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blessedmom3

Is it possible to reach a 2 year college with a struggling learner / low IQ

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My 8th grader is doing great in pre-Algebra but he struggles with word problems and logic questions. He is doing two programs (CLE 8 and Acellus 8 ) and is making over 90%. He learns the how’s easily, but I don’t think he fully understands the why’s, although I have always made an effort to explain beyond the textbook all those years.

He is also doing great in grammar (perfect punctuation, spelling) has high vocabulary, but low reading comprehension and poor writing. 

His IQ was 73 when he was 8 and another time 85. So is there a hope that he will reach Algebra II and maybe attend a 2 year college? Any experience with older students like this who were successful? 

ETA How is it possible that he always gets right these kind of problems, “What percent is an increase from 21 to 45 ” but if I told him a word problem, like for ex . I bought a book for $21 and sold it for $45 , what percent profit did I make? — he is not able to do this kind of problems? Any resources,, books, tips on how to help him with word problems? 

Edited by blessedmom3
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What is the long term goal for which 2 year college would help?

 I think that it is quite possible to get in to a community college and to take remedial math.

But I am not sure if it would be possible to successfully get a 2 year degree unless the math (and other subjects) could be mastered.

The result might be a lot of expense for some thing he might not be able to really do. I suspect this is why some community colleges I have seen statistics for, have nearly 100% admit rates, but only around 10% graduation rates  

Personally if my child, I would tend to be looking at a tech school or some training toward a way he could support himself.  Not so much trying to get into college.  If he is great at grammar, punctuation, etc, and if he could achieve fast typing skills, being in the word processing department of a large law firm , or something like that, could possibly be a direction. 

If he is very precise and careful in what he does, some businesses still need filing clerks to work with actual paper records/files. 

...

Word problems... Critical Thinking Press has some workbooks that might be a help. 

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I think it's really hard to predict.

DS14 has tested very low in math in the past and has a math disability. Yet this year, for his IEP testing, his results in math were much higher. He has managed to perform so well in his brick and mortar 8th grade math class that his teachers are questioning whether he really needs special education in math any more. His overall IQ has also fluctuated with various testing,

You would think that his progress in math is great!! Except that his great performance is a B-, and his higher math scores on the testing are still low, just not low enough for the school to automatically consider it a LD. We tell the teachers that he forgets concepts and foundational information and can't do word problems, and they respond, "We don't see that! He is doing so well in class!"

I bring this up, because you say your son is earning good grades but has problems understanding math, and I totally get it!! I see how it can be possible to do well on the daily work but still be struggling.

My son's school is being optimistic and expecting him to continue to do well. I am feeling hesitant and predicting that DS is going to struggle more in algebra, geometry, and algebra 2. I have always doubted that he will be able to do any college level math. He has other learning issues as well, so we are anticipating that he will go right into employment after graduation, instead of to college.

Unless your son stalls in his progress, it sounds possible to expect him to get through algebra 2 by 12th grade. He's got four more years to do three years of math, and since you are homeschooling, you can choose curricula that will work best for him and slow the pace as needed. Whether he can then do college level math is just a guessing game. You should have a better idea about that in a couple of years.

Does he have any career goals? I think if you can target an employment path that does not require college, it may be wise. If he proves able to go to college after all, even better! But having a non-college path is not a bad idea. You might develop a Plan A and Plan B with him.

 

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He wants to be an accountant or maybe a programmer...not sure yet. He is fast with computation, mental math, well organized, so maybe he will do ok in these jobs.Although programming does require a higher order thinking and higher math ability.  My husband thinks he can do it. I am not so sure and I have a feeling he should rather go to a technical college that is just down the road from us. Thank you for your insights. 

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My dad, brother, and niece are accountants. You really don't need to understand higher math for accounting, though you need attention to detail and ability to understand and apply formulas.

However, I think it would be hard to progress in accounting as a career without a four-year degree.

I have not studied either of those fields myself, but I think programming would require more math than accounting, but there could be more career potential in computers with a two year degree.

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Being an accountant actually requires more than a 4 yr degree. It requires 150 hrs plus sitting for the CPA exam.  It also requires math through calculus.

I do think a 2 yr program is possible. I would spend some time on your community college's website looking at the certificate or non-transferable degree programs. There are lots of fields that are achievable if you can find one of interest.

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My sister is an accountant (a CPA).  My understanding is it’s usually at least a 5-year program.  Maybe it depends on the school.

My sister was able to work as a bookkeeper while she was in school, though.  That does not require a degree, just knowledge/experience.  However my understanding is that this job is one where a lot is computerized now and it’s not as big of a field as it used to be.  My sister would do payroll once a month for small businesses while she was in college (usually 5-10 hours a month), and at the time (20 years ago) it was something where what she did was becoming obsolete as businesses added computer systems. 

Anyway — it is hard to know from what you have said.  One of my kids is unlikely to be able to do 2-year college, but we hope he is able to do a vo-tech program.  

This varies by location, but where I currently live, my son would have extra help and some lower requirements for vo-tech and be able to be in the public school system until 21.

His IQ right now (it has fluctuated a lot) is 88, but one of the components of it is in the 60s.  But that is neither here nor there, to some extent, they look at functioning.  

Anyway — just some comments I have.  You may have a better sense in some ways than your husband because you work with him.  Your husband may be more hopeful or think “I believe in my son” type thoughts.  I believe in my son also.  

Anyway — there is definitely, definitely hope he can attend a 2-year college.  

But I think looking at math is just one thing to look at.  If it was “only” math, then I think he can get through math in some way.

But it sounds like it’s more than math.  It’s hard to say but I think maybe he would qualify for programs that my son qualifies for.  

But they go off of an overall picture.  My son also has autism, and trouble with basic communication, so he gets really low scores on a lot of “daily living activities.”  

But kids are so different, a kid could have traits you mentioned, and everything else is a strength, or maybe other things are weak but for whatever reason these are the things that are noticeable right now.  

You have got some time, but you might think about seeing options in your community.  You also might see how he does as he gets older in non-academic ways.  

We just had a house guest for 4 days (a BIL’s girlfriend), who was very surprised when it came up, that my son is in a special school program.  We bought our house in a certain location that is otherwise not as desirable as some other locations, to be more convenient, and it may take longer to sell our house when we move.  That is how it came up.  Of course my BIL didn’t think to mention it to her.  

I meet people sometimes who are very focused on their kid’s math, and just don’t notice or don’t want to notice some other things, that are less measurable.  Math is really measurable, and it is very “yes or no” if you get a certain score.  Other things are a lot easier to overlook, sometimes.  

But anyway, when he had IQ testing, was there any other information you got from it?  Did it seem like they said things that fit your son?  

I think it would be good to get more current information.  I think it is good for kids to be set up for success and not failure.  I also think it is better to have information, even if it’s not what is wanted, than to have a feeling of guessing and wondering.  

 

 

 

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Yes, if you add CPA on to the accounting degree, it's a longer haul. I think my niece still did it in four years, but she took some classes in the summers. You don't HAVE to pursue a CPA, but if you don't, it will limit the opportunities greatly. And any two-year degree that is in accounting would really limit jobs to perhaps just bookkeeping or some other kind of office support.

A bachelor's in accounting is going to require a higher level of math classwork than an accountant will use in his/her everyday job. I don't know if all degrees would require calculus, because I haven't researched them myself, but it's entirely possible. Calculus and other higher level math is not used by my accountant relatives in their work, but they still would have needed to pass those math classes. It would be fairly easy for you to check the requirements of your local universities.

But just be sure to consider not only the type of degree he might consider pursuing, but also the type of work he could get with that degree. There are a lot of jobs for which an accounting degree would be helpful, but he would have to make sure to pursue the degree that will lead to the kind of job he wants.

Requirements have changed for getting a CPA -- when my brother did it twenty-five years ago, he was able to do it with a two-year degree only, but I think he was among the last that could do that. Around that time, they changed the requirements for earning a CPA to a bachelor's degree.

Edited by Storygirl
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2 hours ago, Lecka said:

You have got some time, but you might think about seeing options in your community.  You also might see how he does as he gets older in non-academic ways.  

Lecka, can you tell me how do I find out what options we have in our community? Any organization or website you can suggest? 

When we tested him, they said he might also have a mild form of autism and anxiety. He has poor communication and very delayed social skills. He moderately stutters also. He can’t do some basic skills like tying shoelaces for ex. Basic things/  common sense are hard for him. I am going to enroll him in a private school next year for the first time, in 9th grade, and see if those life skills will improve. Especially social skills. Some people, including the psychologist, say that his social skills are delayed because he hasn’t been in school at all.

