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Hello, I am new to this particular board, but not the forum.

 

My ds is almost 9 and he just struggles to learn anything. We are currently out of the country, but I am trying to get a game plan together for when we get home this summer.

 

Last summer I had him tested at a university for learning disabilities. He scored in the 16-25th percentile in reading, writing, and math. The tester said that was "borderline for disability" and suggested following up this summer. His IQ was 100, but he didn't take a full IQ test. He also did a computer test and the connors questionnaire for ADHD and the tester recommended follow up with his pediatrician. So, I did follow up and the pediatrician said he met the criteria for ADHD. He said we could start medicine and he also gave me the name of someone who does behavior therapy for ADHD. But, then we were leaving the country and I decided to wait until we got back. I was kind of hoping the change in environment would help (it did not).

 

He is taking taekwondo and violin here and the instructors have both made it clear that he doesn't act like German children of his age-as far as his ability to make progress. It has been really frustrating for me. Today at violin he couldn't even stand on both feet despite being corrected for it regularly.

 

As further background, this DS has always been behind. He was in first steps from age 10mos until 2.5 years. We moved to a new state and he didn't qualify there. He had speech and physical therapy. I really regret not continuing privately, but he really was pretty much age appropriate at that point.

 

He struggles with everything-sports, music, art, writing, math, reading. Just everything. I don't know where to start. I probably should have gotten on the ball earlier, but I was kind of thinking he was just a late bloomer. Now, at almost 9 I have waited far too long, but I don't even know what to do to help him. He is a super happy kid and I don't think he realizes that he is behind and doesn't progress like he should.

 

Also, he is a huge sensory seeker (but not in a dangerous way). More like getting dirty and sharing personal space with his brothers (which really annoys them). His physical therapists in first steps said he has low muscle tone, but no dr has ever told me that.

 

I guess my first step is to get an accurate diagnosis, but where to start with that? And then after a diagnosis, what kind of therapy is actually available and worthwhile?

Edited by lovinmyboys
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Are you moving back to the same area, so that you will use the same pediatrician as before? If so, that is one place to start. You can medicate the ADHD (if you so choose) and do the counseling or therapy that the doctor recommended. ADHD can have an affect on learning if the child cannot focus, so it may make a difference.

 

However, it sounds like there may be an underlying reason that goes beyond ADHD, since he has physical delays as well. There are developmental behavioral pediatricians that can evaluate kids who seem to have global delays, but you would likely need a referral, and the waiting lists can be long. Perhaps you can go ahead and get on a waiting list before you move.

 

Another choice is a neuropsych evaluation. There can be long waiting lists for NPs, too. We didn't go to a developmental pediatrician, but my feeling is that they are more for things like global delays and autism, whereas NPs are more for learning differences and other psychological issues (anxiety, etc.). A NP may be able to pinpoint the LDs more accurately and perhaps give you some reasons for what you are seeing.

 

An IQ of 100 is average, so the lower scores in academic areas suggest there may be some LDs. I think you are right to look into it some more.

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Also, as a parent, nine does seem old, when you have been facing these challenges for years. My own kids were 9, 10, and 11 when they had their NP evaluations, but their struggles had always been present. I, too, wished that we had found a way to figure things out earlier.

 

But nine is really still very young, and you have a lot of time left to address issues and adapt your ways of teaching to meet his needs. It's not too late, really!!! We do the best we can.

 

:grouphug:

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It is hard for me to tell if he has physical delays. He definitely did as a baby, but I don't know what a 9yr old is supposed to be able to do that he can't-he rides a bike, roller skates, throws and catches a ball, etc. He does really struggle with climbing things. And he struggles to learn new physical tasks-it seems like more of a brain telling his body how to move issue than an actual physical issue.

