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He's just a boy vs. learning challenge


Guest PhDSray
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Guest PhDSray

I only have two kids, a boy and a girl.  So, no ability to distinguish if my son is just a typical boy....but lots of evidence that he's way different than my girly girl.  My son just finished second grade.  He did preschool outside the home a couple days a week, but has been homeschooled since K.  He has difficulty remembering multi-step instructions.  He doesn't get it when others need space, but he does sense our irritation. But, he's only 7. He's also an extrovert living in a family of introverts.  His vocabulary is amazing, but he struggles with details like remembering to capitalize the first word in a sentence, and to include punctuation.  I don't want to struggle with this kid being the "odd one out" for our entire educational journey, and yet if he has learning challenges I want to get outside help to ameliorate his difficulties.  Not eager for a label, just want to identify ways to help if they are needed.  Am I making a mountain out of a mole hill?  Any advice?  Should I just talk to his pediatrician to see if testing is indicated?  How do you know?

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Given that he's still 7, maybe he has a summer b-day?  Grade adjust? If you grade adjust, does that make him seem more in the realm of normal?  I do think you're seeing things, but that doesn't mean they're clinical.  My dd had issues with space around people, and she just needed some instruction.  She doesn't have autism or anything serious that it *could* indicate, kwim?  On the other hand, she did end up getting evals and labels, so there was stuff going on, lol.  It's just that the personal space issue alone doesn't have to push that over the top.

 

I'd definitely mention your concern to your ped next time you go.  They should have an EF (executive function) screening tool they can run on him for no extra cost.  I've filled them out a zillion times now with my two kids.  Seems like EVERY practitioner I go to wants them, mercy.  I've done them for speech, OT, eye doc, ped...  So sure, talk with him and fill it out.  The things on there include things you aren't saying, but we all have our own tolerances.  They'll also do other things like check his hearing, look for ear wax, consider his speech, etc.  I'm not sure of age-norms or standards for 7, but I would *think* they're probably looking for the ability to follow a two-part instruction.  (differentiating working memory and comprehension from compliance of course)  So when he's in a good mood and compliant, can he follow a simple two part instruction like: go hang up the towel then bring me your shoes...  

 

It could be within the realm of normal or it could be something.  Just do a little exploring.  It's always good to see the ped, get your eyes checked, that kind of thing.  Even if it's within the realm of normal, that doesn't mean there's nothing you can DO about it.  You can start reading about Executive Function, working memory, that kind of thing, and start using techniques appropriate for it.  Most structure, have him repeat instructions, play games to target working memory, that kind of thing.  

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Btw, you might run a learning styles inventory.  If I could suggest, the worst habit a classical educator would have starting with a girl is to do everything verbally.  He sounds strong verbally, but even so he might turn out to be a very kinesthetic learner.  My ds has off the charts verbal scores in some areas (astonishing with his apraxia, yes), but even so he's a dominantly kinesthetic learner.  We throw beanbags and move and smack and DO the content as much as possible.  I have a game for grammar with a spinner and pieces to move.  You might make movable tiles for the punctuation and a magic colored transparency piece that has capitalization powers and use those pieces to PHYSICALLY punctuate and capitalize sentences you do together on a whiteboard.  With my dd I used a 17X24 whiteboard by Board Dudes, highly, highly recommend.  Make tiles and DO your grammar, don't just talk about it and write it.  Writing Tales uses games, and those are awesome too.  Jump, hop, become the punctuation.  You say the sentence and he becomes the correct punctuation.  That kind of thing.

 

 

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None of that is to say you aren't seeing what you're seeing.  You are, and it may or may not be something clinical.  I'm just saying changes in teaching style and easy-to-implement changes to work on EF stuff might be all you need right now, no matter what the label is/isn't.  

 

If you fill out the EF survey with the ped and they catch something, then yes get full evals.  Also, if you have any indication of auditory processing issues or a seemingly low processing speed (having to bite your tongue and count to 5 while he thinks), then get evals.  If the ped screens and finds low tone, get evals.  If he has sensory quirks or physical pain or reluctance to do age-typical activities (coloring, sports, etc.) those would warrant investigation.  

 

My dd's issues were obvious at 7 to anyone who had a clue, but there was more going on, stuff that would have been caught if we had done that screening tool.  I appreciate that you're concerned enough to check, and I think it's important that you follow through and follow your gut on that and make some changes, whether the answer is something clinical or just gender differences.  

