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sangtarah

Diane Craft? and testing ?

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Is the Diane Craft Foundations package worth the investment? I need to be able to help Dd without dragging her to appts. (She refuses to go to any drs appts anymore - too many this past winter.) 

We still don’t know the root cause of Dd’s learning issues. I hoped VT would help, but she refuses to go back. OT did amazing things for her handwriting and she loved them. Right now she is academically stalled - basically has refused to do much/any school since January. She thinks she wants to attend school this fall, or watch online video courses. I have no idea what her skill level is! Any recommendations on quick testing to find out?

And is it usual to start with a pediatrician to get a referral for learning challenges testing? Or can I call a school district? Or start with a psychologist? 

Thanks!

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I think you're right to want some evals at this point. If you need referrals for your insurance, then yes you'll need to see the ped first. I have a high deductible and HSA, so basically I just call the psych, etc. and schedule. As far as school vs. private evals, that's a $$. If she goes to school in the fall, will it be the ps? And what do you *suspect* is happening? The IEP process is 120 days, and legally that includes summer. So in theory you can make your written request and begin that process with the ps now, yes. However I think if you say she's refusing all school work, they're going to say they want RTI and to observe her for a grading period first for sure. The point of RTI is to determine what is due to lack of exposure, lack of instruction, etc. vs. what is a disability. They won't be able to sort that out fairly, and they'll rightly suggest that in the structure of school she WOULD be doing work and they want to see what happens.

If she's refusing school completely, why not enroll her now? Just wondering. Not saying you have to, but it's a thing I tell my ds upfront. If he doesn't work with me, he's going to school. It's the law and it's not a choice not to work together.

Now I say and I'm also pretty doggone flexible on what it means to do school together. If we sit and read a pile of books together, that's school. If we cook from his Cooking to Learn program, that's school. Kwim? Like we're not saying it has to be book work, tests, handwriting. But he has to be with me, doing something with me, not just off in the woods or playing nintendo and refusing to be with me. My ds has ASD and he can be like that. I have to work pretty hard to stay connected with him, paired with him, and have in his head that it's really the plan that we're going to do something together, that he's not an independent operator.

I consider what I do really valuable, yes, but if I can't do it with him, then it's more valuable possibly that he have some structure. If he won't work within the structure I can provide, then he'll have to go. But that's his ASD and his social thinking and that he's just as willing to go in his own world. 

So with your dd, what WILL she do with you now? That would actually tell us a lot.

-If you read her a book, at what level of book (lexile) will she laugh and ask questions and interject comments?

-if you read her a book, at what level of book (lexile) and level of support (picture book, prompts from you) can she retell the story?

-can she retell about her day if she goes on an outing? can she retell about a highly preferred topic, something she's strongly interested in? Is there a difference in those tellings?

-does she have any physical complaints associated with her school work? (it hurts to sit, her hand hurts, her eyes hurt, headaches, etc.)

-if you ask her how she is feeling, can she tell you? What happens if you try to get her to do a body scan and say how each of her body parts feels?

-where is she with emotional regulation? if she needs breaks, does she say so and take them? If she's angry, does she recognize she's angry? How does she calm herself and does she feel regret after behaviors?

-does she have anything developmentally unusual? how old is she?

-does she have a basic sense of quantity (money, time, numbers) or seem unrealistic? 

-does she read for pleasure? what and what lexile?

-has she had or have you suspected a need for speech therapy in the past?

-did the OT test for retained reflexes? (if not, start googling and do that RIGHT NOW)

-does she have symptoms of anxiety, inattention, zoning out, or not hearing/noticing when people talk with her?

-how is she in noisy situations?

-is she refusing to do ANY form of work (including read alouds) together? How does she communicate this? What would happen if you were to compel compliance or control access to a highly preferred item to motivate her?

-What does SHE say is the reason why she doesn't want to work with you? What is she trying to improve with those other options?

-Is there a thing she *does* enjoy doing with you? If you come alongside the thing *she* is wanting to do (legos, nintendo, doll clothes, shell arranging, whatever her thing is) and try to join her, what happens?

I'm not saying any of these things are shoulds, but these are questions you can ask yourself to start to gather data on what's going on. They're just right off the top of my head, like things I would be trying to notice if we were chatting in person and you were telling me things. I'd be listening for stories you would tell that would answer those questions, kwim? You've got the stories and the data, but you have to connect the dots to see what to do next. And how old is she? What CAN you do with her right now that she is comfortable with and will comply with? It would be really nice if we could talk with you enough that you could find some positive ways to turn this around. 

I think I met Dianne Craft at a workshop once (I think?) and she was a really lovely lady. There's nothing in there that's going to be bad, so it's not like oh don't buy it. It's a great summation of the things she has learned, so it's good stuff. It's not a replacement for evals, and it's so general that at this point I think it would help you MORE to get some sense of what is going on. It's a general tool, but it would be really nice for you to get a more precise sense of where you needed to be headed pronto. For instance, an APD eval vs. an ASD eval. Or if you've got some retained reflexes that are glitching up everything, you could make noticeable progress on those in one month. Seriously just one month. 

What you don't want, and I'm just being straight, is to blow 1, 2,3 how many months trying a generally good tool like the DC stuff and then go oh I need autism evals. That won't make you happy at that point. That needs to be sorted out NOW so you can get on waiting lists for the right thing. Those waiting lists can be 6 months even, and some things are complicated enough that the ps shouldn't be your starting point. The school is asking what they have to service or accommodate, what affects their ability to access their education, NOT what is medically going on. So let's just say it's autism (I have NO CLUE, I'm just tossing that out), then they don't have to diagnose that unless they conclude that the autism, not even a lower tier diagnosis like attention or anxiety, is affecting her ability to access her education. That's a big difference and you would lose SO much time.

Given that she's refusing work, you need some good solid answers. That's a complex situation that it's probably not *one* thing and it's probably not a buy DC and it goes away. You could buy DC and it *improves* but you're still needing more complete info.

So then what is complete info? Well start to answer those questions I listed. Those weren't exhaustive! I'm saying give us stories so we can help you see how what you're seeing, the data YOU have, because YOU have the most data on her, can translate into action.

Edited by PeterPan
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1 hour ago, sangtarah said:

I have no idea what her skill level is! Any recommendations on quick testing to find out?

You want placement tests? Teaching Textbooks, MUS, lots of places have them.

1 hour ago, sangtarah said:

She refuses to go to any drs appts anymore - too many this past winter

She sounds very burnt out. What were the doctor appts for? If some therapies were not going well and some others were hard, maybe she's burnt out? Personally, I would give her a break. Not a break from YOU, but just a break. Will she let you read her books? Will she go for a walk to the park? If you say hey let's take a camera on a trail and go collect pictures of wildflowers and make a photo book, will she? If she say hey let's make cookies (or whatever treat she can eat), will she?

My ds gets worn out with too many appts and then we have to go through a season where we're just home. He needs time to run, to be. He really values his time at home, his time of quiet. 

If my ds will let me read to him, I can get in everything we need for a while. It's school. We can hit narrative language, reading comprehension (inferences, making predictions, etc. etc.), geography (Dr. Dolittle!!), computers (cuz of course we're going to look things up we get curious about), history (when was this book, in what context), etc. Sometimes we have to take a deep breath and get back to that calm point in order to go forward. Now that my ds *can* listen to read alouds with comprehension and engagement and reflection (laughing, retelling, wanting to look things up, etc.) we do them quite a bit. It's a safe place for us. Before his language was good enough for that, we had other safe things that were guaranteed to work, like any kind of game with gross motor movement, board games, playing nintendo together. These things were guaranteed to be safe, worthwhile things we could do together to get him calm, paired, restored, back on track. You can think about what your dd's things are like that.

Edited by PeterPan

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I've seen Diane Craft at a homeschooling convention, and she is impressive in person. I have purchased a few of her things in the past, but I didn't use them diligently, and it was years ago, so I can't comment on their effectiveness. As I remember, some of her materials work on OT type of activities, such as drawing figure 8s to cross the midline. She is also very big on dietary intervention and has or had a DVD (I think) that outlines her suggested elimination diet plan to discern food allergies and reactions, and she had a recommended supplement regime, as well. She was just in the early stages of developing a reading program when we stopped homeschooling, I think.

I don't know what comes in her whole package, but you might look at the individual pieces to see if you really need all of it.

I think that buying her package will not be the thing that makes your daughter willing to do school, unless, perhaps, the food things would make a difference. I don't think someone who is resistant to school would be willing to do Diane Craft's things. I think figuring out the root of the school resistance is important, and I doubt buying a certain program is going to help with that.

I agree with PeterPan that you could ask the public school to evaluate her, even now while you are homeschooling. If you don't know how the IEP process works, there are boardies who are willing to help explain that.

I wonder if you have more specific ideas about her struggles. Do you suspect a learning disability? Anxiety? ADHD? It's hard to say if DC materials could help.

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14 hours ago, PeterPan said:

I think you're right to want some evals at this point. If you need referrals for your insurance, then yes you'll need to see the ped first. I have a high deductible and HSA, so basically I just call the psych, etc. and schedule. As far as school vs. private evals, that's a $$. If she goes to school in the fall, will it be the ps? And what do you *suspect* is happening? The IEP process is 120 days, and legally that includes summer. So in theory you can make your written request and begin that process with the ps now, yes. However I think if you say she's refusing all school work, they're going to say they want RTI and to observe her for a grading period first for sure. The point of RTI is to determine what is due to lack of exposure, lack of instruction, etc. vs. what is a disability. They won't be able to sort that out fairly, and they'll rightly suggest that in the structure of school she WOULD be doing work and they want to see what happens.