 

When we get back to the US we will be going back to the same place. It is a metro area, so we should have resources. I really like our pediatrician, but he seems to think I have too high of expectations. When I pointed out that ds couldn't climb on the exam table, he acted like that was normal and he should get a stool for it?? My 5yr old can get on the table himself. When I tell him how he struggles to learn stuff he has always said "Well, he is only 5, or 6, or, 7, or 8." When I took him in this fall, he did take it more seriously, but of course then we left the country. I do also get the impression (a little bit) that he thinks ds may do better in school. I have 4 kids and Dh was recently on a 15 month deployment and the dr kind of hinted that perhaps I had too much on my plate and ds's schooling might be falling off the plate. Which, honestly, may have a bit of truth to it. But, none of my other kids are behind. This ds just doesn't make progress very quickly. I do think there were times that I thought he just wasn't ready to learn something and put it away. In hindsight. I shouldn't have done that. But at the time, I really thought he just wasn't ready. I guess my point is that it isn't that I haven't been doing a reasonable amount of school for his age. I have. But, he probably needs more.

Edited by lovinmyboys
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Dump your ped and get a new ped. You don't have time to screw around with people who blow off Mother Gut.

 

The low tone *can* be kind of the chain of what happens when you have retained reflexes. Since you're not here, I would look for a list of infant reflexes Pyramid Of Potential - The Solution For Learning Challenges - Primitive Reflexes for instance like here, and google each one to find the exercises on youtube. In lieu of doing testing, just pick half the pile of reflexes, do the exercises diligently and accurately for 45 days, then do the other half. Doesn't hurt to do exercises you don't need, and might help.

 

Also add brushing of the feet. For my ds, who had retained palmar, spinal galant, and rooting, we did (actually still do) brushing of feet, cheeks, and lower back. You won't BELIEVE the calming effect on his sensory you can get just with the foot brushing. This is the 2 minutes of the day you can't afford NOT to do, kwim? Astonishing results for us.

 

Given his mix, I would not medicate yet. I would work on retained reflexes and see what happens. He has developmental delays, and with a further screening you might decide it's something else, not ADHD. My ds seemed ADHD and has had a split in opinions from psychs. One said inattentive (which he's clearly not), another combined, another said not at all and then changed his mind. His scores have changed over time also and seem to change with the computer program. Main thing is, my ds does NOT have the caffeine flip. Not all kids do! Without that, I'd be very cautious about just assuming and putting on stimulant meds. If he has the caffeine flip, then sure, your call. But really, even then, try the reflex work first, then decide.

 

You're not crazy for thinking you're seeing stuff. These borderline kids get missed. My dd is like that, ADHD-inattentive, enough praxis (motor planning) weakness to give her problems but not enough to get her a dyspraxia label, etc. 

 

There's actually a book Beating Dyspraxia with a Hop, a Skip, and a Jump. It's NOT a cure for dyspraxia, but they found they could improve dyspraxia symptoms by 80-some percent just by increasing strength with a routine of exercises. Your TKD sounds nice, but personally I'd look into gymnastics and swimming. I keep my ds in both and swear by them. Or Crossfit. Something that is really going to push muscle development and motor planning. 

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For his feet, I stroke for 2 minutes with my fingers, then I use a nail brush, then I used a boar bristle brush. I do this 3-5 times a day. Might blow your mind to try. It can be very stimulating/irritating. Might keep him awake, so do it early in the day. If it's agitating, try giving him apps or something highly preferred.

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Btw, when you say he struggles to learn ANYTHING, how precise/literal are you being? Are you saying he has low vocabulary? He is borderline on SLDs, but that's just school work. What about things that interest him? Does he have any particularly strong or special interests? 

 

That can be re-framing how you see him, sure. Like there's more to life than school. But also it's concerning because you might see other areas that aren't working that you just haven't listed out. Like can he remember the steps for his morning routine or how to do his self-care? Does he know his phone number? Does he respond in an expected way to wh-question words?

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Btw, when you say he struggles to learn ANYTHING, how precise/literal are you being? Are you saying he has low vocabulary? He is borderline on SLDs, but that's just school work. What about things that interest him? Does he have any particularly strong or special interests?

 

That can be re-framing how you see him, sure. Like there's more to life than school. But also it's concerning because you might see other areas that aren't working that you just haven't listed out. Like can he remember the steps for his morning routine or how to do his self-care? Does he know his phone number? Does he respond in an expected way to wh-question words?

