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Another on Slow Processing Speed

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As a spin-off of the recent thread on improving processing speed, are there math curriculum or methods that work well with slow processing speed?  My son's at 11 yrs is in single digits.  On untimed content tests, he is low avg to average.  On reading comprehension and logic, he is above average.  We just finished 4th grade math with him, and it's just painful to continue for both of us.  He is getting OT help with physical writing.  I already accommodate - five problems or 30 mins or one good sentence, etc. Thanks.


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I'll just ask, does he have SLD math as well?  And he has SLD writing?  


At that age, I was doing a lot of scribing with my dd, math on the whiteboard, and allowing her to use a calculator.  Those were enough supports for her to be able to do a normal amount of math (30-40 min) and work through lessons at a normal pace.  That's ADHD and low processing speed, no SLDs.


If you're saying it's taking him 30 minutes to do 5 problems, then I'd want to make sure you had complete evals to know everything going on.  Might want ADHD meds, get an SLD diagnosis, change curricula, scribe, look at compliance, etc.  Big picture, multiple prongs to see what's going on and where you could problem solve.  For instance, if he has SLD math, MM might not be my first choice in curriculum.  


The calculator use was really essential for my dd at that age.  It let her choose where to put her energy, since she was only going to have so much to give in a session.  If the point was to do some longer math, then I would let her use the calculator for even things like 7+3.  Her brain would literally get SO TIRED that even that was helpful and a good support.  Of course she could do it, but at that age you have puberty and fatigue and...


Are you feeding him before math?  And have meds for any ADHD?

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What is SLD? 


I scribed math until vary recently, but I turn his paper sideways to help him line up numbers.  Depending on his functioning I choose 5 problems, 25 mins, only this part, etc.  This summer, the ADHD meds really helped, and we completed about 1/3 of fourth grade math (accommodations on number of problems and using charts).


What would be your choice if not MM?  Also, this isn't the main issue we are dealing with, but the worst part of school.  I'll make a separate post on the rest.

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SLD = learning disability.  So dyscalculia = SLD math, dyslexia = SLD reading, etc.


Have you had full evals to check for SLDs?  


Math is very individual.  What you need depends on what is going on. How do you feel he learns best and what do you feel is holding him back?  It sounds like the ADHD meds are really helping!

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I wish there was curriculum geared towards it specifically. I know multitasking is one of the bigger struggles for kids with slow processing. My ds hated math mammoth and Saxon is a poor fit too. I am not sure what is was about mm maybe the busyness of it. The thing that helps my kids the most is being able to really see things conceptually but I think some kids need a lot of work with that and others just need a little so the curriculum that works would vary.

Edited by MistyMountain
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Where is the specific struggle in math? I'm trying to gauge where the breakdown is occurring.


I don't like the cramped feeling of MM, but these problems can be rewritten by you on 1/2" grid paper.


For several years, DS and I sat down with 2 dry erase boards and worked math problems together. He solved while I solved, and then we compared and corrected answers. We did that over and over again. To explain concepts, I used manipulatives and drew pictures. My son requires novel approaches and a more advanced, top down approach. He used a multiplication chart and a calculator for certain division problems. I read books by David Sousa, Ronit Bird, and James Tanton and apply their methodology to whatever curriculum we are using at the time. We have used Khan Academy and math drill generators with the timer turned off. He needs multiple bites of the apple ðŸ.


We started by working about 20-25 minutes and then slowly built up the time as he grew older. We cannot go by grade levels but rather progress based upon the student.

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When you pair this info with your other thread, I think your situation is complex.  You have strong reasons you suspect ASD, are having compliance issues, and don't really have enough data to know if you're dealing with an SLD or possibly low IQ or what.


I think, in a situation like that, the best thing you can do to wait out until evals is to work kindly and use strategies.  You can read some books on autism like Stop That Seemingly Senseless Behavior.  It's probably THE most useful book I've read.  If you can bring in some help with a BCBA, that would be good.  As far as strategies, collaboration, giving choices, taking turns making choices, doing things that are highly motivating to him, these are all good strategies for you.  


Once you get your evals, you'll have better info to decide a new direction with math.  In the mean time, I would do whatever seems in reach.  For instance, if you got a book of math games like Family Math (which maybe your library would have!), you could play a math game each day.  Read him living math books, play apps. MUS is a normal one to recommend.  I use some printable workbooks from Teacher Created Resources that I REALLY like.  They have a bunch of things for that level of student. I'm not saying do all of them, lol.  Maybe pick one or two and alternate, or do one thing as a warm-up and one more collaboratively. I like their graph art, daily warm-ups, units on specific things like telling time, problem solving books, etc.  And what's lovely is that things like the daily warm-ups will have ONE problem per day.  So if you get the level comfortable, he might be able to do a page (2 problems) each day and feel like a rock star!  


In other words, rather than focusing on instructional level material, maybe take the next 2 months, which are largely holidays anyway, and just work on changing the dynamic to a more positive one.  His future is not going to be made/broken by whatever you "could" have slogged through in the next few months, but getting that dynamic more positive, more collaborative, might have some really HUGE rewards.  