If she attends school, I’d like it to be a private Christian school. I *suspect* she has reading comprehension struggles due to her vision issues, definitely anxiety,  possible audiotory processing, and possibly a mathematical learning challenge. Beyond that, I’m lost. She has some characteristics of the ADHD variety, and some of the autism variety, but I do not think she has either. 

If she's refusing school completely, why not enroll her now? Just wondering. Not saying you have to, but it's a thing I tell my ds upfront. If he doesn't work with me, he's going to school. It's the law and it's not a choice not to work together.

Now I say and I'm also pretty doggone flexible on what it means to do school together. If we sit and read a pile of books together, that's school. If we cook from his Cooking to Learn program, that's school. Kwim? Like we're not saying it has to be book work, tests, handwriting. But he has to be with me, doing something with me, not just off in the woods or playing nintendo and refusing to be with me. My ds has ASD and he can be like that. I have to work pretty hard to stay connected with him, paired with him, and have in his head that it's really the plan that we're going to do something together, that he's not an independent operator.

I consider what I do really valuable, yes, but if I can't do it with him, then it's more valuable possibly that he have some structure. If he won't work within the structure I can provide, then he'll have to go. But that's his ASD and his social thinking and that he's just as willing to go in his own world. 

So with your dd, what WILL she do with you now? That would actually tell us a lot.

Today, she did 5-7 math problems, Fix It grammar, read a section of Swimming Creatures, one page of HWOT cursive, and listened to half of our STOW lesson. That is a phenomal day compared to the last few months. Depression/major anxiety caused her to be unable to do many things this winter, so it isn’t just school refusal. 

-If you read her a book, at what level of book (lexile) will she laugh and ask questions and interject comments? She only does this with picture books, she doesn’t follow audio books or read alouds very well - hence the not listening to me read STOW. 

-if you read her a book, at what level of book (lexile) and level of support (picture book, prompts from you) can she retell the story? She can retell the fables from Writing & Rheotric Fable. 

-can she retell about her day if she goes on an outing? can she retell about a highly preferred topic, something she's strongly interested in? Is there a difference in those tellings? Yes, she can retell about her day, or her favorite TV show, or what happened in the yard. She is much more sure in those things than in stories. 

-does she have any physical complaints associated with her school work? (it hurts to sit, her hand hurts, her eyes hurt, headaches, etc.) Well, her vision - it still blurs and skips. Her hands get very sore when she writes, even a sentence or two will have her complaining, hence the OT work on that. She has headaches often, from allergies or anxiety or vision, etc. 

-if you ask her how she is feeling, can she tell you? What happens if you try to get her to do a body scan and say how each of her body parts feels? Hmm, she usually says something vague, like “it just hurts”. 

-where is she with emotional regulation? if she needs breaks, does she say so and take them? If she's angry, does she recognize she's angry? How does she calm herself and does she feel regret after behaviors?  Part of her winter onset of mental breakdown was inability to regulate emotions at all. She is recovering (Spring is helping), and she is getting closer to baseline. I would say she has big emotions and is prone to outburst of frustration. Like yesterday when I asked her to try a cursive page, she grunted and groaned and broke her pencil. 

-does she have anything developmentally unusual? how old is she? Nothing unusual. 9 

-does she have a basic sense of quantity (money, time, numbers) or seem unrealistic? Yes 

-does she read for pleasure? what and what lexile? Nope, very rarely. I have been able to get her into graphic novels lately. She has tried to finish the Emily Windsnap series (Lexile 500s-700s), but isn’t a huge fan of reading.

-has she had or have you suspected a need for speech therapy in the past? No

-did the OT test for retained reflexes? (if not, start googling and do that RIGHT NOW) YES, and only found one that they worked on. 

-does she have symptoms of anxiety, inattention, zoning out, or not hearing/noticing when people talk with her? No, she is very attentive, and very attuned to the emotions of those around her. 

-how is she in noisy situations? Nervous, lately. 

-is she refusing to do ANY form of work (including read alouds) together? How does she communicate this? What would happen if you were to compel compliance or control access to a highly preferred item to motivate her? see above

-What does SHE say is the reason why she doesn't want to work with you? What is she trying to improve with those other options? She says she wants to be able to do things by herself. She doesn’t want to wait for me. She says more explanations aren’t helpful. 

-Is there a thing she *does* enjoy doing with you? If you come alongside the thing *she* is wanting to do (legos, nintendo, doll clothes, shell arranging, whatever her thing is) and try to join her, what happens? She loves spending time with me, watching a show or playing dolls, etc. 

I'm not saying any of these things are shoulds, but these are questions you can ask yourself to start to gather data on what's going on. They're just right off the top of my head, like things I would be trying to notice if we were chatting in person and you were telling me things. I'd be listening for stories you would tell that would answer those questions, kwim? You've got the stories and the data, but you have to connect the dots to see what to do next. And how old is she? What CAN you do with her right now that she is comfortable with and will comply with? It would be really nice if we could talk with you enough that you could find some positive ways to turn this around. 

I think I met Dianne Craft at a workshop once (I think?) and she was a really lovely lady. There's nothing in there that's going to be bad, so it's not like oh don't buy it. It's a great summation of the things she has learned, so it's good stuff. It's not a replacement for evals, and it's so general that at this point I think it would help you MORE to get some sense of what is going on. It's a general tool, but it would be really nice for you to get a more precise sense of where you needed to be headed pronto. For instance, an APD eval vs. an ASD eval. Or if you've got some retained reflexes that are glitching up everything, you could make noticeable progress on those in one month. Seriously just one month. 

What you don't want, and I'm just being straight, is to blow 1, 2,3 how many months trying a generally good tool like the DC stuff and then go oh I need autism evals. That won't make you happy at that point. That needs to be sorted out NOW so you can get on waiting lists for the right thing. Those waiting lists can be 6 months even, and some things are complicated enough that the ps shouldn't be your starting point. The school is asking what they have to service or accommodate, what affects their ability to access their education, NOT what is medically going on. So let's just say it's autism (I have NO CLUE, I'm just tossing that out), then they don't have to diagnose that unless they conclude that the autism, not even a lower tier diagnosis like attention or anxiety, is affecting her ability to access her education. That's a big difference and you would lose SO much time.

Given that she's refusing work, you need some good solid answers. That's a complex situation that it's probably not *one* thing and it's probably not a buy DC and it goes away. You could buy DC and it *improves* but you're still needing more complete info.

So then what is complete info? Well start to answer those questions I listed. Those weren't exhaustive! I'm saying give us stories so we can help you see how what you're seeing, the data YOU have, because YOU have the most data on her, can translate into action.

 

14 hours ago, PeterPan said:

You want placement tests? Teaching Textbooks, MUS, lots of places have them.

She sounds very burnt out. What were the doctor appts for? If some therapies were not going well and some others were hard, maybe she's burnt out? Personally, I would give her a break. Not a break from YOU, but just a break. Will she let you read her books? Will she go for a walk to the park? If you say hey let's take a camera on a trail and go collect pictures of wildflowers and make a photo book, will she? If she say hey let's make cookies (or whatever treat she can eat), will she?

She has asthma, allergies, hypothyroidism, vocal cord dysfunction. Her thyroid levels were out-of-whack during the winter, but I think they have leveled out now. I definitely think she is worn out, and I have given her LOTS of time to just be. She really wants to go do fun things every day, like Disney World, but she can’t handle it for too many days (we were just there). There are 4 kids total in our family, so going to do something “fun” just can’t happen every day, ykwim? She gets very bored now with our routine, our food, etc, but then doesn’t want to do scheduled activities like co-op classes (she won’t go) or church groups, etc. 

My ds gets worn out with too many appts and then we have to go through a season where we're just home. He needs time to run, to be. He really values his time at home, his time of quiet. 

If my ds will let me read to him, I can get in everything we need for a while. It's school. We can hit narrative language, reading comprehension (inferences, making predictions, etc. etc.), geography (Dr. Dolittle!!), computers (cuz of course we're going to look things up we get curious about), history (when was this book, in what context), etc. Sometimes we have to take a deep breath and get back to that calm point in order to go forward. Now that my ds *can* listen to read alouds with comprehension and engagement and reflection (laughing, retelling, wanting to look things up, etc.) we do them quite a bit. It's a safe place for us. Before his language was good enough for that, we had other safe things that were guaranteed to work, like any kind of game with gross motor movement, board games, playing nintendo together. These things were guaranteed to be safe, worthwhile things we could do together to get him calm, paired, restored, back on track. You can think about what your dd's things are like that.

If she would let me read to her, that could work. 

 

6 hours ago, Storygirl said:

I've seen Diane Craft at a homeschooling convention, and she is impressive in person. I have purchased a few of her things in the past, but I didn't use them diligently, and it was years ago, so I can't comment on their effectiveness. As I remember, some of her materials work on OT type of activities, such as drawing figure 8s to cross the midline. She is also very big on dietary intervention and has or had a DVD (I think) that outlines her suggested elimination diet plan to discern food allergies and reactions, and she had a recommended supplement regime, as well. She was just in the early stages of developing a reading program when we stopped homeschooling, I think.

I don't know what comes in her whole package, but you might look at the individual pieces to see if you really need all of it.

I think that buying her package will not be the thing that makes your daughter willing to do school, unless, perhaps, the food things would make a difference. I don't think someone who is resistant to school would be willing to do Diane Craft's things. I think figuring out the root of the school resistance is important, and I doubt buying a certain program is going to help with that.

That is an excellent point. One reason we stopped vision therapy this winter is because she was refusing to do her at home exercises. Of course, all the medical and mental health took precedence!

I agree with PeterPan that you could ask the public school to evaluate her, even now while you are homeschooling. If you don't know how the IEP process works, there are boardies who are willing to help explain that. I’ll have to look into that. I’m afraid PS evals wouldn’t be specific enough, but it’s a place to start. 

