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“Catching Up” a Child with Learning Challenges


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My 11 yo (rising 6th grader) learned to read much more slowly than my other kids, but he did learn and loves reading for pleasure.  

But even after learning to read fluently, he had some challenges with reading out loud (ex. skipping words), letter reversals, and the biggest challenge was spelling.

I responded by moving at a slower pace with language arts than I did with my other children.  He did make progress, but it was very slow progress.  So I finally had him tested for vision issues, and he had some VERY significant vision issues (teaming, tracking, etc.)  

So he is midway through a 40 week vision therapy program and has made so much progress!  What I am wondering is do I move at a steady pace from where he is, or do I try to catch him up to grade level.

He’s on grade level for math and reading.  He’ll be in a 2nd grade spelling book, but a lot of his spelling issues are correcting themselves now that he’s made progress in therapy.  In LA, he is working in a 4th grade book.  Has no problems learning punctuation, parts of speech, etc.  As for writing, he is writing science reports that are a longish paragraph of 7-9 sentences, but this is with help.  Writing was previously a huge challenge for him because he could not spell basic words.

I am not sure how to proceed now that he’s doing better. 

Also, I was thinking about doing an Iowa or Stanford test at the end of the year to see if maybe I should hold him back a year.  Is this a good idea or no?

Edited by JazzyMom
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My personal feeling is to never retain or advance a child on paper without a darn good cause. Since it's in your gut and heart to do so, I think that you should do the IOWA or Stanford so that you may determine objectively where he is at, but don't use the results to retain/advance him.

It doesn't sound like he has a learning challenge so much as he had a vision issue that is now being corrected, yes? Or does he have another diagnosis that would impact his cognition such as ADD/ADHD, Dys-something or anything like that?

For now, if he is Neuro-typical (aside from the vision issues) then assume that spelling will be much easier to learn once his vision needs have been met and remedied.

Since he is on grade level in reading and math, what does he need to "catch up" in? It sounds like the writing component (and it's many sub-components) will come into place once his vision is remedied.

My gut reaction is to wait until he's completed his vision therapy (all 40 weeks) and then assess where you are at and make a game plan from there.

In the mean time, work on oral composition so that he can continue practice organizing ideas and scribe for him while he's working on his vision needs.

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40 minutes ago, JazzyMom said:

My 11 yo (rising 6th grader) learned to read much more slowly than my other kids, but he did learn and loves reading for pleasure.  

But even after learning to read fluently, he had some challenges with reading out loud (ex. skipping words), letter reversals, and the biggest challenge was spelling.

I responded by moving at a slower pace with language arts than I did with my other children.  He did make progress, but it was very slow progress.  So I finally had him tested for vision issues, and he had some VERY significant vision issues (teaming, tracking, etc.)  

So he is midway through a 40 week vision therapy program and has made so much progress!  What I am wondering is do I move at a steady pace from where he is, or do I try to catch him up to grade level.

He’s on grade level for math and reading.  He’ll be in a 2nd grade spelling book, but a lot of his spelling issues are correcting themselves now that he’s made progress in therapy.  In LA, he is working in a 4th grade book.  Has no problems learning punctuation, parts of speech, etc.  As for writing, he is writing science reports that are a longish paragraph of 7-9 sentences, but this is with help.  Writing was previously a huge challenge for him because he could not spell basic words.

I am not sure how to proceed now that he’s doing better. 

Also, I was thinking about doing an Iowa or Stanford test at the end of the year to see if maybe I should hold him back a year.  Is this a good idea or no?

I almost never believe in holding back a child on paper. In your ds's case, absolutely not, especially not based on standardized test scores. He's on grade level for math and reading. His spelling is improving. Not sure what you mean by "LA;" is that grammar? Because reading, literature, and writing are also "language arts." IOW, you found the physical issues, he's getting help for those, and he is improving. To "hold him back" would be punishment, IMHO.

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Posted (edited)

Yes, he’s neurotypical.  No diagnosis other than vision issues.  He focuses well.  No attention issues.

I think my main concern re: grade level is that he’s now middle school age, and his written output doesn’t reflect that of a typical middle schooler.  I’m not planning to put him in school, but I know he couldn’t go into a 6th grade class at this point because of his writing.  (Not physical handwriting, but spelling.)

