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Helping friend

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My friend is pulling her daughter out of school for next year. Her daughter has been bullied and recently got physically hurt with a concussion.  She will be entering 9th grade and has been in mild to moderate special ed class all of her life in the local public school district. Diagnosed with adhd by Kaiser but school district says autism spectrum. 


I started spending more time and found out she doesn't know multiplications and couldn't tell inches from centimeter just to begin with. We did all help her with her history project and noted her reading and writing level is also pretty low.  
Her mom works but dad stays home caring for her younger brother who is nonverbal. He goes to school though. I could not say her dad is dad of the year. He's a pretty uninvolved unmotivated person in general. So she will be spending her time up here with my kids but I thought she would be able to do work with my daughter together as they are the same age but finding my daughter is way ahead of her despite having similar personalities and behaviors. 


Her mom is signing her up with an independent study charter school for funding. 


How do you begin with someone starting to homeschool in 9th grade and is behind? 


I have a son who is in 2nd grade and they may be on the same level at this point and how do I this without insulting her. Her mom feels really guilty. And feels like a horrible mom for not knowing how behind her daughter is. I told her its common when kids are in school and the parents are working or single parent household or if a parent has mental health issues (her dad). Its easy to assume the kids are learning in schools and most of the time its the parents working with the kids at home but she's so busy with her nonverbal child that she hasn't really focused on her daughter much last few years. I can tell she's doing her best. 


I am sure the charter school will assess her but in general it will still fall on this poor mom and most likely me to try and remediate her. She's terrified of being homeschooled as she doesn't want to be left home alone with her dad and afraid she won't have friends but she barely has friends now. 

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I just typed out a long post and it got eaten.


Basically if she is this behind after being in school for this many years then it won't just be a matter of some additional instruction for her to "catch up".  If she is dyslexic, she needs to be taught how to read/write/spell with a program designed for dyslexics.  For math she may need targeted lessons based on something like Ronit Bird to have a prayer's chance of filling in foundational skills and moving forward.  If she has ADHD she may have a tremendous difficulty staying focused so that will also strongly affect how lessons need to be done.  If she actually has ASD then she probably needs other targeted interventions as well.  In other words, this will be a long, challenging process and the parents at this point are going to need to do something more than just turn her over to you and an on-line charter.  


Without a thorough evaluation (not through the school that apparently failed this child) I'm not sure how the parents or you are going to know what needs to be done to help her but if evaluations are not possible, would you be able to do one on one tutoring with a dyslexia friendly reading/writing/spelling program and tutor one on one with Ronit Bird materials then combine her with your other kids for content subjects but scaffold her in her areas of weakness?  Or would the charter be in a position to help in some way besides her just limping along in the on-line classes and hoping for the best?


I really appreciate you wanting to help.  That is awesome.  I don't know that this is going to work, though, without some significant help from outside sources to get her through.  Not trying to be discouraging.  Just realistic.

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I agree that you need some more information. Can the parents provide you with copies of her school IEP and evaluation reports? I don't think that would be enough information, but it would be a start.


It sounds like either the school has been terrible, or the parents have not understood the depth of the disabilities. I think you are really admirable to want to help, but I would fear that you are taking on a much bigger job than you anticipated when you offered.


Is this an online charter? I think you really need to know what they will be expecting her to do and what kind of special ed they can offer before you know whether it will work for her. Trying to fit her into a program meant for NT kids may end up being frustrating for everyone.


I think you are sweet to offer to help. I also think you really are going to need a team of people helping to educate this child, and while homeschooling, the parents need to be the leaders of the "team," not you. I don't mean that your plan to have her work at your home won't work (though I think it will be really hard), but that your role needs to be facilitator and perhaps tutor for some subjects, but that you shouldn't be the main overseer of her education and progress.

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Also, since this child is worried about not having friends, but doesn't have many friends right now anyway, and the school thinks she has ASD and she was diagnosed with ADHD (which can cause some delay in the development of social skills) would it be possible for the mom to look into a social skills class?  She may need targeted help in this area.


Another thing of concern is the concussion.  Depending on the severity it can take a long time to recover from a concussion and can even cause mood changes and impact functionality for a loooooonnnnnngggg time afterwards.  Hopefully by fall she will have healed but are they monitoring her?  What is her status right now with regards to the concussion?  How long ago was the concussion?  Will she be continuing with the school in January?


And since she is not supposed to start homeschooling until Fall, if she is continuing school in January could the mom push harder for more targeted help and a more thorough evaluation through the school before May (but only if her brain has healed from the concussion)?  Or maybe start her with a private tutor after school for reading and math that is trained in learning challenges (but only if her brain has healed)?  Or perhaps begin targeted tutoring over the summer?  You might have a better chance of helping her with a trained tutor already starting the process and perhaps working with the Mom to come up with a plan you can help facilitate.  

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Going to try and answer all the questions:

Kaiser is a doctors/hospital clinic. When you are a member of Kaiser you have to use their services/doctors. 

Connecting Waters Charter School is an independent study charter school here in Northern California. Some work can be done online and some can be done by the parent and some can be done outsourced work. Basically whatever works for you and your child. They help pay for things. 

I am sure she will get a full evaluation when she goes to Connecting Waters. They did that with my kids. It was much more fuller evaluation than what the local school districts did that's for sure and we got more services too. 

I was hoping to just get more information so we can work with her now and during the summer so we can close some gaps. 


I told her mom about Acellus Tutoring. That might help her. 

I don;t know much about her concussion. But I had taken her to go ice skating over the holidays forgetting about it and her mom was fine about it. She doesn't seem to too affected but who knows. She falls down a lot in general. I showed her some exercises she can do using MNRI to help with her toe walking. Whether she does it or not is up to her and her mom. 



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O.k. you want recommendations so I will share some recommendations.

1.  Have her mother look into an Occupational Therapy program since she falls down a lot in general.  

2.  See if there is any way possible for her to start tutoring with an OG based system (something like Barton) preferably now but if now isn't possible then maybe over the summer.  If Mom has to wait on funding so needs to wait until fall then so be it but the child needs help and apparently has needed targeted one on one help for quite some time.

3.  Look into Ronit Bird materials to solidify gaps/weak areas in math.  I would see if this could be started now.  By fall she might be o.k. to use the charter school's materials with scaffolding from you.

4.  Expect this to be a long, hard, challenging process.  Even parents that have only one child to teach can find it very challenging to teach a child with learning issues.  Mom needs to be realistic about what you can and cannot accomplish.  She may very much need to be seeking outside one on one tutoring to scaffold what you and the charter school can do.

5.  Make sure you and the parent are on the same page, have clearly laid out expectations and written plans in place so there are no hard feelings over misunderstandings.

6.  Try hard not to obviously use the same material with her that you use with your 2nd grader.  That could tank her self-esteem completely.  You are right to be concerned.

7.  See if audio books could help her get through material your daughter would be using so that at least some things they could do together.

8.  Try to do something fun with the girls at least once a week that does not emphasize this child's weak areas.

9.  Make sure the mom knows that depression and anxiety could tank everything.  Since the girl is already worried about not having friends as a homeschooler and is struggling to have solid friendships already, I really do highly recommend Mom look into social skills classes and getting the daughter involved in outside activities that promote development of skills sets AND social skills.  It would probably also help if Mom was willing to invite potential friends over to her house once a week or so to provide opportunities to develop deeper friendships.  Starting that process now may make the fall a lot more pleasant.


And good luck, whatever happens.

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