I wonder if you have more specific ideas about her struggles. Do you suspect a learning disability? Anxiety? ADHD? It's hard to say if DC materials could help. See above.... I think in PeterPan’s first quoted post I replied. 

 

Thank you so much ladies for helping me to think.  My dd is caring, empathetic, intelligent, a hard worker (when the task is familiar, like baking or cleaning), and compassionate! She is reserved and shy, but not with friends and family. She is always asking “what are we doing tomorrow or next or ___?” and she resists transitions, whether it be a new spelling book or the end of a vacation. She has a low flashpoint for frustration, whether a project that has gone wrong or a math page that isn’t correct. This winter was especially hard for her physically and mentally, so I didn’t push school work - I was happy if she ate and didn’t have a meltdown and came out of her room a little. But her underlying learning challenges, whatever they may be, were there previous to her crisis, so I know we have to try to help those. Her outlook on life is brighter these days, and she is making progress. We have just lost so much academically that I am at a loss of how to move forward, especially now,  when she doesn’t want to let me teach her. Maybe she will work out of that mindset, too? 

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23 hours ago, PeterPan said:

I think you're right to want some evals at this point. If you need referrals for your insurance, then yes you'll need to see the ped first. I have a high deductible and HSA, so basically I just call the psych, etc. and schedule. As far as school vs. private evals, that's a $$. If she goes to school in the fall, will it be the ps? And what do you *suspect* is happening? The IEP process is 120 days, and legally that includes summer. So in theory you can make your written request and begin that process with the ps now, yes. However I think if you say she's refusing all school work, they're going to say they want RTI and to observe her for a grading period first for sure. The point of RTI is to determine what is due to lack of exposure, lack of instruction, etc. vs. what is a disability. They won't be able to sort that out fairly, and they'll rightly suggest that in the structure of school she WOULD be doing work and they want to see what happens.

I agree with this. At my PS, if a kid is struggling, they go on a "Tier 1" plan (with the classroom teacher) to see if a bit of extra help makes a difference. If not, after two 6-week cycles of intervention, they go into "Tier 2" and get more intervention (this would be small group, pull-out instruction a couple times a week). If, after two more 6-week cycles they aren't making improvement, THEN they would get referred to special ed. Even then, if the team doesn't think there is enough of an issue to go forward with evals, then they would say, do some more RTI at Tier 2 and see what happens in X weeks.

On the flip side, if a kid is obviously WAY below where they should be, having super behavioral or academic struggles, then the timeline would be shortened. I do think that your PS would reasonably say, let's see how she does with school before we jump to evals.

The evals at our PS are done by a PhD psychologist, and they're really good. Our evaluator has a private practice, but does the evals for our school because we're small. She is great! So the evals you would get at school could be great, but I'm sure it depends on who they have. You could probably find out who the evaluator would be at the PS. If you want to go private, you could get on a waiting list now.

I know (from this board) that some public schools don't accept private evaluations when deciding eligibility for special ed. At my school, I suspect the admin would be so happy not to pay for evaluations that they'd accept the outside evals in a heartbeat! 

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Since your daughter likes to know what's happening next, could you make her a daily list? You could put on all the things she has to do, a couple "would be nice if you do them" things, and then any appointments, fun stuff, etc. Could you pick a fun activity for each day that you can use as an incentive? If you're not able to go someplace because the other kids are busy, it could be baking cookies, watching a show together, etc. 

I always recommend making the initial to-do lists SUPER easy and achievable, so you get a good positive feedback loop going. Then, you can add a teeny bit of challenge - like one math problem you think she will get wrong. Since the other demands are low, she can get through that one math problem and then move on to something else she feels confident about.

Easier said than done, I know! 😊

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You gave a pretty good list of the things that she struggles with, and I think it will take a professional evaluator to help sort things out. A couple of points....

First, public school evaluations will vary in quality, but they are free, even for homeschoolers or people enrolled in private school, so it an inexpensive starting point. It's not quick, and it's often not thorough enough to explain all of the root issues, but school evaluations should produce some helpful testing data. If the results are not sufficient, you can take them to a private educational psychologist or neruopschologist, who should be able to help interpret the results. School psychs are not always the best at interpretation of complicated cases, because it's not what they are employed to do --- they are employed to do testing to see if the child needs help accessing their education, but they do not diagnose, other than to say whether the numerical testing results meet their qualifications for special education. Some schools are more helpful with this than others. My cousin's wife is an educational psychologist, and she has said that the bulk of her clients have already had evaluations from the school but come to her for more testing and help with understanding the results.

The benefit of doing school evaluations FIRST is that you can take those test results to a private psych and perhaps save money, because they can interpret the results without rerunning those exact tests. And since the school testing is free, if the testing is good, you will save a bunch of money; for some people, the school testing is all that they pursue.

Also, if enrolling her in school in the fall is an option, it would be very helpful for her to have an IEP or other academic support set up in advance, so that she does not have to endure the struggle that happens when students with LDs have to manage the classroom without the support you need. If you ask for school evaluations NOW (as in very soon, this month), the IEP process should be completed sometime in July before school starts.

There are also benefits to doing private evaluations first. When you take private evaluations to the school, you will be presenting proof of a reason to suspect a disability. Under the law, the school needs to suspect a disability before agreeing to evaluate. Also, it points the way toward the things that the school should screen for. Most schools will do their own screenings, even when they have private testing in their hands. But having your own test results first lets you as the parent be able to say that she needs testing in A, B, and C and back it up with documentation. This can help you get a better IEP in place for the student.

Check to see if your state has a disability scholarship for students who have IEPs but attend private school or homeschool. If so, it can be a huge financial help to have an IEP, even if you are not using the public schools.

 

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Also, thoughts about going to a private Christian school.

There are multiple people on the boards who have had children with LDs in private Christian school, myself included, and there are certain frustrations that can occur. If you are open to hearing about what I or others have learned and experienced, I'm sure we would be happy to share.

We specifically chose a Christian school that was willing to work with the public schools to develop IEPs. Many Christian schools are not willing.

Some will have intervention services, but we have found that to be rare. In our area, private Christian schools that offer intervention are hard to find. And those that do often offer limited services and are not set up to handle more complicated learning profiles.

We found a private Christian K-8 school with excellent intervention services, but we still had a lot of frustration along the way. And when looking for high schools in our area, we found no Christian high schools that could offer the kind of help DS15 needs. We have gained a pretty good idea of the kind of classes and help that he needs over the years, and the private Christian schools just didn't have enough. As a matter of fact, some public high schools also did not offer sufficient help, and we actually moved to be in a public school district that could offer what he needs. We visited several public high schools and were surprised at how differently they responded to our questions.

I am very PRO Christian school. DD17 is graduating from one, actually. And it has intervention services, but for various reasons, they will not suit DS15 anyway. So my younger children are going to public school.

I would be hesitant to suggest that you put your daughter into a Christian school without at least having evaluations first. And I would make sure they were prepared to address her issues, because I am sorry to say, most Christian schools will not be good at addressing the things you mention. I hate to say it, but I believe it is true.

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I have experience now with homeschooling, two private Christian schools (through late elementary, middle school, and high school years), public school, a private school for dyslexia, and working with FOUR different public school district special education departments. We are now newly working with both the state and county boards of disabilities. Plus private evaluations for three of my children from three different neuropsychologists. I have two children with widely different diagnoses and academic needs who both have IEPs, one child with a 504, and a neurotypical teen who has had some struggles along the way. I've seen a lot!!! I'm happy to share my experiences with others who are interested.

And with all of that, I've found reading comprehension to be perhaps the most challenging academic issue to address**.

Schools may recognize that reading comprehension is an issue (they also may miss it), but it can be really hard to address, because the REASONS that children have difficulty with comprehension can vary so widely. Remember, schools are not always the greatest at understanding root causes, so they tend to have general programs in place for helping reading, but their general approach may not be what is needed for your specific child.

Make sure that any school that you might think of enrolling in has a plan for addressing reading comprehension that will remediate the specific things your daughter struggles with. Comprehension can be affected by weaknesses in social understanding, language, background knowledge, vocabulary, understanding pronouns or grammar or figurative speech, decoding, inference, not grasping the main idea, confusion from nonlinear plot lines, trouble with connecting ideas together which makes understanding theme and author's purpose difficult, and so on and so on.

**NOTE -- Dyslexia is also very hard to address, but someone who knows how can tutor a dyslexic student and remediate enough for the student to succeed, perhaps using tools and accommodations in the classroom.  A reading disability with comprehension, in my experience, just has more layers of complexity to address and is harder to crack. Someone will always have dyslexia and can find ways to work around their weaknesses. Someone with reading comprehension also may always have weaknesses, but finding ways to work around NOT UNDERSTANDING is so much harder than finding a way to work around decoding or spelling.

Of my two kids with IEPs, both have SLD READING as part of their needs.  One has dyslexia, and one has reading comprehension.

I know you didn't bring up dyslexia. I'm just using it as a contrast to point out how difficult addressing reading comprehension can be. We had to hire a tutor and then enroll in a dyslexia school to help DD13, so it has been HARD for her. DS15 with reading comprehension issues has made considerable progress, due to a ton of intervention, but comprehension is a greater hurdle than the dyslexia.

 

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By the way, the autism type of characteristics you mention are likely to be affecting the reading comprehension. Autism looks different in different individuals, but here is the current criteria.

https://www.autismspeaks.org/dsm-5-criteria

If she doesn't meet all of the qualifications (which you may or may not be able to discern from that list, because what psychs consider is not always identical to what parents observe), there is a description of social communication disorder at the bottom of the page.