Here are some examples of things I'm talking about.  I don't really know where your ds is, but I've used various levels of the products and found he enjoyed them.   :)


Holiday Graph Art


Daily Warm-Ups: Math, Grade 3


Daily Warm-Ups: Problem Solving Math Grade 3


How to Work with Time & Money, Grades 1-3


I've used all those (lower grade levels, same product) and like them a LOT.  My ds enjoys them.  He does them with his ABA tutor, because of course we have behavior issues.  (self-regulation, bolting when frustrated, etc.)  Now that the behavior has improved, he can just sit down and do them with me.  They're witty, super brief, and they catch language holes he has.  The *language* component of math can really trip kids up.  I linked you to gr 3, but just start at a level where he would feel like a rock star, kwim?  Like if you're having behavior issues, you're not going to work at the tip top of his instructional level.  Go a bit easier, knowing that he's working on OTHER important goals, like self-regulation, like the language of the math.  The Daily Warm-Ups Problem Solving Math are nifty, because they can be done really well with collaboration, letting you work on social skills.  NONE of this has to be done independently.  Oh, and the DWU usually let you just circle letters for your answer.  Score!


I haven't done this one yet, but it looks really good and seems to be like the time/money one.  They're kind of basic, but on the other hand sometimes it's nice to have something to get you going.  Like flex it a bit.  If it says to measure the grasshopper on the page, go get a big plastic grasshopper from Walmart and do that instead, kwim?  Obviously only if that would thrill him, lol.  


How to Calculate Measurements, Grades 3-4


They have other books too.  You can use their site and sift by subject, grade level.  What I do is print the pages, and I collate them into little booklets with paperclips.  I don't staple them, because the ABA people want to be able to hand him one sheet at a time to keep him from getting overwhelmed.  So you can do a page, do something preferred, do another page, etc.  Or you could do the packet (3-4 pages, which with the things I'm listing with be 7-8 problems) and then take a break.  Whatever it takes.  


Look for something that motivates him and try to make ways for him to get more of it (within reason) as a reward for compliance and for participating in the work with you.  


It's a hard stage, waiting for evals.  I'm glad you have them coming in January, so you can get this sorted out!  There are just some things that you won't really know till you get the results from the evals.  However you can choose kindness, decrease conflict, and harness motivators in generous ways.  If you don't know what to do, play games.  Can't go wrong playing games.  It's together, not isolated (the autism), will work on math (scoring!), builds language (you're talking!), and even brings in social skills.  And keep us posted.  We're rooting for you!   :)




Edited by OhElizabeth
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Okay, I always referred to them as LDs, so I wasn't sure about SLD.  Technically, statistically, he doesn't qualify as SLD in anything.  I don't think she did the standard IQ test, but she do tests that testing showed him at or below average intelligence.  Since that is where he performed on the tests, he didn't qualify as SLD.  Also, she said that his ADHD is so bad that it affects every test.  We COULD have him retested after medication and see if the scores are different.  I don't know that educational testing is my main focus now, as you see from the other thread. His current eval told me that he was more below level than I thought and slower than I thought, so we accommodated more. 


His struggles in math are really the same as writing.  He can only hold a bit of info in his head and get it on paper before it's gone.  Plus, he gets so distracted, even on meds.  He can do the problems, but they are automatic.  I can show him one, and he can do the next few, again using a multiplication chart. 


I love your ideas, OhElizabeth!  That's what I needed.  I also like knowing your son did math with his ABA person.  With our dynamic now, I was thinking of seeking out a math or special education student from our university or tutor to help him a bit, tell my nerves get back in check. Heathermomster, that's a great idea- just take the big idea from the MM pages and work it on paper or boards. 


This isn't really my focus, but after the other thread on processing speed and how it doesn't really get much better, I thought I'd see if there were more specific ideas for accomodating.  I'm also reading Bright Kids Who Can't Keep Up.  Thanks again!

Edited by mymommy1
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I think I'm getting people mixed up at this point, because we've had several new people posting.  I think what you might want to do, honestly, is start a thread asking about how people have handled math with similar IQs.  I've seen there are some specific materials, etc.  And I get what you're saying about the ADHD impacting the scores.  We've had people get told ID by one psych and have a WILDLY different result at another.  So I can see why you're frustrated there.  Even with my ds, who is considered gifted with SLDs, we said he either has ID or unbelievable SLDs, because his swings were so big.  


But yeah, I would start a thread and ask specifically about how people are handling IQ and kissing ID kinds of scores.  Might give you some direction.  


What kind of happens with scores is they use words, and the words cover a range of scores.  So you can be like 2 above the cutoff for say ID, get told oh it's average, and it's really 2 above ID, kwim?  And then you go ok, let's use ALL the tools we have, like tools that work for ID and tools that work for ASD and tools for ADHD.


I think when she says the ADHD is lowering things, you're bumping that up to ASD.  And there you're talking compliance, language, severe EF.  Just to say ADHD is affecting IQ scores is kind of mysterious.  ADHD would drop the processing speed and working memory, so they'd just do a GAI (adjusted for disabilities), no biggee.  It's when you get these kids that are more complex that it's harder.  Some kids can't have a GAI even be accurate, because they have such wide swings, with highs and lows.  In that kind of case, to my mind, you treat them like they're as smart as their highest scores and as disabled as their lowest scores imply, sigh.  Like it's all true.


So your fresh evals will have full IQ?  Did your previous testing give you any breakdowns?  Like verbal, performance, anything?  

Edited by OhElizabeth
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I understand what your saying about the scores and all.  I have pages of results with several tests and subscores.  I'm summarizing on my own from reading and rereading the results.  Certainly if he is on ADHD meds at the time of evals, the tests would be worth redoing.  Or if they do different tests, then great.  We will find out when we go on the 10th for intro meeting.  I'll also see if she has recommendations for behavior help while we wait. 

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