For example, during the pandemic we would all watch church online, take notes, and share them with each other.  His notes were the most detailed to the point that if we missed something, we’d ask him, but if you looked at his notes, they looked worse than my 2nd grader‘s - even he sometimes had trouble deciphering them.  This wasn’t an issue just with notetaking but with everything he wrote, even drawing cartoons for fun or whatever.

Yes, by LA, I meant language arts.

I’m not disappointed in him at all.  I was thinking holding him back would give him extra time to work on spelling/ writing skills, since higher level schoolwork often requires written output.  For example, a science class might require filling out a lab worksheet.

I like the idea of seeing where he is after the 40 weeks of therapy.  He might progress quickly once the vision issues are resolved and he’s not having to work so hard.

Edited by JazzyMom
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Go steadily from where he is, expecting that the places he's behind may improve rapidly, and follow his lead on that.

Don't allow his writing to hold back his other work. Give him the appropriate science for his level. If it requires filling in a worksheet (does it need to?) you can scribe for him.

Basically, find ways to give him work at his developmental level on all areas, don't hold back one area to match writing. Scribe for him or find a different curriculum. How's his typing?

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43 minutes ago, JazzyMom said:

I think my main concern re: grade level is that he’s now middle school age, and his written output doesn’t reflect that of a typical middle schooler.

I'm wondering how you know this because I was never able to figure it out even when I specifically asked real classroom teachers who worked with the target age group.

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I think two things.

One, you will see how he is doing, so you will be able to adjust to how he is doing.  This will unfold — it is not necessarily something where you can “make” it happen or control it. What you do matters — but it will just be responsive to where he is and what you see with how he is performing.

Two, his developmental level sounds totally age level.  Totally, totally age level.  So you are going to be looking for things that fit his developmental level which will be his age level.  You can adjust those things to fit — but to some extent he is going to be having interests and maturity level that fit with an 11-year-old and to a great extent that is what will be appropriate in content.  And then skills can adjust.  

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I would not hold him back, just keep moving forward.  Most kids end Spelling by 6 or 7th grades, but just keep moving at his pace.   I have one I finally gave up on in 9th grade and switched to corrections via Word in her own writing, and a vocabulary workbook.  She does continue to improve!

I think you are going to notice HUGE jumps once his therapy is done. 

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1 hour ago, JazzyMom said:

Yes, he’s neurotypical.  No diagnosis other than vision issues.  He focuses well.  No attention issues.

I think my main concern re: grade level is that he’s now middle school age, and his written output doesn’t reflect that of a typical middle schooler.  I’m not planning to put him in school, but I know he couldn’t go into a 6th grade class at this point because of his writing.  (Not physical handwriting, but spelling.)

I taught 5th grade this past year for the first time. I worked at a K-8 school so I got to see what the 4th-8th graders writing looked like.

I had a couple of students who struggled to write in complete sentences all year long.

Most of my students learned to write complete and correct sentences but I had a few whose writing was very sloppy, misspellings were rampant and their thoughts were disorganized.

I worked closely with the other 5th grade classroom teachers and checked in with the middle school teacher who was teaching grades 6-8. I'd say that it's definitely a spectrum of abilities.

 

 

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In regards to writing and note taking, if the hangup is spelling/handwriting, have you considered having an app or computer next to him while he's writing so he can quickly see how to spell a word he wants to use, or even dictate what he wants to say and then rewrite/edit based off that? 

 

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Kids pick up speed. With my young son who has dysgraphia, we backtracked to the Cat and the Hat at the age of 12 to work on spelling, mechanics, grammar, punctuation, etc. It was just that bad.  And now 5 years later, he got the highest grade out of a class of 150 on his research paper in his first university class. Teach him where he is at, and if by the age of 16, it looks like an extra year would be a good idea, just reclassify the prior grades. 

We remediated 2.5 hours each day for 5 years. 30 minutes with dictation, and 2 hours with writing with me sitting side by side with him.  I also scribed most of his work for him - math, science, etc.  But this is for a kid with dysgraphia; for a neurotypical kid, the path should be less arduous. As long as you are not planning to put your child in school, he can march to his own drummer. Steady work tailored to individual needs will create efficient progress over time. 