I feel that by homeschooling him, he has been able to learn a lot, but I will never know if he is so delayed because “he was sheltered” as the psychologist said. He knows a lot of facts in history, science, math, grammar, a lot more than most peers his age, yet, when he is in a youth group or other people, his social and communications skills withold him from showing how much he knows. Yet, those are just “facts” maybe to pass a test, and these do not really help him in life and in a career where you need problem solving and critical thinking skills. But my husband, who as you said, does not work with him at all, thinks he can succeed in a career that requires systematic work and repetition, such as a programmer or accountant. My husband is a software engineer. I am just more pessimistic because I see him performing in a daily life...

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Edited by blessedmom3
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It is hard when he does not have a diagnosis.  It sounds like the psychologist was negative about homeschooling, which is too bad.  

My kids are all in public school and my son has had a diagnosis of autism since he was 4, so that is a little different situation for me.

As far as finding things in your area..... okay, some things are going to be through the school district.  Can you ask around with homeschoolers, if any of them have IEPs?  Do any of them know a homeschool student with special needs?  Can you talk to that parent?  Or another idea, do you know anyone from church who is a parent of a child with special needs?  They might know about some options, even if the specific thing is different.  They might have an idea of who to call in the school district.  Or, they might know about community organizations, or activities.  My son does some activities that are set up for any kind of disability at all.... he went to a summer camp last year, and he has gone to a day where they do special activities and games.  Other parents at things like that might know about community things.  

Then there is the thought of therapy.  There are times when speech therapy can work on social and communication skills.  Are there good options in your community for that?  Is it covered by insurance?  Here, you could ask your doctor how you would get a referral (if you need a referral for speech therapy -- we do for our insurance).  Or, you could call up speech therapists and ask about an evaluation.  It would be great if you could find out from another parent what speech therapists might work with a kid like your son.  Or if there is another professional (not necessarily a speech therapist -- there is a lot of overlap sometimes).  Can you ask around at church or homeschooling acquaintances, or your husband ask his colleagues, if they know anyone who has a child with autism and where they go?  Because that might be the right kind of place.  

Another idea is if there are any autism support groups.  You might be able to find out about the kinds of options in your area.  

To be honest, I think my number one would be to bring it up to your doctor.  I think my number two would be to ask around about school district options -- if you can hear anything.  We moved recently and I got a ridiculous runaround trying to get information before we got here, because they would just say they would have to meet him and get to know him, they couldn't tell me what they would recommend, etc, until he was enrolled, etc.  But I was calling from across the country, and I think it would have been different if I had been local and able to go in person or have a meeting in person.  Because partly it was kind-of like -- they would want to look at paperwork that would be hard to send them, and then we hadn't bought a home in the district at that point, etc....... It's like -- I can see their side, but it was SO frustrating.  

I do think sometimes you just start and call somewhere, and maybe it's the wrong place, but hopefully someone there can recommend another place to call.  I have had that happen before!  

 

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17 hours ago, Storygirl said:

DS14 has tested very low in math in the past and has a math disability. Yet this year, for his IEP testing, his results in math were much higher. He has managed to perform so well in his brick and mortar 8th grade math class that his teachers are questioning whether he really needs special education in math any more.

Wow, what are they doing?!?! That is fabulous!!! 

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My husband also rarely sees my son in social situations or around other kids.  

He will be honestly surprised sometimes when we are out, and then it's like he forgets about it or thinks "that was just one time," and doesn't notice it as part of a pattern.  

It's sounding like autism to me.  For what that is worth!!!!!! Lolololol.  (Edit:  -- it is worth very little.)  

But on a positive side, you might find out about social opportunities that are more popular with kids with autism, or for them, and it might be a way of finding out about things where he might be more comfortable or it might just be an easier setting.  It can just depend, but sometimes it can work out that way.  

Edit:  My husband is fully accepting of the autism diagnosis, he just forgets about it about 99% of the time.  And that is fine!  But he does get surprised by things sometimes when it is something that I am very familiar with as I am the parent who does those kinds of things most of the time.  

Edit:  My son is a different kid at home, and that is how my husband knows him.  It is just one of those things.  My husband sees him usually at home or when it is "just us." 

Edited by Lecka

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The reason I mentioned autism diagnosis, though, is that it is a different situation than "struggling learner/low IQ" as in your title.

The thing is, 85 isn't really a low IQ.  Your son also has some good academic strengths.  

Autism is a different set of issues in some ways (though things overlap).  

It's better to look at autism issues if it's autism, because those are the things that are important to consider.

Edited by Lecka

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4 hours ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

Being an accountant actually requires more than a 4 yr degree. It requires 150 hrs plus sitting for the CPA exam.  It also requires math through calculus.

I do think a 2 yr program is possible. I would spend some time on your community college's website looking at the certificate or non-transferable degree programs. There are lots of fields that are achievable if you can find one of interest.

 

3 hours ago, Lecka said:

My sister is an accountant (a CPA).  My understanding is it’s usually at least a 5-year program.  Maybe it depends on the school.

My sister was able to work as a bookkeeper while she was in school, though.  That does not require a degree, just knowledge/experience.  

 

1 hour ago, Storygirl said:

Yes, if you add CPA on to the accounting degree, it's a longer haul. I think my niece still did it in four years, but she took some classes in the summers. You don't HAVE to pursue a CPA, but if you don't, it will limit the opportunities greatly. And any two-year degree that is in accounting would really limit jobs to perhaps just bookkeeping or some other kind of office support.

 

Yes, accountant doesn't necessarily mean CPA.  Public accountants typically need a CPA.  The CPA exam requires some actual job experience, a bachelor's degree, and some extra coursework past that, before you even sit the exam.  I'd expect getting to that level would allow someone to command a higher salary than someone who doesn't have it.

There's also private accountants - not sure if that's 'just a bookkeeper' or something in the middle - my dd's planning on a 4-year accounting degree and maybe getting her CPA after that, so I've been trying to figure this all out - this is what the 'jobs' section of her degree says about Private Accounting:  Private Accounting works inside all businesses, government, and nonprofit entities. Private accountants choose a specific employer for their career and bring the tools, skills, and know how needed to succeed. Private accountants are an integral part of the success of any organization and many public accountants eventually work in the private accounting sector.

But that's still a 4-year degree that requires Calculus.

There's a 2-year Accounting program at my dd's CC.  It's  a 'career' degree - meaning not intended for transfer to a 4-year.  This is what it says it prepares graduates for: 

"Graduates are prepared for entry-level positions in accounting support or as assistants in large corporations, bookkeepers in small business, or client representatives in CPA firms. Accounting support personnel help businesses organize and report their financial information in departments such as accounts receivable, accounts payable, payroll and sales."

The 2-year degree, at least at dd's school does require just one math class; the student can choose from Statistics, PreCalc for Business majors, or what's probably the easiest, "Math for Liberal Arts".  Maybe something like that would be doable for your son?

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1 hour ago, blessedmom3 said:

When we tested him, they said he might also have a mild form of autism and anxiety. He has poor communication and very delayed social skills. He moderately stutters also. He can’t do some basic skills like tying shoelaces for ex. Basic things/  common sense are hard for him. I am going to enroll him in a private school next year for the first time, in 9th grade, and see if those life skills will improve. Especially social skills. Some people, including the psychologist, say that his social skills are delayed because he hasn’t been in school at all.

I feel that by homeschooling him, he has been able to learn a lot, but I will never know if he is so delayed because “he was sheltered” as the psychologist said. He knows a lot of facts in history, science, math, grammar, a lot more than most peers his age, yet, when he is in a youth group or other people, his social and communications skills withold him from showing how much he knows. Yet, those are just “facts” maybe to pass a test, and these do not really help him in life and in a career where you need problem solving and critical thinking skills. But my husband, who as you said, does not work with him at all, thinks he can succeed in a career that requires systematic work and repetition, such as a programmer or accountant. My husband is a software engineer. I am just more pessimistic because I see him performing in a daily life...

That psych is peddling chicken excrement. Sorry, but that's just not right. Are those life skill delays in tying his shoes caused by the social isolation of homeschooling? Insert a not-so-lovely snort right here. Good grief. The psych is reaching way past what is okay. You are saying right here that your son is in a youth group and spends time with other people. That is not isolation or sheltering.

I would get some significant language testing--Test of Narrative Language and the Test of Problem Solving, both for adolescent age range (they have young versions of the test also, and not all professionals that have the younger version have the older version). I would do some adaptive behavior testing--things like the Vineland. Both the Test of Problem Solving and the Vineland (and other similar tests) often show difficulties with problem solving, critical thinking, and common sense as well as life skills like handling money, tying shoes, etc. The narrative language testing and problem solving testing have an open-ended style of questioning, which means that kids with decent test-taking skills or those who can "recognize" a correct answer will test more according to what you see in real life. I love, love, love the test of problem solving. 