In addition, there is something called Nonverbal Learning Disorder, which can resemble autism. It is not listed in the DSM. NVLD might be described as social communication disorder plus a visual spatial disorder and commonly manifests in academics as trouble with math and reading comprehension and often writing (handwriting and/or getting thoughts onto paper). Kids with NVLD are often clumsy and have fine motor difficulty, due to the visual spatial issues.

This is a very simplified description, so that you can think about whether it might be something you are seeing. When DS15 was young, I tried hard on my own to search for something that looked like autism but not like autism, because he didn't quite fit the criteria that I was reading.  NVLD often crosses over into autism but not always. DS15 has a NVLD diagnosis, and we may one day have him evaluated for autism, because the criteria have changed, since DSM 5 came out after his evaluations. He also has AHDH and anxiety and a list of other things.

NVLD may totally not seem to apply to your daughter, but I thought I would throw it out there, because it is a diagnosis that is not always known about but can be a factor when a child looks maybe-autistic-but-not-quite-autistic.

Also, if you have some wonderings about autism, the school evaluations are not likely to work that out for you, and you would need private evaluations. Some schools are starting to evaluated for autism, but I think most do not.

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The trouble with not following audio books or you reading aloud can be a comprehension issue, especially if ADHD and inattention is in the mix,  instead of an auditory processing issue.

 

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9 hours ago, sangtarah said:

If she attends school, I’d like it to be a private Christian school.

Wow, that's an interesting choice. Does the christian school have intervention services and work with the ps to develop and implement IEPs? If they don't, this could be a huge mistake. Unless the dc is support level *1* for their ASD and ready to mainstream without supports, the typical cs is NOT ready to handle them. That would include supports for emotional regulation, intervention services for the language problems that come with ASD that affecting reading comprehension and writing and hence math. If a dc is non-compliant, the average cs is not ready to handle that. 

Around here we have christian schools and parochial (catholic) schools that *are* putting out their flag as ready to handle disabilities. We have them on a provider list because our state has a disability scholarship system to fund it. EVEN SO these schools turn down kids whom they are unable to service. I would be exceptionally careful in the placement of your dc. Just saying. And I'm with you, in favor of a christian education. But I'm just saying be careful. The potential for harm there is extreme. Problems yes, but also harm. There's nothing more harmful than idiot principals and idiot christians who THINK they know something and say really ignorant things about your child or to your child about their disabilities. Those are words, experiences, negative things you won't be able to take back. If she *is* on the spectrum, it can affect her willingness to go to a church associated with them or have very strong reactions. Only people ready to handle the diagnosed disabilities of your dc should be working with your child. 

9 hours ago, sangtarah said:

Depression/major anxiety caused her to be unable to do many things this winter

Have you run genetics and looked at her vitamin D levels? The cheapest 23andme testing can give you what you need on this. You're looking for SNPs of the VDR (vitamin D receptor) gene. I kept my ds on 10k IU of D and another 3-400mcg K2 this winter to keep him stable. Also we took a cruise mid-winter to get some sun. It's a HUGE thing, and vitamin D is a known mood stabilizer. It's spring so we're weaning back down and will go to maintenance/summer doses (7k IU a day for him, 10k IU a day for me). You'll also get SNPs for the TPH2 gene, which if defective could lead you to decide to try some 5HTP. That has been super golden for my ds. 5HTP is the precursor to melatonin and serotonin, and again I had genetics telling me it would be useful. Comes in time release, also stabilizes and evens out mood. You basically can't work with him (safely) without it, lol.

9 hours ago, sangtarah said:

Today, she did 5-7 math problems, Fix It grammar, read a section of Swimming Creatures, one page of HWOT cursive, and listened to half of our STOW lesson. That is a phenomal day compared to the last few months.

So you know this, but is your plan to keep that level and build slowly, adding a bit more each week? It sounds like winter was really hard on her. Going from zero to 60 is a jolt. I wouldn't feel guilty about ramping up slowly. Maybe ramp up FUN things while you're adding the school work. Today we're supposed to make no bake cookies for our Cooking to Learn program. It's ok to alternate work and motivators like that.

Also, I don't see how you're describing stuff a cs is prepared to handle. You're talking about medical problems affecting her ability to work, so she needs a medical doctor. Also it sounds like she'd be stressed by the full workload of a mainstream cs classroom (where they're likely to do Abeka straight, BJU straight, lots of writing, not very creative, not a lot of stations or flexibility). 

On the plus side, you've got a lot of good things there! If she can read and narrate from Swimming Creatures, that's telling you a lot. She has enough visual motor skills to do a page of handwriting. So those are some really good things!!!

9 hours ago, sangtarah said:

She only does this with picture books, she doesn’t follow audio books or read alouds very well - hence the not listening to me read STOW. 

Ok so she MUST have SLP evals and they must include narrative language and a thorough expressive language test. I finally got help for my ds when we ran the TNL (test of narrative language) and the SPELT (structured photographic expressive language test). Most expressive language tests involve multiple choice (dumbest thing ever, hello, life is not multiple choice), provide models (which a bright dc can imitate), and have known sensitivity issues (meaning they under-identify kids with disabilities). So THIS is the area to nail, the language testing, as it may blow the lid off everything else. Has she had a hearing eval? This would be high time. Like it would be totally remiss to have a dc age 10 with language issues and not test their hearing. Our university will do it on the uber cheap. I'd have her in there PRONTO just to be absolutely sure.

Also, that means the cs can't handle her. Even if they have an intervention team, that's asking for a lot. You need to have thorough evals to decide placement. You might even decide to keep her home and do biomedical and tons of language therapy this coming year. You just need evals to sort it out and develop a list of options.

9 hours ago, sangtarah said:

 She can retell the fables from Writing & Rheotric Fable. 

Ok, so I'm pairing this with the not following the SOTW. What do you think is the difference there? Is she SEEING the W&R but not the SOTW? Definitely get this dc's hearing checked pronto just to make sure nothing is going on there. Our university will throw in the SCAN screening portion, which would screen for APD. For instance, you could have something where maybe the air conditioner in the room, something is making noise and she's having a hard time processing with background noise. Definitely hone in on why her skills are adequate for W&R but not SOTW when the reading levels would be about comparable. 

9 hours ago, sangtarah said:

Yes, she can retell about her day, or her favorite TV show, or what happened in the yard. She is much more sure in those things than in stories. 

This is really good!! The executive function (EF deficits) that come with ADHD can make attending to something and retelling hard. So maybe she's checking out with SOTW but doing ok with familiar things, things where she has visuals or is more engaged? And was she retelling Swimming Creatures? That's much more complex, rambling text where she would have a harder time picking out what was important and doing a retelling. 

9 hours ago, sangtarah said:

Well, her vision - it still blurs and skips. Her hands get very sore when she writes, even a sentence or two will have her complaining, hence the OT work on that. She has headaches often, from allergies or anxiety or vision, etc. 

Oh poor thing! These are your basics. Get reflexes integrated, get an OT eval, get VT (vision therapy). Oh, you said you tried VT. So tell us what happened? Has she had an OT eval? Some VT docs are just not going to be ready to handle some kids. Could be personality mismatch, and it could just be that she had some foundational areas to work on. The retained reflexes are HUGE because they have to be integrated before the visual reflexes will integrate. 

So my dd, even after VT, used bifocal contacts. Her eyes were changing every 6 months to a year. Now she wears progressives (yes, from age 19, lol) and she seems pretty stable. I think we got her new glasses in the fall or over Christmas, I need to check. Vision is SO vital. So there's that mix of wanting therapy and then just saying ok this kid has gone as far as they can go right now and they need to function. Progressives are the bomb and if you go through Walmart they aren't so horribly expensive. 

The reason you need the OT eval is because of the hand pain. Any OT, literally any, could help that. Finding one to work on retained reflexes and help vision, that's harder. You might look for an OT associated with a VT office. We have a place like that in town. (Well not really town, 40 minutes away, lol.) It might take you a few tries, but OT would be good. Has she had it and it didn't go well? OTs are a funky field. I've been through like 8-10 with my kids. I could rant with you if you feel the need to rant, lol.

9 hours ago, sangtarah said:

Part of her winter onset of mental breakdown was inability to regulate emotions at all. She is recovering (Spring is helping), and she is getting closer to baseline. I would say she has big emotions and is prone to outburst of frustration. Like yesterday when I asked her to try a cursive page, she grunted and groaned and broke her pencil. 

Time for a medical solution. I like genetics, because it gives you a way to deal with the obvious things like vitamin D. Then you'd work on emotional regulation (Zones of Reg, Interoception) and then you'd decide from there to deal with what's left via pdoc and GeneSight testing. Some genetic stuff is ugly, sigh. But at least with my ds, that's how we're doing it. Whatever can be helped with supplements and programs for self-regulation we're doing, and then we're hitting the pdoc to smooth out the rest.

9 hours ago, sangtarah said:

Nope, very rarely. I have been able to get her into graphic novels lately. She has tried to finish the Emily Windsnap series (Lexile 500s-700s), but isn’t a huge fan of reading.

Well if she's having some kind of language issues and her vision is giving her fits, it makes sense, sigh. It's a bummer that the VT was so frustrating for her. Need to back up and figure out why to help her go forward. Some kids can have really funky sensory systems, miswiring that makes the average run of the mill VT NOT PREPARED to handle them.

9 hours ago, sangtarah said:

 Hmm, she usually says something vague, like “it just hurts”. 

Would be helpful to tease out what is language (not having the vocabulary) and what is interoception. You can give her the assessment yourself and it's cheap.                                  Interoception Assessment Forms                            

9 hours ago, sangtarah said:

YES, and only found one that they worked on.