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, EKS said:

I'm wondering how you know this because I was never able to figure it out even when I specifically asked real classroom teachers who worked with the target age group.

I am basing it off of my experience with his 3 older siblings and 2 of his younger siblings that are school age. But I could be wrong.  One of the reasons I’ve been thinking about having him tested is so I can see how he actually compares to peers.  On the vision therapy reports he was rated significantly deficient in most areas.  

Edited by JazzyMom
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42 minutes ago, lewelma said:

Kids pick up speed. With my young son who has dysgraphia, we backtracked to the Cat and the Hat at the age of 12 to work on spelling, mechanics, grammar, punctuation, etc. It was just that bad.  And now 5 years later, he got the highest grade out of a class of 150 on his research paper in his first university class. Teach him where he is at, and if by the age of 16, it looks like an extra year would be a good idea, just reclassify the prior grades. 

We remediated 2.5 hours each day for 5 years. 30 minutes with dictation, and 2 hours with writing with me sitting side by side with him.  I also scribed most of his work for him - math, science, etc.  But this is for a kid with dysgraphia; for a neurotypical kid, the path should be less arduous. As long as you are not planning to put your child in school, he can march to his own drummer. Steady work tailored to individual needs will create efficient progress over time. 

Wow, that’s wonderful!  This is very encouraging and touches on what I was wondering re: intensive remediation.  I guess I will see where he is once vision therapy is done. 

I appreciate all of the input!  Thanks, everyone.  Very helpful!

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14 hours ago, JazzyMom said:

 One of the reasons I’ve been thinking about having him tested is so I can see how he actually compares to peers.

My dd did VT around 6th grade and did in fact have a surge after VT. It was like her eyes were seeing everything new. 

I would be concerned in your case, with what you've described, that there's more than vision issues going on. I would suggest you get testing, yes, but that you do it with a psych who specializes in SLDs. That way you can sort out what remains and get good advice and a proper list of accommodations. At this point, you really need appropriate accommodations to help him go forward.

20 hours ago, JazzyMom said:

Writing was previously a huge challenge for him because he could not spell basic words.

I think you know this, but that's not completely true. His narrative language should have been intact, barring narrative language issues or a writing disability. You could pursue testing through an SLP who specializes in literacy. They're harder to find, but they do exist. They'll have narrative language testing and other specialized testing. They might be able to turn out actionable things to help him. If he needs some intervention in some areas to get this going forward, you want to know. And now is the time, now that his VT is done, because whatever is left is intrinsic to him.

Some people on the boards have found SLPs who work under a psych and they write a report together that gives both the thorough language testing *and* the psych end with accommodations. This would give you the most information right now. Or of course you can get there by doing the evals separately. Many psychs do limited language testing, and you might find the SLP eval, with the right person, would give you a lot that is actionable and help you go forward more efficiently.

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18 hours ago, EKS said:

I'm wondering how you know this because I was never able to figure it out even when I specifically asked real classroom teachers who worked with the target age group.

SLPs have tests for writing, tests for narrative language, etc. It's quantifiable, yes. Also, when psychs eval, they will sometimes do just basic screeners where they give a prompt and see what happens. 

https://www.superduperinc.com/products/view.aspx?pid=TM800#.YNCLTdNKg6c  The OWLS has a written expression score.

https://www.superduperinc.com/products/view.aspx?pid=TM866#.YNCLbdNKg6c  The TNL=test of narrative language is normed to age 15.

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14 hours ago, JazzyMom said:

 I guess I will see where he is once vision therapy is done. 

Fwiw, you might want to go ahead and find your psych and SLP who specializes in literacy *now*. They're likely to have severe waits. I'm hearing about people waiting 6 months when they would have previously gotten in within 1-3 months. You can always cancel, but that's gonna really bite if you realize you want that information and have to wait almost a year to get it. 

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Ok, so I don't mean to be nosey but is this 11 yo a sibling to the 9 yo who is struggling with math? 

