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Verbally gifted child not doing well in school. BTDT???

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 

 

We suspected that our son was gifted before he started school and so were very surprised when he started kindergarten and his teacher said he was "struggling" with the work.  We chalked it up to it being his first school experience and that first grade would be better.  It hasn't been.  His teacher said his school performance is "poor".  Neither teacher has really mentioned that he seemed unusually bright to them.

 

Well, we had him tested and he is verbally highly gifted and above average nonverbal.  We really have no idea why he is doing so poorly in school.  We have asked about learning disabilities and the like and his school doesn't think that is an issue and believes he will slowly do better over time. 

 

He loves to learn outside of school, but not his school work.  Unfortunately, his school work takes him so long, he is left with little time to do much else.  We are hoping to homeschool next year, but I would love to figure out why he isn't doing well and see if we can work on it/around it as much as possible.

 

Anyone else have a gifted child who struggles in school????  Did it get better on its own???

post #2 of 25

How big a gap does he have between his verbal scores and the nonverbal?  It really could be a learning disability that looks different because he is bright.

 

I was a "struggling" but gifted kid.  I had a diagnoses of non verbal learning disability which I was thought to have "grown out of" during school.  My own experience was that things initially ironed out but I had (for me) difficulties in high school.  I still came out with a partial scholarship, but it was frustrating not being able to complete exams (I'd do things like earn a 78% on the honors chemistry exam with every answer correct but the exam only 78% finished).  I'd say it's better to cover all the bases when a child is young so that it is easier to help them reach their potential at an early age.

post #3 of 25
Thread Starter 

There is a 26 point difference between his verbal/nonverbal scores.  We had suspected a learning disability too, which is why we had him tested in the first place.  We took his scores to his school, private, so that they would give us a referral to the public school for testing.  But, his school doesn't think he has a learning disability.  

 

 

post #4 of 25

That's sweet.  It's great that they don't think he has a disability that would qualify him for services that they then might have to provide.  But you do think there is a problem, and you would know, since you are the parent.  I would push.  Send a certified letter with your request for testing in writing.  In many districts, a written request starts the clock ticking on an evaluation.  You want to get this done before you start to home school, because your child will have difficulty related to his disability that you will want to tailor your instruction to address and accommodate. 

post #5 of 25

 

I agree that further investigation is warranted, since you already know that there is a significant gap between verbal and non-verbal scores. 

 

Just checking - he's been tested for normal vision and hearing? It can be surprising how well vision and hearing problems can be hidden in youngsters. 

post #6 of 25
Thread Starter 

 

We have had his vision and hearing both tested in the past month.  We wanted to be sure to rule those out.

 

We have no real reason to think that he has a learning disability, other than he is getting below average grades at school.  Anyone else have a gifted child just plain old not doing well in school or is this more than likely a learning disability?  He tries.  He just has a hard time. 

post #7 of 25

What cognitive tests did they use?  What level of professional tested his eyes (ie ped, regular optometrist, developmental optometrist, opthomologist)?  Were other inventories completed that would identify other complexities?  Might he have ADHD-Inattentive?  How is his printing?  Gross and fine motor skills?

post #8 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by mauricemcfadden View Post He tries.  He just has a hard time. 

 He's gifted.  He tries.  He's not succeeding.

 

This strongly points to a learning disability.  A 26 point difference is huge

 

Who did the testing?  Was there anything else done along with the IQ?  I'd head back to the tester and seek out more answers. 

 

Most private schools don't have the resources to tease this out, or even to figure out what constitutes an LD.  It's time to head to an expert.

post #9 of 25
Thread Starter 

For the IQ test, it was the WISC IV.  They also did a Peabody Achievement test, the tests were administered by a psychologist who does testing for a local school.

 

For the eye exam, we went to our normal optometrist.

 

Yes, he does have issues with fine and gross motor and has been in OT for a over a year.  His printing isn't good and he still frequently mixes up "b" and "d" and even often reads "p" for "q" and writes "p" for "9".  He also really hasn't gotten left vs. right down and still has to really think about it.

post #10 of 25

I ditto exploring a learning disability.

 

I sounds like a concern with fine motor (OT can help with this and give you more details, such as if it is a motor planning, a sensory, or a muscular concern) and/or possibly a NonVerbal Learning Disability- which can present as difficulty with what you describe.

 

Often GT kiddos will perform average or slightly below or slightly above across the board, not standing out in the classroom---- with a lot of effort, which is unexpected with high ability levels (per IQ).