I feel like he has some things he is naturally good at, but he struggles to learn new things in lots of areas. We are in Germany now, and he could get around this city by himself. He gets the public transportation system and has really good sense of direction. He is really funny and has an advanced sense of humor (although he can also devolve into 8yr old boy silliness and he takes it way too far-doesn't know when to stop). He does well at jigsaw puzzles. He can have a conversation and answer questions appropriately.

 

Honestly, any time he learns something academic or in a class he takes so much longer than it should take. In tennis they will set up stations and explain them. By the time ds gets to the station, he forgets what he is supposed to be doing (or he never knew). That was one of the things I told the pediatrician that he said wasn't concerning because that kind of instruction isn't age appropriate. But all the other kids did it just fine. And, he doesn't seem to just catch on to most things without explicit teaching. Things other kids just "get." In a group setting sometimes I think he gets nervous and that stops him from learning. At home sometimes I wonder if he is just not that motivated.

 

What got me posting was that he texted me something about "quiet" and he spelled it "cwyit." He is almost 9. And we have done phonics and spelling. I knew he struggled with it, but I didn't expect that. He is still really shaky on subtraction with regrouping-he does great if I sit with him and remind him of the steps. But on his own, he just starts doing things that make no sense.

Edited by lovinmyboys
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 He is still really shaky on subtraction with regrouping-he does great if I sit with him and remind him of the steps. But on his own, he just starts doing things that make no sense.

 

This caught my eye.  At various points when my boys were forgetting steps in maths, I wrote lists of steps and stuck them to the table.  Reading through the list themselves seemed to cement the procedure in their brains better than if I took them through it orally.

 

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This caught my eye. At various points when my boys were forgetting steps in maths, I wrote lists of steps and stuck them to the table. Reading through the list themselves seemed to cement the procedure in their brains better than if I took them through it orally.

 

That is a great idea. I will try that today. I feel like sometimes I enable him by sitting with him and spoon feeding the info, but then when I don't he is so lost. This is a great in between.

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You'll want to read on dyspraxia or DCD (developmental coordination disorder), because motor planning and praxis could explain why he's having a hard time with sequencing the physical movements.

 

Yes, for that age to be spelling that way, that's clearly an SLD.

 

So back up because I've forgotten. What are you wanting? You want better evals when you come back (in a year, whenever)? You want to know what you can do now? You want someone to agree? Yes, when you say his brain can't tell his body what to do, that's the praxis. We agree. It's obvious. Doesn't have to be all the way to clinical to be an issue! My dd's is mild enough she doesn't get diagnosed with anything, but it really affected her ability to learn from a coach who couldn't put it into words. Typically kids with praxis and motor planning issues will struggle to imitate from a visual prompt. They'll do better if the person can put the instructions into words. So find a coach who is really good at EXPLAINING things, not just demonstrating.

 

Again, look at that book Beat Dyspraxia, because it has a whole exercise routine to build up enough strength to improve 80% of the symptoms. Get him screened for retained reflexes. Muscle tone is part of a cascade of development. If the infant reflexes are retained and don't integrate, then the vestibular system doesn't develop correctly. When the vestibular isn't right, then the tone is not right. So it's a domino effect, a cascade. So that's why you go back and check everything.

 

Barton has a way to help people in other countries. I think she sends them pdfs of the material or something. Call or email her. 

 

Ronit Bird is awesome for math, stellar. She has ebooks, print books, you name it. Adore.

 

You're not crazy. 

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PS. My ds is a pretty good swimmer now and a reasonable gymnast, but he required hand-on hand instruction for YEARS in swimming. Like literally I kept him in a class of 3 for two years, and he was in that twice a week. The teacher would put her arms on his and help him motor plan. He had retained reflexes that made it hard for him to turn his head and do the movements. 

