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mms

Where to start with testing/find administrators?

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What will testing actually accomplish for us? 

How will it help her both now and in the long term to have clarification on the issue? 

It seems to me if we are already trying to meet her "where she's at" then having a label for something that is not really treatable seems superfluous.  But, I fully admit my complete ignorance on the issue and happy to be corrected 🙂 

Editing out personal details!

Edited by mms

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Yes, an educational psychologist is an option for testing. Since you know someone, I think it's a great idea to ask her for her opinions about options for testing. She may be able to tell you where to find a good list of providers to choose from.

Assuming that you are in the US, you can also get testing for free from the public school, even as a homeschooler. There is a specific process for this, which we can discuss more here, if you think you are interested in that option.

If you have greater concerns and bigger questions (I haven't read your other thread), you could also make an appointment with a neuropsychologist. This is usually more expensive and a longer wait than an educational psychologist, so it would not be needed to determine processing speed. Some people concerned about dyslexia do use a NP (we did).

If there is any private dyslexia school in your surrounding area or in a neighboring city, you can also call them for information about places to go for testing. You can also ask your pediatrician if they know who does reading testing in your local area.

There is a website called Hoagies Gifted, which sometimes is recommended for finding psychologists. Though I don't use that site and can't tell your more specifics, you can look there.

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Testing can be important, not just so that you can name and label what you see, but also to document learning issues and create a paper trail. It may be useful to you in years to come to have the proof on paper, instead of just from your opinion. If you are in a state where students have to take standardized testing as part of homeschooling, documentation will allow you to support any accommodations that may be needed, such as reading portions of the test aloud or having extra time.  When it's time to take the ACT or SAT certain conditions qualify for extra time on the testing, but paperwork is needed to back that up.

Also, each time my children have been tested, I have learned something new that is helpful and that I would not have realized without the testing, which gives me tools to do a better job with teaching them and parenting them. A good psychologist will include recommendations for supporting learning in their report, and often there are things they suggest that you would not otherwise know.

ADHD is often co-morbid with dyslexia and also common with a low processing speed, so knowing that is helpful, as well.

My daughter owns her diagnosis of dyslexia and understands how it affects her and is more able to advocate for herself and make sure she gets the support she needs. Being able to say, "I am dyslexic," has been empowering for her personally and has been better than just feeling like she is not good at something that everyone around her can do so much more easily. Knowing the diagnosis has only been positive for her.

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By the way, most schools will not diagnose dyslexia, but will call it SLD (Specific Learning Disability) in Reading.

For some people, knowing their child has SLD Reading is sufficient. For others, they feel that an actual diagnosis that says "dyslexia" is important. A private psych can test for more root causes and explain them better to you as the parent than most schools can. Reading issues may not always be dsylexia. Personally, I felt we needed the private evaluations for DD and not just school evaluations. I have a friend for whom the SLD Reading from the school was okay for a few years, but then she needed to know whether it was actually dyslexia or not.

I have another child who has extremely low processing speed.

For processing speed, the school should be able to run a test called the WISC (or something comparable), which gives a processing speed score, along with other scores in areas of cognition. It seems fairly standard for schools to be able to do this (though there is someone else on the boards who has had trouble getting her school to agree to run it).

The question is whether there is more than a processing speed issue going on and whether a school would be able to figure that out for you. You can google low or slow processing speed and read a lot about it, if you have not already.

Low processing speed can be related to poor fine motor control, which then can affect handwriting. Processing speed can also affect writing, as in getting thoughts onto paper. Enough difficulties in these areas, and the student may get an SLD writing diagnosis.

For others, processing speed is more about slower thinking, and the student merely needs an accommodation of extra time.

These things need to be figured out, and then there are a whole host of accommodations and scaffolding that can help the student with low processing. Knowing what is causing that low processing score, though, is what helps you put good accommodations into place, because what is needed by one student will not be needed by another.

I think schools are better at figuring out processing speed issues than dyslexia. BUT just be aware that processing speed can be kind of a prompt to look for other underlying issues, because it so often goes hand in hand with other difficulties. A psych is more likely to suss that out than the school is.