The stuff I put in bold is highly suggestive of something identifiable (including the guesses about what he'd be able to do or not do!!!--those opinions don't form out of thin air), such as autism and anxiety, both of which are responsive to intervention and which can potentially qualify him for services with the board of DD or other local agencies, many of whom will give JOB COACHING and CAREER ASSISTANCE. Not yelling at you--yelling at the psych. 

With an IEP and/or board of DD help, he could delay graduation and take advantage of school-based technical training/services/career exploration until he's 21 (often even as a homeschooler). In our area, people who get a DD waiver can often go through more than one technical program because of this...have an aptitude for one area but find out the social demands are too much? Okay, delay your diploma and try this other program now. We have a friend whose son is doing this right now.  

Edited by kbutton
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I can tell a little more about my "just bookkeeping" comment.  My sister knew she wanted to stay in our hometown.  There the job market consisted of "just bookkeeping" or it consisted of jobs requiring a CPA.  There were not those other job options (I mean, I'm sure they existed, but it would have been hard to find a job without moving).  

Second, without a CPA, but with a 4-year degree, then, where my sister went, you would have a business degree.  Accounting was a part of business, so it would be a business degree.  That would give a lot of job opportunities.  

My sister wanted specifically to just "just accounting."  

I think a 4-year business degree has a lot of options, and that there are a lot of jobs where they want some accounting (or a lot of accounting) but don't need a CPA.  

But the combination of my sister's location and what she wanted to do, meant there was limited accounting work without a CPA.  

Oh, also she did not want to do a certain kind of taxes.  I'm not too clear on that, but there was some kind of tax thing she didn't like, and I think that may have limited her job options as well.  It ruled out some options in our hometown, but I think those were options that required a CPA.

She had graduated with an economics degree, though, and then went back to school for a masters to get into accounting, I think, so she didn't have the same situation as an undergrad deciding to major in accounting.  For her, it did make more sense to get the masters than to complete an undergrad accounting degree (especially since she wanted to do "just accounting").  

Anyway -- I don't mean to disparage bookkeeping!  My sister was always a little frustrated with it though, because she would be going through shoe boxes, and then she charged by how long it took, and sometimes the people with the most disorganized receipts would be the people saying "why did you charge me two extra hours?"  It was not something that was working our really well for her.  But she never had a full time job doing it, she had several little jobs.  And that was kind-of what was available in our town!  

If she had been willing to move, then I think the quote about all the job opportunities would have been accurate for her.  

 

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Also, under DSM V, ASD diagnoses are assigned a "support level" that takes into account assistance needed, not just what people think about in terms of severity (high or low functioning is the older terminology). 

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Matryoshka -- also my sister does not interview really well.  I would say -- for her it helps her a lot that she has the higher certificate.  It helps her.  

I know that there are people who are not technically as good of accountants as she is, who would do better professionally in a lot of jobs, because they have good social skills.  

For people who do not have as good of social skills, then having a higher certification can help a lot.  

So to be fair, maybe if my sister had better social skills she would have been fine without getting the CPA.  But she was not doing awesome and it seemed like something that would suit her well and make up for some weak areas that she has, and it has turned out that way.  

But anyway ---- for someone who is getting a 4-year business degree, that is not a degree that is "just a bookkeeper."  

But when my sister was doing payroll, it was definitely "just bookkeeping," and it was not a great job.  

If she could have had a full-time job and than also done payroll -- that would have been a different situation!  But she was working for places too small to even have half of a full-time position be doing payroll.

She did get a full time job (she has worked two different places), that was a good job for her, where ------ it's very possible she didn't "have" to have the CPA degree as a requirement for that job, but I'm sure that for her, it would have helped a huge amount, since she does not have as good of social skills.  

But her other job does require a CPA.  She left that job for several years because of.... social skills.... and then they hired her back because they decided they wanted her anyway since she is such a good accountant.  But there are a lot of things they would also like that she does not have.  

So -- it's kind-of a long story!  

But I think there are plenty of reasons to get a business degree and choose the accounting major, and not get a CPA ------ which is my understanding for how it was at her school.  But that was not what she did in undergrad anyway, and she did have to go back and take some business pre-reqs also.  

But is has worked out for her, which is the important thing.  

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8 hours ago, kbutton said:

That psych is peddling chicken excrement. Sorry, but that's just not right. Are those life skill delays in tying his shoes caused by the social isolation of homeschooling? Insert a not-so-lovely snort right here. Good grief. The psych is reaching way past what is okay. You are saying right here that your son is in a youth group and spends time with other people. That is not isolation or sheltering.

I would get some significant language testing--Test of Narrative Language and the Test of Problem Solving, both for adolescent age range (they have young versions of the test also, and not all professionals that have the younger version have the older version). I would do some adaptive behavior testing--things like the Vineland. Both the Test of Problem Solving and the Vineland (and other similar tests) often show difficulties with problem solving, critical thinking, and common sense as well as life skills like handling money, tying shoes, etc. The narrative language testing and problem solving testing have an open-ended style of questioning, which means that kids with decent test-taking skills or those who can "recognize" a correct answer will test more according to what you see in real life. I love, love, love the test of problem solving. 

The stuff I put in bold is highly suggestive of something identifiable (including the guesses about what he'd be able to do or not do!!!--those opinions don't form out of thin air), such as autism and anxiety, both of which are responsive to intervention and which can potentially qualify him for services with the board of DD or other local agencies, many of whom will give JOB COACHING and CAREER ASSISTANCE. Not yelling at you--yelling at the psych. 

With an IEP and/or board of DD help, he could delay graduation and take advantage of school-based technical training/services/career exploration until he's 21 (often even as a homeschooler). In our area, people who get a DD waiver can often go through more than one technical program because of this...have an aptitude for one area but find out the social demands are too much? Okay, delay your diploma and try this other program now. We have a friend whose son is doing this right now.  

I love this response.  Like, I could frame it and hang it on a wall...

 

Edited by Heathermomster
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9 hours ago, kbutton said:

That psych is peddling chicken excrement.

Imagine that, a psych getting something wrong.  

10 hours ago, blessedmom3 said:

When we tested him, they said he might also have a mild form of autism and anxiety.

So they diagnosed him with autism or they didn't? And you pursued interventions or you didn't? He sure sounds like he's presenting with autism, and since the under-employment rate is 80% in autism, it seems like it would be helpful to work on things that affect his employability and ability to live independently. His math isn't going to matter and getting through college will not ensure he is employable. His employability will be determined primarily by social skills and emotional regulation, NOT his IQ or academics. 

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Now that you've added the additional information, I feel connected even more to your situation. DS14 also has some impaired social skills, as well as fine motor difficulties, and is close to the spectrum without an actual autism diagnosis (yet).

First, do the subtests of his IQ scores show that he has higher verbal scores and lower nonverbal/ visual spatial? Does he have a low processing speed? I'm wondering about Nonverbal Learning Disorder, based on the new things you mentioned. NVLD is my son's diagnosis.

You've had a bunch of people chime in after you mentioned that the psych said "maybe" autism but didn't diagnose it, and there is a reason for that. An autism diagnosis really changes the picture -- it offers a different root cause for the difficulties and also points toward some issues that can be major blocks to employment.

Please don't think that enrolling him in school will improve his social skills. DS has social skills built into his IEP and gets intervention at school from a speech therapist, because he needs directed and specific training in the social skills areas that are hard for him.

He gets A LOT of extra help for social AND he can blend in with his peers (he has a much harder time communicating with adults/authority figures) to the extent that his peers may not suspect he has social issues. And I still really really worry that he will have a hard time with employment.

Also be aware that private schools do not usually offer the kind of intervention that you son will need. Will this school evaluate for an IEP and have an intervention teacher working with him to support his academics and modify them if needed?

If not, I don't know.  I wouldn't choose that for my son. We did have him in a private school that offered intervention, so it can exist, but it's hard to find. And then we had to switch him to public school. And we were so worried about his needs being met in public school that we moved to a different district.....

I think you might want your son to have an IEP. And it's a good idea to have one in place before he enters school, because it can take almost an entire school year to get one in place. Did you know that you can start that process now while you are homeschooling?

Can this school modify math for him, so that he can go at a slower pace? What are their graduation requirements? Does he have problems with reading comprehension or writing? Do you think he can manage the typical high school language arts classes?

I don't want to throw cold water on your plans for high school. I'm sure you've thought them through. But I want to be honest. Putting him in school without an IEP and intervention may result in more challenges rather than creating solutions. Intervention is the key, so you need to make sure it will be available wherever he takes classes.