 

 

One of my DDs has had OT and still reverses letters/numbers, takes time to complete written work, and does not complete work in a timely matter. However, her reading and verbal abilities have been acknowledged by her teacher (as in they do not match her written work). We are watching her closely to see if an evaluation is needed, but if she is successful in school-- even if she has a LD, she will not get services since an IEP will only be in place for students that do not succeed in a 'standard' educational format (and need specialized instruction). Some states do offer Gifted IEPs (but ours is not one of them).

 

I , myself, had a large gap in Verbal/Non Verbal scores and also had large gaps in ability and  written achievement testing when I was in middle school. I also had a large spread in my achievement skills (80 points from highest to lowest). My IQ showed that I should be capable of high levels of work, I could verbally do it but struggled with writing and expressing myself on paper and did not do well with timed material. However, I was passing so the schools did little- though there was a 60 point spread between my ability and achievement(written). My parents did independent testing and I got some writing support for a few years, which helped tremendously. It takes me longer to write than most people- and in Elem/Middle school it made school work very difficult.

 

 

Write the school and request an eval. They will need to process it and evaluate him. Even if he does not have a LD, the testing process may give you some insight in how to help him.

 

Other thoughts. How old is he?? (old or young for grade?)  What age was he tested? (The younger he was, the less likely it was accurate-- not saying he is not GT- but a child tested at 4 may have a different learning profile/results than the same child at 7). Does he struggle with attention? (that can play into the ability to attend in the classroom). Can he learn to type? I know that I can type a lot faster than I write and it really helped in High School and College. Does he have trouble with oral directions? If so, look into a Auditory processing issue-- that can affect reading/writing a lot!!

 

post #11 of 25

Do you have access to the person who tested him to ask questions about the results?

 

Quick googling is not giving me the answer, but I think it's a difference of 23 points that indicates a "discrepancy LD."  What were his WM and PS scores like?

 

The Peabody is supposed to indicate specific LDs, and it's curious that the tester didn't use the WIAT which is normed to the WISC.  It sounds like you need more interpretation of the test results you already have.

 

You could go to the Davidson Gifted forum as there are some parents there who have developed good expertise at interpreting scores.

 

At 6 yo, reversals are totally within the range of normal so don't in of themselves indicate any kind of LD.  What does the OT say?  Are they just working on printing, or other stuff too?

 

Not to overwhelm you, but you may find some fascinating information here and here:

http://neurolearning.com/Library/

http://eideneurolearningblog.blogspot.com/

post #12 of 25
As a parent of a Hg+/PG child who also 'struggled' in the early years, I would encourage you to at least push for more testing to rule out a learning disability. My DD tried hard until she gave up trying in grade two. We investigated for LDs based solely on her refusal to do class work. We had NO idea she was gifted. Her abilities masked, to a certain extent, her fairly significant disabilities and her disabilities hid her abilities. For all the world, she looks like a lazy underachiever who brings home B's and C's. Now that we know about her dysgraphia, stealth dyslexia and ADHD we see how hard it is for her to get through a school day.

Rule the LDs out.
post #13 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by mauricemcfadden View Post

There is a 26 point difference between his verbal/nonverbal scores.  We had suspected a learning disability too, which is why we had him tested in the first place.  We took his scores to his school, private, so that they would give us a referral to the public school for testing.  But, his school doesn't think he has a learning disability.  

 

 



I just wanted to make sure this was addressed -- you said you thought your private school should refer you to the public school for testing.  However, you don't need a referral.  Just contact your school district directly yourself. As someone else said, you can send a certified letter requesting testing, which under federal law they are required to provide within a certain amount of time after receiving a signed request from the parents.  Don't wait for your private school to do it, you don't actually need to involve them.

post #14 of 25

I agree you should get him privately tested for a learning issue.  But I would first go back to the tester and ask for some analysis of the data.  Such a large disparity should trigger the question automatically, I would think.

 

When my son was 7, we had him tested because he's exceptionally bright, but really struggled with reading and writing.  His homework took forever and he fought about it every night, which also was not his personality.  He has a twin, who he's very much like cognitively, and his twin didn't have any of the struggles.  Finally, at the beginning of 2nd grade we had him privtely tested and he came out in the 99th pct for verbal and math, but his low scores in processing and a couple of other areas were as low as 27th.  (I can't remember all the details now).  He was given the WISC, plus TOWRE, GORT and one other.  The tester said she could tell from his handwriting sample that he had dyslexia. 

