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Grammar ideas for teenager I'll be helping who may be ASD and is basically raised by her sister . . .


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Hi all, 

A little background on this tough situation. The seventeen-year-old, E., is, in a way, being raised by her older sister, J., who is a young friend of mine. The seventeen-year-old, whom I know much less well, has some language issues and some social issues. I and some others suspect she may be on the spectrum. The parents are relatively unengaged and the older sister doesn't have a ton of resources. The older sister raised herself, in a way . . . figured out how to get into and pay for college, first in her family to go, etc. Challenging situation. Older sister J. has done a great job with seventeen year old E. but needs help herself taking it further. 

E. presents as shy and as younger than her age. Sometimes doesn't look at people but will if she trusts them more. Speaks very simply. Has interests that she introduces readily into conversation--her ferret. She likes to draw anime. She has few friends except older adults that her sister J. has introduced her to at our church. J. has noticed E. sometimes mixes up her verb tenses. 

In some ways it's almost an ESL situation but not in the way you'd expect. The Mom is Spanish-speaking but speaks English at home, and her English, says J., is limited. Also, E. has little social contact at school, and seems not to have picked up the verb tenses from hearing fluent English speakers. It's almost as if English isn't her first language, even though it is.

J. told me about all this. I wrote a Latin program, and I've also tutored for the verbal portion of the SAT. So I love language, reading, and grammar, but this is a different teaching situation. E. needs work with correct formation of English verb tenses and probably with reading comprehension. 

I think she will need more repetition, review and reinforcement than someone her age ordinarily would, so anything I choose for them needs to be paced with that in mind. 

I wondered if anyone could point me towards some good programs to evaluate. 

E. is given special supplementary instruction at school so I guess that means she has an I.E.P., but I know nothing about what it says. Also, if she is high-functioning ASD, I doubt anyone has determined that definitively or told her that yet. The day may need to come, but first I'd like to work with her with some programs that don't say "Autism" or "ASD" on the front cover . . . so that's a factor as well.

Thank you so much for any input! 



 

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Winston Grammar? 

That would be a "typical" curriculum that is multi-sensory and flexible. 

To be honest, I think that you're going to find she needs actual language therapy vs. grammar work. Stuff an SLP would do (but that doesn't mean you couldn't pick it up and do it too). @PeterPan will likely have great resources--there are some threads where she's spelled out detailed language resources.

I can recommend language resources for narrative language (also often an issue with ASD), but that won't get at verb tenses and such. I'll mention it though because it would help with reading comprehension, problem-solving, and lots of other things though (products from Mindwing Concepts--Thememaker is one place to start). 

 

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Thanks, kbutton! I will check out Winston. I also appreciate the point about actual language therapy. Your vote of confidence on that front is very kind :-) I confess, I feel the enormity of this family's needs and my lack of very specific training, though I spent happy time volunteering in a special ed class years ago and seemed to have some instincts. I just know those can only get you so far . . . 

I will look forward to seeing if PeterPan replies and will also search in prior posts of hers. 

I will check out the resources you mention on narrative language as well. Thank you again!

 

Edited by Classical Katharine
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7 hours ago, Classical Katharine said:

E. needs work with correct formation of English verb tenses and probably with reading comprehension. 

Has "E" asked you to work on these things with her, or are they your thoughts on what would be valuable? I doubt that's what her school IEP team is targeting, nor are they likely the most important things for her longterm outcome. 

https://www.ocali.org/project/tg_aata/page/elsa_documents  This is the ELSA, a checklist they use to look for basic employability/life skills.

https://mindwingconcepts.com/pages/methodology  This page has an overview of narrative language with a chart showing how both narrative and expository language develop and what the components are. Her grammatical development is likely directly connected to her narrative language, and her narrative language is MUCH more important than bits of grammar. You could do grammar all day and not change her life, but working on things that affect her core disabilities like narrative language development will. Odds are the school IEP team did not get enough *time* to work on this, and it affects ALL areas of academics. If you can only do ONE THING this would probably be it, especially since it's in your wheelhouse of language arts.

http://www.e4thai.com/e4e/images/pdf2/100_vocabulary_primary.pdf This is just informational for you. It's not necessarily at her level, but it shows you some of the types of language holes she might have. These skills directly lead into "grammar" for attributes=adjectives, functions=verbs, class=nouns, and so on. People on the spectrum also have issues with metalinguistics, the more advanced skills like idioms, inferencing, thinking about language. 

It is possible or even probably that there is also some ID=intellectual disability. I would probably think very realistically, focusing on long term, what makes her more employable, what helps her with where she's going. The ability to self advocate, use narrative language, etc. is part of that. That's why I linked you the ELSA.

https://www.kelly-mahler.com/what-is-interoception/  If you really want to blow things out of the water, try bringing in work on interoception. It actually ties back to narrative language because *emotional* awareness of yourself and others is part of narrative language development. It affects reading comprehension (understanding what the characters are feeling and how you would feel in that situation), self-regulation for employment, etc. It would cost you money, but it would be an amazing thing to make happen. It would make a radical difference for her as a *person*.

I'm just throwing things out there. I don't know what is most important for this dc, but I think you can ASK HER what she would like help with. Not leading, but just really letting her talk about what her concerns are. Then you can see how her concerns tie back to things you could help with. I just think doing grammar exercises will be the least valuable thing I could think of. The issues could be there for any number of reasons, including auditory processing, and if they were pervasive the school probably would have already made goals. So she's able to get by in some fashion, which means that issue doesn't affect employability. So then look for what *does* affect employability and her long term ability to self advocate and have a good outcome.

7 hours ago, Classical Katharine said:

Also, if she is high-functioning ASD, I doubt anyone has determined that definitively or told her that yet.

A couple things on that. One, last I knew, "high functioning" was a discriminatory, outdated term based on IQ. It's very possible this dc has somewhat of an affected IQ, which by definition means she's not "high functioning". But I wouldn't use that term anyway, as it's very outdated. The more interesting question is whether *she* has noticed that she's different or masks. She may already have a sense of that and not have words for it. She might find it interesting to read about women on the spectrum, or you might find it interesting to read a book like Pretending to be Normal and share relevant tidbits with her. You could see if your library has books like All Dogs have ADHD, All Cats have Aspergers, etc. You are correct women are often diagnosed later because of their stronger language skills and ability to blend in and skate by. 

https://www.socialthinking.com/Articles?name=social-thinking-social-communication-profile  This article could be useful to you. The Social Thinking people have tons of great stuff, especially books for teens. Your library system may have them. She might find them interesting or you could work through them together as breaks between language work.

Just a tip, but you might use *videos* to work on language, inferencing, narrative language, emotions, whatever you decide you want to target. I have a link I shared a while back to go with Notice and Note fiction signposts, and it's FABULOUS for targeting all kinds of things. I can go get it if you want. I have it saved on ds' computer because we've been going through it. Dropping the language level, either with picture books or videos or even wordless books is such a strong strategy for situations like this. Lexile also controls for language, so that's another way to get to the target level, by checking lexile.

**I hope I'm not coming across really negative here. I'm just saying if you haven't worked with autism before, question your assumptions. Listen to her, really listen. The things that are most important probably aren't what you initially think and she might not have noticed the connectors between her issues. To best help her, you're wanting to look for roots and connectors. So self-awareness/interoception is a HUGE connector and foundational piece for so many things. It's something adults with autism go back and work on. It's literally life altering. You pair that and narrative work, and you have a more regulated person who can self-advocate on all levels, which makes them more employable. Under/unemployment in the autism community is radically high, irrespective of IQ. It is the big win, the big goal.

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So what I really like about the ferret thing is that SHE'S TALKING. That's fabulous! Someone has clearly connected for her that if she talks, people will care. I'm paying someone to do that with my ds right now, so I see that and think it's awesome. But you'd like the next steps, kwim? You'd like the self awareness and awareness of others to come. You'd like some social skills work. So that's back to that what is pivotal, what would help her take the next steps. 

https://www.aapcautismbooks.com/products/talk-with-me?_pos=10&_sid=cb2780669&_ss=r&variant=23029052670000 If you actually wanted to work on conversation, you could do this. But again, I'm just really curious what the dc has on her mind as being issues. If someone is being bullied or feels lonely or having trouble advocating for mental health, those are big issues. She probably cares about them more than commas.

https://www.proedinc.com/Products/31609/handbook-of-exercises-for-language-processing-help-for-grammar.aspx This might be the right level for her. I used it with my ds and liked it a lot. 

Edited by PeterPan
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12 minutes ago, Classical Katharine said:

I feel the enormity of this family's needs

Stop thinking of it that way. You need to think in terms of how you can help this dc connect with HER RESOURCES to solve HER PROBLEM. She has a problem, yes, but she is not without resources. 

And I'm not being harsh there. I'm telling you the first thing they'd say in a counseling session, first thing a behaviorist or psych or any professional would say. Your life, Your problem, what are YOU going to do about it? 

There is no blameshifting, nothing. She's 17, she has to step up and think about her resources and use them. THAT is something you can teach her to do. It's a big win.

Edited by PeterPan
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PeterPan, thank you so much for this gold mine of thoughts. 

It's J. who made the observations about verb tenses. She previously noticed E. hardly talked when they would ride to church, though she enjoys going, so she encouraged her to converse, and E. now actually is more outgoing. Another family involved in her life have suggested books and while she doesn't read for pleasure on her own, she will read suggested books and converse about them with this family. So J. and others have good instincts and big hearts, and I'm sure your point and KButton's about narrative ability is spot-on.

Interestingly, E. reports enjoying the sermons (not needlessly complex in language but probably a good forty minutes on average), and she is receiving catechism lessons from the other family I mentioned. J. also has mentioned that E. at times has poor comprehension, and other times surprises you with her retention or insight. I do wonder about auditory processing. 