Interesting. Dd it make a change? Is she still having any other peculiar behaviors? For instance, my ds was mouthing and chewing things, and the PT who did our reflex work didn't test for the reflex that was causing it. Found it on a list, brushed his hands for a month, boom the mouthing stopped completely. That reflex also affects handwriting and use of individual fingers btw.

9 hours ago, sangtarah said:

She says she wants to be able to do things by herself. She doesn’t want to wait for me. She says more explanations aren’t helpful. 

This is good that she can tell you these things!!! She's at a normal age to say that. My dd, when she was 9, really hit her stride on wanting to be independent. It's awkward because they're not ready to be completely independent, nor are they responsible for what happens if they kinda get off track, lol. But what she's asking for, to me at least, seems developmentally normal. Like I'd think about how you can run with that. She's right that EVERYTHING you're doing is requiring you right there. What would you have to change to help make that happen? How could you change it and still assure your goals for intervention or skills are accomplished? With my dd that meant work lists and a lot of flex. Like some things I left really vague honestly, like here's a pile, go read for your history. She's not reading, so this gets trickier.

With my ds, I use a lot of ebook workbooks that I can print as single pages. It lets me control the work load and drop the reading level and target skills. Takes some time to find just the right things. Your dd might like word searches, for instance. They'd be spelling and vision. I can check where I got mine, but I had some that had very large letters. She can do them with a highlighter. Or get smelly markers from Walmart for her to do her work. 

I would use your together time with her to do gross motor, things that help you pair and have a good relationship (read alouds at her comprehension level, cooking, handicrafts, photography, photo editing, walking trails, antique stores, collecting things, wildflower and bird watching, whatever). I would compromise on the academics to get her able to work on some skills independently, and I would work on getting content you can read to her at her language level. 

I don't know how to say this politely or I'm not trying hard enough. A lot of homeschool curriculum is crap for language. They read this Charlotte Mason stuff and are like oh, let's read stuff written at a whatever level to kids and who cares if they actually understand or not!! Some of it is just plain ill-written, and that snow them and they'll figure it out DOES NOT WORK FOR SOME KIDS.

With my ds, I've had to be very humble. My dd could use all that stuff and learn. My ds I read books meant for 5 years. We're reading by topic (nature, now family/holidays) using books from https://fab.lexile.com  I'm using the 530 lexile level, but you may need to back up. Like try 430 and 330 and look at the books popping up and see what it would take to get that level so comfy that she's golden. You'd also like some language testing to know what you're dealing with. For my ds, I had to do language work FIRST, then bring in these books. 

I don't know what your dd needs. I'm just saying that's like your worst case scenario. Doesn't get much worse than when you realize your 9 yo isn't making a solid sentence independently without scripting and doesn't really get "is". That was pretty low. I doubt you're there. You could have a hearing issue or something going on you don't expect. I would get DATA, get evals, then make a game plan. 

10 hours ago, sangtarah said:

No, she is very attentive, and very attuned to the emotions of those around her. 

The challenge there is she can be co-regulating, which means she's using others to keep herself stable.

10 hours ago, sangtarah said:

how is she in noisy situations? Nervous, lately. 

Poor thing! Well peel it like an onion. Get genetics, get that hearing eval and the SCAN screening, get the psych and SLP and OT evals, and then piece it all together and make a game plan. In the meantime, my personal advice is focus on what WORKS. You don't have data yet to fix or work on what isn't work, so focus on what does work. She is asking to be independent, so give her 2-3 things a day to do that are independent. Find some things that work well in your lives (cooking together, handicrafts, coloring those velvet posters with markers, anything) and do that. Do not freak, do not fret, and do not worry. With enough data and deep breaths, you'll be able to formulate a game plan. She's co-regulating, so the more calm YOU stay and the more confident YOU portray it (we've got this, I'm listening, we'll work this out, let's collaborate, you keep telling me things and we'll make a team and figure it out), the more calm she'll be. Not perfectly calm as her body sounds like it's making that hard. But you can help by staying calm and saying truths to yourself: It's going to be fine, we're going to eval, we're going to figure this out.

10 hours ago, sangtarah said:

She says more explanations aren’t helpful. 

Would love to let her elaborate on this. You really need evals to sort that out.

10 hours ago, sangtarah said:

She loves spending time with me, watching a show or playing dolls, etc. 

Ooo, what a great idea and a great relationship!! So what if you buy an AG doll together, read the books, get the activity books that go with them (cooking, crafting, etc.) and look at the pictures in the World of books? Have you done this? Might be really fun and she's the perfect age! Call it school. Don't try too hard either. Like don't get a curriculum and turn it into something. Just keep it low key. You could sew the doll clothes together. I so am not the one to sew doll clothes, but I sent my dd to her grandma's to do that. :biggrin:

10 hours ago, sangtarah said:

She has asthma, allergies, hypothyroidism, vocal cord dysfunction. Her thyroid levels were out-of-whack during the winter, but I think they have leveled out now.

Oh dear. Thyroid is so easily undertreated, sigh. You can post on the Chat board. Is she on a natural dessicated thyroid med or a straight T4 like synthroid? Vitamin D affects thyroid levels!! Seriously. And do docs talk about this? LOL So yeah, definitely look into the D. I'm taking naturethroid. As Kbutton said, better living through chemistry. The asthma is rough. Is it constant? Yes, if mine is flaring up, it leaves me tired. Every doc I was seeing said inflammation, so I'm finally like fine I'll research inflammation. Turns out there are studies on turmeric for asthma and the inflammation, go figure. I've used my inhaler like *twice* since last June. Crazy. But kids are more complex. But yeah, no fun, very tiring. But if it's seasonal, then the vitamin D, dust, etc. I got a Roomba and run the thing religiously, makes a difference.

10 hours ago, sangtarah said:

She really wants to go do fun things every day, like Disney World, but she can’t handle it for too many days (we were just there).

Ooo, we love Disney!!! This is a favorite topic. But really, my ds at 9 was doing 6 hours in the park. And that's with a medical stroller. It was just a lot. Cruising was fabulous for him, totally fabulous. You might look into it. More flexible, lots of kids, and no need to be on the rat race. He was 10 1/2 and he just had the run of the ship. A lot of kids that age did. They'd set up playdates, lol. He sorta lived on cones.

10 hours ago, sangtarah said:

She gets very bored now with our routine

That is so ADHD to crave novelty.

10 hours ago, sangtarah said:

If she would let me read to her, that could work.

If you have 4 kids, what are these other kids doing? Are they like her or is she very different? Does she pair well with any of them? 

I think as far as getting read alouds to work, you really need some data. You don't know if it's hearing or a language issue or what. But really, I had kind of given up, and here I am now able to read to my ds for 1-2 hours a day. But at 9, yeah it was looking pretty dark. You need some data so you can tell WHY and make a plan. I did all the intervention myself btw. We literally did like 3-4 hours a day of speech/language therapy materials. But you don't know what's going on yet to make that plan.

10 hours ago, sangtarah said:

One reason we stopped vision therapy this winter is because she was refusing to do her at home exercises. Of course, all the medical and mental health took precedence!

Ok, so VT was comfortable but with winter (D dropping, whatever) she was shutting down at home? Poor thing. If the VT was fine and the doc was not frustrating her, then you could resume. You could consider making (an admittedly $$$) push and doing more in-office therapy to improve compliance. It sounds like her eyes are holding back quite a bit right now. Like if you're looking at what's PIVOTAL, what would make the BIGGEST DIFFERENCE and unlock a bunch of things and make a bunch of things go better, then 1) genetics to identify the biomedical issues like the vitamin D and get her stabilized, and 2) vision so she can actually read comfortably. 

I had my ds READ all the speech/language pages we were doing. He read every single line on every single page aloud. We were nailing reading AND the language issues at the same time. So if 1-2 months of intensive in-office (maybe 3 days a week) would improve compliance and get her over the hump, I'd be there. Obviously she has to feel better. She may need some D. She may have MTHFR issues. That would be so common in her presentation. I'd be running genetics pronto, because it will take a few weeks to get the results back. 

10 hours ago, sangtarah said:

I’ll have to look into that. I’m afraid PS evals wouldn’t be specific enough, but it’s a place to start. 

It varies with the school. Their goal is to create a plan for what they'd do with her if they enrolled. They aren't out to answer every question, only the questions that affect her ability to function and "access her education" at school. They can't solve medical problems like low vitamin D, and anything they see will be limited to behavioral solutions. So if it's a MEDICAL problem and you don't want it treated as a BEHAVIORAL problem, you have to solve the medical problem yourself.

Our ps didn't own all the tests needed. They'll do something, and if you're going to enroll her you'll need to, yes. If you can afford private evals, you have enough going on that you'd get more answers. My two cents, just in the let's save money and start somewhere camp, just based on what you're saying, would be to get audiology, genetics, and SLP evals (including narrative and expressive language) immediately, privately. The waiting list for private psych is typically 3-6 months. If you get those other private evals, then you'll have a better sense of what you want to do next I think. At that point you could decide to go through the ps to finish the evals or go privately for the psych. If the psych is going to be $$ for you, that's what I would do and how I would prioritize.

10 hours ago, sangtarah said:

My dd is caring, empathetic, intelligent, a hard worker (when the task is familiar, like baking or cleaning), and compassionate! 

Bingo! It's why it's not right to treat as behavioral something that has more complex explanations. Our children sometimes just flat do wrong, lol, but they also need the chance to get their bodies to cooperate with what they would do if they could.

10 hours ago, sangtarah said:

and she resists transitions, whether it be a new spelling book or the end of a vacation.