I had a stage with my ds where I really thought that his apraxia (motor planning of speech) problem was the cause of everything and that if I just improved that, everything would get better. And it's true, being able to talk has that sort of cascade effect, haha. Reality was there was more going on and I wasn't quite seeing it. 

So for my dd with VT problems, anything that was directly vision (like the visual memory for spelling) improved. But her narrative language was intact. Your ds should be able, right now, to tap the microphone button and do an oral narration for his science, history, reading, whatever, and make that happen. Vision will not explain an issue with that. It will not explain processing speed or working memory problems, though those may improve with the work the VT is doing. (VT often bumps EF, working memory, etc.) So he will seem more functional after the VT, but it doesn't mean nothing is going on.

He should be able to listen to the audiobook of his assigned work and do the tasks (comprehension questions, writing a narration, discussion, whatever). Same for science or history. You can get audiobooks for most major texts now and absolutely you want to be doing this. You are correct that reading comprehension is 80% prior knowledge and that just building his general knowledge is so important. You can fill that in *now* with audiobooks.

If he's having trouble doing the work even with audiobooks, even with the dictation accommodation on his tech, then we're back to saying that's not a vision problem and that it needs an explanation. Also the CTOPP and APD testing like the TAPS, both of which that SLP could do, will tease apart phonological processing problems that are not being caused by vision. It will be good if the psych testing is done after your VT, but the SLP testing could start now.

Edited by PeterPan
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1 hour ago, PeterPan said:

SLPs have tests for writing, tests for narrative language, etc. It's quantifiable, yes. Also, when psychs eval, they will sometimes do just basic screeners where they give a prompt and see what happens. 

I'm not saying it isn't.  What I'm saying is that it isn't something that even experienced teachers seem to know.  At least the ones I asked didn't.  And certainly homeschool teachers don't.

My son took a few of those tests (with psychologists).  Frankly, I wasn't impressed with the prompts in the sense that they held zero interest for him.

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The real question is-can he do 6th grade level work WITH accommodations. For example, if he types, can he pick the correct words when spellcheck gives him suggestions? Can he dictate written material that is at a 6th grade level? If he can, then yes, he's a 6th grader, and you don't need to catch up or adjust grade level work, just keep remediating. 

 

If he can't, it's likely there's more than vision going on, and it would be a good idea to find out what, and then figure out, from there, what accommodations are needed. 

 

I've had one of each in my BK's. C was significantly behind when they started VT, and has been gradually closing the gap; over four years reading has gone from being years behind grade level to being on target for grade level, writing is now on the low side for their age grade, but on a computer with spell check, is within the range of normal, math has gone from being below grade level to above grade level. There is some ADHD in the mix, and medication helps a lot. 

 

S, OTOH, VT helped a bit, and they got to the point that they could read for fun and generally read and understand at their age level,  but they still have significant learning challenges. Vision was part of the puzzle, but not the whole thing. ADHD meds also helped, but again, not the whole thing. Ultimately, we had to find ways to work around and through S's struggles, not a solution for them. 

 

 

 

 

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21 hours ago, JazzyMom said:

Yes, by LA, I meant language arts.

We know you meant "language arts." But did you specifically mean all components of "language arts"? Because you mentioned reading and and spelling and parts of speech (grammar) and composition, which are language arts components, so I wasn't sure what you meant when you said, " In LA, he is working in a 4th grade book." Does that "book" cover grammar and composition? just grammar? just composition? reading comprehension? or what?

In any case, *I* would still not hold him back on paper. So many times people have done that when their dc were as young as yours, and then when the dc were 14 or 15 and were where they "should" have been for grade level, the parents tried to figure out how to "skip" the dc to their appropriate grade level.

"Grade level" for homeschooled children is irrelevant. We say that all the time, and then we have conversations like this one. 🙂 Keep your ds at his "grade level" on paper; teach him as much as he can learn according to his abilities.