As for what E. herself is aware of, I know she would like to make friends her own age. So she is aware of that need. She is also enjoying learning about God. And she would like to be an animator as a vocation. At this point I do not know whether that is achievable, but my mind is open. Her current age means she is hearing people talk about going to college and about the SAT, and her sister went to college, so she has that aspiration and initially spoke with me about preparing for the SAT. Her PSATs are around 670 (combined math and verbal) and from recent experience with the SAT, no slouch of a test, I feel sure the SAT is not where we need to begin. So I already am going to have to let her down gently on that front while not discouraging her--and find out what she really feels the need to learn while letting her know we aren't ready for the SAT yet. I am going to study the resources you've linked to as it may give me some very concrete ways to explore skills and goals with her. 

Thank you for the correction about the term "high functioning." I was trying to avoid another term, beginning with "a," "s," and "p," which I was told by a Canadian family member in psychiatry can no longer be used--but I gather many still like the term! I am not sure what to do :-) Your point also about it being in fact likely inaccurate here is also well taken. 

The self-awareness / interoception matter is hugely interesting to me for a number of reasons and I can see how it could indeed be key to understanding people, situations, literature . . . 

Last, yes, I'd love the link you mentioned you could find for me to the kind of material you are using with your daughter--ETA, the Notice and Note material. (Something you wrote?)

Thank you so much again!
 

Edited by Classical Katharine
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Peter Pan, thanks again. Yes, I fully agree she is going to need to take responsibility. Motivation and diligence are two areas J. has already noticed are issues in E's life. Examples of initiative are lacking at home--I won't elaborate--but E. will need to own this situation. I do not at all plan to do all the lifting here because one cannot carry someone else through life, and I won't help in an ongoing way unless she invests as she needs to in the parts only she can do. 

At the same time, I have work to do here, if I'm going to help, that I wasn't planning a month ago to be doing at all . . . fitting it in . . . desiring to be helpful and not to misdirect this dc and her older sister . . . not having the expertise in this that you have acquired. 

The older sister and my husband and I are believers and will need God's help.

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  • Classical Katharine changed the title to Grammar ideas for teenager I'll be helping who may be ASD and is basically raised by her sister . . .
12 hours ago, Classical Katharine said:

So I already am going to have to let her down gently on that front while not discouraging her--and find out what she really feels the need to learn while letting her know we aren't ready for the SAT yet.

What are her resources or other options that *would* work? Are you in Canada or the US? Does she have technical/vocational schools that would offer programs that could work for her? Do they have career testing offices?

In the US we have county level boards of disabilities to offer services (including transition) to people who qualify. She probably doesn't qualify. However there are other transition services probably offered by your state. She's not going to know how to find them, but you can find them and help her realize how to reach out for that. 

I think her animation and art ability is WONDERFUL and you want to find ways to help her run with that. For some people, it's a nice add on for another profession! For instance, she might enjoy working daycare/early child learning, where she could bring in her art skills. She could look for certificate programs that would help her get job experiences in a variety of fields to see what her strengths are and what she might enjoy doing. She could get certified in first aid and babysitting to explore whether she enjoys working with kids. I knew someone who worked at a small grocery that used blackboards and let the person do their art on the blackboards for the specials of the day. There are more ways her art skills could be used and a transition coordinator or career counselor is going to help her try to find this. If the state has a dual enrollment program or vo-tech school, she may need to connect with them or enroll to get that career counseling.

12 hours ago, Classical Katharine said:

initiative are lacking at home

What you're describing is going to be called "executive function" so that's something you can read about. Ironically, sometimes working on cognitive therapies or things that stimulate the front part of the brain can boost EF and get carryover to real life. So playing vision/memory games (games!!) could improve her ability to clean her room. Teaching her about EF and strategies like chunking will apply whether it's her bedroom or her academics. Helping her with Interoception (which I told you is probably the single most foundational thing you could do with a person on the spectrum) would help her realize how she's feeling and WHY she's having trouble accomplishing her tasks and WHAT she needs to do to feel better and be able to do them. She may be having trouble with anxiety and she doesn't realize it to self advocate. She can't self advocate for her mental health (to get ADHD meds, anxiety meds, use strategies, whatever) if she doesn't realize how she feels.

So it is taking responsibility, yes, but our goal is to fill in the skill holes that allow her to do that. 

So for each thing that isn't happening, you want to ask WHAT SKILL IS MISSING that is holding her back from doing that?

That will get you a long way. Zero guilt, zero negative. Just filling in skill holes. There's the idea "If the child could, he would. Children enjoy doing what they can do well." So when she's not cleaning her room, not self advocating, not accomplishing tasks, you want to know what is holding her back, what skills are missing. If she could do those things and do them easily, she probably would. It's part of why I'm so adamant about interoception, because it's SO foundational. If you don't realize how you feel, you can't tell why you're doing something to solve the problem. 

With interoception work, I began going to the doctor again, started thyroid meds, got PT for longstanding problems, did stuff to decorate my house (because I finally knew what I liked), took up hobbies, could self advocate for my mental health, could feel the emotions associated with cleaning to realize what I needed to be able to do basic tasks like cleaning, on and on. Self awareness really is the most foundational piece. Without that, everyone else is telling you what your problem is or what you feel or what you need to do to do better. It's why people on the spectrum are so easily bullied. 

Trying to think of some good resources for EF. There are some good books on amazon, things like That Crumpled Paper was My Homework. 360Thinking has some great stuff and sometimes does free webinars. 

Ok, I'll toss this out. It costs money for the interoception curriculum, but you can literally do the first 16 lessons (phase one, the big part) in 8 sessions. So we're not talking a huge commitment, kwim? And it would radically affect her ability to relate to people, to understand where they're coming from, to self monitor in conversations, etc. That takes time, lol. But it would come together. 

There's the idea of joint attention. RDI has materials on this. But it's another thing you can work on, just doing things with her using nonverbals and waiting for that eye contact. So I suggested playing games to work on EF. The games will involve turn taking and you can wait for that eye contact and nonverbal to keep the game going. So then you're hitting multiple goals at once. You can play games to work on narrative language, so then you're working on narrative language AND her EF AND building her nonverbals! This is how therapists work, finding one pleasurable task that builds a bunch of targets in. Jim Taylor, a Scottish BCBA, tells a story about working with a repeat offender (felon) whom the gov't wanted him to help keep out of jail. Jim was only being paid for 8 sessions, so what did he do? He played chess. And that got them so much conversation going that the guy worked through his issues and is out of jail.

She likes to draw? You could draw together. Haha I can't draw. But can you connect that somehow, like games or activities that involve drawing that allow you to work on the targets of narrative language, nonverbals, and building working memory/EF? So in a session, you could do 15 minutes on interoception, 5 minutes reading together the next session from a social skills book, 10 minutes on a game, 5 minutes on an editing workbook that uses fun drawings to illustrate the meanings, etc.

Edited by PeterPan
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https://onionhead.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/A-Z-of-Facing-Feelings2-2.pdf  Free resource on emotions to follow up the interoception work should you choose to do it.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/155Jba91zgHW6V-nXt46sAg1utbsNd0C82yQwNwWsV48/edit  Notice and Note Signposts with videos. You can google for fuller explanations of the signposts, but they're nothing too rocket sciency.

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PeterPan, thanks again! 

BTW I was away from the forum when they changed the format and I've forgotten how to tag someone, and couldn't find a tutorial. If you or anyone else would like to remind me, I'd be grateful. 

Your additional thoughts are a big help. 

We are in New Jersey. NJ has good community colleges and J., the older sister, did a 2-year degree at one before finishing a four-year degree elsewhere. Possibly an associate's for E. will make sense at a CC. They seem to have good career guidance and they offer remedial instruction as needed. But we have a lot of vocational schools too. 

E. does enjoy children. She told me once she'd like to get a job at a Toys R Us. She remembers going there, but it's been a long time, she said. She would enjoy seeing what's new and showing it to children. I totally agree that if she can't (we don't know yet, but if it turns out she can't) do animation, she can find a way to use that art love (and maybe that children-connection) as part of a satisfying life. You gave some great ideas. 

Thank you for sharing what has been helpful to you personally, BTW. I admire what you've learned and done for yourself and for your children. Thank you for sharing so generously with others here, including, now, me and my friends I am seeking to help.



 

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28 minutes ago, Classical Katharine said:

forgotten how to tag someone

Option one, quote them. You can highlight their text and it will give you the option to quote that portion.

Option two, use @. Ok, now I'm befuddled. I guess ask on Chat and report back when you find out. :biggrin:

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1 hour ago, PeterPan said:

There are more ways her art skills could be used and a transition coordinator or career counselor is going to help her try to find this. If the state has a dual enrollment program or vo-tech school, she may need to connect with them or enroll to get that career counseling.

Since you are in the US, you might also want to know that students with an IEP are entitled to an education until they turn 22. Does she need to exercise this? Maybe or maybe not, but you should know that she has a right to defer her diploma in order to take advantage of whatever she needs to become employable. I've know a student with autism that tried a vocational program, for example, but didn't have the interpersonal skills needed even though he had the technical skills, so then that student deferred his diploma and went through another technical program that worked better for him, and ended up with an internship/job at the end. In our area, vocational schools partner with community colleges and technical schools to earn credit during high school towards degree programs, so this can be a big deal.

Depending on what she qualifies for, there are also robust job coaching programs in some places that teach some of the interpersonal and job skills outright. Other schools have programs where you can try different jobs for 4-6 weeks at a time--childcare aide, healthcare aide, all kinds of things. They work on resumes and job skills in those classes too.

So, staying in school longer doesn't have to be about academics--it can be for free career training, but if an interested adult doesn't know about these options, the school will often put forth only the minimum information. It sometimes literally counts against a school's graduation rate for a student with an IEP to graduate late. Some districts use this to fight against doing the right thing; most districts will take an approach of making the student's family figure it out; a few schools are pro-active and willing to put all the options on the table (usually ones whose rating is not stellar, and won't "suffer" when students exercise the option).

