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Special needs kindergarten

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I have a newly five year old ds that will be kindergarten age in September. I don't have a specific diagnosis but he definitely needs an evaluation. We haven't up to this point because of travelling and because until recently his social phobia would have made an evaluation quite difficult and stressful. My guess is that he's on the autism spectrum. He's adopted from my sister. One of his biological siblings in already diagnosed. He may also have some degree of FAS. He definitely has some issues with language. His enunciation is very poor and his vocabulary is quite limited. His non-verbal communication is unusual. I have had his hearing tested and that came out clear. His self-regulation is limited. He's easily stressed. Sequencing seems to be an issue as well. Until about six months ago he would still try to put his underwear on before his pants. He still can't figure out how to turn his shirt right side out. I know enough about autism to be fairly confident that he would test positive, unless there is something more specific that I'm not aware of.

Now to my questions... I'm really wondering how to make a school day for him. I live in an area that has quite liberal homeschool laws (BC) so that is going to tie me down but I still would like to go forward. I bought him the R&S preschool pack (I adore these books) but he can't handle the first book. Today we had a picture of three chickens and a duck but he couldn't tell me which one was different. He could tell me what they were but he couldn't understand when I tried to ask him which one was different. He likes the school books and the idea of doing school but I don't want to spoil that. He can't count five items and he can't recite the numbers  to ten or say the alphabet. This so different then what I'm used to or comfortable with. I read out loud but I don't think that he's following most of what I'm reading. How do you start educating a child like this? I have brother with severe, low functioning autism, who is much more disabled than my boy, that was taught to read and do basic arithmetic in public school. How did they do it? I feel a little over my head but I'm committed to learning.

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I will have to check back later, but I have questions that might help people answer.

Is he going to be mandatory K age? Where I live, we have a minimum age (for public school) and a maximum age for starting. If you are homeschooling, you don't have to notify until 1st grade, and your first notification doesn't require testing. This gives a really big margin for figuring out the early years.

Also, are you likely to take advantage of helps from the district or from local developmental disability services? I am not sure what that would be called where you live or what would be available to you; obviously in some locations, those services vary in their levels of homeschool friendliness as well. Here, that would be a combination of an IEP (and if enrolled, special education) and help from local agencies that serve people with disabilities, usually run by the county or a specific service area.

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2 minutes ago, kbutton said:

I will have to check back later, but I have questions that might help people answer.

Is he going to be mandatory K age? Where I live, we have a minimum age (for public school) and a maximum age for starting. If you are homeschooling, you don't have to notify until 1st grade, and your first notification doesn't require testing. This gives a really big margin for figuring out the early years.

Also, are you likely to take advantage of helps from the district or from local developmental disability services? I am not sure what that would be called where you live or what would be available to you; obviously in some locations, those services vary in their levels of homeschool friendliness as well. Here, that would be a combination of an IEP (and if enrolled, special education) and help from local agencies that serve people with disabilities, usually run by the county or a specific service area.

In response to your first question, no it isn't mandatory to register him until he's six. Even then, because BC is so relaxed I really don't have any expectations on me. I can take him at his pace all the way through.

I'm not likely to take advantage of service mainly because we're looking at spending large chunks of time overseas starting within the next few months. We also live very remotely so even if we are here the services are limited. We probably will see a speech therapist shortly for some advise on the enunciation issues.

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Honestly, when I read your title and your first paragraph, I thought you meant you were enrolling him. His needs are quite extensive, and in the US he would be enrolled in a preschool and given services (ABA, speech therapy, occupational therapy). 

2 minutes ago, rose said:

We also live very remotely so even if we are here the services are limited.

Oh my. 

I guess I'm not sure what to say. Your list sounds like you already have a lot on your plate. You could move to a location with services or place him with someone with access to services. I doubt you like either of those suggestions.

Edited by PeterPan

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48 minutes ago, rose said:

I read out loud but I don't think that he's following most of what I'm reading.

He's not. It's not your imagination. Now on the plus side, it sounds like he's calm, compliant, and enjoying the structure of your home. Those are all really good things!