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10 hours ago, PeterPan said:

Wow, what are they doing?!?! That is fabulous!!! 

I'll try to send you a PM in a bit, so as not to derail the thread. It's interesting. His test scores have gone up, so the school is all YAY, but I feel cautious and worry that the difficulties are still there and will crop up in high school.

Remember, he had two years of math class at his previous school where he had only two (in sixth grade) or one (in seventh grade) other student in his class. Plus an intervention teacher along with the math teacher. So a very low student to teacher ratio. Tutoring, practically, daily for years. Plus 1:1 help on his IEP goals. It's obviously made enough difference to pull up his basic math scores on the IEP testing, and he is holding his own on the daily work in math class.

But I'm just a realist and think there are still hard times ahead. Especially when he hits geometry.

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Also, I didn't say but should have, and this is really really important.....

His social skills difficulties are not due to homeschooling or anything you did. I'm sorry you have been led to wonder about that.

They just aren't. They go along with the autism or close-to-autism characteristics that he has.

So don't blame yourself. Please!!!

But also, it means that going the opposite way and enrolling him in school will not reverse things and improve his social skills.

I really do think it has been good for my son socially to be in school. I really do. But this is his fourth year in school, and he has worked with a speech therapist on his social skills for three of those years, and he still showed a lot of issues that still need help when we just updated his testing for his IEP. Being around peers can provide new social experiences and expand those opportunities, but it will not provide the intervention needed to shore up the deficits.

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1 hour ago, PeterPan said:

]His math isn't going to matter and getting through college will not ensure he is employable. His employability will be determined primarily by social skills and emotional regulation, NOT his IQ or academics. 

I'm rooting for my son to follow the quirky - Jim Henson path...Hope I'm not putting all of my eggs in one basket.

(This is suppose to be a joke.....😉....sort of).

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I keep thinking about this thread, blessedmom3, because so much of what you have said is familiar to me:

* Good rote memorization skills

* Good verbal skills, yet poor communication skills

* Trouble with math, reading comprehension, and writing

* Social skills difficulties

* Being able to follow math steps, but lacking understanding of concepts

* Fine motor difficulty, including trouble tying shoes (can your son cut food with a knife or operate combination locks?; mine can't, or does only with difficulty)

* Anxiety

* Lacking common sense and life skills

* Knowing facts but lacking problem solving and critical thinking skills

* Concern about employability and ability to do higher level academics

* Low average IQ scores

* Similar characteristics to autism, but psych did not diagnose autism

Check, check, check and check -- I am describing both your son and mine. (DS14 also has ADHD and other issues beyond what is in this list.)

Have you heard of nonverbal learning disorder?

 

 

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2 hours ago, PeterPan said:

 

So they diagnosed him with autism or they didn't? And you pursued interventions or you didn't? He sure sounds like he's presenting with autism, and since the under-employment rate is 80% in autism, it seems like it would be helpful to work on things that affect his employability and ability to live independently. His math isn't going to matter and getting through college will not ensure he is employable. His employability will be determined primarily by social skills and emotional regulation, NOT his IQ or academics. 

I so agree with this! That is why I worry about his future. I worked very hard with him ever since he was a baby, we read tons of books, worked on two math programs at a time, worked hard in grammar and writing, ( that was HARD because English is not my first language!) and now he is not too bad academically. But academics won’t really help much in life like you said.  He is very delayed in vital areas. The psychologist was not sure if he is in the ASD, because he didn’t score high enough, but he had a lot of symptoms. The only recommendation she gave was to start speech therapy and enroll him in school to practice social skills. She also said there is a discrepancy between his IQ score (low average- all four sub tests were about the same) and his last academic test scores, which were mostly above average or very high. Low only in comprehension and math problem solving. She said it is because anyone with this IQ can be taught anything, yet he will struggle with simple problems solving in life. My husband thinks that it is impossible to perform so well if his IQ was accurate. He just doesn’t see that it is because I have been working with him all those years. He has been in speech, in public school and private speech, but I did not see any progress at all, so we discontinued it. I think his best speech therapists are his 4 siblings, especially his 15 year old brother. I will consider putting him back in speech. Right now he does a FaceTime speech for his stuttering only, but they work a little bit with him on “small talk “ as well. 

In our area, public schools are not the best, so I don’t think it will work. The principal from a private school said we may try one free school day and see how he does and also if they can accommodate him. He is very quiet, sweet, polite and hard working, so they won’t have any behavior problems with him, but academically, he will need one on one in order to understand concepts. How do I know that? Besides our literature-based full curriculum, he is also doing full Acellus, an online curriculum, and he doesn’t seem to get it when the teacher explains new concepts that he hasn’t studied yet. I have to go over again and explain, then he gets it. So my guess is that it will be the same in school. 

Thank you again for all your thoughts. I am sure I will come back to this thread to read the recommendations, especially the tests suggested by Kbutton. He will have a complete evaluation again in February for ASD,IQ, LD, and academic, so we will see what they recommend. 

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Wow, that is amazing, Storygirl, that list completely describes my son! Yes, he can’t cut properly with a knife, although we have tried teaching him so many times! And by the way, my son also plays and loves drums. He plays the piano also, but he doesn’t like it. 

I am going to check out nonverbal learning disorder. I have heard about it, but didn’t think he might have it and I don’t remember why. 

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27 minutes ago, Storygirl said:

I keep thinking about this thread, blessedmom3, because so much of what you have said is familiar to me:

* Good rote memorization skills

* Good verbal skills, yet poor communication skills

* Trouble with math, reading comprehension, and writing

* Social skills difficulties

* Being able to follow math steps, but lacking understanding of concepts

* Fine motor difficulty, including trouble tying shoes (can your son cut food with a knife or operate combination locks?; mine can't, or does only with difficulty)

* Anxiety

* Lacking common sense and life skills

* Knowing facts but lacking problem solving and critical thinking skills

* Concern about employability and ability to do higher level academics

* Low average IQ scores

* Similar characteristics to autism, but psych did not diagnose autism

Check, check, check and check -- I am describing both your son and mine. (DS14 also has ADHD and other issues beyond what is in this list.)

Have you heard of nonverbal learning disorder?

 

 

My daughter is also diagnosed with NVLD, but I have honestly never thought that it fit.  She has a lot of anxiety, and she struggles with math, but with recall, not with concepts.  She has great common sense and life skills, great reading comprehension, thinks critically, horrific rote memory.  Plus, when she was seven she was in the 99.9th percentile on the WISC Visual Spatial index.  She bombed the Woodcock Johnson Cognitive though.  She does have some minor fine motor issues, and she has a great vocabulary.  I've always thought autism fit better.  But she doesn't show autism on the ADOS.  She has great pretend play, and she does well one on one with adults in a controlled, predictable environment.  It's just never fit to me.  

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1 hour ago, blessedmom3 said:

he doesn’t seem to get it when the teacher explains new concepts that he hasn’t studied yet.

It's possible you're seeing the language disability there. The issue is not "speech" or stuttering, but vocabulary, morphology, syntax, etc. If he has trouble learning vocabulary, then that would hold back his comprehension when he encounters new material, necessitating the repetition. So then they could use strategies like pre-teaching the vocabulary. 

It's hard to find an SLP to do serious language intervention. I've ended up doing it myself with my ds, sigh. I suggest seeing what you can find for SLPs and see if you can find someone who does more extensive testing for narrative language, etc. You could see what you think of www.smartspeechtherapy.com She does tele evals.

Yes, the IQ score might drop due to the language disability. My ds' score dropped 30 points. So your ds could actually have a very typical IQ but seeing it is hard because they're using verbally driven IQ testing on someone with a language disability. So I agree with you there that you can assume his IQ is where it seems to be and that the testing is not giving you complete information.

Edited by PeterPan

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1 hour ago, Terabith said:

But she doesn't show autism on the ADOS. 

Psychs are not going to use the ADOS as a stopping point, especially with girls. It's information, but they're going to look at the whole picture and their clinical judgment. It's well-known that girls mask.

For the op, my impression is that a lot of kids previously diagnosed NVLD will move over to ASD under DSM5. It sounds like your psych wasn't confident about diagnosing autism. You might look for someone more experienced who can spend more time on the question and bring more experience. There is no "test" or single measure. Well that's not true, you could run genetics and sometimes find a gene that would make you think sure. 

I think in general, make it easy. Go through the criteria in DSM 5 and then look at support levels. If the dc meets the criteria, then the question is significance, whether they need support. If they need support, level 1. Not everyone with traits needs support. 

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So for both blessedmom and Terabith, it sounds like NVLD does not really fit. But only because NVLD is a visual spatial disability, so those scores  will be lower on the WISC than the verbal scores by at least 20 points.