I agree with Peter Pan about how the foundational pieces of all of this contribute to making her better able to use the opportunities that come her way.

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Super Duper Inc has verbs bingo 50% off this week. But really, I doubt this teen needs this. Odds are she's making the errors because when she gets in conversation her working memory and processing speed get maxed out. If you gave her the sentence in isolation, she'd probably get it right.

https://www.superduperinc.com/products/view.aspx?pid=BGO444&mobile=true&criteria=BGO444&utm_source=Super+Speedy&utm_campaign=3b6ef45a75-201210-SWDeal+Say+%26+Do+Verbs+Bingo#.X9Jlfy3Mw6c

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7 minutes ago, kbutton said:

So, staying in school longer doesn't have to be about academics--it can be for free career training, but if an interested adult doesn't know about these options, the school will often put forth only the minimum information.

YES!! And she has the legal right to attend her own IEP meetings. She probably even has the right to *request* evals if she has not had them. If she's legally a member of the IEP team, seems to me she has that right.

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Kbutton and PeterPan, this is great . . . I had wondered about whether she could take longer to get through Community College. I had also wondered who besides parents could get access to the IEP info and talk to teachers. I wouldn't push myself forward for that, but older sister J. did try and got some access, because mother wasn't taking calls from school. If she knows how much more might be available for E., or if E. herself could get the info, that could be empowering.

I also LOVE the info about the internships and other things. This is going to generate so many conversations. 
 

Trying this again. I tried the @ trick before and it didn't work for me. Maybe I did it at the beginning of a sentence and it didn't work? So, @kbutton and @PeterPan--yesss! It can't be at the beginning of a sentence. A field pops up, click, done. 

@Peter Pan let's see yup, doesn't work at beginning of sentence. Confirmed. Thanks, both of you, so much!

P.S. @kbutton Sis J. learned that younger sis E. was doing only half the page of homework. Asked E. Was told that was all she had to do. J. asked the study group teacher. Was told that was what the main classroom teacher had said . . .  that the instructions come from that person. J. wondered if it was really good for E. to only do half? I guess that depends on how long it would truly take her to do the whole? If it would take her longer but not absurdly longer to do it all, does it really benefit her to do only half and so be taught the world will always accommodate . . . when it may not always accommodate? Large topic, I know, but I think of it in connection with being the squeaky wheel. What exactly E. and J. would / should squeak for if they go full squeak . . . 

 

Edited by Classical Katharine
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Found this for NJ. E. turns 18 in May. So if she has an IEP, and even in the event that parents won't help, she can request all services on her own in time to draw out high school if needed . . . 

https://edlawcenter.org/assets/files/pdfs/publications/Rights_SpecialEducation_Guide TL.pdf

 

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3 hours ago, Classical Katharine said:

P.S. @kbutton Sis J. learned that younger sis E. was doing only half the page of homework. Asked E. Was told that was all she had to do. J. asked the study group teacher. Was told that was what the main classroom teacher had said . . .  that the instructions come from that person. J. wondered if it was really good for E. to only do half? I guess that depends on how long it would truly take her to do the whole? If it would take her longer but not absurdly longer to do it all, does it really benefit her to do only half and so be taught the world will always accommodate . . . when it may not always accommodate? Large topic, I know, but I think of it in connection with being the squeaky wheel. What exactly E. and J. would / should squeak for if they go full squeak . . . 

 

Those are good questions, but there are all kinds of placements and reasons for doing half the homework. It can be time, anxiety, or many other issues. The type of classroom makes a difference--is it a full-on college prep classroom? Is it a pullout class? A mix? A typical class with aide support?

I don't know who the student (vs. the parents) can invite to an IEP meeting, but basically, the parents could invite the sister. Once E is 18, then she can invite her sister for sure.

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Hi, @kbutton I think she is in at least some that sound like pullout based on what J. told me.  Good points about the reasons . . . we just don't know them yet.

The Mom has been uninvolved but possibly J. could change that and get herself invited. 

Birthday in May and E. is still a junior--it's late but she can get what she needs for four more years at that point. It has been SO helpful what you both have shared. So, so helpful! 

Thanks!

 

Edited by Classical Katharine
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5 hours ago, Classical Katharine said:

J. wondered if it was really good for E. to only do half?

So J with anxiety is going to question the instructions from a teacher who has a master's degree who works with E every day and knows how she's doing and the full situation? No, doing a full page might not be in E's best interest. If E has low processing speed, then that extra work might be counterproductive. The IEP may say reduced work as an appropriate accommodation for E's disabilities. J needs that burden of guilt and decision making taken away from her shoulders. Let the teachers be the teachers and let the sisters be sisters. Help J find her role and let the teachers do their role. THAT is healthy. Even if it's not perfect, it will be better.

5 hours ago, Classical Katharine said:

so be taught the world will always accommodate . . .

I don't think J has quite a lot of experience with the world yet. My dd, who had an exceptionally high ACT score btw and top scholarships, had a reduced course load as part of her accommodations. So in college, she was able to keep that load low to keep it workable. Whatever disabilities E has are going to be with her and she's going to make choices like that, reducing her load, keeping the pace of the work appropriate, etc. I'm not sure that "the world doesn't care" is the lesson you want. This is a very volatile age. I would be more inclined to keep good mental health, keep it positive, and let whoever helps her with transition sort out what that looks like in the work place. 

2 hours ago, Classical Katharine said:

So if she has an IEP, and even in the event that parents won't help, she can request all services on her own in time to draw out high school if needed . . . 

Yes, this is the kind of help she needs!! She can be asking for evals. She can even FILE A DISPUTE if the evals are not thorough and use that to get private evals. 

1 hour ago, Classical Katharine said:

The Mom has been uninvolved

To me that screams spectrum and anxiety. So I think you want to remember that J (and possibly E) are going to be affected by anxiety as well. Keep it calm, keep it positive. She will be FINE and no one should be making decisions based on fear or anxiety.

 

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@PeterPan

I'm going to wear out the "thank-you key." Thank you. 

Yes, we did wonder since ASD can run in families whether the Mom might be on the spectrum herself. J. is energized by social contact and while she is a bit of a planner and a worrier, isn't strongly marked by those. Maybe she carries more of than I realize, though. 

I do think J. feels a relief at older adults stepping in to help her help her sister. She has had too many responsibilities here. That's one reason I'm willing to help. It shouldn't all be on her. But E. loves their time together and likes being helped by J. to understand things. She trusts her and they enjoy one another. I don't think all of that has to end but I see your point about how J. maybe can rest more in what the trained adults are doing. I think possibly the problem has been the trained adults haven't been doing all they could be doing b/c the Mom hasn't been requesting it. If we can move into a situation where the trained adults are doing all E. needs them to do then I think it will be easier for J. to relax that it's enough. Maybe the "one side of a page" matter isn't central--maybe that's a "red herring," doesn't mean what it seems to mean--but bigger things may have been so far unrequested. J. may be right that it doesn't feel like things are being taken care of, YET. So, a puzzle, but the landscape is becoming plainer. 

TY for the comment about how if the evals aren't thorough E. will be able to appeal and get private evals. J. paid out of her own pocket at one point for speech eval. for her sister so that shows you that the full range of services was not being accessed. Of course J. is a hero--it's not supposed to be her job to know all this . . . 

I'm eager to SEE the transition plan. At this point I'm not sure E. or J. has seen it so it's hard to have confidence in the path that's been marked out, YET. 



 

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26 minutes ago, Classical Katharine said:

J. paid out of her own pocket at one point for speech eval. for her sister so that shows you that the full range of services was not being accessed.

Oh my. And the sad thing is, unless the person specialized in expressive language in teens with autism, they probably didn't run what needs to be run. Odds are the dc has never had those tests. It's just the reality of the system that stuff does not get one.

If you can get a copy of what was done, we can help you interpret it. 

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This is a tricky situation, and I'm glad that the girls have a friend in you, to offer some advice. One thing I will add is that they might consider hiring an IEP parent advocate to help them with the IEP part of this. I put the word "parent" in there, because that's the phrase to research, but it wouldn't need to be the parent who would hire them. An advocate knows how IEPs and school systems work and can speak for E at the IEP meetings and help determine things that the school can/should be doing.

We hired an advocate to help with my son's IEP this fall, and even though we are highly educated and involved parents, the advocate has really helped us, so I think they would be a valuable asset in this situation.

They may be able to find an advocate who would work pro bono or at a reduced rate. Our advocate charges $100 per hour.

You can google parent advocates to help find one in their area. Their school should also be able to give them names of advocates who have worked for their school, but they would have to ask.

The school is likely wishing that a parent would be more involved in this situation and may welcome the older sister taking a more active role. It may be worth the older sister finding out who is the case manager for her sister's IEP and reaching out to them via email to get a copy of the documents and offer her help. If the older sister is willing, she could look into getting an educational power of attorney https://legalbeagle.com/6461464-power-attorney-educational-purposes.html

Or if you would be willing to step into the POA role, there is not a reason that the POA would need to be a relative. You (or they) would need to research what is possible in your state, as state laws very, and may need to find an attorney to help with this. You could google "special education attorney" and try to find someone in your state who would do pro bono work or reduce their fees. Special education attorneys will have a heart for helping students in need, so the older sister might be able to get legal guidance at a lower cost.

Is the older sister still in college, or has she graduated? It's hard for her to take on responsibility for her younger sibling, I'm sure, but the more involved she can be, the brighter the future will be for the younger sister, I think. In the years to come, there will be more hurdles, other than school, to deal with, and there should be state and local resources to tap into for job training, etc., but someone will need to take the lead on figuring things out, and it's not always easy. I'm glad that the older sister has been willing to ask you questions.

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Thanks, @Storygirl, for the encouragement and the great information. I didn't know about IEP advocates and it is good to know. It may well be worth a consultation with one at some point in this process.

Good news though--I think older Sis is stepping up at exactly the right time. I've shared with her what I've learned here, and it turns out that a meeting for this coming week was already in the works. Phew, I'm glad she found that out. And yes, you are right, they do welcome her involvement.