 

Edited by Storygirl
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Okay, I just read your long thread on the general board. It's interesting that I brought up how low processing speed can affect writing, even though you didn't mention writing in this thread. In the other, you said it was taking her a long time to do math and that writing is slow, and that is just what I would have expected with low processing.

Be sure that whenever you get evaluations, and whether you get them through the school or privately, that you give all the kinds of details that you brought up in that other thread. It may actually be helpful for you to cut and paste your descriptions from that thread into a Word document, so that you have them written down to give to the evaluator.

Working memory was not mentioned in the other thread, but it is something I would suggest looking into, as well.

Also, even though the processing speed child is an avid reader, I would ask them to test her reading. You mention that you have noticed that she is missing some understanding of phonics. There are people with dyslexia who can read very well and are not identified as dyslexic until they are older, because the symptoms were missed. Google "stealth dyslexia" to see what I mean. Stealth dyslexia is not what an evaluator would call it, but you can get a picture of what it looks like in other people by googling that term.

This can happen especially for bright children with great reading comprehension. Their mind just fills in the gaps in the phonological understanding. They read at a gulp instead of slowing down to decode each word. Therefore, they can read quickly and at a high level but still have a decoding disability. When young, this can go undiscovered. Later in life, difficulties may arise and it can be hard to understand why. With higher level texts, as in science, for example, or math, where reading hard-to-decipher words becomes important to comprehension of the material, the underlying phonological issues suddenly can rear their ugly heads and cause problems that were previously undetected.

Dyslexia can also affect math. Especially, some people with dyslexia can master math concepts, even advanced ones, but not be able to memorize math facts. For these people, using the calculator and other math tools lets them soar in math without being hindered by the problems with calculation.

For math, if you do not allow a calculator, I would try that. If she is understanding concepts, don't make her do all of the problems; it's okay to reduce work volume for someone with low processing; in fact, it is a standard accommodation offered in schools for low processors. If you can reduce some of the barriers, it will let the underlying talent soar.

You may already know this, but dyslexia often runs in families. Since you suspect it in the younger, I would test for it in the older. I imagine that surprises you. But it's the kind of thing that a private psychologist may figure out for you better than a school evaluation.

I hope that helps.

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And, to your original point in your other thread, I had to drastically change what I did in our homeschooling, due to my children's learning disabilities. And it made me sad to change my vision, but my vision of what I wanted to teach them and what I wanted our learning to look like did not mesh with what they needed and the kind of learners that they are.

For example, I am an avid reader, majored in literature in college and children's literature in grad school, and I have two children with reading disabilities who dislike reading. One of the reasons that I started homeschooling was because I loved ALL OF THE BOOKS we would be able to read together.

I do have deep sadness about that, but I can't dwell on it, and I had to set aside my own goals and make new goals that suited my children.

I realize this post better belongs in the other thread, but I don't want to divide my attention between two threads as I respond to you.

Edited by Storygirl
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3 hours ago, mms said:

BTW, I have a pretty good grip on DD7's reading progress.  We have stuck very closely to ElizabethB's reading guidelines with Webster's Speller with some AAS phonograms/tiles thrown in.  Her progress is slow but she is definitely making marked progress each day.  The big red flags for me were that she has reversals/guessing even when reading in Russian (which I taught first because it is highly phonetic and very regular - it's even technically correct to not schwa vowels in some areas) and when she prints letters every letter than can be reversed is consistently written as a mirror image (so we write in cursive!).

Reversals are actually not a sign of dyslexia, Stanislas Dehaene explains their neurobiological origins in his book "Reading in the Brain." Most children go through them at that age, people just notice it more if their child has other reading struggles.  

What is her WPM rate?  There is a bell curve of reading abilities and some children just need a lot of repetition.  My son needed a lot of repetition.  