PeterPan is correct that many of the characteristics of NVLD cross over into autism, so that ASD can be a proper diagnsosis. And it is helpful for someone with NVLD to also have an autism diagnosis, because NVLD is not in the DSM and therefore is not recognized by some and does not necessarily qualify people for the same kind of help and services as ASD.  People in the NVLD community lobby for it to be rightfully included in the DSM. And we are considering more evaluations to see if DS would qualify for an ASD diagnosis, because it would give him access to greater services through our county.

However, it's important to also understand that this does not mean that NVLD is not real and is just misnamed autism. There are people with autism who do not have the visual spatial disabilities associated with NVLD, and there are also people with mild forms of NVLD who do not have autism.

blessedmom, I'm kind of surprised your son does not have a lower processing speed, given his fine motor issues and writing difficulties. The processing speed can affect writing, not only because of the motor difficulties but also because it's hard to get thoughts from brain to paper. But also, the critical thinking gap makes organizing thoughts and coming up with original ideas very difficult. So I would have predicted lower processing for your son.

I wonder if he has something else going on to account for that fine motor. Perhaps dyspraxia (developmental coordination disorder?) or low tone. DS14 was diagnosed with DCD by his neuropsych at the same time as his NVLD diagnosis, and it was upheld by the opinion of an OT, but his gross motor is good enough that I'm not sure it truly fits him. DS is very athletic (runner, used to be a gymnast), but there were many areas his OT was working on with him, back when we were doing OT.

Edited by Storygirl
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You mention drumming, which is interesting. You might know from my other posts that DS14 is a drummer and plays bass guitar. I would never have predicted he could play guitar and would not have guessed he would be able to read music, but music is actually his area of talent. Truly talented and not just good at it. DS's career goal is rock musician, which we believe is far fetched, though we are not discouraging his interest. His IEP team agreed to add a secondary career goal of audio technician, because it is related to music but might provide a valid career path. Who knows if he will latch onto that idea, because he would have to make it his own goal to pursue it, but it's an idea we have.

His IEP team is involved in career prep for him and is being really helpful with connecting him with job services and is helping us think through whether he could manage vocational school. I wasn't sure he would be able to do any of our vocational programs, but our special ed coordinator has helped me see the possibilities. Because he has an IEP, he could, if he so wanted, complete all four years of high school and then do vocational school afterward and graduate at age 21.

One of the reasons we moved to this school district is because they had the best options for helping with post-graduation plans and because this county offers better services than the neighboring county where we used to live. DS is doing well in his classes (according to school measures, though I would like to see him doing better), but I know that academics do not automatically translate into job success for someone with NVLD or autism.

Edited by Storygirl
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In preparation for DS's recent IEP meetings, I was researching some new ways to explain to them what NVLD looks like. Because he is at a new school, and some of his holes are hard for the teachers to see, because he can do the daily work via rote memorization but lacks understanding of the foundational concepts. To the teachers, it can look like he is doing well at the work, and we sometimes have to advocate for them to "see" the underlying problems. (This is why your post about your son getting decent grades in math but having struggles resonated with me). His new school is proving to be really good at listening, even though they don't see for themselves all of the things that we have learned about DS over the years.

After our IEP meeting, I had to do some thinking about whether DS is doing better than we thought because his previous intervention has made a big difference (probably yes -- some of his scores on testing have gone up) or whether his teachers have an impression of him doing well, but there being root difficulties they have not spotted yet that will come back to cause issues later (I think probably also yes). With NVLD, students can seem to be doing well, but then crash in high school level work when they have to employ critical thinking skills they lack, and when rote memorization is not enough to get them through. I am on alert for that downward trajectory, even though his teacher see him as on an upward trajectory.

Anyway, my point here is that in preparation for his IEP meeting, I did some research on right-brain hemisphere disability, because NVLD is thought to be a disability of the right side of the brain. And I was completely shocked at how well a description of what a right brain injury looks like corresponds to the learning difficulties DS faces. It stopped me in my tracks. This article sounds like DS, even though it is describing people with traumatic brain injury and stroke.

Side note: One of the interesting problems DS has is that he loves humor and jokes but does not really understand them. So he will laugh at jokes and repeat them, and then after he tells them to us, he will ask, "What does that mean?" This is a big concern for us, because he doesn't understand the social line with the "acceptabiity" of telling crude and inappropriate among his friends but that repeating them to us (or to girls, because a lot of these middle school jokes are sexual, sadly) is unacceptable, and we are worried he will get himself unintentionally into trouble. This difficulty with jokes is one of the things addressed in this article.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right_hemisphere_brain_damage

The information about NVLD on the web is kind of piecemeal. Meaning I have not found one website that adequately describes all of the ways NVLD affects my son, so I can't just provide people/teachers with a link when I am trying to explain what NVLD is. Lots of good stuff out there, but I'm always looking for that one comprehensive source that can be my go-to resource, and I haven't found it yet. I tend to cobble descriptions together for myself. This right brain article added an important piece to my cache of information.

You all may or may not find it interesting, since you may not be dealing with NVLD, but I wanted to share it, in case you find it helpful.

 

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What would your goals be from the private school?  

Unfortunately there’s no real reason to think he would improve with exposure.  Exposure often means “sitting there.”

Also — your child has 4 siblings.  One at least is older than him.  This is a *wonderful* language and social environment.

I am the person who brought up school, and I think I was not clear.

I was thinking more about finding out about resources for when he is older.  If he needs and qualifies for job coaching — in some places that may be through the school district until 21.  

I also didn’t know if you had other options for testing or speech therapy.  

It sounds like you do!  And — the best place to find out about resources hopefully will be from the place that does his evaluation in February.  Hopefully they can make suggestions like that.  

I also thought — maybe with something “official” your husband might be more willing to take some things seriously.  

The husband issue is hard.  It is hard to plan for things or make decisions if you are not in some range of possible agreement.  For me I feel like it helps when there is some “official” thing.  But I don’t know if it really does or not.  

I think the private school is also an option if it is what you all *want.*  But what will they do for him?  Do they have anything extra as far as language and social?  Would your son *thrive* there?  Yes, there ARE special places out there, but in general, teachers are not going to have the skill set or time to provide needed help.  

And it does sound like your home environment has many positives with siblings.

My son has a twin sister and a brother 3 years older, and he benefits a great amount.  My son is also in school — in an autism classroom (most of the day) — and I think he has more social skills improvement from being with his siblings and getting guidance at home with his siblings, than school.  I have gotten comments this way from other people here and there too, including from people at school who can tell a difference.  It is a high quality of interaction and engagement.  

You have provided some more information also, and I think I thought your son might qualify for a different kind of thing (more like my son who is in special education programs) but from more you have said I don’t think that is the case.  

Anyway — I think you would need to have clear, specific goals, and clear ways to think the goals could be met at the private school.  Not just a feeling like “I guess we should try it.”

To be honest I think that it’s a difference between thinking “okay, I think my son DOES have this issue,” and thinking “he doesn’t really, it’s somehow not really an issue, it will all go away if we just do this certain thing.”  

And really — realistically it sounds like your home does provide a high-quality and engaging social and language environment.  So — to provide that *as if you don’t already provide that* doesn’t make any sense. 

For other goals that seem like they would be able to be met — that is different.  

But just kind-of hoping for the best — if you have kind-of a feeling it is setting him up for failure — it is probably not the best idea.  

Now it would be great if somehow this was all your fault and just by putting him in private school it would all go away.  Wouldn’t that be great?  But it doesn’t sound realistic.  But I think it’s things to think about.  And private school could be good, but I think it needs to be both realistic and *for the right reasons.*

 

 

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Also, I’m pretty sure NVLD is not in DSM 5.  This is kind-of like Aspergers.  It’s not in DSM 5.  It’s something where it is *still helpful* but you may not necessarily ever have an official diagnosis.  But it is still helpful if it fits, the same as with Aspergers.

I think they just get hard to define and then — it’s something where they vote on things, and have to pick something, and sometimes they pick a different way.  

So anyway — don’t think that is strange.  All the people who have noticed this set of traits have been noticing something, even if it isn’t in DSM 5.  

And my understanding is, it’s hard to define who exactly would have NVLD or who exactly would have autism, and if there is overlap, then it’s hard to give a certain diagnosis consistently instead of the other, and 10-20 years ago there were a lot of problems with inconsistent diagnoses with what is now “autism spectrum disorder,” which is new to DSM-5.  

But the main thing is — NVLD is a real thing, but it is not official for bureaucratic reasons, that kind-of make sense overall, but are not perfect.  