I explained what an IEP is, said from the sounds of it E. probably already has one, shared the NJ document explaining the process and the parents' rights. (https://edlawcenter.org/assets/files/pdfs/publications/Rights_SpecialEducation_Guide TL.pdf -- a tip here led me to it.)

Older Sis J. is planning to attend that meeting with her Mom. Her Mom's language skills and cultural background have (J. told me) left Mom not knowing what to ask for or how. J. is willing to be the asker. It happens that she did actually call the case manager today to better understand the purpose of the upcoming meeting.  She was told it is to determine "whether E. is still eligible for services." Gulp! "Whether"? J.'s view is that E. hasn't received enough services. But the case worker is sending the I.E.P. to J. Monday and we will be able to see it and share questions about it with you all here--since @PeterPan said she'd help interpret if need be. 

So I'm guessing the school is at the point where financially they might like to declare success or case closed and that J. will need to supply more information and ask questions to seek to get E. more help. Does that ring true? That the school might have that conflict of interest financially? And that J. will need to question whether the goals in the IEP have been met or to suggest that not all needed goals are included in it? 

One other wrinkle. The Mom is Spanish speaking and the young ladies have a Spanish last name. E. was placed in ESL class in grade school BUT SPANISH IS NOT SPOKEN AT HOME. Sorry about the all caps, but you can probably guess why they are there. E,. must have been lost in ESL class! I assume ESL is fantastic if you are, in fact, fluent in a language other than English. Great! English grammar can be explained in your native tongue. But if you don't speak Spanish? Maybe some of her verb tense problems can be traced to that right there. Perhaps I'm misunderstanding what would have been done for E. in ESL class, but this sounds like a seminal mistake, years ago, still affecting E. I would think the school district would owe it to her to try to fix that . . . 

Thank you also for the info about education powers of attorney. I didn't know either and hadn't realized that would be an option. I knew at 18 E. could speak for herself (in NJ, anyway, where we are). She turns 18 in May. Would she be able to involve J. at any level she wants to once she turns 18 even without J. being named in a POA? 

The older sister J. has graduated. She is employed full-time but still getting additional training to move into her preferred field. 

I'm thankful, too, that she asked for help. This will be a team effort, from E. to others. Too much for one sister to bear. Thanks again for the helpful input!






 

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The way that IEPs work is that there is an automatic re-evaluation every three years to reassess the student's skills and determine how the IEP needs to be adjusted, or whether the student still needs IEP services. It sounds to me like this is what is happening. But there are several steps to this. First, they run new testing, then they have a meeting to discuss the results.

Does the sister know whether they have run the updated testing yet? This meeting could be to determine what tests should be run, or it could be to go over the results, if the evaluations have already been completed.

The other option, if it is not the tri-annual review, is that it is an annual IEP review. This is required to take place once per year, and it could be possible for the IEP team at any time to determine that an IEP is no longer needed, because the student is now on track.

One thing that the family should know is that legally, the family/parents are equal members of the IEP team. It's not just that the family is invited to the meeting to hear what the school has decided, but the family has a SAY in the decisions that are make about interventions and what class she should be placed in, and so on. I think it's possible that the mother has not understood this and has not played a role in decisions but has just let the school determine everything??? I think it is good for the sister to be willing to be the vocal representative for the family.

The sister should try to get copies of all previous IEPs and evaluations and review them before the meeting. Not just the one they will be discussing this time, but the ones from previous years. If the mother does not have them in a file, the sister can ask the case manager to send them to her via email. The sister just needs to have the background information and understand what has been done so far, in order to be able to ask questions and help the team make decisions about what should happen next.

Once the student is 18, she will be the one who legally signs the IEP and agrees to the educational decisions, but she can consult with whomever she wants, and she can invite people to attend the meeting with her, so the sister should still have a say, as long as the student agrees to that. It just becomes complicated if the student is not able to understand well enough to be part of making good decisions (which may be the case, here), or if the student would want to reject help and refuse to agree to things, in which case someone else might need to be the legal representative, in order to make sure that important interventions keep happening.

Hopefully the student is willing to engage with whatever help the school provides, because at her age, she can also refuse to participate in interventions. You've mentioned a lot about what the older sister wants, but what about the student herself? Is she agreeable to having things change, if her sister advocates for new levels of help?

The placement in the ESL class sounds like it was a poor one, and I bet it was from assumptions on the school's part about the student's home life and background that were never corrected by the mother. Not to blame the mom; it sounds like she has not been able to be an informed advocate for her girls at school, but it's really hard to know how to do that. It's hard for me, oftentimes, and I am super invested in researching and figuring things out.

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6 hours ago, Classical Katharine said:

She was told it is to determine "whether E. is still eligible for services.

You need to read about the IEP process. Every 3 years they review, redo evals, and decide whether the dc continues to be eligible for services. The school is not going to go by a diagnosis but will want data. If they don't run the tests, there's no data requiring them to do the intervention. It's kind of a circle they set up. They'll do some screener test, say she's fine by their data, move on. Or they may continue to qualify her. It can be quite stressful. They also need to realize their legal rights. 

 

6 hours ago, Classical Katharine said:

Mom is Spanish speaking

Ok, then let's back up. What is her right to have an interpreter there?

 

6 hours ago, Classical Katharine said:

Perhaps I'm misunderstanding what would have been done for E. in ESL class, but this sounds like a seminal mistake, years ago, still affecting E.

No, that doesn't seem logical. What else would the mom have spoken to this dc up until school age if she doesn't speak english and only speaks spanish?? Of course she spoke spanish to her. And no, an ESL class would not be in spanish or through spanish or whatever. I have friends who are russian who speak passable english but their kids were given ESL services. Iirc they may have been done by the reading specialist. That person certainly did not know russian, lol.

Up until a dc is about 8, you can throw them into a new language situation and they'll usually pick it up to native level without much trouble. Whatever is going on has deeper issues that are specific to E and aren't because of the ESL thing. Language issues are super, super common in autism. They're part of the legal definition of autism in our state, meaning to qualify through the schools and have autism as your disabling condition, you have to show "significant effect" on verbal, nonverbal, and social, which means test scores showing them "failing" a language test. 

So don't blame the school. It's probably her. You can say she should have been identified or whatever, but the parents are kind of in their own zone here. I think let it sort out, let them get full information, let them see what they're dealing with. They do not have to sign. They should at least have a translator and a person provided by the school to help them understand what is going on.

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Hi @kbutton and @PeterPan and @Story girl, just hopping back in after computer woes. I will reply Monday in more detail . . . Hunting snd pecking on tablet right now . . . Very briefly, @PeterPan, Mom speaks some English, but not well, and J. reports Mom uses it at home. Maybe well-intentioned desire for E. to learn English. And @Storygirl, thanks much for the further IEP insights. I'll share with J. Good question , someone, about interpreter for Mom. Will ask J. if she is fluent enough in Spanish to do. She took in school I believe. So thank you again, all, very much. Many helpful insights!

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Hello, @Story girl @PeterPan @kbutton--we have the IEP! It took some persistence. 

Meeting will be tomorrow afternoon! J., E., Mom all attending. So, any feedback will be hugely appreciated. Thank you all so much.

E.'s Classification (s?)

E. is classified as "Communication Impaired." She's been in the special ed track since she was a young girl--since 2009 or so. At the end of this post I give her 2014 cognitive assessments, which are the most detailed ones I could find in the IEP. According to NJ definitions of impairment, I would have thought that based on her scores she would also be classified as at least mildly cognitively impaired, maybe moderately, so I don't know what it means that the IEP only lists "Communication Impaired."

She's currently in a pull-out English class and has been for the several years I have detailed info for. She was in pull-out for geometry last year. In algebra this year she has in-class extra help, and she's had in-class help for all her subjects other than English for the years I can see info on.

They report good grades, but I'm assuming that's good grades on the work as modified for her (see below). Her PSAT scores (her sister told me--I don't see them in the IEP) were around 310 English and 360 math. 

Native Language

The documentation reflects something interesting about her home language--in a few places her native language isn't listed at all--line is blank--in one place it says her native language is English but Spanish is spoken at home, which doesn't line up with what J. has told me. J. told me more the other day--when she was young, she had extensive exposure to Spanish from cousins her age. E. doesn't have cousins her age. Mom at first spoke Spanish at home but E. wasn't getting it, so Mom switched to English at home, but Mom's English is limited. J. also told me that in Mom's country of origin, civil unrest ended her own formal education early and she has a middle school education. Matters related to education are foreign to her. I asked J. if her own Spanish is strong enough to explain all this to Mom in Spanish and she said it is. I am not sure what the Mom's own verbal fluency is in Spanish. 

Speech Therapy

E. has had once-a-month speech and language therapy for the two years I can see. That doesn't sound like enough. But I just found in the document that she had it twice a week at one time--about six or seven years ago. Medicaid is involved in reimbursing the school for this and I don't know if that has capped the benefit.

Here are the general modifications they make for her:

Modifying the Presentation of Materials
Break assignment into segments of shorter tasks
Use concrete examples of concepts before teaching the abstract
Reduce the number of concepts presented at one time
Monitor the student's comprehension of language used during instruction
Provide due date on written assignments
Frequently check on progress of independent work


Modifying Test
Modify the content of the test
Allow students to make corrections on returned tests for additional credit
Retake failed tests using alternative strategies
Modify test format
Add Extend time of test as needed


Class Work Curricular Procedures
Modify reading assignments
Modify writing requirements
Allow additional time to complete work

There are also specific modifications spelled out for her Special Ed settings and for her math instruction, which I can copy here if that would help. She has text-to-speech accommodation and calculator and others for math. 

She is only just now being helped to "construct paragraphs" and write a brief essay.