The book is worth reading, but the videos are a good start to understand what is going on in the brain of someone who has dyslexia:

 

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So, true dyslexia is a phonological problem, not a reversal problem.  This test is for phonemic awareness, the book is very helpful if your daughter fails any section. You cannot give any hints about the position of the sound, you are allowed to repeat the word but nothing else that might lead the child to the answer, part of the test is if they can figure out what position the sound is in.  The automatic is if they can answer within 2 seconds, correct is correct after any length of time.

http://www.maspweb.com/resources/Documents/PAST 2016.pdf

Here are excerpts from the Kilpatrick book:

https://www.cec.sped.org/~/media/Files/Professional Development/Webinars/Handouts/Excerpts from Equipped for Reading Success.pdf

And here is how to order the book if you need it:

https://www.thereadingleague.org/shop/equipped-for-reading-success-2016-book-by-david-kilpatrick/

 

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6 minutes ago, ElizabethB said:

Reversals are actually not a sign of dyslexia, Stanislas Dehaene explains their neurobiological origins in his book "Reading in the Brain." Most children go through them at that age, people just notice it more if their child has other reading struggles.  

What is her WPM rate?  There is a bell curve of reading abilities and some children just need a lot of repetition.  My son needed a lot of repetition.  

The book is worth reading, but the videos are a good start to understand what is going on in the brain of someone who has dyslexia:

 

Hmm, that's interesting about the reversals not being a symptom of dyslexia because the stuff I've read on dyslexia in Russian seems to indicate that consistent reversals of Russian syllables is a sign.  But, at this point it is only my second child to teach reading via syllables bilingually so my experience is pretty much still 0.  I think I need to go back and read your dyslexia page too!

I have given her some phonological tests (not anything out of a book/official test but as we do reading lessons) and she has trouble differentiating some sounds (in both languages): especially has trouble with separating out consonant blends (so if I give her train to sound out she will miss t and start with r) and can't always tell the difference between i/e and o/u (it took her the longest time with short u - like a couple of months).  I will have to try the test that you posted.  That sort of breaking a spoken word out by sound is part of standard Russian reading instruction (give the child a word ask them how many phonograms they hear) and that's definitely not her strong suit either.

 

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27 minutes ago, mms said:

Hmm, that's interesting about the reversals not being a symptom of dyslexia because the stuff I've read on dyslexia in Russian seems to indicate that consistent reversals of Russian syllables is a sign.  But, at this point it is only my second child to teach reading via syllables bilingually so my experience is pretty much still 0.  I think I need to go back and read your dyslexia page too!

I have given her some phonological tests (not anything out of a book/official test but as we do reading lessons) and she has trouble differentiating some sounds (in both languages): especially has trouble with separating out consonant blends (so if I give her train to sound out she will miss t and start with r) and can't always tell the difference between i/e and o/u (it took her the longest time with short u - like a couple of months).  I will have to try the test that you posted.  That sort of breaking a spoken word out by sound is part of standard Russian reading instruction (give the child a word ask them how many phonograms they hear) and that's definitely not her strong suit either.

 

I think reversals are listed as "soft signs"--things that correlate but maybe are not actually part of dyslexia. 

So, my kiddo with dyslexia (stealth, diagnosed late), has other issues, including slow processing, though it's better than it was. Yes, it can cause issues with writing and such.

Regarding the bolded, this also goes along with auditory processing difficulties. Frankly, they are often two sides of the same coin, and there is an overlap in symptoms. My son has both APD and dyslexia, and he had major issues with differentiating vowel sounds. There are people here who can suggest ways to work on that. Once my son realized he was supposed to be hearing (and saying) distinct vowel sounds, he taught himself to listen for them (meta-cognition is a real strength of his). Anyway, my son has other signs of APD that are not necessarily part of dyslexia, but in some kids, it would be hard to tell where one starts and the other ends. I am pretty sure that you can have issues with hearing sounds distinctly and not have APD, but you might look it up and familiarize yourself with the idea.

3 hours ago, mms said:

I did speak with one mother of a child with dyslexia who went through a "Dyslexia Specialist" to get her child tested but it sounds like this specialist is also very heavily invested in AAR/AAS and that sounded rather off to me. 

I get why this would be off-putting, though since I don't know what kind of options you have near you--I'd hate to see you cut out a potentially good option if yours will be limited. I have some alternative interpretations that may be totally off base...the specialist might be really familiar with this as a tool and find it easy for parents to implement. Some psychs/SLPs realize that resources and tutors can be expensive or difficult to learn and have developed rental or lending libraries, tutoring in office, etc. with a standard tool (Barton is another one) in order to help parents out. So, it could be a negative, or it could be an innovation. 🙂 

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Where would I find the information about testing for my district? A cursory look at their website does not have any info except for the phone number of the special ed department.  What would I even ask for? How to introduce it?