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Mine like this is now a senior.  I kept her at grade level.  I didn't worry about standardized tests, because testing doesn't work well for her.  It doesn't indicate what she knows and is capable of.  For mine, I am fine that we kept her at her grade level by name, worked at her level otherwise.  In LA and sciences she could always work fine (except spelling,) with the proper accommodations that everyone has already listed: audio books, spellcheck, vision therapy, etc.  Math was a different story.  We just moved slowly through it, taking much more than a year on most levels.  At this point, she is about to be a senior and is planning on college.  I suggested to her that she take two years on her senior year, because she is going to have a heavy load to get in all of the college prep classes to finish them all by graduation.  But she is determined to do it, and is moving at regular speed through math now.  But because it took her awhile to get to that place, she will be doing two math courses at once this year- not ideal, but her choice.  I am currently working on documentation to get her accommodations on her college entrance tests.  And she will need some accommodations in college likely, but we have the documentation, so that none of that should be difficult.  An extra year would have benefitted her this year, but it hasn't hurt her a lot to keep her in her grade at all.  And even now, she is choosing her heavy load because of her own goals.  She could graduate with less than what she is aiming for and not do two maths at once this year.  I could give her credits for what she has done, but she has some specific goals in mind that require more than what she has so far, and she wants to do them.  So that doesn't mean everyone who has similar issues will be stuck at the end doing a tough senior year. 

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1 hour ago, EKS said:

I'm not saying it isn't.  What I'm saying is that it isn't something that even experienced teachers seem to know.  At least the ones I asked didn't.  And certainly homeschool teachers don't.

My son took a few of those tests (with psychologists).  Frankly, I wasn't impressed with the prompts in the sense that they held zero interest for him.

You're getting into the real root of the problem. My ds has an IEP through the ps, and you're correct that the schools often do not even OWN the tests that would show our kids' disabilities. So they deny service, deny the issues, all with a straight face, because they don't own the tests. But the tests *are* out there and there are SLPs (and occassionally psychs!) running them. 

 

23 hours ago, JazzyMom said:

His notes were the most detailed to the point that if we missed something, we’d ask him, but if you looked at his notes, they looked worse than my 2nd grader‘s - even he sometimes had trouble deciphering them.  This wasn’t an issue just with notetaking but with everything he wrote, even drawing cartoons for fun or whatever.

Have you thought about getting him an OT eval? There are OTs who specialize in assistive technology and handwriting. They can do a handwriting assessment as well as look at his use of different kinds of tech and give you recommendations. He could have some visual motor integration issues that could be worked on in addition to the VT. Our VT place refers out for visual motor. 

You could be seeing a couple things there. One, it's actually concerning that his notes were that detailed. It could be really great, like crazy good working memory, or it could be that he is struggling to remember auditory inputs (me) and isn't really able to just put what's important and remember the rest. The SLP would have EF testing (better than the stupid screener the psychs use btw) and an APD screener to sort that out. 

 

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3 minutes ago, 2_girls_mommy said:

Mine like this is now a senior.  I kept her at grade level.

Yes, my dd was in that boat where I wanted her to have more time and she wanted to LAUNCH. Now after a year of college she was like OH I GET WHY, lol. But no, if the dc is developmentally pretty typical and on a typical timeline, you're not going to be able to hold them back very much. Now maybe if they see common, targeted goals and have some things that offset it like working half days. 

My ds has ASD2 and runs three years behind. Absolutely we'll keep him in an IEP and doing school work till he's 20. But for more run of the mill ADHD, etc. and even SLDs I don't think the studies support grade retention. Our ps won't grade retain him, not right now. They say to teach him where he is and adjust at the end as needed. 

Op has no clue where the VT plus targeted evals get could this dc. He does sound like he needs more than VT and I think that's what the VT was trying to tell her by showing her the deficiencies across all areas. Evals need to happen. But I agree that things can look pretty dismal and then you get good interventions and turn things around. I would not grade adjust till you're on the other side of it and it's clear what needs to happen. 

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Posted (edited)

Yes, he is an older brother of my kid who struggles with math.  Most of my kids were off camping this weekend, so I spent some time thinking and planning, and that’s why I have so many questions.

No attention issues.  He works diligently and at a normal pace.

He is great at math.  He used to reverse some numbers, but doesn’t any longer.

He has very nice handwriting, both cursive and manuscript.