I can't tell what their plans are for standardized testing--they list the tests including SAT, Accuplacer, etc. but don't spell out that I can see what they think she could or should be preparing for, or how. (Here in NJ at least the Accuplacer, also from the College Board, is used to determine correct course placement for Community College, and the CC elder Sis went to doesn't actually require the SAT--they just place you based on your Accuplacer results--I can describe that test if needed.)

Their records show clear gaps in the interface with Mom--they tried four times to get social survey questions answered by Mom, to no avail; elder sister J. is now filling in valuable info for them about how she, for instance, had help from their father, but he was out of the picture (sigh) by the time E. was in school. Etc. 

Under "classroom performance,"  the entire column for Math is blank. The rest of the subjects mostly have "X's" which appear to mean satisfactory (I can infer that b/c some of them relate to attitude etc. and elsewhere in the document they say she is delightful and cooperative.) So the blanks in Math puzzle me--maybe one teacher just didn't provide the assessment answers?--and as for English, the lines left blank include "able to take notes from verbally presented material," "have absences impacted performance," "difficulties with student have impacted instruction in your class," making me wonder what lies behind those. 

And, if she indeed has any difficulty taking notes from verbally presented materials, then why would it help her in Math to have text-to-speech? Maybe there's an explanation, but that interests me.

Vocational Guidance

They are aware of her desire to be an animator. They say she "may" be able to go to college and "may" be able to successfully the complete the work there. If she is only just now constructing paragraphs . . . are they on a timeline that will achieve readiness for her?

As for vocational guidance, so far it has seemed to consist of encouraging the family to explore summer job options (but that foundered this past summer b/c Mom would have had to provide transportation; I'm not aware if that was truly impossible for some reason, or what the explanation is; also not sure whether anyone explored bus transport; and of course the pandemic hasn't helped.) 

They view her as on track to graduate with her class and after that she is supposed to get some kind of vocational guidance through the Division of Vocational and Rehabilitation Services https://careerconnections.nj.gov/careerconnections/plan/foryou/disable/vocational_rehabilitation_services.shtml and a contact person is named; of course I am wondering whether the family can have contact with this person sooner than that! It also looks to me as if the family is supposed to apply for that service and I don't know whether they have made that initial application. I think J. would need to help with that . . . 

When optimal to graduate?

It seems the school is aiming for on-time graduation so if the family wants education to continue till 21 I guess they will need to advocate for that; and is E. better off if they do that, or better off graduating from HS on time and receiving remedial instruction in CC? My gut tells me there is more the HS could do for her, but my gut is a very untrained gut. How does J. and how do I go about figuring out which settting, extended HS or remedial help in CC, would be more effective for E.? 

Cognitive assessment

In 2014 she had a Woodcock-Johnson assessment and her total score was low (2.6), with subscores that ranged from 1.8 to 3.1.

Also in 2014: 

E.'s general intellectual functioning, as measured by the WISC-IV, falls within the Borderline range
(FSIQ = 70, 2nd percentile). Due to the variability between the composite scores that make up
the WISC-IV Full Scale IQ, this overall score should be interpreted with caution. She demonstrated a
relative strength in her ability to reason without words, falling in the Low Average range (PRI =
88, 21st percentile). E. demonstrated Extremely Low performances on tasks measuring her ability
to reason with words (VCI = 65, 1st percentile) and hold information in her head while performing a
mental manipulation (WMI = 68, 2nd percentile). She performed in the Borderline range on tasks
measuring her processing speed ability (PSI = 78, 7th percentile).

I don't see parallel information for 2017 and 2020 so I am puzzled by that--wouldn't these assessments be repeated triennually?

But meanwhile, in 2020, another family helping her have given her complete books to read and she has been reading them and answering questions from them with the family and with J. . . so she has definitely progressed. I'm sure the school's help has been valuable AND that all J. had done to bring E. into a more socially and intellectually rich environment has also helped . . . 

Any input on any aspect of this? J. attends the meeting tomorrow with E. and with their Mom. 

E. has only just realized (because of the extra help J. has been giving her, etc.) that not all kids are like her, that she has special challenges. She just crossed over that line of awareness. She is being kindly told by J. and others "this is not your fault" and in the end I think it will be better for her to know than not to know, but she's at a tender time. 

Thank you for your interest in J. and in E.! 

Edited by Classical Katharine
highlight and some reorganization
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I think that it will take private evals and going through the dispute process if you want to know whether autism is part of the diagnosis. You also could help them determine if she would qualify for services through your county board of disabilities. The school is legally required to ask about "adaptive living" skills, and she may have delays on those like she does in her awareness overall. 

Our state has a list of criteria, and communication disabilities is one of the 6-8 (I forget) you can tick for qualifying. So you tick say 3-4 and you qualify through the board of developmental disabilities. So that's information you can help them connect with. That would get services, money, transition services.

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Hi, @PeterPan, and thanks! I have seen references to the dispute process in the NJ documentation, but could I ask you to comment a bit more on why it might be needed here? Is that because the school seems intent on graduating her at age 18 and doesn't appear to have assessed her for ASD? What would the family be asking for under the dispute process? 

Is the idea behind getting a private ASD evaluation that the school might not come through with a sufficient evaluation for that possibility and yet E. will miss out on helpful services if she warrants the diagnosis and doesn't get it?

On her independent living skills, she presents well and is assessed as quite capable. She dresses herself, chooses appropriate clothes, does her homework, etc. BTW I also asked her older sister if E. speaks about her own emotions and understands emotions when they read books together, and J. said yes on both counts. That with someone she trusts, like J., E. will confide appropriately about feelings. 

Thanks! 

 

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https://careerconnections.nj.gov/careerconnections/plan/foryou/disable/students_with_disabilities.shtml

Here is a link to the student vocational rehabilitation program. She should definitely get enrolled in this, as it will help her prepare for employment. My DS16 participates in the one in our state, and I consider it really important for him. The family can self refer, but ask the school if they can make the connection for you.

Okay, it looks like this is the triennial evaluation year. I would expect that at this meeting, they will be presenting the results of any new testing they have done. They do not need to rerun all of the testing from 2014 -- the WISC is a kind of IQ test, and though the results can vary, schools can decide that having that baseline score is good enough. When you look at those scores for verbal reasoning, nonverbal reasoning, processing speed, and working memory (that one is the holding info in the head score), keep in mind that those represent areas of cognitive ability, and the FSIQ is what we we would call the IQ score. Although her scores are too widely spaced apart to give an accurate overall IQ, you can see that her language and working memory scores are running in the 60s, and her processing speed is 78. Although her nonverbal skills are at a low average score of 88. Though it's good that she has a comparatively higher nonverbal ability, my gut feeling is that the NV skills are not going to be strong enough to compensate for her other weaknesses. So, even though the report says that the FSIQ cannot be considered accurate (this is because of rules about how they do the scoring; they are required to say it won't be accurate), I would guess that she is probably functioning around that IQ of 70. I pulled up the chart, below, which shows that an IQ of 70 or below can be an indicator of intellectual disability. Because she is right on the line and has that higher nonverbal reasoning ability, I think that it would take someone with greater expertise than the school personnel to retest and determine whether she might be diagnosed with ID. Not to say that the school psych has done anything wrong, but that this is out of their area of expertise.

Although it will be tricky to discuss this with E in the room without possibly hurting her feelings, it's something for you to consider. To be frank, I think that the odds of her being able to manage community college courses will be slim, and that the school should acknowledge this. Not in a way of crushing her dreams, but because they need to have a realistic transition plan for her that involves preparing her for the workforce.

This is tricky, because the transition section of the IEP is to be the student's goals, whether they are realistic or not (we are having this same issue with my DS16).

Which is where the link that I put at the top of this post comes back into discussion. She should be receiving job training assistance from the state disability services, and I have no doubt that she would qualify. They will help her prepare first for entry level work by teaching general job skills with a job coach, and then they should help her take steps toward higher level work, as she reaches readiness for it. She doesn't have to not dream of being an animator, but she should be trained to work at a regular job that will give her a paycheck as a starting point.

 

https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-considered-a-low-iq-2795282

Families can ask for that testing to be redone. There should be updated testing that was run, leading up to this meeting, such as current academic achievement testing (such as the Woodcock Johnson)

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I would ask about vocational school. Does the local vocational school have a digital arts or design program, and has the school helped her look into it and consider applying? She may not be able to be accepted, if there is competition, but if she has animation as a goal, the IEP should include what they are doing to help her take steps toward that goal.

She should have the legal right to remain as a student until age 22, so that she could go to vocational school after her 12th grade year. She would have to agree to postpone getting her diploma.

Another thing to look into is whether she would be a candidate for Project Search (you can google this to see if there is a location in her area), which is a job training program that students can participate in after they complete 12th grade. It also means postponing getting the diploma, but it's like a year-long internship and sometimes can lead to a real job offer for some participants.

The school should know about Project Search, if it operates in the area.

If she postpones getting her diploma, the school will probably still let her participate in the graduation ceremony at the regular time (you can ask this).

Definitely, there should be job preparation activities listed in the transition section of the IEP, such as learning how to fill out a job application, making a resume, practicing interviewing, etc.

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Hopefully they will be presenting information about the testing that they have run before this meeting. Since the family has not be very involved, the school, honestly, may have done the minimum. You all should know that the family does NOT have to sign the IEP at this meeting. They can say that they want time to read and think it over. If it doesn't seem that they have updated any of the testing, the family can say that new evaluations must be run.

If they start out the meeting just talking about the IEP and do not start with going over what is sometimes called the Multi-Factored Evaluation (MFE) and sometimes is called the ETR -- whatever they call it, is the the results of any tests they have run........then please stop them and ask when was the last time they ran the evaluation testing. If they have not run anything new since 2017 or 2014 they should not be making decisions about the IEP yet. The evaluations come first.

There should be an actual evaluation report, separate from the IEP, if this is the triennial evaluation meeting. If there is no report, ask when the last report was completed. They must do it every three years (or more often, at request).

Sometimes schools will discuss the evaluation results from the report during the same meeting as the IEP. Sometimes they have one meeting one day and a follow up meeting for the IEP.