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On private school, or just school in general, I will add my experience from the lovely Christian pre-school my twins attended two half-days a week.  The teachers were loving and kind.  The other kids were sweet children.  The other parents were lovely, most were Catholics and headed for Catholic School in K, but there was no Catholic pre-school.  They focused on nurturing and play time, plus a Bible lesson every week, usually from the pastor of the church.  They had a really fun outdoor play area and would love to play there.  

Now -- my son lasted there a few months.  The teachers wanted so badly for it to work out for him, and invested a lot of time with him.  Another boy also was more challenging, and they invested a lot of time with him, too, and he was doing SO much better at the end of pre-school.  

But my son was just never really able to engage or interact there.  He could a little here and there, but it would be with the teachers only, not the other kids.  

Anyway -- that is when he went to special needs pre-school, which was really better for him, because he had a 1:1 aide there, and it was higher structure, and some things like that.  (My daughter stayed at the church pre-school.)  

So really -- a child can go and be at the most lovely, wonderful place, but if the child is not actually engaged then it doesn't really mean that much.

It is really, really easy for some kids to be present but not really engaged.  Or, to be kind-of engaged, but not really interacting.  

And if that is the case, having them in the loveliest place where other children are doing really well, and the teachers are great -- that by itself just is not going to translate into engagement and interaction.  It just is not.  

It is really a myth that kids need greater exposure, it just is not the case.  

And I think it is VERY bizarre that a family setting with siblings would be considered not a social environment?  That is 100% a social environment.  

I think the amount for social environment can be low but intentional and be very good, but ------ this isn't even a situation where maybe a child IS spending a lot of time as an only child in the home......... this is actually a situation with multiple siblings.  

It is really showing a lack of knowledge to think that is not a social environment.  It literally is a peer social environment.  

Anyway it sounds very ignorant.  I was very surprised to see you mention siblings including a 15-year-old brother (to an 8th grader) after seeing the psychologist say school would help.  It makes no sense.  I thought maybe this was in the 5% (maybe) of times that for various reasons it was proving very difficult for a parent to provide any kind of peer social environment.   But this is literally living in a peer social environment.  It doesn't make any sense whatsoever.  

I think it shows a misunderstanding of autism and also of the social development that occurs before school age.  It just doesn't make sense when a lot of the social development is what is typical for a child too young to be in school, so how does it make sense that going to school would, in of itself, be a solution?  

 

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3 hours ago, Storygirl said:

People in the NVLD community lobby for it to be rightfully included in the DSM.

I'm reading online about other things like this that professionals would like to see added too. There's talk that reading comprehension issues due to language disability are clinically distinct from reading comprehension issues otherwise and should be parceled off and given its own SLD.

The challenge to me with an NVLD label, and you may have run into this, is people using that to LIMIT acknowledgement of what's going on. If more is going on and the larger picture moves into ASD, then stopping at NVLD (which most will consider a learning disorder) really doesn't get the person all the interventions and supports and acknowledgement. So I agree, NO ONE is saying profiles don't exist. Lots and lots of profiles exist and the DSM is not encapsulating all that. My point for the op was that you need the most comprehensive label applied when you have a globally present developmental disorder. 

It would be like stopping with any of my ds' other labels. He needed the larger, more global label to open doors and express the big picture. Then you can explain all those patterns under it. So people are still talking Aspergers, but they diagnose as ASD with an Aspergers profile. Even that stuff, to me, is so limiting. We had psychs try to say ds was an Aspergers profile, and they were denying and missing his language disability. So if we take kids and shove them into tidy envelopes and it causes us to MISS things that are going on, it's not cool. Ultimately our goal is to get everything identified and everything serviced that needs to be serviced. 

Fwiw, I have friends who were given an NVLD label under DSM4 who think of themselves as having an SLD instead of ASD, and it really does not work to their benefit. They're clearly diagnosable as ASD under DSM5, but think about the difference in how you think about yourself and present yourself and *the interventions you don't pursue* if you're thinking of yourself as having an SLD. It's a really different mindset. 

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3 hours ago, Storygirl said:

I wonder if he has something else going on to account for that fine motor.

I missed the fine motor question from the op, so I'm pulling down your quote. :)  I've been doing reflex work for the hands with ds, working on Babkin, Palmer, I don't know. We brush his hands lots of ways, just like I used to do his feet, and also we do these finger touches. First we isolated each finger (finger to thumb, going through the digits) and now we're doing them cross, so pointer to thumb on one hand while doing pinky to thumb on the other and working through. That has been WICKED HARD for him! 

Interestingly since we've started doing that, he's now easy to brush teeth on (no more biting me or limiting me to 15 seconds or turning into a shark) and he no longer mouths things, and his WRITING has gotten much more comfortable, noticeably more comfortable. I'm not saying like ooo stellar gorgeous, but he kind of slows down and acts like he can actually move his fingers and do it. His handwriting had been so horrifically uncomfortable that we basically couldn't use it for school at all. Even the writing for a page of Spelfabet (12 single letters to fill in blanks on words) was a challenge! And it's not that he's writing more but that it's more comfortable. 

So I don't know if there are more reflexes in the hands, more we can do. It utterly PISSES ME OFF that I've been to probably 8 OTs with him and NONE of them knew JACK SQUAT about this. *I* fixed it. I googled and I did it. And Geodob (who is always amazing) had hinted at this, but I think I didn't quite understand it or wasn't quite ready. The PT we used said she had tested it and it was fine, but I think it's subtle. I'm now at the point where I'm like if the kid has the symptoms, just do the treatment anyway. It cost nothing, wouldn't have hurt. I think they can just present subtly. The difference has been dramatic and it cost NOTHING. 

And for real, I fired the last OT before Thanksgiving for this very reason. She was doing forced writing and doing nothing to figure out WHY it was so uncomfortable. And these people have masters and phds and bill at $100 an hour, but they aren't trained to THINK or ask WHY. My lands. And to be generous, I'll say it's true, they're having to be so broadly trained that they basically have no training in these nuances and particular issues. But my lands.

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3 hours ago, Storygirl said:

You might know from my other posts that DS14 is a drummer and plays bass guitar. I would never have predicted he could play guitar and would not have guessed he would be able to read music, but music is actually his area of talent. Truly talented and not just good at it. DS's career goal is rock musician, which we believe is far fetched, though we are not discouraging his interest. His IEP team agreed to add a secondary career goal of audio technician, because it is related to music but might provide a valid career path.

That's wonderful!!!! I love this. And that's so wise if they can find an area that relates to his interests and help him pursue that. Good stuff!!!

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Storygirl, actually he scored highest in the IQ test in the processing speed, both times when he was tested, although all four areas were only 5-10 points from each other. He does have a horrible writing and he is lefty. He was also diagnosed with “Binocular Vision” by a visual therapist, but our pediatrician and the psychologist are not convinced about this... It does seem that he has most signs from nonverbal LD, except that he did not have early speech and language acquisition, contrary, he was delayed and did not start talking in two words sentences until he was 3.5. But he did learn how to read at 4.5 which is strange. By first grade he was able to read ( or decode words) at 4th or 5th grade yet he was barely comprehending simple kindergarten books. Also, it seems like right brain hemisphere dysfunction might fit him (avoids eye contact, lacks the gestures that normally accompanies and accentuate speech, can’t convey thoughts and feelings in speech). The reason he has these problems might be that when my first born was only four months, I got pregnant with him, therefore my body did not have enough time to recuperate; especially my thyroid, since I have a mild Hashimoto syndrome ( sometimes hypo, other times hyperthyroid) It is proven that many children born from moms with thyroid problems suffer some kind of brain damage.

But regardless of what diagnosis he has or what has caused it, what is depressing to me is that I am not sure how to help him. I wish our public school had the resources to help like yours, Storygirl, like for ex help with a career goal, etc. But other parents I know with middle and high schoolers say that the school has failed their children, both academically and emotionally ( bullying) so I am so reluctant about our school. Some of them pulled them out to homeschool or moved them to private schools. We live in a middle class neighborhood, so maybe if I move him to another upper class school, which is allowed, he will he provided with better services. 

I did a comprehensive career test for him and his highest score was Medical Informatics Analyst, and the second was accountant. IT or accountant were some jobs he said he wants to do since he was very young, but these require such high problem solving skills and high math that I am not sure if he should pursue it. We will continue to work hard on academics like we did, but still I am not sure if it is realistic to expect to reach that or should we rather focus on life skills and more therapy. He has a special need scholarship that is 10,000/ year! This can cover any therapy, music lessons, sports, school supply, therapy programs or kits, etc. Or a private school tuition. Please help me spend it!!! Give me suggestions on what to buy to help with any kind of therapy. In the past years, I bought a lot of games and books on social skills and speech, but they were’t applicable to him because he is not too delayed. My house is full of those, but nothing really applicable to his needs. 