Yes, by language arts, I meant grammar (punctuation, parts of speech, diagramming, etc.).  There is some composition in it - mostly writing sentences.  He can read the explanations himself, understand the information, follow instructions for exercises, and do them correctly.  However, when it comes to writing sentences, he can think logically and express his thoughts clearly, but nearly every word is misspelled, contains a letter reversal, or has letters transposed.  One improvement since vision therapy is that he no longer transposes letters, fewer misspellings, and he can now look at some words and see that they don’t “look right” even though he may need help knowing how fix them. I will have to see if he can pick the right spelling from spell check.  He hasn’t done any typing yet.

Reading - slower to learn to read,  around age 8 (almost 9) he became a fluent reader, he reads grade level novels for fun (Mysterious Benedict Society, etc.) and can tell me what he read (with details), listens to and enjoys audiobooks

The problem that lingered once he was a fluent reader was that when reading out loud he would skip words or say words that went with the meaning of the story but were not the actual words on the paper.

So the eye doctor explained that ds is probably doing fine when reading on his own, but any added task (like reading out loud) becomes too much strain to the system.  Ds was at the lowest level for eye teaming, tracking, visual processing, and very low for focusing.  He didn’t know to tell me that words went in and out of focus or sometimes jumbled up on the page.  After one of his therapy sessions, ds explained how the therapist showed him that one of his eyes stops taking in info when his system is overly stressed.  I don’t understand it all, honestly.  But ds noticed an improvement after about 4 weeks of therapy, and by about 16 weeks, I noticed improvements in his work.  His 20 week report showed a lot of improvement.

My main concern re: grade level was that if he was put into a situation with peers, his written output might be noticeably different than his peers.  But I  will focus on getting him through VT and seeing how he progresses.  I’m so glad to hear about the progress other kids have made.  Sounds like it might be easiest to just add a bonus year at the end of high school IF he needs it.

ETA: Forgot to add that his reading aloud is now fine after 20 wks of VT.  He now reads each and every word with no jumping around.

Edited by JazzyMom
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10 hours ago, JazzyMom said:

Yes, he is an older brother of my kid who struggles with math.  Most of my kids were off camping this weekend, so I spent some time thinking and planning, and that’s why I have so many questions.

No attention issues.  He works diligently and at a normal pace.

He is great at math.  He used to reverse some numbers, but doesn’t any longer.

He has very nice handwriting, both cursive and manuscript.

Yes, by language arts, I meant grammar (punctuation, parts of speech, diagramming, etc.).  There is some composition in it - mostly writing sentences.  He can read the explanations himself, understand the information, follow instructions for exercises, and do them correctly.  However, when it comes to writing sentences, he can think logically and express his thoughts clearly, but nearly every word is misspelled, contains a letter reversal, or has letters transposed.  One improvement since vision therapy is that he no longer transposes letters, fewer misspellings, and he can now look at some words and see that they don’t “look right” even though he may need help knowing how fix them. I will have to see if he can pick the right spelling from spell check.  He hasn’t done any typing yet.

Reading - slower to learn to read,  around age 8 (almost 9) he became a fluent reader, he reads grade level novels for fun (Mysterious Benedict Society, etc.) and can tell me what he read (with details), listens to and enjoys audiobooks

The problem that lingered once he was a fluent reader was that when reading out loud he would skip words or say words that went with the meaning of the story but were not the actual words on the paper.

So the eye doctor explained that ds is probably doing fine when reading on his own, but any added task (like reading out loud) becomes too much strain to the system.  Ds was at the lowest level for eye teaming, tracking, visual processing, and very low for focusing.  He didn’t know to tell me that words went in and out of focus or sometimes jumbled up on the page.  After one of his therapy sessions, ds explained how the therapist showed him that one of his eyes stops taking in info when his system is overly stressed.  I don’t understand it all, honestly.  But ds noticed an improvement after about 4 weeks of therapy, and by about 16 weeks, I noticed improvements in his work.  His 20 week report showed a lot of improvement.

My main concern re: grade level was that if he was put into a situation with peers, his written output might be noticeably different than his peers.  But I  will focus on getting him through VT and seeing how he progresses.  I’m so glad to hear about the progress other kids have made.  Sounds like it might be easiest to just add a bonus year at the end of high school IF he needs it.