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I agree with PPs, this could be absolutely within the realm of normal.  There really isn't a way to KNOW for certain, without doubt, that you need or don't need official testing.  There are so many factors involved in learning.  Do some exploring, as OhE said.  Ask your pediatrician.  If your mommy instincts are sending up red flags, keep seeking answers, and reading up even if you don't seek out evals right now.  Your child is young.  You have time to seek evals later if it seems you may need them.

 

 On the flip side of that coin, I will briefly share my own story.  FWIW, I aired on the side of not wanting a label and listening to the naysayers in the kids' school and in my own family. We waited.  We waited years.  And the kids, especially DD, struggled.  And then everything blew up in our faces when DS hit 2nd grade and DD was in 5th.  We finally got evaluations.  We weren't going for the labels.  We were seeking answers and the best way to help the kids.  And I really, really wish we had done it a lot sooner.

 

Should you get an evaluation?  I don't know.  Your son is very young.  He may just need a bit of time or a different approach.  Especially since he is an extrovert and the rest of the family is not.  

 

I guess if it were me and I had doubts and concerns, I would seek answers sooner rather than later, but my own personal experience colors my thinking here.

 

FWIW, my pediatrician knew nothing about learning issues.  Absolutely nothing.  She has started reading books I recommended to try to catch up now but she was less than helpful when we really needed advice.

 

Also, both of my kids are dyslexic among other things but they presented very differently.  I was shocked when DS started struggling in 2nd since school had always been great for him.  DD always had difficulties.  Why the difference?  Different strengths and weaknesses and different personalities.  Getting an eval was a HUGE help.  It was only the start of our journey down a better path, but it was still an enormous stepping stone and I don't regret it for a moment.  I just wish we had done it sooner.

 

A really solid evaluation through a neuropshychologist would not only give you an idea of any issues or weaknesses but would also help you find strengths, something equally as important IMHO and not always easy to tweak out since weaknesses can mask strengths and vice a versa.

 

Not sure I helped much.  It is really hard for anyone to really tell you for certain that you should or shouldn't seek evals since we don't know your child personally and are not neuropsychologists for the most part.  I'm sorry.  I know that isn't very helpful.

 

:grouphug:  :grouphug:  :grouphug:

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I only have two kids, a boy and a girl. So, no ability to distinguish if my son is just a typical boy....but lots of evidence that he's way different than my girly girl. My son just finished second grade. He did preschool outside the home a couple days a week, but has been homeschooled since K. He has difficulty remembering multi-step instructions. He doesn't get it when others need space, but he does sense our irritation. But, he's only 7. He's also an extrovert living in a family of introverts. His vocabulary is amazing, but he struggles with details like remembering to capitalize the first word in a sentence, and to include punctuation. I don't want to struggle with this kid being the "odd one out" for our entire educational journey, and yet if he has learning challenges I want to get outside help to ameliorate his difficulties. Not eager for a label, just want to identify ways to help if they are needed. Am I making a mountain out of a mole hill? Any advice? Should I just talk to his pediatrician to see if testing is indicated? How do you know?

How are reading, spelling, handwriting, and math facts?

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He has difficulty remembering multi-step instructions. He doesn't get it when others need space, but he does sense our irritation. But, he's only 7.

His vocabulary is amazing, but he struggles with details like remembering to capitalize the first word in a sentence, and to include punctuation

Sounds very normal for the instructions and the personal space. There are people who are oblivious to the irritation but your son is aware. Remembering to give your your required personal space would take time.

 

For capitalization and punctuation, give whatever writing or grammar exercise back to him and ask him to check for punctuation. Kids can get so engross writing they forgot about punctuation.

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You wrote that ' He has difficulty remembering multi-step instructions'.

Though rather than a difficulty with remembering?

I wonder whether he a difficulty with ordering multi-step instructions in his mind?

Where Spacial thinking is used to order steps in our mind.  

So that we have a sense of where we are up to, as we work through the steps.

 

Though with his struggle to remember details like using a capital for the first word in a sentence?

A sentence could be seen as a 'step' ?  Where a capital marks the beginning of a new step/ sentence.

 

Also with his: 'He doesn't get it when others need space, but he does sense our irritation.'

I think that you are talking about him invading people's personal space?

But what this makes me wonder, is his ability to concieve of 'external space'?

How far things around him, are away from him?

 

So basically I wonder if he has a difficulty with his Spacial thinking?

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