 

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3 minutes ago, blessedmom3 said:

he scored highest in the IQ test in the processing speed, both times when he was tested, although all four areas were only 5-10 points from each other. He does have a horrible writing and he is lefty. He was also diagnosed with “Binocular Vision” by a visual therapist, but our pediatrician and the psychologist are not convinced about this... It does seem that he has most signs from nonverbal LD, except that he did not have early speech and language acquisition, contrary, he was delayed and did not start talking in two words sentences until he was 3.5. But he did learn how to read at 4.5 which is strange. By first grade he was able to read ( or decode words) at 4th or 5th grade yet he was barely comprehending simple kindergarten books.

Yeah, that's pretty straight for an autism profile. The reading comprehension deficits despite decoding is called word calling or hyperlexia.

Word Callers: Small-Group and One-to-One Interventions for Children Who "Read" but Don't Comprehend (Research-Informed Classroom)

Drawing a Blank: Improving Comprehension for Readers on the Autism Spectrum

The SLP can run testing like

-Test of Narrative Language

-TILLS

-SPELT (caps at 9 but basically at that point most kids are passing it, bell curve shifted very to the right)

-CELF Metalinguistics

-Social Language Development Test

As far as the vision, did you go ahead and work on retained reflexes and then do the VT? It sounds like he needs it. If his eyes are switching due to convergence issues, that's really disrupting his visual processing. It's not the place of a ped or psych to decide vision; that's the optometrist's job. Unless of course you'd also like your optometrist to treat your strep.

8 minutes ago, blessedmom3 said:

The reason he has these problems might be that when my first born was only four months, I got pregnant with him, therefore my body did not have enough time to recuperate; especially my thyroid, since I have a mild Hashimoto syndrome ( sometimes hypo, other times hyperthyroid) It is proven that many children born from moms with thyroid problems suffer some kind of brain damage.

Ok, now we've got to stop. YOU DID NOT CAUSE THIS. Yes, it's a known correlation that untreated hypothyroidism is correlated, over a population, with lower IQs. Mine was untreated with both of my kids and both are wicked bright. Autism is GENETIC in most cases. We can go down rabbit trails about glycophosphates, the evils of vaccines, on and on, and I'm with you they're evil. But reality is in most cases it's genetic, plain and simple. 

So does someone's dc on the board here have TBI? Yes, we've had people posted saying this. Does someone's dc have maybe some FAS or things that occurred while they were developing? Sure, we have people posting saying this. But it's not good science to say we read a list of symptoms for one disability (brain injury) and that therefore our kids with autism have brain injury. No, they have those symptoms because autism affects the brain. It affects the structures of the brain in some marvelous ways, ways that some people suggest aren't actually a defect but a DIFFERENCE.

It's not helpful if we view autism as a brain injury or a defect. It's a DIFFERENCE. Some of the most astonishing people of our century have this difference, and we have enough science with MRIs, etc. to acknowledge it. Autism also has some wicked deficits and differences that aren't so cool and helpful. But to view it as all negative or an injury, we really need to move on from that and find some healthier things to read to get our information.

Uniquely Human: A Different Way of Seeing Autism

That book will give you a start. There are other books (Neurotribes, etc.), but just start somewhere. You did not cause the autism and it clearly it autism. 

There's also a really positive FB group Autism Discussion Page that would help you. The guy there has written some books and he posts brief segments from the each day and lets people discuss. It's refreshing and honest. He'll hit some hard things, but he's also going to point out some good things. Like if you want a loyal friend, you want a person with autism. 

How we view this matters.

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23 minutes ago, Lecka said:

I was very surprised to see you mention siblings including a 15-year-old brother (to an 8th grader) after seeing the psychologist say school would help.  It makes no sense.  I

Yes, this 15 yo brother is very gifted and he started taking online dual-enrollment community college at 12 and is almost done with both CC and high school. He is teaching my 8th grader a lot of great skills. He is very compassionate and understanding and they are always together. The 15 yo is also somewhat reserved and introverted, but he has excellent communication and social skills. My younger kids are also a little shy, but they have good social skills too. Yet, so many blame ME for homeschooling the 8th grader and they say that is the reason why he is like that... Even my family on my side and my husband’s side blame homeschooling, so it is heart-breaking and another reason to send him to school. But my son also wants to go to school because he is hoping he would find some friends. In our homeschool circle he has not been able to find a friend yet. Even if he has social and communication problems, he still craves for a friend 😞 

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18 minutes ago, blessedmom3 said:

I did a comprehensive career test for him and his highest score was Medical Informatics Analyst, and the second was accountant. IT or accountant were some jobs he said he wants to do since he was very young, but these require such high problem solving skills and high math that I am not sure if he should pursue it.

Yes, this part is hard. My ds, if you just look at his IQ and giftings, would be a good engineer. His father is an engineer and ds clearly has it. But reality is ds doesn't have the ability to handle stress or to self-regulate or to negotiate an office or work environment to that level. So what we've had to do is think ok, how are those same skills showing up other places? So, for instance, I was noticing him help my dh repair our refrigerator and I watched how ALIVE he got. It's engineering, absolutely! But it's something he can work by the hour, not in an office, at his own pace. Appliance repair is something with variety every day, something where he'd be with people but not so with people that he couldn't handle to social. It has a fuzz of math instead of a ton of math. It's something that would engage his super bright mind without stressing him out. He could work that 20-30 hours a week, earn a living wage, and with structure have money for hobbies, etc. 

So yes, I talk with our behaviorist often about where this is going and how to be realistic, how to take what he's good at and translate it into a setting where he can actually function. 

Total rabbit trail, but our state has special needs savings accounts that are tax free, and I think maybe they were saying there's a federal program. I had really not understood the point (like why not just set up a trust) but the point is to enable the SN person to save part of their income tax-free to be used for their living expenses (not playstation, haha, stuff like rent and food and medical and transportation) and NOT have it count against their medicaid eligibility. So for my ds, it will be a way for him to work a job that he can work, have some structure and clarity (this part of your paycheck you can spend as discretionary, this part goes into your account that pays your living expenses). So then the goal is to work backwards in high school teaching him this. We know he'll need this kind of structure, so we'll work backwards and plan on it.

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5 minutes ago, blessedmom3 said:

Yes, this 15 yo brother is very gifted and he started taking online dual-enrollment community college at 12 and is almost done with both CC and high school. He is teaching my 8th grader a lot of great skills. He is very compassionate and understanding and they are always together. The 15 yo is also somewhat reserved and introverted, but he has excellent communication and social skills. My younger kids are also a little shy, but they have good social skills too. Yet, so many blame ME for homeschooling the 8th grader and they say that is the reason why he is like that... Even my family on my side and my husband’s side blame homeschooling, so it is heart-breaking and another reason to send him to school. But my son also wants to go to school because he is hoping he would find some friends. In our homeschool circle he has not been able to find a friend yet. Even if he has social and communication problems, he still craves for a friend 😞 

Ok, so you know that siblings are usually within 10 points, right? So what if your 8th grader is actually JUST as gifted as your 15 yo or even MORE? I'm not joking here. 

Yes, they're blaming you, but you're letting them blame you by not saying no, he has autism. Own it. It's genetic, you didn't cause it. 

If your 15 yo wants friends, it sounds like he's going to need to make a move for some intervention, rather than just hoping it happens. There are psychs and SLPs who specialize in Social Thinking, and they can help him sort out what is going on. Probably I would start with a psych, but hey you could do both. See what you've got insurance coverage for. I'm all in favor of good intervention, and there's really good intervention out there! It's just a matter of finding the person. Find an SLP who specializes in autism and social thinking and say hey my 15 yo is struggling to make friends and doesn't know why, and I guarantee you they won't look at you funny. They could help you make a game plan. Also, there are amazing materials at AAPC and SocialThinking.com 

It's really easy to say this kid has such and such, that kid doesn't but that doesn't really help the situation. It's not so b&w. You have to meet kids right where they are. If the 15 yo is noticing this and wants answers or options, that's how you would connect him with answers and options. Also you could offer to him this article https://www.socialthinking.com/Articles?name=Social Thinking Social Communication Profile which might allow him to sort out his questions for himself. That site also has new free webinars and paid elearning modules. Excellent stuff.

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30 minutes ago, blessedmom3 said:

He has a special need scholarship that is 10,000/ year! This can cover any therapy, music lessons, sports, school supply, therapy programs or kits, etc. Or a private school tuition. Please help me spend it!!! Give me suggestions on what to buy to help with any kind of therapy. In the past years, I bought a lot of games and books on social skills and speech, but they were’t applicable to him because he is not too delayed. My house is full of those, but nothing really applicable to his needs. 