 

It's just this sort of perverse irony that kids need more help but CAN if they get that unusual amount of help. And if you go oh well he's not athletic, then you miss the good that would come from building the muscle doing the activity! Water is SUPERB for low tone kids. It basically makes their whole body work all over, all their muscles! The absolute number one best thing you could do for his tone (aside from integrating retained reflexes) would probably be swimming. Highly, highly recommend swimming, even if it takes extreme measures to get enough support that he can get it. 

 

PPS. There are some supplements that can help with muscle tone. Also coconut milk. My ds doesn't like coconut milk, but his muscle tone is better than his sister's who won't drink it.

Edited by OhElizabeth
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I agree it sounds like dyspraxia could be an issue. Also called developmental coordination disorder.

 

The thing about determining whether there is a diagnosable LD is that the scores have to fall in a certain range statistically, compared to other kids. So his scores were borderline, which means there is a significant impact on him, even if he did not qualify for an actual designation of LD.

 

Are you going to be homeschooling when you get back? If so, then you can teach him with accommodations meant for the LDs, regardless, and choose curriculum that will suit his needs. If he is going to be enrolled in school, you will probably want to ask the school to evaluate him for learning disabilities right away, so that they can see if he will qualify for an IEP.

 

Did the university people run a CTOPP? That is the phonological processing test that can indicate dyslexia. If they did not, it might benefit you to have some more testing done. Dyslexia can affect not only reading but also make it harder to learn math skills. Lower working memory often goes along with dyslexia and can have a big impact on things like remembering directions. Executive functioning and ADHD also affect the ability to follow multi-step directions.

 

So there are some areas you can follow up on.

 

When you say your pediatrician wasn't concerned, had you shared the testing results from the university? We had a pediatrician that we loved, but he was slow to recognize the learning and attention issues in my kids. We had them tested by a NP anyway, though he told us that he didn't think it was worth the money. We really loved that doctor, and he did work with us on the ADHD issues after they were identified by someone else. I think his default approach was to calm the worries of parents and assure them that their children were in the norm. Because most of the kids in his practice would fall in the norm, right? So he brushed off our concerns a few times. We didn't switch doctors but did pursue evaluations from others, which we then brought back to him to see.

 

So, yes, some pediatricians are kind of slow to get it. But when they get it, they can get on board and be really helpful. Others just will never see the issues at all, in which case a change of doctors can be helpful. Since your doctor offered to work with you on the ADHD issues, though, it sounds like he or she may be able to come around and help.

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It's also possible that the university will run testing but doesn't like to give out diagnoses. Public schools are often like that with their testing, too, where they will say the student qualifies for services but will not actually name things "dyslexia," or "dyscalculia."

 

If you take your testing results to an educational psychologist or a neuropsych, they may be able to read those scores for you and give you some better answers. If it has been long enough, they would likely run new tests but would appreciate having the previous ones for comparison.

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We are coming home in a month so I am trying to get appointments/testing scheduled now so we can get started as soon as we get home. I also want to order curriculum so it is there.

 

The pediatrician did take things more seriously once I showed him the tests. My older son is really advanced and a quick learner so I think the pediatrician thought I was comparing him to his older brother and thought I had too high of expectations.

 

I do think the university didn't want to give a diagnosis. It was all "follow up on this or that."

 

I am just feeling overwhelmed because I feel like he struggles with so much. I don't know where to start. Should I start with the ADHD? Should I focus on reading, writing, and math and drop everything else? I am planning on homeschooling him. I am wondering if I should put some of the other kids in school so I can focus more on him.

Edited by lovinmyboys
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No, actually it's the opposite. You'll want to do more of things that are outside his disabilities, to get some more balance and let him see that he in fact IS good at some things! It's really not healthy for a dc who has triple SLDs to spend all their academics getting reinforced that things aren't going well. :(  You won't mean for that to happen, but it's a dynamic to watch out for.

 

Yes, you could like up fresh evals, if that's what you need. Has he had a CTOPP or only achievement testing? Sometimes the point of an eval (like say that university eval) is briefer, like maybe 2 hours just looking at IQ (not even full scale maybe) and achievement. A neuropsych eval will often be 6-8 hours. There's just a lot more that could be done. With DCD on the table, you want a neuropsych. Also update your PT and OT evals. i would look for someone who has significant experience with retained reflexes.