What you and the family needs to know for tomorrow is that you can ask any questions you want. The family are equal members of the IEP team, so it's not just a meeting for the school to tell them what has already been decided; the decisions are to be made at the meeting (though many times there will be a draft IEP document made ahead of time, and that's okay).

They don't have to sign the IEP tomorrow, if they don't understand it, believe it to be incomplete, or want to think about it.

If they do sign it, they can request a follow up IEP meeting to discuss new questions or concerns without waiting for the next yearly review.

To be honest, I think that unless you get to the meeting and find out that there is a surprisingly good plan in place, that it would be best not to sign this IEP and that the family should try to find a parent advocate who can help. Advocates know how to make good IEP documents, and right now, no one from the family does. Because she is so close to graduation, it's important to work things out this year.

Okay, I'll be blunt and say that some school personnel are hard to work with and treat parents like they are second class or even the enemy. It happens. But what I hope is that this school wants to help but has had such limited help from the family that they have just muddled along, making decisions they think will help. I hope they will be glad for the family's input and that the meeting will have a helpful tone.

She really needs to have updated language evaluations, if the last thing they did was from 2014, and that is something that you can make a primary goal for the meeting. I will say that my DS, who has autism and pragmatic language issues, gets about 20 minutes of speech therapy per week, and his overall language scores are much higher than E's. Not comparing, just saying....I don't think she is getting enough speech therapy in her IEP.

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Oh, our state has options for students who participate in the state vocational rehabilitation program but don't have transportation to their job training sites.

And, at DS's IEP meeting, they said that if he will not drive, they can work learning how to use public transportation into his IEP goal.

So transportation is an IEP issue and can be discussed at this meeting.

The accommodations listed (modifying the assignments, etc.) sound good to me. If there is a specific issue to address, things could be added, but what is in there already seems good.

You/the family can discuss her class placement -- whether she is in the right classes for her ability. I'm thinking that a pull-out class means a special ed class (also called the resource center sometimes). In-class help probably means she is in the gen ed classroom, but there is an extra intervention teacher in there. If the teachers report that she is doing well with the modified work, and if she seems to be learning, her class placement for each subject could be fine, unless she or the family thinks she needs a different level of instruction.

You/the family can ask what intervention she is receiving for the language issues. Not what class she is placed in, but what is an intervention specialist or speech therapist doing to work with her to improve the skills where she is low.

You don't list the actual IEP goals, but look at them carefully to see what they have her working on, and whether the goals are addressing her needs and helping her to improve.

All of this is complicated, and I hope that you find the school is willing to work to help the family understand things better.

Delaying graduation is a difficult decision. I would say that she should not just keep going to school after her senior year, if she is going to be in the same special education classes, going over the same lessons she is doing now. In my opinion, either she should graduate with her class and have the goal of starting work, or she should be signed up for a program that is different than her current school, such as vocational ed or Project Search.

I hate to come out and say this, but I suspect that she will not place high enough on the Accuplacer to take classes at the community college, except perhaps at the remedial level. There is a danger that she could take remedial classes at the CC indefinitely and never make progress toward a degree, because when high school material is too hard, it's not realistic to expect the student to be able to do college-level material. That's why I'm suggesting she have a goal of some kind of work after graduation. She could perhaps work toward some kind of computer and digital design certifications, which she may be able to do at a community college without attempting an actual associates degree.

It's not sufficient for the high school to say, oh she may be able to go to community college. If she wants to have taking CC classes as a goal, in her IEP, there should be in the transition section things like -- help the student research community college programs in animation. The school should be actively helping her work toward the goal and not just saying that maybe she could do it one day.

You ask if she might be on track to take CC classes. Some community colleges or state universities will have special programs for students who have disabilities, where they can take classes, maybe live in the dorms, have special help and counselors and job coaches, etc.. A kind of simulation of college, but these programs are expensive and don't result in an actual college degree. If she could find something like this and get great financial aid, as a low income student, it's another possibility for her. Personally, I think these kind of things can be great for personal development of the individual but without ending up with a degree, those who complete the programs may find they are no better off financially than peers who just went straight to work, so they aren't worth the cost. I just wanted to mention that these kind of programs do exist. If someone could find one that would let her take animation classes, it might be a nice college-lite experience.

Really, the IEP team should brainstorm how they can help her take some steps toward learning animation, without having to take college classes.

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I wrote the previous posts late at night, so I hope they are not too garbled.

The thing that I want to say this morning is that your help is going to make a big difference, because the family obviously needs some outside support. They are fortunate to have you on their side. But please know that you can't solve all of these problems, and the things that can be helped are long-term issues. So you are likely to leave the meeting today feeling like you didn't accomplish enough, or you found it confusing, or you feel that you wish you could have said or done something to make a bigger difference.

I feel those things after my own kids' IEP meetings. It's normal. Just expect to feel overwhelmed and perhaps emotional, and the girls may have feelings and frustrations to sort through after the meeting, as well.

This meeting will not solve everything and is a start. It's okay for it to just be a start.

This is why I suggested that they may not want to sign the IEP today and may want to take time to think through it, research more options, and ideally try to find an advocate who will know how to navigate through the process.

In fact, that is what we are doing with my son's IEP right now. His meeting was in October, and we didn't sign, and we hired an advocate, and we are still working through the issues, two months later. If this happens, don't worry -- the school can and will still follow the IEP even if the family doesn't sign (in fact, I suspect it's possible that the family has not signed the IEP in the past, given what you have said).

If they tell them they MUST sign, they can write a note by their signature, saying, "I am signing, because the school told us they would not execute the IEP without a signature, but we have disagreements with the IEP." If you tell them that the family will write that statement, the school would probably back off of any pressure to get the family to sign things today.

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@Story girlThis is fantastic. Printing it all now, speaking with J. at 11:30, their meeting is at 1:15, and what you have said confirms some things I feared / suspected and rounds out / adds other things in a hugely helpful way. I don't have time to write a better thank-you right now, but I will be back! Thank you! I really can't thank you enough.

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@Story girlI actually wasn't part of the meeting--I thought of suggesting it, but chose not to, since the Mom doesn't know me yet and I had been able to cover with J. what she needed to understand. 

She made sure to take her fifteen days (didn't sign), but thinks the meeting went well and doubts she'll have any issues with the new IEP. Beyond that, I know nothing! She works nights, gave up part of her sleep to do all this today, goes back to work tonight, and I'm sure won't have time to tell me more until at least tomorrow. I will come back and let you know. 

What you've shared has been so helpful. J. is grateful for the help as well. I told her about your son, around E.'s age. To be continued!

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@Story girl@PeterPan (tagging those recently following)--

Learned more yesterday. I think J. found it a bit dizzying, but I think more was learned than she maybe thinks at this point. She needs to catch up on sleep and then we can talk about next steps more, next week.

The school did share test results first--but we're going to need to have the family ask for copies, because I couldn't get the test names nor a sense of how the results compared to prior tests. I also haven't seen the new, proposed IEP yet, but J. will get it from her mother and send it to me next week.

J. did get us our two weeks. 

There were some interesting moments among them all--the teachers etc. wanted to speak of how nice E. is and how she enters in fully and how she is doing well, and how they are there for her, etc. J. knows that 🙂 but was more interested in the question of how ready she is for the next stage of her life. 

Interesting split in POVs on E's level of functioning
In some areas they believe E. is functioning at a higher level than J. believes, but in other areas it was the other way around. On speech, they assess E. more positively. E. wants more speech therapy, (She thought of that herself when J. asked her in advance if there was anything she wanted to ask for--J. was seeking to act on the advice to find out from E. herself what she wants and make sure she got a voice in this.) J. asked about that in the meeting, was told twice a week is out of the question, but in the end the school conceded to twice a month instead of the once a month she is getting at present. The school also said E. is functioning better in this regard than J. thinks she is.

(They claimed the limit is because they don't want to take E. out of her core classes for speech therapy. but I asked J. and there are study halls that could be used, so I am not sure this is the full explanation. But I suppose you can't use everyone's study hall b/c only so many therapists are on site at once. I am guessing they have in addition some budget constraint or other pressure they didn't want to name as a factor.)

So on that dimension their assessment was that E. functions better than J. thinks, but when it came to how much E. is able to comprehend in reading, their view was she can only read very short passages with comprehension, but J. and E. have read entire books together and discussed them, so this does not sound right to J. and she is wondered if E. has been learning as much as she could given their assumptions and beliefs, which don't match up with her experience with E.

After teachers pulled out of the meeting and they were alone (by video, all this) with the case worker only, J. asked whether E. can have more work on verb tenses, and the case worker said the teachers do their thing, basically--and when J. asked if E. can read longer things, the case worker said E. would have to ask for it. E. expressed interest in that and expressed a desire to do more. 

The case worker did volunteer that if they want to question the IEP then they are entitled to see the PRISE document (sorry if that's NJ-specific--Parental Rights in Special Education). 

Who does the case worker for for?
BTW I don't know if this is state-specific, but does the case worker work for the school? Or for some other body or agency or . . . ? I am wanting to understand the different institutional interests at play . . . 

The state of the vocational guidance
J. discussed vocational guidance and it did sound as E.'s interests which include art and working with children had been discussed with E. and ideas in addition to animator, along the lines you thought of as well, StoryGirl, had been suggested. So that is something, and J. believed this individual genuinely cares for E., but the question of college readiness seemed to be skated over. I'm wondering whether someone can test E. with Accuplacer and see how she scores on that? Wouldn't that be a useful input into whether she can make it in college and into whether she should seek to delay graduation? I'm also wondering, if the school were to say no to that, could the family ask the CC if they would let E. sit that test now as a baseline?

Special help in college?
J. pointed out there is no IEP etc. in college and received the reply that that is true, but there is tutoring available, and you can have an in-class helper if needed. That didn't sit comfortably with J.--I think that is a very new idea for her and at this point I think she is seeing this as not being ready for college and as potentially embarrassing for E., who has awakened to the realization that she is receiving help not every student needs or receives. I respect the many points of view on this--just reporting.