Sigh, so now you know and will help with that. My ds needs *time* to transition. Issues with transitions are, unfortunately, a hallmark of ASD. Girl ASD will not look like boy ASD, and there are lots of articles on this. No matter what the explanation turns out to be, the right thing is to recognize it (like you are) and give her TIME to transition and supports. That was a big thing the behaviorist told us with our recent trip, the cruise. She's like given him time to transition onto the ship, because it's going to be a big change. Once he got used to it, he was great. But yeah, it was like take a deep breath... He wet his pants for several days from the stress! It was good we took a longer cruise (7 days) because he never would have found his groove if it had been shorter.

Total aside, but another option you could put on the table is bringing in a behaviorist (BCBA) and using in-home workers to make her academics happen. I would consider this. That would be easier to make happen ($$) with evals, yes. It's something we've done in the past and could do in the future. It's a good option to put on the table as you sort through what's going on. It's a flexible option that allows you to customize, keep her independent, have someone supporting her while you work with your others, etc.

10 hours ago, sangtarah said:

I was happy if she ate and didn’t have a meltdown and came out of her room a little.

Ok, I'm not criticizing you, but where is her doctor in this? Are you teaching other kids at home? My ds takes my full-time attention. He really does. Some kids just DO. So if you're asking what will help, I'm saying that's going to have to be on the table, what it takes to get her the level of support that will get her out of her room and functioning every day. If you have other kids, that means you have to clone yourself. That means in-home workers or something. We've been there. There are times I wasn't strong enough to deal with ds on my own and just having somebody FRESH come in changed a lot. So it's something to think through. You'd like that to change and you'd like that support to go up so SOMEONE is with her and supporting her. Sometimes our workers come in and they just sit beside him. They join in his play. They sit quietly and then slowly start to chitchat till he warms up and is ready to do things. 

So whether it's medical intervention (vitamin D, thyroid, MTHFR issues, whatever) or support or what, you'd like to see that change. You know this, but I'm just saying it. If you're spread thin, she needs additional support. That HAS to happen. 

10 hours ago, sangtarah said:

We have just lost so much academically that I am at a loss of how to move forward

Is she ID? Do you have some reason to suspect ID?  I think compared to your other kids she's probably off-track, but relative to HERSELF she's probably ok. She did the best she could with the tools she had and you did the best you could with the tools you had. Time to get better tools. It's going to be FINE. When my ds has these times where things are off the rails, then we adjust, get it on the rails, and we make progress. Do NOT compare her to other kids, because she needs you to stay really CALM right now. She will be fine. You will get evals, get this moving forward, and she will be FINE.

 

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2 hours ago, Mainer said:

The evals at our PS are done by a PhD psychologist, and they're really good. Our evaluator has a private practice, but does the evals for our school because we're small. She is great! So the evals you would get at school could be great, but I'm sure it depends on who they have. You could probably find out who the evaluator would be at the PS. If you want to go private, you could get on a waiting list now.

I know (from this board) that some public schools don't accept private evaluations when deciding eligibility for special ed. At my school, I suspect the admin would be so happy not to pay for evaluations that they'd accept the outside evals in a heartbeat! 

Yup, it varies like this in our state too!

2 hours ago, Mainer said:

Since your daughter likes to know what's happening next, could you make her a daily list? You could put on all the things she has to do, a couple "would be nice if you do them" things, and then any appointments, fun stuff, etc. Could you pick a fun activity for each day that you can use as an incentive? If you're not able to go someplace because the other kids are busy, it could be baking cookies, watching a show together, etc. 

I always recommend making the initial to-do lists SUPER easy and achievable, so you get a good positive feedback loop going. Then, you can add a teeny bit of challenge - like one math problem you think she will get wrong. Since the other demands are low, she can get through that one math problem and then move on to something else she feels confident about.

Easier said than done, I know! 😊

With my dd, I was able to make lists and she would wake up and do them. Then came my ds, haha. I would make lists and he would get angry and rip them up. If the list said take a break and the break options were Nintendo, air hockey, and playing with balls, he would refuse to take a break! I kid you not. Unreal. So for this kid, I've been trying to get in his head. I now have him making his OWN list and I quietly interject some things. Other professionals working with my ds (SLPs, OTs, etc.) use the same strategy, so it's not just me. More I'm copying them, lol. 

2 hours ago, Storygirl said:

There are also benefits to doing private evaluations first. When you take private evaluations to the school, you will be presenting proof of a reason to suspect a disability.

This is true, but I'd expand to say a strong reason to do private evals first is to help you ADVOCATE better. If you do not know the areas of disability, the ps is likely to choose the easiest road, the most obvious things, and say fine, we did it. Our ps didn't even OWN the tests they needed to identify ds' areas of affect on language. So they were like see, we've seen his CELF scores and he's fine, no affect on language. Private evals can help you identify those areas and compel the school to consider them. 

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31 minutes ago, Storygirl said:

The trouble with not following audio books or you reading aloud can be a comprehension issue, especially if ADHD and inattention is in the mix,  instead of an auditory processing issue.

 

Yeah, it would be nice to get some data on that. It would be interesting to know if her comprehension changes when the dc wears headphones. 

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1 hour ago, Storygirl said:

And with all of that, I've found reading comprehension to be perhaps the most challenging academic issue to address**.

Schools may recognize that reading comprehension is an issue (they also may miss it), but it can be really hard to address, because the REASONS that children have difficulty with comprehension can vary so widely. Remember, schools are not always the greatest at understanding root causes, so they tend to have general programs in place for helping reading, but their general approach may not be what is needed for your specific child.

Make sure that any school that you might think of enrolling in has a plan for addressing reading comprehension that will remediate the specific things your daughter struggles with. Comprehension can be affected by weaknesses in social understanding, language, background knowledge, vocabulary, understanding pronouns or grammar or figurative speech, decoding, inference, not grasping the main idea, confusion from nonlinear plot lines, trouble with connecting ideas together which makes understanding theme and author's purpose difficult, and so on and so on.

Could I just amen this and say you just summarized the hugest of the huge issues that affects ALL of academics?

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49 minutes ago, Storygirl said:

Also, if you have some wonderings about autism, the school evaluations are not likely to work that out for you, and you would need private evaluations. Some schools are starting to evaluated for autism, but I think most do not.

Yup, total crapshoot. We're starting to see schools with ADOS-trained IEP teams in our area, but not many. It's usually richer districts. Our "autism experts" in our ps were clueless. One was working on a certificate in ASD (yes, this is a thing and how they get qualified), mis-administered a tool against my wishes, and well was just incompetent. She's no longer on our IEP team btw. :wink:  

The trouble is that the team is SEEING the things but doesn't know what they're seeing. That's where ADOS training would come in. I mean it was just astonishing. The IS saw enough the very first time she met him to diagnose my ds, and she was just like oh whatever, living on bubbles!!! I kid you not. I'm like hello do you realize he just ticked every single criterion in one hour? Like over and over. It was unbelievable. You'd read their summary of their observation session and it wouldn't even look like the same child you saw. 

Whatever, I rant. But it's something the op can actually ask when she calls the ps. Is their IEP team ADOS-trained? Who handles ASD evals in their ps? 

If you don't get the evals you need in the IEP process, you can dispute and file for them to pay for independent evals. It's ugly and considered going nuclear. Most kids are going to have been diagnosed earlier, so they just slide into the system naturally. It's the rest where it gets so ugly. And then you're homeschooling, so they're like oh that mom just left her kid in her room. Like seriously, they will blame you. The ps autism expert told me I should be on an anti-depressant, blah blah. She sat in my house and lined up math manipulatives. She was SO CLINICAL, haha. We had to bring in lawyers. 

If you actually want to enroll her in the ps and you go through the IEP process BEFORE you have full evals and then you get those private evals and realize there's more, sometimes it gets ugly. They could be like sure, thank you, and bump things up, or they could be sticks in the mud. We had a whole legal fight because we didn't have everything diagnosed at first and took a lesser IEP. I DO NOT RECOMMEND taking a lesser IEP without full private evals if you think you're going to enroll her. The odds of it making a muddle are high. That's just my two cents. It's not SUPPOSED to be that way and might not be. I'm just saying to save yourself the headache, for a more complex situation, I'd sort it out privately first and then go through the IEP process.

Edited by PeterPan

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I am sure that you aren't thinking this way. But as homeschooling parents, we can fall into a trap of thinking this way, so I will mention it. And your daughter is talking about what she wants, so she may be thinking this way. And it's good for her to have opinions and express them, but she will not have the sophistication to understand what she needs and the best way to get it.

The fallacy is that enrolling in an online school or a Christian school or the public school is going to solve the problems.

The problems will still be there. With a school, hopefully you would be having a team help you figure things out instead of having to do it mostly on your own. For us, that was the goal, having a team instead of me trying to do it all by myself and hitting brick walls.

But the team thing is not going to be effective if they have not identified the struggles and put a plan into place.

So if you do online classes...... I don't know, but it seems you will still be the one left helping her, and anonymous invisible people evaluating her work on their own computers and making demands that they don't assist her to meet are not really the kind of team members that will be effective at making things better.

A school can provide a good team. Or not. Depends upon the school, which is why you need to research and talk to them and consider carefully. But the school will need to know how to help her, or she still won't get the support she needs.

So if you decide to enroll her online or in school, it's a decision. It may be good or not good. But it won't be The Answer for the problems. To get better answers, evaluations are the key.

I am not saying that you believe this fallacy, but I wanted to point it out.

Enrolling in school was the best choice for my children and my family. We have chosen schools where they have received good support. But it still has not been perfect or even easy, and I still have to advocate and make sure my kids are getting the support they need, even when they are in schools that care and offer proper IEP legal supports.

I am fully supportive of parents who decide that they need to enroll in school instead of homeschooling. It can really be the right decision. But it doesn't solve the problems.

For my kids, having a routine and having accountability to teachers instead of just to me are two beneficial things that I could see might also help your daughter. Yay for those things! They are definitely important components here, and they are significant for my children's success. But the other issues still remain and have to be addressed.