48 minutes ago, rose said:

How do you start educating a child like this?

You don't. You actually have to go back and build all the language, which in the US would be done with 20-30 hours of ABA a week, typically for several years. There are a lot of ways to skin a cat, but the TIME is pretty big here. 

That's actually what I'm concerned about. I don't see how you have the time. 

Now on the plus side, you have workers!! You could make a plan and pair him with kids, yes. You could consult with a BCBA, get him diagnosed, and make a REALLY THOROUGH plan for intervention. And then the 20-30 hours a week he'd have of ABA (which is essentially homeschooling on steroids) you would divide between you and your kids. If 16, 16, did an hour each and the 8 yo did 30 minutes, that would leave you working with him directly maybe 2 hours a day. And that can be broken up, like read-alouds, while putting him down for naps, whatever. 

I'm just making those numbers up. Just trying to think out of the box here.

Edited by PeterPan
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You speed read? LOL We could suggest some books to you. Or google them and get the jist by reading online. 

Verbal Behavior Approach

Stop that Seemingly Senseless Behavior (teaches you how to FBA and behavior log)

How Does Your Engine Run?

Interoception --she may have an online course for this soon. It's a concept that you can apply in creative ways yourself if you want.

Hanen

Play Project

RDI=Relationship Development Intervention. There's a book for elementary, but also see if there's someone trained who could do even just the intake evaluation. You'd learn a ton and they could give you exercises to get you started. They're easy to do, especially with your helpers, and they address root problems with the joint attention that will get immediate change/results. Even if you only do a little, highly recommend doing it. Of course joint attention is probably on the VB-MAPP, check.

VB-MAPP--get a copy of this (you can find it on amazon) and run him through it, find the holes, make your intervention using this roadmap. Or if you get a BCBA, they'll have this or something similar

So a BCBA, if you found one you liked (and they really vary, so find one you LIKE), could keep up with you by skype as you travel. She would be IMMENSELY valuable to you and help guide your intervention, help you problem solve. I cannot overstate HOW VALUABLE the right behaviorist/BCBA could be to you. 

If you get the VB-MAPP or something similar and run it and let it guide your intervention, you're going to save yourself A LOT OF GRIEF later. It's going to catch funky holes and give you a clear roadmap to know what needs to be done. It doesn't particularly matter how you do it (DTT, worksheets, hands-on manipulatives preschool kit from MFW, games, whatever), but the point is to nail those things.

If you could get evals, you could sort out the IQ question. My ds was like yours with math, and he turns out to have an SLD in math. He uses Ronit Bird successfully, and I HIGHLY recommend it. But there are other situations where something like Touch Math might be more appropriate. 

58 minutes ago, rose said:

I have brother with severe, low functioning autism, who is much more disabled than my boy, that was taught to read and do basic arithmetic in public school. How did they do it?

You know in some ways you already know the answer to this. If he has phonological processing problems, he'll need intervention for that. If he doesn't, he may just need a slower pace. I would give him the Barton screening and see if he passes it. I would also pull up some phonemic awareness charts and see where he is. Run through them and see if he can rhyme, do elision, blah blah, clap syllables, all that. If his phonological processing is there, that's really good!! Then you've got language development and just keeping at it. Language comprehension is always more challenging. That's where my ds is, doing a lot of language work because we got him decoding but he couldn't actually comprehend (hyperlexia). 

So it's all the stuff you're used to, just nothing is necessarily going to come naturally. Everything will have to be checked or there will definitely be holes. On the plus side, you do have help. I would try to build a good team that you can consult with via skype, etc. as you move around. 

If you want language stuff, that's another deep breath. Personally, for that I would start with the VB-MAPP, nail everything there, and then go to Linguisystems and keep going. I particularly like 100% Vocabulary by Rothstein, the SPARC series, and the Spotlight series. But he's not ready for any of that.

I would not assume his IQ is impaired until you have testing. My ds at 9 couldn't figure out how to wipe up a spill, lol. We do a lot of life skills things and weave the academics in, like Cooking to Learn, where we are reading, cooking, then narrating and using our LA skills. So you're going to find a lot of ways to overlap like this. 