Edited by mms

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😢I burst out laughing at your $350 comment; not in a funny laughing way, though. 😱 I won't share how many thousands and thousands of dollars we have spent on testing, evals, and therapy for our ds.  

Getting testing through the school system is not like making a dr appt.  It can take months to get to the actual testing.  But, it can also take months to get an appt with a psy.

A couple of additional options is to contact local Us and see if they offer testing/evaluations.  Another is https://www.dyslexia-reading-well.com/scottish-rite-dyslexia.html .

I think Storygirl wrote multiple helpful posts.  I agree that working memory is also likely a concern.  I think that getting an evaluation is important b/c otherwise you are just guessing at what you are seeing vs. actually knowing.  Testing told us a lot of info about our ds that I already knew, but it also revealed a lot that I didn't.  The information gave both him and us a level of understanding about the whys that helped us put things in perspective.

Edited by 8FillTheHeart
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Editing out personal details!

Edited by mms
ETA: clarifying "evaluations that cost money" not "evaluations"

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15 minutes ago, mms said:

I think there were a lot of good ideas thrown out on the other thread that I will implement over the next several months and may just try to really reexamine what and how we do things.  If I have a clear idea of what I'm actually facing and changing things up does not correct these issues then I will feel more justified in insisting that we invest in evaluation/intervention. 

Whether or not you go the school district route, I would consider getting videos of what working with your kids is like. I wish I had some from when my kids were little. If you are successful in remediating, that's obviously satisfying, but if you still have hiccups at that point and need a label for some reason, it can be hard to get one with some of the problems masked.

Keep samples of work and date them.

Having a running list of things you see and observe can help you as well. 

I can't remember what all was suggested, though Storygirl was very thorough! 

So, school testing is not necessarily going to diagnose, but a good evaluation with the district will pinpoint the needs and the typical interventions. I don't think that would be a negative. It's free. You would get some testing, much of it what they would do with a private psych. I do understand your reticence if they are not homeschooling friendly, but I don't know how to weigh that piece.

Processing speed is going to be assessed with an IQ test, most likely. They often use the WISC V for this. It will also test working memory. 

Rote memory for language and memory for steps (such as those involved in math) isn't necessarily equivalent. So, you should make observations based on the kinds of tasks vs. a blanket statement. Also working memory is a mental scratch pad, not long-term memory. They are connected but different.

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I know you have a lot on your plate, but I would encourage you to not give up so easily.  The Scottish Rite program is free and university evals are typically only a couple of hundred dollars. The only up front cost is your time making some phone calls.  They might not be able to offer you anything, but you won't know without calling.

The more you post, the more information is being teased out.  The fact that you have a brother with ASD adds to your family history's complexity.  These are all things that need to be shared up front during an eval. 

None of my other kids are on the spectrum, but several of my kids do share some of his alphabet soup of comorbid issues (anxiety being the biggest).  He is not dyslexic, but I have 3 dyslexics, one with serious auditory issues as well.  My dyslexic dd never struggled to read.  She is a great reader, but she presents more like your dd.  She is very methodical and has problems with working memory and retention. (All 3 of my dyslexics can't spell worth anything.)

 

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I just went to the Scottish Rite site.  It doesn't look like most sites will test.  But, the site's links look like they are full of good information like first steps (how to request the public school do an evaluation), etc.  

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27 minutes ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

I know you have a lot on your plate, but I would encourage you to not give up so easily.  The Scottish Rite program is free and university evals are typically only a couple of hundred dollars. The only up front cost is your time making some phone calls.  They might not be able to offer you anything, but you won't know without calling.

The more you post, the more information is being teased out.  The fact that you have a brother with ASD adds to your family history's complexity.  These are all things that need to be shared up front during an eval. 

None of my other kids are on the spectrum, but several of my kids do share some of his alphabet soup of comorbid issues (anxiety being the biggest).  He is not dyslexic, but I have 3 dyslexics, one with serious auditory issues as well.  My dyslexic dd never struggled to read.  She is a great reader, but she presents more like your dd.  She is very methodical and has problems with working memory and retention. (All 3 of my dyslexics can't spell worth anything.)