Hold it, now we're talking!!! So you have funding? Awesome. Thing one, I would get targeted evals. You can't make goals and find what you need to address when you don't know where the deficits are. Not $$$$, just targeted. I think I gave you a list. If you can't find someone local, try this https://www.smartspeechtherapy.com/our-services/ This lady is a big name in the SLP world and owns about every test imaginable. You could write her and see what you think. I talked with her about my own dd, trying to sort out some things, and we were looking at maybe $1600. Even if she wanted to run more on your ds, point is she owns EVERYTHING and could run it. 

So say that was $2k. Now you've got $8k. See if you're close to anyone on this list. https://www.socialthinking.com/Clinics/Clinical-Trainee-Directory  It's a longshot but worth a try. Can you use the money to get YOU trained? If not, bummer. If yes, then get trained in everything you can from Social Thinking and also the new Interoception online modules coming out and Zones of Regulation. That will bring you up to speed and give you pronto stuff to step up how you work with him, how you carry over concepts to academics (writing, language, etc.).

It really depends on what his biggest deficits are and what is most pressing. What you do is look for things that are lynch pin, pivotal. Like for my ds, it was syntax. You can't retell a narrative if the syntax isn't there. You can't have a conversation if the syntax isn't there. You're can't comprehend what you're reading if the syntax isn't there. And his inability to communicate with narrative, read for pleasure, have conversation to make friends, etc. was resulting in lots of other behaviors and problems. So for ds, working on syntax unlocks EVERYTHING. But I had data to drive that, that SLP testing.

So keep talking, keep asking. If you've got money, we can help you spend it. You can get this going in a better direction. Have you looked to see what you have available? Or do you want to post the name of a major city near you that you could drive to for services so people can help you look for options?

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20 minutes ago, blessedmom3 said:

Even if he has social and communication problems, he still craves for a friend

Have you tried connecting to the autism community? A lot of families are like this, with one diagnosed and siblings that are shadow. He is going to need a bigger pool of people to find someone he shares interests with, and he's probably going to need someone who is shadow like that himself. 

Also, you can look through the teen listings on the Social Thinking site. All the books won't apply, but a few might. A lot of them might be available through your library, and you could let him go through the pile himself and see. He's at the age where he's asking questions, so you want to help him find answers.

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48 minutes ago, blessedmom3 said:

actually he scored highest in the IQ test in the processing speed, both times when he was tested,

I want to say this again, but I would NOT assume that IQ test is accurate. If he has a language disability or some affect from the ASD, it really might not be. My dd tested as "bright" when she was 12, but we never got that earlier testing when she was say 6-8 before the more typical kids start to pull away. My ds' scores shifted 30 points. The kid didn't, just how he presents in relation to his peers. I haven't had a non-verbal IQ test done on him yet, and it always blows my mind. The psychs are arrogant, like oh well I'll be able to "tell" if he's not showing everything. Really? Snort. Oh, and he totally didn't participate and danced around the room like a leprechaun, but oh yeah they can tell. Whatever. There was a fuller picture to that story, lol.

If you read my old board posts, we were literally not clear whether ds was ID or what before his evals. The language issues mask that much. You have to look at how they FUNCTION and how hungry they are and what they seem to need. That mental hunger is a way the IQ shows up, and they don't quantify that with tests, lol. My ds in some ways is actually brighter than his sister (both by numbers but more by how he functions) but the way I teach him you wouldn't think he was the brighter. He does less. Nuts, he had to be taught to wipe up a spill! LOL 

So I would look at how he functions and not conclude too much based on the numbers. That processing speed is telling you a lot. My ds' processing speed is so much higher than my dd's it's astonishing (75th percentile for him) but it's actually considered a relative DISABILITY because it's still 20 points lower than his overall scores. So it would be a mistake to assume processing speed isn't an issue, even though it's high, because it actually could be and yet not be obvious because the language issues are holding back scores. And processing speed is the thing that shows up a lot in real life where we're teaching them. (math, word retrieval, time to answer questions, etc.) 

Edited by PeterPan

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1 hour ago, PeterPan said:

I missed the fine motor question from the op, so I'm pulling down your quote. 🙂  I've been doing reflex work for the hands with ds, working on Babkin, Palmer, I don't know. We brush his hands lots of ways, just like I used to do his feet, and also we do these finger touches. First we isolated each finger (finger to thumb, going through the digits) and now we're doing them cross, so pointer to thumb on one hand while doing pinky to thumb on the other and working through. That has been WICKED HARD for him! 

Interestingly since we've started doing that, he's now easy to brush teeth on (no more biting me or limiting me to 15 seconds or turning into a shark) and he no longer mouths things, and his WRITING has gotten much more comfortable, noticeably more comfortable. I'm not saying like ooo stellar gorgeous, but he kind of slows down and acts like he can actually move his fingers and do it. His handwriting had been so horrifically uncomfortable that we basically couldn't use it for school at all. Even the writing for a page of Spelfabet (12 single letters to fill in blanks on words) was a challenge! And it's not that he's writing more but that it's more comfortable. 

So I don't know if there are more reflexes in the hands, more we can do. It utterly PISSES ME OFF that I've been to probably 8 OTs with him and NONE of them knew JACK SQUAT about this. *I* fixed it. I googled and I did it. And Geodob (who is always amazing) had hinted at this, but I think I didn't quite understand it or wasn't quite ready. The PT we used said she had tested it and it was fine, but I think it's subtle. I'm now at the point where I'm like if the kid has the symptoms, just do the treatment anyway. It cost nothing, wouldn't have hurt. I think they can just present subtly. The difference has been dramatic and it cost NOTHING. 

And for real, I fired the last OT before Thanksgiving for this very reason. She was doing forced writing and doing nothing to figure out WHY it was so uncomfortable. And these people have masters and phds and bill at $100 an hour, but they aren't trained to THINK or ask WHY. My lands. And to be generous, I'll say it's true, they're having to be so broadly trained that they basically have no training in these nuances and particular issues. But my lands.

The fine motor piece is still hard for DS. I need to remember to have him do those finger to thumb exercises, which I remember geodob recommending. DS can be oppositional and refuse to try things, but if I present it as something that could help his bass guitar playing, he might go for it. Now that I think about it, his guitar playing, which requires those finger-toward-thumb movements is probably a kind of therapy for him.

When we were doing OT (long time ago, when he was about 10), one of the concerns we had was fine motor, naturally. And I was surprised that she didn't work on it specifically. She targeted proprioception work and for him to become more aware of what his whole arm was doing, because the muscles or tendons or whatever for the fingers are really in the arms, not the hands. I found that interesting and believed her. But I still think targeting finger work can be helpful, and I wish she had done more for that with him.

His handwriting is so much better now. And his writing, over all. Honestly, I think the music, especially the drumming, has been as therapeutic for him as the OT was. And when he was in gymnastics, I always thought that was like going to OT for him, too. All of these things can help!

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I'm in the middle of stringing lights on my tree, so I haven't read all of the responses yet. But I just wanted to say -- interesting about the processing speed! And that DS14 was also speech delayed. He started putting two words together around age three, but his vocabulary was really low. He didn't have many words, and he couldn't pronounce the words he had successfully. He had early intervention. But then after age three, he caught up. And out of my four kids, he was the easiest to teach to read. And he seemed to catch on to early math easier than the others, as well. I was surprised when he was diagnosed with LDs in math and reading comp in third grade by the neuropsych, because I didn't see it coming, even though he had always been homeschooled to that point.

So the simliarities are interesting. But DS's processing speed has always been below 1st percentile. Yup. Below. We were all celebrating in his IEP meeting this fall, because his new psych testing by the school showed his processing speed is now 6th percentile. That doesn't sound like a big improvement, but in raw scores, his score leaped by something like 30 points.

I credit the music, because he has had no other therapy for processing speed or fine motor since his last testing three years ago.

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Also, these kids just don't fit into boxes.

So it's entirely possible for someone to have all of the characteristics similar to NVLD but not have the low processing speed. Someone awhile back on the boards had a son with NVLD and also dyslexia, which is a weird combo as well. DS's profile is almost the exact opposite of that of my daughter with dyslexia.

It sounds to me as if your son will fit most into autism as a diagnosis, so I'm glad you are getting further testing for that. A lot of services, including job placement help, come through the county. So if your school district is not helpful (so sorry), check with your county board of developmental disabilities to see what helps they have to offer. An autism diagnosis, should he receive one, would give you a foot in the door for discussing his needs, though he would still need to qualify for services by their criteria.

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