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Author: ThyPeace Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 42361  
Subject: Re: suggestions on school troubles? Date: 9/13/2012 7:14 PM
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- a "solid C student"
- has "terrible organization"
- often daydreams in class


This doesn't sound to me like the very bright child that you mentioned back in earlier years. Which suggests to me a few things to look for.

- Yes, check the eyes.
- Yes, check the rest of the body.
- Yes, check for learning disabilities of ALL KINDS

There are many sorts of learning disability. My DD has eye focus and depth perception problems, ADHD, anxiety (which is different than nervous or shy), and migraines. It took years to figure it all out. After much investigation, someone finally told us that all these could be aftereffects of a concussion she had when she was two. That really helped me understand all these significantly different (but all head-related) issues.

We have been working for four years to peel back the onion-layers of symptoms to help her. It's a long process, sometimes very frustrating. As we deal with one problem, it allows us room to deal with the next. So for example, we dealt with the eyes first, with the help of an excellent optometrist. And then the migraines. Without ending the chronic and debilitating pain, we never would have made further progress.

After that, we tried biofeedback, which turns out to have helped more than anything else we tried.

It and medication reduced her headaches. Reduced pain and the biofeedback allowed her emotional maturity to increase by about three years in a single school year. Increased emotional maturity, biofeedback, and a really good set of accomodations at school allowed her to concentrate and learn better.

We did a lot in a single year, but we're not done. DD still struggles in school, and some things will always be tough. Her "processing speed," which is the basic speed her brain does simple tasks, is in the 8th percentile -- low enough that, if all her scores were there, she'd be in special ed. Various other measures of intelligence are in the 95th and above percentiles. So finding ways to accomodate and use her strengths are really important.*

All that started with a really good assessment from a private psychologist. An assessment that covered all kinds of different "intelligence" measures, as well as emotional issues, attention and sensory stuff, and a host of other things. That taught us a lot about who DD is, and how the world looks to her. It's worth every penny you spend on it to get a good one done. You're not in my area of the US, or I would be happy to recommend who to go to.

We were also incredibly lucky that DD happened to attend the special needs immersion school for our area's schools. They already had dozens of kids on 504 plans and dozens with IEPs.** The school had already been helpful. They started implementing strategies that appeared to work before we ever had a diagnosis, and documented the behaviors that were out of the norm (such as visiting the nurse 30 times in a semester). When we showed up with diagnoses and recommendations, they pulled together all the needed specialists quickly because they're already at the school, and had a full 504 plan in place in less than 2 hours. Many people arent' so lucky, and really fight with their schools to get the services their children need.

So -- this is mostly just my experience, but what I really want to say is that it's a long journey to figure out what's going on with a kid who's struggling. It's hard because you want to make it better as soon as you know something is wrong, and it can be frustrating when weeks turn into months and years. It does get better, though, as you find the right people, one at a time, to help you out.

And for your daughter, keep things positive while you acknowledge there's a problem. YOU know that she's a smart cookie who is struggling for some reason. Don't let her teachers tell you or her otherwise. Instead, recruit them, and the other school resources, to help you figure out how to teach her in ways that work better for her.

ThyPeace, has been really lucky with schools and teachers, and is very grateful for it.




*As an example, her teacher asked all the students to do two timed "Mad Minute" math sheets the first week of school. These were really easy for a fourth grader -- 1+8, 10-1, 3+3, things like that. DD took more than 9 minutes on the first one. She took more than 6 minutes on the second one, when I asked her to really focus on doing them quickly.

So her teacher has told her to start using a calculator. Is that the best solution? Of course not. We would like her to have basic math facts at her fingertips. But the fact is, this is a kid who understands the math concepts and will never get very far in math because basic arithmetic is so hard for her. So we let her use a calculator and keep working on improvement in every way we can.

** A 504 plan is for kids who have a learning disability and need accomodations to be able to function in a regular class with the regular curriculum. An IEP (Individial Education Plan) is for kids with more profound limitations who may not be able to function in a regular class with the regular curriculum. Examples: Mild ADHD = 504 plan. Deaf = IEP. Mild autism = 504 plan. Significant autism = IEP. Etc.
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