everything else we have going on, but I'll keep it on the back burner.

 

My brain is dead now from staring at the computer, and I need to go clean the bathroom.  But I'll come back to the MCT idea later. Thanks!

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I don't know how CLE is organized, but it appears to be spiral and cover several things at once. You might consider a delayed start, and work the MCT into it in short bursts. So, you might start with MCT parts of speech, do CLE. Then move onto MCT parts of the sentence, do more CLE and so on. The practice book for MCT has only sentences with four-level analysis--it's one type of assignment all the way through. You would just do one level when you do parts of speech for the first twenty or so sentences. When you move on to parts of the sentence, you can loop back and fill in the second level, and so on. Once you have all four levels in place, you finish the exercise book. It has only 100 sentences in it for the whole year, so it's totally doable, and you can spread it out throughout the year.

 

If the four-level format works well, you could complete your CLE grammar portions with the MCT method (even if you are just identifying parts of speech, not all four levels), but use the punctuation exercises, etc. as designed.

 

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