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1 hour ago, Storygirl said:

The fallacy is that enrolling in an online school or a Christian school or the public school is going to solve the problems.

The problems will still be there. With a school, hopefully you would be having a team help you figure things out instead of having to do it mostly on your own. For us, that was the goal, having a team instead of me trying to do it all by myself and hitting brick walls.

Story gave you so much good advice here, but I want to emphasize it and make sure you're seeing it. I've been through the IEP process how many years now with my ds, and this is how I process it too. It's how we decide whether it's time to be in school or at home. And even at home, I have a TEAM helping me. I am not sorting this out alone. 

1 hour ago, Storygirl said:

So if you do online classes

There's such a range, I missed what is being considered. It sounds nuts. You have no clue yet if there are language issues. There are lots of different kinds of online scenarios, sure, but everyone I know, to a person, who has used them with SN has had problems, needed modification, beaten their heads against walls, struggled with the rigidity. Doesn't matter what the format is (dvd, asynchronous with consulting teacher, self-paced, whatever). I think your dd is so nice that she will WANT to do the work and her body will get in the way. Her enthusiasm won't be enough. She has to be set up to SUCCEED which will take some effort. 

1 hour ago, Storygirl said:

To get better answers, evaluations are the key.

Amen.

1 hour ago, Storygirl said:

Enrolling in school was the best choice for my children and my family. We have chosen schools where they have received good support. But it still has not been perfect or even easy, and I still have to advocate and make sure my kids are getting the support they need, even when they are in schools that care and offer proper IEP legal supports.

And further, if op enrolls her dc in a school that DOESN'T go through the IEP process, she's likely to lose another year. 

1 hour ago, Storygirl said:

your daughter is talking about what she wants, so she may be thinking this way. And it's good for her to have opinions and express them, but she will not have the sophistication to understand what she needs and the best way to get it.

Yes, when my dd was that age she was telling us something was wrong, but she couldn't really tell us WHAT. It's really important to listen, but we as the parents have to get those evals and figure it out. On things like her request for independent or online, I think you take it under advisement. Like you say ok what is this telling us, what is she telling us about what is hard and what's not working? But that doesn't mean you just DO completely what she says, because she's not ready to take responsibility for the outcome of that. She's still a kid. To me, I'm looking for the kernel of truth in the kid comment. 

So anyways, Story's post was so on-point, I hope you'll read it about 3X, because it's the truth.

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2 hours ago, PeterPan said:

Story gave you so much good advice here, but I want to emphasize it and make sure you're seeing it. I've been through the IEP process how many years now with my ds, and this is how I process it too. It's how we decide whether it's time to be in school or at home. And even at home, I have a TEAM helping me. I am not sorting this out alone. 

There's such a range, I missed what is being considered. It sounds nuts. You have no clue yet if there are language issues. There are lots of different kinds of online scenarios, sure, but everyone I know, to a person, who has used them with SN has had problems, needed modification, beaten their heads against walls, struggled with the rigidity. Doesn't matter what the format is (dvd, asynchronous with consulting teacher, self-paced, whatever). I think your dd is so nice that she will WANT to do the work and her body will get in the way. Her enthusiasm won't be enough. She has to be set up to SUCCEED which will take some effort. 

Amen.

And further, if op enrolls her dc in a school that DOESN'T go through the IEP process, she's likely to lose another year. 

Yes, when my dd was that age she was telling us something was wrong, but she couldn't really tell us WHAT. It's really important to listen, but we as the parents have to get those evals and figure it out. On things like her request for independent or online, I think you take it under advisement. Like you say ok what is this telling us, what is she telling us about what is hard and what's not working? But that doesn't mean you just DO completely what she says, because she's not ready to take responsibility for the outcome of that. She's still a kid. To me, I'm looking for the kernel of truth in the kid comment. 

So anyways, Story's post was so on-point, I hope you'll read it about 3X, because it's the truth.

 

Just a quick correction, I’m not considering live online classes for dd9. I am considering them for dd12. Dd9 asked if she could have streaming video classes (like ABeka Academy). Obviously, she’s 9, and her desires change, so I’m not letting her decide it all. 

PeterPan has asked somewhere about the other kids and possible Team help. Well, dd2 is stuck like glue to me. 😆 Ds is 5 and needs maybe an hour of 1:1 for “school”, but is always talking or making noises (he has a great imagination). So that leaves dd9 and dd12 for me to manage in the midst of littles. I don’t have a “team”. Grandparents is another state, very few connections at church. Our pediatrician is amazing, and is very flexible with referring us out, etc. Dh has a very busy job that bleeds into nights and weekends. I’ve come to be okay with doing it all myself, being our own little island. But I can see we need some extra people in our corner, so I’m trying to figure out how to find them. 

There is so much packed into all these responses. I’m going to take some time to reflect on it all, and come back later for more. Thanks!

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In our area you can post on Care.com and find an IS (intervention specialist) who is willing to work for $30 an hour in-home. So that's still money, but it's not as bad as it could be. (Privately they bill at $100 an hour!!!!) They need 3-4 hours a day to do academics (plus pairing, plus whatever) with the dc. That's $120 a day, $600 a week. That's $10k-ish a year, what is what a GOOD cs in our area costs, the higher end ones. If you want like a straight video school, yeah that can be had for $4-6k. But it's not SO crazy. And you could do like 4 days a week and 1 day co-op, though I wouldn't. 

With that situation, I don't see how you get around needing some physical help. Depends on what's going on. That person could pair with her and drive her to appts too, making it less disruptive to the rest of your household. 

I can see some form of online or more independent options for your oldest, makes sense. That's going to have a learning curve and some kinks to work out. I think you also have the problem that the littles are not going to stay little and they will need their own attention. So I'm still back to needing that extra worker, at least in my mind.

When they eval, the psychs will look at the concept of support level and what support the student needs to function. For some kids just having herd effect is HUGE. Put them in a class of 30, and suddenly they're like oh yeah, boom, fine. Some kids need more support. So I think someone mentioned this in the thread (Mainer?) about the idea of the room ratios and the options they have in the ps. I'm not saying that's what she needs, but wrapping my brain around it helped me understand what my ds needs. 

So my ds' support level is no more than 1:7. That means he can function in a setting where it's 1:1, 1:3, 1:5, 1:7. But if you put him in 1:10 (typical for say a week of day camp at his age), NOT enough support. It means that the 1 adult cannot manage his needs AND the needs of the other 9. But they know for the amount of behaviors and frequency of his support that if there's 1 adult to 7 or less, it will work out.

Whatever, that's just a wall I had to hit. You want her to have enough support to be out and functioning or to be placed somewhere where she CAN function. And bringing in a worker gives you a lot of DATA too!! Schools love this kind of data. Like they see, ok if we ramp it up to 1:1, where this kid is literally 1:1, no distractions for the adult, what happens? That will tell them a lot. You might even do it for one month. Like maybe find a retired teacher, post a listing on Care.com, whatever. Even if you just did it for a month, you'd get a ton of data that way about what she can handle and you'd have an additional person to fill out behavior forms, etc. We did that as part of our eval process, yes. It's awful $$ to think about long-term, but it's not so ouchy if thing you think of it as 6 weeks or something, gathering some data, seeing what happens. 

If you're looking for a worker like that, you can also try college students on break for the summer. We used a lot of college students. They're super cheap. Like I can get one studying to be an IS, maybe a 3rd year student, and they'll be maybe $15 an hour. 

The other thing it will do is compel you to get really on-level with her work, because it's going to become very clear what was the work not being within reach vs. the student. You'll get independent feedback like that. It took me a year or so really to figure out how to work with workers. It forced me to become really honest and on about exactly where he's at, because I couldn't give them something and ask them to do something that wasn't going to WORK. My ds becomes violent when frustrated, so yeah we really had to nail where he was and what he could really do with enough support.

If your dc is socially motivated (mine is), then that process of pairing and bringing in a worker is actually really beautiful. You'd think it means less love for you, but it's really not. It was like it fanned the flame of love. He figured out how to enjoy people and then he loved ME more. So I don't know, if you can find the right worker, embrace it. Around here it's one of the MOST SUCCESSFUL ways people homeschool challenging children. 

Edited by PeterPan

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7 hours ago, PeterPan said:

Ok, I'm not criticizing you, but where is her doctor in this? Are you teaching other kids at home? My ds takes my full-time attention. He really does. Some kids just DO. So if you're asking what will help, I'm saying that's going to have to be on the table, what it takes to get her the level of support that will get her out of her room and functioning every day. If you have other kids, that means you have to clone yourself. That means in-home workers or something. We've been there. There are times I wasn't strong enough to deal with ds on my own and just having somebody FRESH come in changed a lot. So it's something to think through. You'd like that to change and you'd like that support to go up so SOMEONE is with her and supporting her. Sometimes our workers come in and they just sit beside him. They join in his play. They sit quietly and then slowly start to chitchat till he warms up and is ready to do things. 

If you're spread thin, she needs additional support. That HAS to happen. 

I agree with this, and it would've been SO NICE to have had that with my older one when he was little. He was enormously difficult.

You have a very complicated situation here, and I think you do need to get something rolling on evaluations. If you have longer waiting lists for evals, one reason to pursue an eval through the public school might be to get it sooner than later. Then, if you want a private evaluation, it puts some time between the two, and you can see what might have been missed, overlooked, or what additional input and layers of things you are more aware of. So many times, later evaluations are better informed just because you've peeled back some layers, solved some problems, turned up new problems, etc., and things make more sense.

You are clearly working very, very hard, and you deserve support. Getting answers could help lead you to the right support.

7 hours ago, Storygirl said:

The trouble with not following audio books or you reading aloud can be a comprehension issue, especially if ADHD and inattention is in the mix,  instead of an auditory processing issue.