ETA: Forgot to add that his reading aloud is now fine after 20 wks of VT.  He now reads each and every word with no jumping around.

See, you've identified problems, you've gotten help as needed, he is improving. I don't think you've met (or that he's met) the litmus test for being held back.

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On 6/22/2021 at 6:49 AM, JazzyMom said:

My main concern re: grade level was that if he was put into a situation with peers, his written output might be noticeably different than his peers.

We abandoned handwriting at the age of 12. My son can write, slowly and clearly, but he struggles to fill out a form. He can hand write at a max speed of 8 words per minute.  When he is in groups ( he is now age 17.5), and something needs to be written, he just makes sure someone else is the writer.  If he has to write something personally, he just keeps it short. 25 words to explain himself =3 minutes. This is usually acceptable in any setting where students are aware of each other's work. If he has to take notes or take tests, he must have a computer, but this also does not seem to be a problem with his peers. A lot of students prefer to type notes, and in a test setting he is in a different room with either a computer or a writer. So overall, even at the age of 17, being unable to physically write much doesn't make him noticeably different than his peers. 

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On 6/22/2021 at 6:49 AM, JazzyMom said:

Sounds like it might be easiest to just add a bonus year at the end of high school IF he needs it.

Agreed. This was always the plan for my ds, and he knew it. By having it as an option, it removed stress and gave him the time to remediate without pressure to 'keep up.' In the end, he did not need it and is entering university well prepared at the age of 18.25 years. But now we have the same plan for university. He knows that it is OK to take 5 years so that he can have a smaller class load each term. We have discussed that: yes, his friends would graduate before him, but the difference between graduating at 22 and 23 is simply a non-event in the course of a lifetime. I have given him the gift of time and the gift of empowerment. He is in charge of his education and if he needs more time, he should take it.

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For once you finish vision therapy: my 10 lesson syllables program, phonics to the 12th grade level, free, includes spelling. Most of my students gain a reading grade level. You may need to work through it twice. The 1879 McGuffey readers are also good for gaining grade levels and improving vocabulary and reading stamina once you work through the program. They have difficult vocabulary defined and diacritically marked and gradually build in difficulty.

Syllables program:

http://thephonicspage.org/On Reading/syllablesspellsu.html

McGuffey's free PDFs, you want 1879 Eclectic versions:

https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/author/5671

For improving spelling, the online LOE foundations lite focuses on spelling and is free.

https://elearning.logicofenglish.com

You can also advance fast through Spelling Plus, K - 6th grade spelling, arranged by rule and pattern. It teaches the most common 1,000 words, which make up 90% of any average reading passage.

https://www.amazon.com/Spelling-Plus-Words-toward-Success/dp/187947820X/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=spelling+plus&qid=1624502083&sr=8-2

The online letsgolearn DORA tests are computer adaptive and separate out vocabulary, spelling, and reading. So, you could be 8th grade level vocabulary and 2nd grade spelling and 4th grade reading and it will tell you all that with one test.

You should be able to catch up the spelling and writing now that the vision is being addressed. I wouldn't hold back a year, just work from where he is in each area.

Edited by ElizabethB
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On 6/20/2021 at 11:08 AM, JazzyMom said:

My 11 yo (rising 6th grader) learned to read much more slowly than my other kids, but he did learn and loves reading for pleasure.  

But even after learning to read fluently, he had some challenges with reading out loud (ex. skipping words), letter reversals, and the biggest challenge was spelling.

I responded by moving at a slower pace with language arts than I did with my other children.  He did make progress, but it was very slow progress.  So I finally had him tested for vision issues, and he had some VERY significant vision issues (teaming, tracking, etc.)  

So he is midway through a 40 week vision therapy program and has made so much progress!  What I am wondering is do I move at a steady pace from where he is, or do I try to catch him up to grade level.

He’s on grade level for math and reading.  He’ll be in a 2nd grade spelling book, but a lot of his spelling issues are correcting themselves now that he’s made progress in therapy.  In LA, he is working in a 4th grade book.  Has no problems learning punctuation, parts of speech, etc.  As for writing, he is writing science reports that are a longish paragraph of 7-9 sentences, but this is with help.  Writing was previously a huge challenge for him because he could not spell basic words.