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When you look at ABA, they do what is called DTT=discrete trial training. (I think? google, lol) Anyways, it is considered a teaching methodology, and some people have opinions on that, liking it, not liking it, thinking it's horrible, whatever. So in one of our autism schools locally they can do that and the teacher will sit there with a data checklist and run trials and make data. They'll talk about more naturalistic methods, blah blah, all under the widening umbrella of ABA.

So my ds has not had that really pure ABA, but when I was talking with our behaviorist and telling her what I was having to do, she's like yes, that's a form of DTT. My ds has very limited ability to just go and go. He needs breaks. Even if he works for like 45 minutes with me, he needs breaks. And we usually chunk things. So check, but I think in ABA for DTT they'll say 10 to a trial. Well with ds, that's a lot how it is. Like if I'm doing a worksheet and they have 23 on the page, we're going to break it into chunks of 7/8. Or I'll just use a different publisher (easy to do for something like science!) where I can get a paragraph to read and then 5-6 questions. That keeps that total time where he has to stay calm down. So roll with him, but that might happen.

Another thing with my ds, don't really know how it is for all kids, that to me fits with ABA, is your idea of errorless instruction. Now it's great to say kids should have frustration tolerance, it's ok to be wrong, blah blah. My ds is more like that dude who wanted to lift a bull who needed to start with a calf. We're gonna BACK WAY UP and keep the steps TEENY TINY, so basically he's always able to do them. That's why Ronit Bird works, that's why I use a lot of things like Daily Warm-ups. So it's not so much about incremental instruction as it is keeping each step within reach so he's not frustrated. Stress shuts down learning, so we want to reduce stress. 

Some kids do great until they start into "demands" where Mom is saying yeah we're really going to do school, blah blah. You'll probably have some things happen and you can post back with that. Just don't be surprised, lol. Maybe nothing will happen, but it could. And that's where the time thing comes in, because it takes TIME to deal with shutdowns, TIME to think how to bring it within reach, TIME to pair with him and build the relationships that let you do hard things. The TOP TWO things you can do to head off behavior problems are PAIR and keep STRUCTURE high.

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I have not been in your position, so I'm not sure that I have advice, but I do have a couple of questions that might help others give you suggestions.

What has been done for him so far? Has he always lived with you, so that you know what he has been taught and exposed to (regarding language), or he is new addition to your family?

I think the situation is pretty challenging, given the number of children that you homeschool and that you travel and can't use local services. PeterPan suggests that you train your older kids to be helpers, but sometimes high schoolers have a full plate with their own academics and/or have their own issues and/or are not willing or capable. If they are able, I think that training them to be your assistants could be valuable for all involved. But you would need to figure things out yourself first and then teach them what to do, so in the beginning, it won't save time.

I think that getting a diagnosis would be helpful. You may not be able to use services at this time, but your circumstances may be different in years to come, and he will also need to have support in place before adulthood.

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3 hours ago, Storygirl said:

PeterPan suggests that you train your older kids to be helpers, but sometimes high schoolers have a full plate with their own academics and/or have their own issues and/or are not willing or capable.

Just to be honest, I didn't say it because I thought it was a super great idea or something ideal for the kids or anything else. Now it is true the owners of Timberdoodle did that, taking in a dc with disabilities and devoting that time. Maybe those kids were in their 20s by then? I don't know. I definitely found some of their posts over the years really inspiring and would go check it out. They're the family I was thinking of for the mental picture of this.

But no, more I meant it to show the real amount of work the dc might need. It's unnerving to get really realistic about it, and once you put it out mathematically like that it's more clear. You can call it ABA, call it what you want, but the dc will need significant hours, depending on the support level and extent of the disability.

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I can't see the signature from my phone so I'm not sure how many kids or ages that other people are referencing. 

I agree with the recommendations to get the evaluation so you know what you are working with. Autism sounds like a reasonable assumption but there could easily be additional things going on too. FAS will usually look like a lot of gaps, and sometimes gaining and losing skills without being able to retain them. It also sounds possible.