18 hours ago, sangtarah said:

-does she have any physical complaints associated with her school work? (it hurts to sit, her hand hurts, her eyes hurt, headaches, etc.) Well, her vision - it still blurs and skips. Her hands get very sore when she writes, even a sentence or two will have her complaining, hence the OT work on that. She has headaches often, from allergies or anxiety or vision, etc. 

 

That's not supposed to be nested. Oops.

So, you definitely have signs of things that criss-cross under more than one diagnostic label. I am wondering if you need fresh eyes on the retained reflexes part. Some school PT/OT people will look at that, and some will not. Our school PT/OT did look at it, but couldn't include it in the report. They very nicely made me a list of what they noticed anyway so that I could take it to a therapy place.

I think you need to find out what's up about the vision if at all possible. My older son has one of the shortest courses of VT possible because his issues were not super resistant, but he has recently been expressing how bad it was before VT. He often doesn't realize the significance of something until years later, but his vision was terrible. It just took a lot of tricky work in office to get the issues to surface (fatiguing his eyes during the visit was key). When they did though, they were bad. He just happened to have areas that were completely unaffected and functioning abnormally well at the same time. All in all, the developmental optometrist was astonished that he learned to read at all prior to VT. 

Also, I think even the gripping a pencil could be a manifestation of the visual frustration. Or it could be totally different--actual motor issues, a connective tissue disorder, or just general frustration. 

I agree about getting language testing as well. Not all psychologists will test language without being asked, and not all SLPs will test for the same things. Peter Pan has good suggestions on this. FWIW, my son had issues with fiction but not non-fiction, and we didn't realize that was a big red flag for narrative language problems and autism.

With the physical issues she has, I would really be wondering if there is more going on there than what someone has figured out. Like some of the diagnoses might actually go together as parts of an over-arching condition.

Between my two kids, we hit many of the concerns you have listed here, except for things like thyroid and vocal cord issues. Also, anxiety is situational vs. generalized--triggered by physical stuff, generally. It's terribly hard to figure out what is going on without good evaluations and some test results. Even then, it can be difficult and become more clear over time. 

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 I really like Diane Craft. I ordered her vision therapy videos and her kit years and year ago. I also followed her nutrition guidelines from years ago. Personally I did not get much out of it for either of my kiddos. 

I think the best strategy

Test to find out where the deficiencies are.  Then try to re-mediate with checklists and 10 minute daily focus until you get 10000 correct repetitions and it clicks. 

I do think retained reflexes are very very important. 

We did do Vision therapy at a therapist and I to this day do not know how you would totally re-mediate that at home or without cooperation. I purchased a book off of amazon that I found useful. I also put a sticker on the window and had my son focus far away and nearby. 

Developing Ocular Motor and Visual Perceptual Skills: An Activity Workbook 1st Edition

and this one also looks interesting 

Vision Therapy for Home Study: A Complete Instructional Book to Improve Functional Visual Deficiencies Paperback –

 

For us we re-mediated Auditory processing ( which most kids are low in) with dedicated Fast Forword. I had tried multiple other programs and did supplement Fast Forword with a two other modules but this is the only program I really saw statistical improvement through testing before and after. We did a private coach and used the program over 6 months. 

We also did some interactive metronome but that wasn't a big factor after FF either. 

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Quick update: In our area we have to go through the school system before we can go to the private psychologist. (I called the psychs offices first. The local school psychologist should call me back within the week and we will see what happens from there. They did inform me that the tests focus on whether she would need an IEP and aren’t looking beyond that, and could take 45 days. 

When the school psych calls, what do I tell her? I’d like to put it very succinctly.

Also, how do I tell dd9? And how to present it to her so she isn’t anxious? 

The more I search and look for answers, I feel like anxiety is going to be a big part. But what came first? Has she always been anxious and we missed it? Did any challenges she has cause the anxiety? Such difficult questions, and maybe not relevant. 

 The kids each have 4 classes on Wednesday. Dd9 hasn’t been too many this semester. Today she told me she doesn’t like too many people and when kids are loud. It makes her nervous and uncomfortable. So she didn’t want to play at the playground, and she didn’t go to 2 of her classes.  Maybe that plays into an auditory issue, maybe a sensory one? Maybe her vision issues caused some of it. 

It’s all so confusing. 

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You're in the US or elsewhere? In the US, you should not *have* to go through the ps first. That's someone saying your insurance would want you to, whatever. If you're elsewhere, I guess follow the law. In the US you would make a written request saying you suspect a disability that is affecting your dc's ability to access their education. Very brief, doesn't have to be much, but in writing, signed, dated, and keep a copy.

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Yes, I agree with PeterPan that it is very unusual to be told you MUST got through the school first. I'd actually say that is surprising and strange.

Could they have been suggesting that you do school testing first, so that you can save money? Then the psych can use those free test results and only run whatever extra is needed. Insurance does not always cover testing, or sometimes will cover some things but not others, so that may be part of what they were telling you. We had a NP advise us to do school testing first for that reason, but it was advise to save us money, not refusal on her part to do testing.

Or perhaps you called a psych that just likes to do it that way for all clients. Did you only call one psych? I would wonder if there are others who would not require the school testing first.

And I also agree with PeterPan that your communication with the public school MUST be in writing. Even if they are willing to talk to you on the phone and agree on the phone to do things for you, the legal process for the evaluations is not in place until a written request is made. It's fine to talk with people on the phone, but you need to document everything in writing.

If you don't know how to do this or why, we can discuss. I am happy to discuss it. But if you already know, I can save my fatigued fingers from all of the typing.

In the meantime, I suggest you read https://www.amazon.com/Complete-IEP-Guide-Advocate-Special/dp/1413323855/ref=sr_1_fkmrnull_1?crid=272QH2K9B40DA&keywords=nolo+complete+iep+guide&qid=1556153454&s=gateway&sprefix=nolo+guide+to+iep%2Caps%2C166&sr=8-1-fkmrnull

You can probably get it from your library, and you can definitely get it from Amazon. It explains the IEP process well, and it's really important to understand the process when you begin, because it can affect whether or not you get what she needs from the evaluations and possible IEP.

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It is really important to put things in writing.  You can say something like “I appreciated talking with so-and-so on the phone today and we discussed my request to have my daughter evaluated because of concerns” or something like that.  

It is worth doing.  

I did not realize this and felt very awkward when I started doing it, but it is something that really is worth doing.  

There are also templates for letters available to google, I have used them if I can’t think what to write or what to include.  

A book would also have this kind of thing 🙂  Getting a book is really good!  I have still googled for “template for IEP letter” though when I have just been stuck.  

Edited by Lecka

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First, we are in the US - Midwest. I called more than one office. I was told they only see kids after the school has tested, and the kids have been referred from there.  I’m so confused! I haven’t asked the pediatrician for a referral, but maybe that would work? I would love a “one-stop shop” instead of being told to dig deeper somewhere else.

Of course, if she goes to school next year, wouldn’t they do their own testing anyway?  I’m not leaning towards school right now, but nothing is off the table. 

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And I’ll take all the advice I can get! I’m not even sure going through testing is the right choice for her. I’m second guessing myself! She has so much going on, testing may cause a lot of anxiety for her, and then we might not get good answers anyway. 

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27 minutes ago, sangtarah said:

First, we are in the US - Midwest. I called more than one office. I was told they only see kids after the school has tested, and the kids have been referred from there.

We've had some people say that on the boards, but it's not the law and not advisable even. Have you tried in a bigger city, like your state capital or one of the major cities in your state? This is something that is worth driving for. What major cities can you get to if you drive 2-3 hours?

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I have heard this when they are just busy and trying to keep their waiting list down for people.  They can reduce how long they take on things by not spending time on basics.  

I don’t find it odd, but I think if you don’t want to do it then you could look in a wider area and find places where it wasn’t necessary.  

 

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I do think it's worth discussing with your pediatrician, who may have ideas. We really liked our pediatrician, but he was not really helpful with figuring out what to do when I suspected dyslexia with my daughter. However, some doctors may be able to offer some guidance or referrals. You could just start by calling the doctor's office and leaving a message for the doctor, asking if they have suggestions for where to get tested for learning issues, apart from going to the school.

I don't think that going to the school first is wrong. It's a valid choice. It's just odd that the private psychs would require it. Are these educational psychologists that you have talked to? If not, you might have reached out to psychs that do more counseling, rather than testing. Just a theory.

Or yes, perhaps you live in a place where there are few options, and so the psychs there have just established a way of doing things that involves cooperating with the schools. And then, like PeterPan mentioned, branching out your search to a nearby city might open up more choices for you.

I often advise people to get testing through the schools, so it's fine to do that. Just be aware that you may not get all of your questions answered and may want to go to the psych afterwards to glean more information.

And the school testing can be hard to navigate, because the schools have their own methods and perspectives and agendas, so you need to know your legal rights and how to advocate. It's different in that way than using the private psychs, so it's best to educate yourself on the process and keep a written record.

Whether you go through the school first, or find a private place that will evaluate her, you will want to be really ready to present all of your concerns, so they know what to test and look into. I find it helpful to write down all of my thoughts about the difficulties, including any early childhood observations or struggles, and prepare examples. The first time we had a child evaluated, I didn't know to do this, and I felt afterward that I didn't give them a thorough picture of the problems. I kind of thought I was just handing DS over to them to figure things out, so I answered their intake questions, but I didn't have my thoughts collected in a cohesive form before the meeting, so that I could give them a full picture. After that, I learned to write my own thoughts down ahead of time, so that I could hand them a written copy of my concerns (often this is lengthy -- multiple typewritten pages, and the psychs have always been happy to receive it).

 

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