I am not sure how to proceed now that he’s doing better. 

Also, I was thinking about doing an Iowa or Stanford test at the end of the year to see if maybe I should hold him back a year.  Is this a good idea or no?

Honestly, just keep going at his pace! He's about a year or two ahead of where my son was (we were not able to get him into vision therapy until midway through 7th grade, but we started spelling remediation with All About Spelling in 6th grade). Yes, writing will still be behind for a while, but he can catch up in that. Writing becomes easier as spelling becomes easier (after they master about 1000 common spelling words, they don't have to stop and think about how to represent every single word they want to write. Then they can start to retain their thoughts more and get more of them on paper.) 

You might let him write orally (either you scribe as he talks, or let him dictate into a phone or computer app and then he can go in or you can help him to fix it up and print it out. One of my kids in college still likes to do rough drafts this way--and as they get better at it, they can dictate the punctuation and new paragraphs too so there's not as much "clean-up" to do. Just watch for homophone errors or the app "mis-hearing" words!) My kids did a lot more advanced writing at this age when they could write orally. 

Writing started to catch up during high school for my oldest (Essentials in Writing is a program that really helped us too), though he really came into his own the first year in college. I know it's scary in the trenches when you are wondering how they will ever catch up, but they really do. I think continuing read-alouds throughout highschool really helped to give my kids a good sense of language, and when they were ready to put all of the skills needed for writing together, they were able to. We just kept pegging away and making progress each year. Hang in there! 

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8 hours ago, Lovinglife123 said:

Were you able to have this all covered by insurance?  My slow to learn kid rubs his eyes a lot when he has to read.  He passes vision tests.. reading has been painfully slow and does exactly what you said about skipping words, replacing words, etc.  These are CVC words he can tap out and read but when reading in a sentence… he messes up a LOT. 

If he's rubbing his eyes, it's vision, yes. What you would do is find the COVD doc (developmental optometrist) you want to use and see how much they can get covered. They typically have a regular exam, a longer developmental vision exam (where they show you the developmental vision problems and quantify them, really cool), and then of course therapy. So at the place we used they could get *some* of the therapy covered by insurance billing under medical but not all. It will just depend. 

People will find ways to make it happen if finances are an issue. Like you can do therapy once a month and then have them give you a LOT of homework. Not ideal, but it can be done. Sometimes they'll cut deals for people who come during the day (like in the fall) because most clients come in after school hours. First step is to see if developmental vision is the problem, then you can work it out. 

They may have something like a Visagraph, which uses infrared goggles to track eye movements. Pretty cool stuff.

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12 hours ago, Lovinglife123 said:

Were you able to have this all covered by insurance?  My slow to learn kid rubs his eyes a lot when he has to read.  He passes vision tests.. reading has been painfully slow and does exactly what you said about skipping words, replacing words, etc.  These are CVC words he can tap out and read but when reading in a sentence… he messes up a LOT. 

No, it has not been covered by insurance.  They have given me forms I can send to our health insurance to see if it will be covered, but odds are, we won't be reimbursed for much at all.  It has been fairly expensive, but well worth the money.  My son noticed a difference quickly.  The doctor told me to expect to see a difference in his schoolwork at around 20 weeks.  At around 14 weeks, I started wondering if it was all a scam, lol.  But right around 16 weeks, I saw a dramatic difference.

I was always of the mindset that you wait and let kids mature, etc., but this is something I wish I would have done much sooner.  He's a bright kid.  But I can only imagine how difficult it is to learn when your eyes aren't working properly and you aren't seeing things correctly.  I'm very surprised he was even able to learn to read and enjoy reading.

My son goes to therapy weekly and does nightly exercises at home.  There's also a vision therapist in our area who you see two or three times for evals and do all of the activities at home, so that may be an option in your area, as well.  You'll need to start with a developmental optometrist.  I'd taken my son to a regular optometrist, and he passed the tests, so I assumed his eyes were fine.  I was getting more and more worried as he got older, and a friend whose husband is an optometrist referred me to a developmental optometrist.

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