I would not make an idol of what a school would provide in terms of therapy. I have a child with severe autism in a school (our only one not homeschooled, but not because of the autism). After going to a settlement with the district we have a BCBA advising a classroom teacher and aide, but still not actually providing the DTT from our settlement. The special ed teacher had to ask what ABA was. I'm not sure specifically about your province, but my friends throughout Cananda have been complaining about a loss of services for autism. I'm not sure how much would be available even if you weren't rural. The suggestion to place a child who has been adopted with another family isn't appropriate, even if it was only made for emphasis.

Start out by figuring out what is going on. Build supports into the environment with schedules, pictures, cues, whatever works. The autism specific methods are good. Floortime is a particular method that is a bit less rigid than some of the others. 

Approach things at his level for now. If normal reading books is too advanced, what about toddler board books? That sort of thing. Get the evaluation and go from there. One thing we are adding this year is Gemiini for speech and language. We haven't done it yet to be able to make a recommendation, but I have a lot of friends who have had success with it.

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On 5/4/2019 at 1:46 PM, rose said:

His self-regulation is limited. He's easily stressed. Sequencing seems to be an issue as well. 

Today we had a picture of three chickens and a duck but he couldn't tell me which one was different. He could tell me what they were but he couldn't understand when I tried to ask him which one was different. He likes the school books and the idea of doing school but I don't want to spoil that. He can't count five items and he can't recite the numbers  to ten or say the alphabet. This so different then what I'm used to or comfortable with. I read out loud but I don't think that he's following most of what I'm reading. 

You probably realize this, but if he is stressed, then he's also not going to learn and retain things, so having a plan for this is going to be key--some of the resources that Peter Pan discussed can also help with this. The chickens and ducks thing is likely to also be language and noticing attributes of things. I am pretty sure that a lot of the autism resources Peter Pan mentioned will work on things like this, but we didn't have the benefit of using those early on, so I am less familiar with them.

There is a LOT that falls under language for autism that I didn't see as language-related until a friend on the boards started talking specifics. I would encourage you to think kind of broadly about language and read up on language issues with autism.

Simply Classical was already mentioned, but there are other publishers of intervention materials out there as well. I would guess that the majority of your curriculum at the beginning is going to be pieced together from intervention materials with some traditional play items or fun items sprinkled in. The traditional items might be used more as supplements or for fun after a skill has been mastered. There are people who are great at adapting things, but it takes a lot of work vs. using a curriculum geared toward a child with learning issues. Eventually, you might find that regular materials become more appropriate, but it really depends upon what is going on and what skills he gains with intervention. 

https://www.beyondplay.com/CATALOG/LAN1.HTM

https://www.wiesereducational.com/

 

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On 5/5/2019 at 4:09 PM, Storygirl said:

I have not been in your position, so I'm not sure that I have advice, but I do have a couple of questions that might help others give you suggestions.

What has been done for him so far? Has he always lived with you, so that you know what he has been taught and exposed to (regarding language), or he is new addition to your family?

I think the situation is pretty challenging, given the number of children that you homeschool and that you travel and can't use local services. PeterPan suggests that you train your older kids to be helpers, but sometimes high schoolers have a full plate with their own academics and/or have their own issues and/or are not willing or capable. If they are able, I think that training them to be your assistants could be valuable for all involved. But you would need to figure things out yourself first and then teach them what to do, so in the beginning, it won't save time.

I think that getting a diagnosis would be helpful. You may not be able to use services at this time, but your circumstances may be different in years to come, and he will also need to have support in place before adulthood.

He's been with us since birth. I agree with you about the diagnosis. I would like to do but to this point it really would have been quite a challenge because of social anxiety issue that seems to have grown out of to some extent.

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On 5/6/2019 at 9:08 AM, kbutton said:

You probably realize this, but if he is stressed, then he's also not going to learn and retain things, so having a plan for this is going to be key--some of the resources that Peter Pan discussed can also help with this. The chickens and ducks thing is likely to also be language and noticing attributes of things. I am pretty sure that a lot of the autism resources Peter Pan mentioned will work on things like this, but we didn't have the benefit of using those early on, so I am less familiar with them.

