Originally Posted by Bokonon
I don't know about that - with ADHD and autism so prevalent, as well as more and more ESL students, I wouldn't be surprised if 25% of very young children at some schools getting referred to a developmental specialist if they hadn't already been diagnosed and/or getting services.
I taught in the schools, and even taught Special Education. I have never heard of 25% of a class to be referred for evaluation through the schools, much less a developmental specialist. Yes, 25% were likely receiving some sort of support beyond the basic classroom environment (speech, social work, IEP, 504, etc) but the point here was that it was stated that 4 out of 20 being referred for a developmental delay (so assuming these 4 were not already identified). In all likelihood 1-2 kiddos were already on an IEP or 504 upon the start of school out of a class of 20 or so. A developmental specialist is unlikely to deal with speech or students that area ESL or getting social work support for minor issues.
Yes, 25% may be getting reading support and/or other interventions from the school. But that does not mean they have a developmental delay nor that they saw/need to see a developmental specialist. New laws require schools to go through multiple tiers of interventions for students that may not be meeting grade level expectations. Those tiers are just interventions to help support the child and DO NOT mean they have a developmental delay or learning disability. They are simply a tool used by the school to help students that may be struggling. And yes, some kids struggle in K at the start-- not because of age but rather it is a huge change in routine and environment.
There were 5 kids out of 25 in my son's junior kindergarten that had behavioral issues that may have warranted a referral for evaluation, just that I know of. Instead of getting that help however, 3 of them became violent and aggressive in class. One of the other 2 was withdrawn from school by his parents, and the fifth did get an evaluation and an IEP with an instructional aide.
Behavioral Disorders is actually my specialty. If 5 out of 25 kids in a class were referred for a behavioral disorder--- there would need to be a serious look at the classroom management. It would be highly highly unusual, though not impossible but rather improbable, for 3/25 even to be aggressive enough to warrant an IEP (unless they were already on one). Often there is one or two student across three or four classes that get a 504 or IEP for behavioral disorders and often one or two of those have had some form of remediation beforehand. Violent or aggressive behavior often warrants a close look due to safety factors and it is rare for an aggressive child to get to K without a 'papertrail' of evaluations.
There are preschool classes that are federally mandated to serve identified developmentally delayed preschoolers ( Jr K).
In the same school this year, one of the kindergarten classes has 9 ESL students, out of 26. That's not a developmental delay, but it may warrant an evaluation if the parents had not already gone that route.
ESL is TOTALLY different and is not in any way a developmental disorder or require the attention of a developmental specialist. The only evaluation they may do on ESL PreK or Preschool classes are to test for English proficiency for support level from a ESL teacher.
Many developmental issues and delays are not "caught" until school age, and many parents think that it is the school's problem to deal with. I have three friends whose children on the autism spectrum were not diagnosed until age 6/7 because they were developmental typical until that age. There is such a wide range of what is normal as well as what isn't that.
Again, that seems to be not the norm. Most kiddos with Autism Spectrum disorders are often identified in preschool due to social skills, language, and/or other typical ASD traits being more intense and of a greater frequency than other typical preschool age behaviors. A few kiddos that also have an ASD diagnosis as a preschooler that is more mild may go on to no longer 'qualify' once they hit 2nd or later grades because they have developed coping skills and/or had a lot of intervention. Some are identified after age 6/7: but often the signs were there and the student was not 'typical' but rather had good coping skills in place and/or parents were not aware of what is developmentally normal for that age. After age 6 or so , behaviors that were OK are no longer considered on the norm or as social skills peak and develop in most kids it is more apparent that a student w/ ASD is struggling with the implied social nuances of their peers.
It is not the schools problem and most parents that I have worked with were aware that the was something not quite standard with their child long before schools starts.
The most common diagnosis that I have seen that is 'caught' in later elementary is learning disabilities. Often it is not until a child is 6/7 that it can be determined if a learning delay is developmental in nature or a learning disability. A learning disability often is seen when a child does not seem to be meeting the academic potential of their age/intellect and it can be seen in a wide variety of formats (from reading to writing to math or a combination). Yes, often there are co-morbid diagnosis such as ADHD or OCD or behavioral disorders with learning disabilities (LD). Often the other diagnosis are seen before the LD. But not always-- sometimes LDs are a stand alone diagnosis.
But it is a rare child that would qualify for a LD diagnosis in K or Preschool ( I saw it twice in the past 6 years). And rarely , if evaluated by the schools, does that child get a referral to a developmental pediatrician/specialist for a LD. The schools often do their own evaluations and have psychologists and special education teachers that are qualified to diagnose and determine specific learning disabilities. A psychologist, neurologist, or pediatrician would likely diagnose a developmental delay.
On a personal note, both my kiddos have special needs. One is on a 504 for physical disability, the other has a very mild form of Autism Spectrum Disorder. They have had interventions since they were infants. Both are currently successful in 1st grade without support from the schools for anything but one dd for physical disabilities. Yes, they are among the youngest. But in no way does that have anything to do with their disabilities.
I think people are quick to point to age as a major factor. It can be a factor, yes, but in reality it is just one of many many many facets of how successful a childs school start is and should not be a lone reason to hold or send a child to school. There is too much variance of children of the SAME age to place such importance on age or cut-off date. A child with a birthday 2 days past a cut-off may be more ready than one that has a birthday two month before and vice versa.