Delaying graduation--not discussed
The question of delaying graduation never came up and I think J. lost track of one of the significant open questions, whether the connection has been made yet between the family and the state vocational aid board. 

It was too late once I learned the meeting would be video to ask whether J. would like me to join, and she hadn't thought of that or asked for it, and I don't know the Mom, so it wasn't possible for this one, but I've mentioned now to J. that I'd be willing in future. 

Post-meeting she was navigating a lot. Feeling exhausted. Feeling, I think, a bit dizzied by it. Navigating the postures of E. and Mom post-meeting. I encouraged her, and will again, that everyone's first impressions are just that and that it's great that she got us all the two weeks to think in. Storygirl, I shared with her what you had said about how everyone would likely feel about it afterwards and I think that helped J. share with me. She is young too, and this is a big deal, and she's not used to sharing burdens. She's had to shoulder too much alone in life.

Is IQ completely stable? Could stressors at the time of testing play a role?
Interestingly, I went online after all this to read some more about the IQ test E. had done (years ago). I came across some anecdotal discussions to the effect that IQ results may not be AS written in stone as sometimes claimed, and some people who reported being in the 70 to 80 range and having successfully gone through college and even more, though learning more slowly than others perhaps. I am not sure what to make of this but I think I will ask J. what family events may have been taking place when E. was being tested. I won't share necessarily, but I believe there may be a timeline that could be significant. And for myself, I know my own mental performance certainly can vary based on whether I'm sick or exhausted or sufficiently stressed--I know an IQ test is supposed to measure something very fundamental, but is it really true that results will be the same any given day you test? I can search this forum further, but if either of you happens to know of a discussion of this or research on it, I'd be grateful.

Is E's available time being used to best effect?
I'm wondering if there any chance that the school has been taking a real and actual disability but assuming it's worse than it is and so not giving E. all the stimulation or challenge she needs? J. reports that E. has plenty of time at home for hobbies etc. We need some time for that, for sure, for so many reasons, But what I mean is, more time is available for homework than is being used. The school thinks E. can and should only do so much. What if she would benefit for more repetition, more practice, even if it's of the same type they have her doing, and just spending more time on her work? I'm just not sure how and whether that can or should be explored with them. 

Best to "change City Hall," or to supplement "City Hall"?
A very open question for me also as I try to help J. and E. think their way through this is given their limited time, energy and budget financially, are they truly best off trying to push the school system to deviate from their current course of action, or are they better off leaving the school to do what it's doing with a few modifications, and supplying E. with additional challenge on the side (with help from me and others)? I'd love for them to have access to a parent advocate but this is just not a family with means. 

Most strategic next steps?
So what will try to understand is what are the most strategic things we can do to try to help most effectively. Of course, first get the test results and the proposed IEP. Maybe the family should connect with DVRS on their own, whether or not the school initiates? Maybe pursue Accuplacer? Pretty clearly the people at school ARE seeking to have E. graduate on time and it will take a fair bit of energy to change their mind about that, so there are many questions about whether she is truly ready for the next stage and if not, how to get her there.

ASD not considered likely by the school
BTW, J. did ask if ASD had been considered. She was told it's not the school's view that E. is on the spectrum, but if they had a doctor's note they would change the determination on the IEP. I don't know what effect that would have on the plan or program. 

So, that's what I was able to learn yesterday. J. has a very important interview Monday and needs to not think about this till that's behind her. So I have the weekend to think and reflect and pray as well. Thank you again for your interest and concern and input!

I know at the end of the day we--E., J., and whoever they ask to help, like me--we have to do our own work, and I don't want to overburden you. But any thoughts you want to share will be very welcome and helpful, as always. 


 

Edited by Classical Katharine
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Well what you're hearing @Classical Katharine is how schools roll. They're doing what it takes to get her through. As long as she can "access her education" their responsibility legally is done. I think there's also this tendency with professionals (teachers, therapists, psychs, anyone) to look at it positively, because people DO grow, mature, etc. in time. They also usually have enough cumulative experience that they see where this is going. 

On the question of spectrum, honestly you'd want really strong evidence before you tried to file a dispute to get evals funded. It's an ugly process, basically going nuclear. Look at the DSM criteria and see how clearly she's ticking them. Think about what lower key ways there would be to having that discussion without costing the parents a lot of money. For instance, could they find a counselor or psych and just have a 1 hour sit down? This girl is around that age where sometimes they do that. Certainly once people are adults that happens. Or they could do the ADOS on her. It's just she has so much other paper trail already, it seems like the question could be answered in a short amount of time with the right person, someone who specializes in women on the spectrum.

Edited by PeterPan
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@PeterPan, thanks. Yes, I wouldn't try to press the school to pay for evaluation for ASD. I do think there are easier ways to find that out if it seems likely to be the case. I would want to know some things about E. that I don't know yet but which I could find out--as you say, see how many boxes she seems to tick, and if it's not close, don't pursue . . . if it is close, nuclear wouldn't be the only way to find out.

I suppose then that the only possible point of filing a dispute at all would be if the family wanted her to postpone graduation for some other reason, having to do with not being convinced she will be ready for college or her other goals at the end of the current trajectory? I am not sure whether the family will end up wanting that. They have had a taste in a small way of swimming upstream here and they may not like what is involved. But everyone needs the weekend to think. 

Just so I am clear, is it basically "accept the IEP the way it's been presented" or "file a dispute, which is nuclear" or is there a third path of "ask for some changes but without filing a dispute"? Or is there no such thing as a third path? 

Thanks!

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You would need data to compel them to provide additional services. She's accessing her education with her current level (which they're taking up slightly), so they don't see the need. Medical/private vs. educational services. Privately, knock yourself out, do all you want. But in the education setting, they do what it takes to make sure she can access her education. So for instance, when my ds didn't have his Rs, they didn't really care unless we showed it affected intelligibility (which on him it did). But just as far as sounding like you're from Boston, big flip, not hindering you from accessing your education.

 

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Thanks for the very thorough rundown of what was discussed in the meeting (as far as you are aware, not having been there). I had some thoughts as I was reading, but I'll have to come back and read it again, because it's late, and I'm operating in a state of very little sleep. Probably on Monday -- tomorrow will be busy with church, helping my kids study for midterms, and doing whatever Christmas prep we can manage in between.

One thing I will say -- don't give up on the ideas of a parent advocate, due to finances. You may find one who will work with them at no cost.

The case managers at our school are actually the intervention teachers. They divide the students with IEPs among the intervention teachers, and so each teacher has a number of students for whom they head up the IEP process. All of the student's teachers will weigh in, but it's the case manager who compiles things and writes up the actual IEP. It may be different where you are, but that's how it is, here.

And speech services are a tricky issue here, as well. Never as many hours allotted as a student might need. In our school district, the speech therapists are not school employees; the district hires the agency that they work for. DS has been fortunate to have the same SLP for three years, now, and she is very good at working with him and helping him make progress, but his list of things to work on is long, and she only sees him for 20 minutes per week, which is a high number of minutes in our area. So, yes, there may be a cost issue to consider for the school. Technically, they are not supposed to limit services, due to cost, but in reality, they do. It sound like they managed to get the school to double the amount of time E will get speech, and that may count as a WIN this time, even though it seems underwhelming.

It would be interesting to see what data they have to show that E is doing so well with language, in their opinion, when her IEP disability category is communication.

But, yes, the way the school views how my DS is doing can vary widely with my interpretations. They have sometimes thought he is doing fine in areas where we are 100% sure that he struggles. I won't go into details, but yes, the school does not always see all of the need. And sometimes DS surprises me and exceeds my expectations, and I have to adjust my own assessments. (But usually I am right 😉).

I have often cringed at the "he is doing so well and is quiet and tries hard in class" comments that we get. First, because I know they are not providing the whole picture -- I've heard those kind of comments in IEP meetings within days of fielding emails from the exact same teachers about a problem in class. And second, because hearing those kind of general comments does not help address the problem areas. BUT the IEP team is meant to discuss both the strengths and weaknesses of the student, and no teacher wants to say all bad or concerning things about a student. I used to kind of refute their statements with "but what about this," but now I just kind of let the comments sweep by. It's good for the struggling student to hear teachers saying complimentary things about them.

I've got to sleep, but I will try to return to say more another time.

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@Story girlThanks for stopping in while sleep-deprived! Have a great day today with church and with your family. Church today for us as well and tomorrow is just fine for coming back to this. Thank you for your thoughts, and I hope today is restorative for you. Till soon!

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@Story girlWe have the new IEP, and it includes the results of the new testing. 

So at this point I have her IQ and her Woodcock-Johnson results from 2014 and 2020. For some reason in the prior IEP, there were no 2017 results. I'd love to know if they didn't test her in 2017 . . . 

But before I get to all of that, in fairness to you, let me share that older Sis surprised me by signing the IEP before we went over it together. I believe she concluded there is no way her mother would be on board with any kind of legal challenge to it. I'm sure that's true and it's certainly relevant! At least until E. turns 18. I'm encouraged by knowing, as you said before, I think, that even if she did sign the IEP, it doesn't mean further questions can't be raised . . . I hope I have that right. Because:

2014 and 2020 test results compared

I've compared the 2014 and the 2020 results. They don't make that easy (non-parallel reporting styles), but this is what I've gleaned, and I'm troubled by it. 

IQ less intereresting, WJIV much more so. IQ fairly stable--71 this time, 70 last time, though some interesting changes in the subscores: new scores are lower on perceptual reasoning (82 vs. 88), lower on processing speed (68 vs. 78), but higher on verbal comprehension (78 vs. 65). 

It's the WJIV that got really interesting, though. BTW her 2014 test was WJIII, and I don't know if that complicates the comparison. For the moment I'm taking scores on a subtest of the same name as being comparable, or anyway, the low, low-avg., etc. ranges as being comparable.