 

Oh, I'm not giving up - far from it!  I will be making those phone calls and making arrangements, I'm just trying to be proactive in other ways too, kwim?  I am going to arrange for the free resources and see where the other resources lead me: that seems like that will take time and while waiting I can start doing things now to give me a clearer picture: this is all so new that I'm a little overwhelmed.  I would like to have more info about my own children and self-educate about the possibilities by the time the free testing/resources become available.  And I would also like to start saving for the possibility of needing interventions: if nothing else that will give me more room in the homeschooling budget if they prove unnecessary, lol.

The brother w/ ASD is not my biological brother and there are no other cases of LDs in my family and as far as I know in DH's either.

8, you amaze me, how you've dealt with so many children who have such diverse needs is beyond me.  I feel overwhelmed with my four as it is!  But, I'm really glad in hindsight that I followed your advice (to someone else about a year back) on using A&P for DD10: her spelling has really improved and I feel like I'm avoiding at least one problem!

 

ETA: I see where you got the idea that I'm giving up, lol, I've edited the original post.

Edited by mms
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6 hours ago, ElizabethB said:

So, true dyslexia is a phonological problem, not a reversal problem.  This test is for phonemic awareness, the book is very helpful if your daughter fails any section. You cannot give any hints about the position of the sound, you are allowed to repeat the word but nothing else that might lead the child to the answer, part of the test is if they can figure out what position the sound is in.  The automatic is if they can answer within 2 seconds, correct is correct after any length of time.

http://www.maspweb.com/resources/Documents/PAST 2016.pdf

Here are excerpts from the Kilpatrick book:

https://www.cec.sped.org/~/media/Files/Professional Development/Webinars/Handouts/Excerpts from Equipped for Reading Success.pdf

And here is how to order the book if you need it:

https://www.thereadingleague.org/shop/equipped-for-reading-success-2016-book-by-david-kilpatrick/

 

So I did the test with DD7.  Levels D&E were both 100% automatic.  Onset rhyme 9/10 correct, 8/10 correct on basic phoneme and none correct from then on (tried J and K and after that point I stopped the test).  What was interesting to me was that in J and K she changed the vowel correctly but consistently left out the final consonant so the whole word was incorrect. 

What does that mean?  It seems to me that since she is 7 years old but technically first grade this is on target?  We began English reading instruction in the fall of last year and it took her pretty much all of that time just to get through the syllabary (the only reason I didn't panic then, ElizabethB, is because that is about how long you said it had taken your son).  If all this is normal then that would be a huge relief to me and we'll just keep plugging along the way we have been 

FWIW, we have worked through No. 29 in the 1909 speller (I have a hard copy of this which is why we use it, I know the 1824 is better).

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14 hours ago, mms said:

The big red flags for me were that she has reversals/guessing even when reading in Russian (which I taught first because it is highly phonetic and very regular - it's even technically correct to not schwa vowels in some areas) and when she prints letters every letter than can be reversed is consistently written as a mirror image (so we write in cursive!).

MMS, is this dc bilingual? If so, I think you should start with an SLP who specializes in literacy and bilingual children. https://www.smartspeechtherapy.com  Here's one, and she happens to speak russian and she can do tele-evals. See if your insurance will cover an SLP eval.

The point is not to spend tons of $$ with evals. The point is to get the right ones. In general I'm with you on the value of ps evals and the help that they're free. If the dc is bilingual, it just got a lot trickier. Maybe look into that a bit and do some thinking. School districts vary. Our school did not own the tests needed to diagnose ds' issues. Read on the site I linked, see what you think. 

As far as processing speed, those scores are obtained through IQ testing, so any psych can do that. 

If you want to go through the ps, the key is to know what tests you need to have happen so you can advocate for them. So even if you're not going to be able to afford private evals, it's still helpful to look into them. It will help you advocate for her during the ps evals.

I think it's very important that our country prioritizes making EVERY CHILD able to get evals through the ps as a federal right. If the situation is complex, it can take some work to advocate and get everything done. Some people have to file a dispute and compel the school to pay for private, 3rd party evals. It can take work, but you can get this done at the pricepoint you need, yes.

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