 

That's kinda sticky ordering curriculum. Depends on when your appts are and how long you need to wait. I would want that baseline on the CTOPP, etc. before beginning the therapy materials, since you'll be so close. I would definitely go ahead and do the Barton placement test to see what that tells you.

 

I can tell you that for my ds my plan for summer is targeted intervention, weekly themes, and tons of swimming and sports. 

 

Sure school is an option, but you could also flip that and send him to a summer program at a dyslexia school... If you have a choice on where to live, you could try to move to be near one.

Edited by OhElizabeth
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Start with someone who understands DCD/dyspraxia. You need an experienced OT with the SIPT training for the sensory. Developmental motor issues affect attention, learning, behavior, and vision. You may need to follow up the OT work with a ped PT. It sounds like your child needs balance and cross body work to improve his bilateral coordination. Be encouraged. Your child is still young and can benefit from OT/PT work.

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IDK how a tester can conclusively determine whether a child has SLDs without a full IQ test. I mean, what's the point of testing without it? Maybe, take all previous testing results with you and seek a neuropsychologist that can fully test and diagnose.

 

Supposing your child has SLDs, you remediate and accommodate. That means using audio books, providing hands-on activities, scribing, and giving extra time. Pursue the therapies to improve the motor issues.

Edited by Heathermomster
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Start with someone who understands DCD/dyspraxia. You need an experienced OT with the SIPT training for the sensory. Developmental motor issues affect attention, learning, behavior, and vision. You may need to follow up the OT work with a ped PT. It sounds like your child needs balance and cross body work to improve his bilateral coordination. Be encouraged. Your child is still young and can benefit from OT/PT work.

How would I find one? I live in a decent sized city so I am sure we have some here. When I have searched it mostly seems like everything is geared toward younger kids? Or maybe preschoolers are just cuter so that is who they put on their websites.

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How would I find one? I live in a decent sized city so I am sure we have some here. When I have searched it mostly seems like everything is geared toward younger kids? Or maybe preschoolers are just cuter so that is who they put on their websites.

Call around and determine whether they keep an SIPT trained OT on staff. You want an OT appointment with a professional that can look at balance, reflexes (developmental motor), handedness, core/pincer strength, perceptual vision, motor planning, and determine whether an SIPT eval is warranted.

 

Get referrals from the PED and call the local dyslexia school and get their recs. I never enrolled my DS in a dyslexia school, but I met with the head of my local school. She was very helpful and reviewed all of my son's test scores with me. I also looked at the school and met some of the students.

 

You have to connect and speak with people. I have called local Aspie schools for help and recs when seeking therapists. These people work in and around one another.

Edited by Heathermomster
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IDK how a tester can conclusively determine whether a child has SLDs without a full IQ test. I mean, what's the point of testing without it? Maybe, take all previous testing results with you and seek a neuropschologist that can fully test and diagnose.

 

Supposing your child has SLDs, you remediate and accommodate. That means using audio books, providing hands-on activities, scribing, and giving extra time. Pursue the therapies to improve the motor issues.

I think that is what I am going to do. I think the testing we did last summer was almost more like a screening. Since he showed that he has possible SLDs I should do more testing. I think they just did enough of an IQ to test to determine that low IQ wasn't what was causing his learning problems. I have not actually priced it out, but I have heard it is so expensive. I want to make sure we actually need the information the tests would tell us.

 

So far I have been accommodating but I think I have done it too much. I scribe most things and we work on spelling and handwriting separately. But then I don't know if he is getting enough practice. Because when we focus on spelling he knows how to spell "quiet." But when he has to spell it outside school time he spells"cwyit". He listens to audiobooks at least an hour a day, but that is time he isn't reading. He does not read for an hour a day- more like 15 minutes of work and 15 minutes of reading. With math he does great if I sit with him and sometimes give him a reminder of a strategy he should use (or even just say "what is the first step"). If I leave him alone he can't do it.

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