There is a LOT that falls under language for autism that I didn't see as language-related until a friend on the boards started talking specifics. I would encourage you to think kind of broadly about language and read up on language issues with autism.

Simply Classical was already mentioned, but there are other publishers of intervention materials out there as well. I would guess that the majority of your curriculum at the beginning is going to be pieced together from intervention materials with some traditional play items or fun items sprinkled in. The traditional items might be used more as supplements or for fun after a skill has been mastered. There are people who are great at adapting things, but it takes a lot of work vs. using a curriculum geared toward a child with learning issues. Eventually, you might find that regular materials become more appropriate, but it really depends upon what is going on and what skills he gains with intervention. 

https://www.beyondplay.com/CATALOG/LAN1.HTM

https://www.wiesereducational.com/

 

Thanks for the resources. I see a lot of the issues as language issues. I would like to have his cognitive functions evaluated mostly because I don't want to assume that he's cognitively impaired if it's really just language issues. The chicken and ducks problem shows this pretty clearly to me. He would struggle to identify his clothes from his brothers' if he couldn't tell if items were different from one another. He clearly intuitively understands same from different but he doesn't have the language to answer my question. His language is blossoming lately and his screeching is fading but there are certainly still issues.

 

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33 minutes ago, rose said:

Thanks for the resources. I see a lot of the issues as language issues. I would like to have his cognitive functions evaluated mostly because I don't want to assume that he's cognitively impaired if it's really just language issues. The chicken and ducks problem shows this pretty clearly to me. He would struggle to identify his clothes from his brothers' if he couldn't tell if items were different from one another. He clearly intuitively understands same from different but he doesn't have the language to answer my question. His language is blossoming lately and his screeching is fading but there are certainly still issues.

 

I wish I could post more from specific companies, but it seems like before about 3rd or 4th grade, it's not really "intervention" unless it's related to speech and language therapy or social skills, autism, etc. Or, entirely different companies do elementary stuff. It's really hard to get anything from a google search, and most of my catalogs for SN are for older kids.

FWIW, I think even if he does not get an autism diagnosis, it sounds like the therapies/resources mentioned by Peter Pan for autism and language will be helpful.

I am glad you know a lot of this seems language-based. There is so much that falls into that category that wasn't obvious to me for a long time.

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2 hours ago, rose said:

I would like to do but to this point it really would have been quite a challenge because of social anxiety issue that seems to have grown out of to some extent.

Fwiw, that's what they're looking for in the ADOS. So just the fact that you're saying you'd have issues getting him in the room, getting him to cooperate, etc is the point and what they'd be wanting to see. The ADOS is a standardized tool to assess that.

2 hours ago, rose said:

I see a lot of the issues as language issues.

Yes, language is what will push his support level toward 2-3. He definitely doesn't sound like a level 1 support. And even as his language comes in, he may hit walls in what he understands, which will hold back his reading comprehension, writing, etc. They'll go together, as syntax (more complex structures) will drive meaning. But yes, language is where it's at and where we put the bulk of our time. That and self-regulation and physical problems and well everything else.

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Just to start with, a kid on the spectrum will be "behind" in a lot of ways at least 3 years. So I wouldn't treat this as his kindergarten year, I'd treat it as his preschool year. And yes, cause and effect and sequencing are a thing with ASD...my ASD kid didn't get cause and effect until he was about 13 years old, when suddenly he knew what happened in what order. If you can't sequence, you can't understand how your actions have consequences because in your mind the consequence might have happened BEFORE the action. So he didn't get I was upset and yelling because he punched me, in his mind he'd say he punched me because I was yelling. (not that yelling is a good way to handle that situation..but you get the point". 

Work on relationship, work on explaining things in every day life, use VERY simple picture books for toddlers, etc. And work on speech/language. 

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2 hours ago, Ktgrok said:

Work on relationship, work on explaining things in every day life, use VERY simple picture books for toddlers, etc. And work on speech/language. 

Explaining out loud and thinking out loud to the point you feel like a lunatic can be really helpful. 

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