 

His symptoms were extremely poor handwriting and decoding, poor reading and slow processing speed.  With private tutoring, he's now almost a grade level ahead for reading, and he will be proficient in writing this year.  It really helped him to know that he has dyslexia, and it ended our homework struggles.  He has a 504 plan at school and his teachers will reduce his homework if it takes too long.  Plus, he works on the computer for writing, rather than long-hand, which is so much better for him.

 

I wouldn't just assume your gifted child is a poor student in this case.  There's no reason he should be doing poorly, so you should find out what the problem is. 

 

 

 

post #15 of 25

Here is something else to consider, especially considering that he has a higher verbal score.

http://giftedkids.about.com/od/Underachievement-Motivation/a/Underachievement-Of-Verbally-Gifted-Children.htm

 

and then this...

 

http://homeworktips.about.com/od/homeworkhelp/a/global.htm

post #16 of 25

Sounds like you should learn more about slow processing speed and executive dysfunction.

post #17 of 25

It's possible that he's incredibly bored in school and his teachers aren't seeing it.  When I went to a Kindergarten parent-teacher conference halfway through the year, the teacher said that he was impressed my daughter knew all of her letters.  I said, "She should know all of the letters, since she reads Harry Potter to herself every night."  He then just got a dumb look on his face.  So don't expect teachers to necessarily know what is going on with your child.  My dd hated school and hated doing the work because it was so boring.  Only when we appropriately challenged her (with skipping a grade AND getting into a magnet program) did she then flourish.

post #18 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by mauricemcfadden View Post
Yes, he does have issues with fine and gross motor and has been in OT for a over a year.  His printing isn't good and he still frequently mixes up "b" and "d" and even often reads "p" for "q" and writes "p" for "9".  He also really hasn't gotten left vs. right down and still has to really think about it.

 

I suspect he writes slower than most of his peers, and therefore the written part of his school work requires far more time and effort for him than most of the children. Much of how children are doing in school is how well they are able to write -- they write everything from math to answers to a science test.

 

Is he getting ANY accommodations at school for writing?

 

For my 2E dd, for whom fine motor skills and therefore writing are major issues, accommodations for writing make the difference between passing grades and not passing grades. This is what I would tackle first.

 

Also, there is an LD called "non-verbal learning disability."  I've never understood this one and can't explain it, except that it does not effect verbal abilities. I know that one of the other 2E kids that my DD goes to school with -- who is freakishly smart and yet was a disaster at traditional school -- has this label.

post #19 of 25
Thread Starter 

He does take *much* longer than his peers to complete his work.  His teacher said that with some papers it was taking him 4x as long :(

On the WISC, his processing speed score was in the 9th percentile and his working memory test was in the 68th percentile.  He had a span test scores from 99.6th to 5th percentile...crazy!

 

His school told us that they don't believe that he is smart, telling us that "all parents think their first born is smart".  Yes, they did have his IQ scores (he was tested just prior to turning 7), they said that they just don't believe in IQ testing.  They school was not giving him any accomadations, and wasn't going to.  They did not think that there was an issue at all.  He withdrew him from the school and hs'd him for the remainder of the year. 

 

His OT suspects that he might have a NVLD, which I had not heard of before.  We are currently waiting for our appointment to have him privately evaluated.  We hope to have a better understanding of the issues he is having to see if the local public school would be able to accomidate his unique needs.

post #20 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by mauricemcfadden View Post
We are currently waiting for our appointment to have him privately evaluated.  We hope to have a better understanding of the issues he is having to see if the local public school would be able to accomidate his unique needs.

 

 

I think the old school just didn't want to deal with him. We don't believe in IQ testing? We don't believe he is smart? Seriously? That just sounds like code for "if we are belligerent enough, you will take your child away and we won't have to bother to figure out what is going on, which involves more work than we are willing expend."

 

I'm glad you are getting him privately evaluated -- he sounds like a complex little guy. Public schools have a completely different mandate than private schools. Private schools really can pick and choose students and refuse to be flexible. Our public school experience was VERY positive. my DD had a 504 plan than included things like accommodations for handwriting. The school was very sane about the whole situation, and in meetings it was common for teachers to say things like "she is obviously very bright, but...".  It was so obvious that we were all working together to figure out what would work for my DD.

 

I hope that your luck is as good, and that you also have a staff that is interested in making your child successful. thumb.gif

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