Broad reading way down

WJIV: her broad reading is way down--82 to 60, yes, 60. She has declined from low average to very low in six years (passing over "low") and is now in the 0.4th percentile.

Broad written posted a smaller decline. Math looks to me to have gone up a bit, and broad writing to be approximately similar to last time. 

The broad reading result is the one I'd like to ask about here. For one thing, it's odd in relation to her IQ test, in which she improved on verbal comprehension. For another, in six years that they have been giving her special help and giving her decent grades and passing her on to the next grade, this very disappointing result is the outcome, and they truly have made very little of that fact to the family. No one made this comparison for them in the IEP meeting. 

Another important result in the IEP is she is apparently taking graphic design (good--they know her interests), but she is having trouble learning the software over remote learning (Covid-19--she's learning from home). I'm assuming it would be very good to explore this matter further as she seems to need a different kind of instruction in this software, or animation won't be attainable for her. 

Also, it appears that "increasing her vocabulary" is part of her speech therapy. The very same speech therapy that they cut from 2x/ week in earlier years to 1x/ month more recently, only relenting to 2x/ month at the IEP meeting. I'm wondering whether anyone has given her enough supplemental vocabulary instruction? I had vocab. in English class till grade 9 and although words are my native element, I benefited from the targeted instruction. (Wordly Wise.) In tutoring for the SAT, I've been horrified to learn that in a good high school in our state, targeted vocab. instruction stopped after grade 5. This just about makes me want to cry, it's such a lost opportunity. So I will certainly go ahead with the pre-IEP plan of finding her a skill-level-appropriate vocabulary program. I assume I'm going to need to start with something at about a fifth or sixth grade level and if that's too easy, great, we'll adjust.

But also of interest under speech therapy is that they have included some instruction in social skills and understanding humor and understanding words with two meanings. Hmmm. That COULD be spectrum, yes? I suppose it may not be definitive, but I thought it was pretty suggestive. J. has also told me that her ability with hypotheticals and abstractions is poor. 

Another point of interest--the descriptions teachers give of how she is doing in class are difficult in some ways to reconcile with these "hard" test results, and in other ways differ from what they said in the IEP meeting, as I heard about it. Her English teacher reports in the IEP that her comprehension of To Kill a Mockingbird is very good, though in the IEP meeting, if anything, the assessment of E.'s comprehension by the teacher prompted J. to say "but she understands whole books when we read them together" in objection to what the teacher was saying about E.'s poor comp. Confusing. Maybe one clue is the English teacher, according to the IEP, provided TKAM both in hard copy and as a YouTube narration. It would be interesting to know whether E. listened to it or read it, and whether she understands much better when she doesn't read, but hears. The IEP does say she benefits from a multi-sensory approach. The history teacher also says she understands very well. And yet the WJIV results would suggest something far below understanding very well . . . ??

I need to sign off for a moment and don't want to lose what I've written here, so will post this now and return. Thanks for any thoughts!

ETA: I've just been reading up on the WJ tests and I'm not sure E. has been given the full range. I've never seen a score for her on anything called "fluid reasoning," for example. I am wondering if there has been a missing battery of tests and what that means . . . 





 

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@Story girlWell . . . this article was helpful. https://www.readingrockets.org/article/tests-and-measurements-parent-teacher-advocate-and-attorney 

I see there was a '93 Supreme Court case in which the authors of this article won a victory for a family whose daughter was ill-served her school's unambitious IEP goals. They put her in a private school where she made up for lost time and the S. C. ruled that the school owed the family for her private school tuition and legal fees. And ever since then, schools have learned to write the IEP's with no measurable goals so that they can't get into that kind of trouble. That is what I see in E.'s IEP. The article has described it exactly. It's all "by the end of this IEP" and "80% of something with help" etc., but not tied to objective tests and useful timetables. Ugggh. 

This must be what you had in mind when you said there is an art to writing good IEPs . . . 

They have books that look very good--this one looks like gold: https://www.amazon.com/Wrightslaw-Emotions-Advocacy-Education-Survival/dp/1892320096/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=wrightslaw+from+emotions+to+advocacy&qid=1608661953&s=books&sr=1-1

Only I think I needed to know about all this five or ten years ago. 

 

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On 12/22/2020 at 10:34 AM, Classical Katharine said:

WJIV: her broad reading is way down--82 to 60, yes, 60. She has declined from low average to very low in six years (passing over "low") and is now in the 0.4th percentile.

I would expect her reading and writing scores to drop, relative to her peers, due to her language issues and hitting some walls.

Remember a standard deviation on many tests is 20. You can google for a particularly test. Point is a swing of 10 points may not be *significant* and I would not read too much into it. A change of 1-3 standard deviations would be significant. My ds had IQ scores swing 50 points between administrations. But to go from version 3 to 4 on those tests and change so little, that seems good to me.

On 12/22/2020 at 10:34 AM, Classical Katharine said:

it appears that "increasing her vocabulary" is part of her speech therapy.

Vocabulary doesn't necessarily mean to the SLP what it means to you. It's an umbrella term. It *can* mean acquiring academic vocabulary so she'll better understand her textbooks, yes. https://www.smartspeechtherapy.com/effective-vocabulary-instruction-what-slps-need-to-know/  But it can also mean things like https://www.proedinc.com/Products/31870/spotlight-on-vocabulary-level-2-6book-set.aspx

On 12/22/2020 at 10:34 AM, Classical Katharine said:

also of interest under speech therapy is that they have included some instruction in social skills and understanding humor and understanding words with two meanings. Hmmm. That COULD be spectrum, yes?

They are metalinguistics and pragmatics issues that can be common in but not exclusive to spectrum, yes. The school is not putting that diagnosis, but they see a need and are meeting it. 

On 12/22/2020 at 10:34 AM, Classical Katharine said:

And yet the WJIV results would suggest something far below understanding very well . . . ??

We can look at those scores, but I think they need to be taken in perspective. Given the language issues and IQ, she may be performing about where they'd expect. While the one score (82 to 60 was a significant swing, I still think you're seeing the correction that's going to happen as the material becomes harder and peers pull ahead. My ds looked quite bright even academically when he was younger, and now he's glaringly behind with a widening gap each day. He's going to have walls and his dropping scores make sense.

Sometimes what will happen is there will be what they call push in, where the SLP will coordinate with the academic teachers, so the vocabulary work the SLP does reinforces what the student needs for her classes. I don't think anyone has time and energy to teach all words. That's not going to be the point. They're going to help her survive.

I think rather than doing what they're doing, you might want to do what they're NOT doing. Narrative language, anything functional, anything that helps her build recreational skills or literacy skills that would be useful for employment. Leisure is a HUGE issue. Does she have leisure activities? Many common leisure activities require literacy skills, so they quickly become inaccessible to kids with disabilities. Jobs, driving, etc. require literacy. Does she have enough literacy to fill out an employment application? To read/reply to an ad? 

On 12/22/2020 at 1:40 PM, Classical Katharine said:

And ever since then, schools have learned to write the IEP's with no measurable goals so that they can't get into that kind of trouble. That is what I see in E.'s IEP. The article has described it exactly. It's all "by the end of this IEP" and "80% of something with help" etc., but not tied to objective tests and useful timetables.

Oh I don't know, don't be so cynical. You might not yet understand what you're reading. I mean, I haven't seen this dc's, but my ds' IEP is FINE. He has very concrete goals that are realistic for a year. The intervention specialist I work with each time kicks butt at translating what I tell her into something that could be an attainable goal. I homeschool him, but I keep his IEP strong because you never know what day it will be over with me and he'll need to be enrolled for whatever reason. 

So I think I'd just take a deep breath. They may be junk or they may have written what they really can get done in a year. And they DO make data. Even my private providers who use our disability scholarship have to make quarterly reports with data much like you're describing. Not everything is dotted and crossed with "testing" but it's pretty obvious. I mean, you know this from working with your kids. You can say something like yeah 75% of the time he can do xyz. You know. And they have their notes and they know how it's going down. Or they literally just the last session or two before the report through out some tasks with 5 iterations and see how the dc does. It's that simple. 

It's very frustrating to realize everyone doesn't get everything we think might be good. It's also life. So I think wrangle with it and accept it. It was this dc's mother's fight to have, not yours, and the energy went somewhere else. That doesn't mean the dc is RUINED or that it went wrong. It doesn't mean that if they had pumped 4 hours a week of SLP services into her things would be different. They might not be! She is who she is. 

The longer you're in the disability community, the more calm and long view you get. It's going to be ok. Not enough got done, and it's ok. The kid can't write, and it's ok. The kid can't this or that, and it's OK. We can't make it perfect, and it's OK. 

It's making peace with what we can't change, accepting that we can't fix everything, and having a spiritual view that things will be OK anyway.

Or we can sit around and fret and fight IEPs for ever. I mean, I've done it. I had pnuemonia how many times in one year fighting to get my ds the best scholarship. We got it, but it racked my health. It's really not cool. Long term consequences there, time I can't get back that I spent sick. I missed my grandmother's funeral. Developed asthma. On and on. No matter how hard we tried (and I can tell you like the Apostle Paul, I've TRIED), we're not going to fix everything. And it's ok.

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On 12/22/2020 at 10:34 AM, Classical Katharine said:

ETA: I've just been reading up on the WJ tests and I'm not sure E. has been given the full range. I've never seen a score for her on anything called "fluid reasoning," for example. I am wondering if there has been a missing battery of tests and what that means . . . 

Psychs typically *pair* tests, using achievement and cognitive testing from the same publisher. So the fluid reasoning is from the WISC, a different IQ test. It's not a *wrong* thing to use the WJ instead of the WISC. The psych could prefer it for the length of time or any number of reasons. They may really like the WJ achievement test (I do, it's great) so they wanted to use that paired cognitive test. And yes, they have discretion to run only the portions needed. Doesn't mean they did a bad job at it.

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