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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am new here. I am so beyond lost and looking for advice with my nine-year-old. He just started third grade. He has struggled in school for the past two years. We adopted him two years ago. He has made great improvements since we got him. He works very hard and has a genuine positive attitude towards learning and gets very excited when he does well. He ended second grade without getting through his addition, had not started subtraction. He also is approximately on a first grade reading level. We worked on reading every night at home. I also hired a tutor. I really wanted him to be held back in second grade but the school said because he made so much progress that had to be exposure due to the adoption and that he would probably struggle his whole life but they did not recommend holding him back. I went along with what they said figuring they are the experts. We are now into third grade and they are working on multiplication and division and word problems. He cannot read the word problems and he cannot keep up in class. Every night he's had homework to do because he can't get the work done in class. I've talked with his teacher and she wants me to take him to his pediatrician to look into ADD. And I work with him one-on-one he does a great job. Last Thursday during independent morning work he could not read a word problem for division got overwhelmed and latest head on his desk and did not work the rest of the day. He got a bad Mark sent home and a note. Understandably so however I know my son and I know he is not defiant I strongly believe he's just overwhelmed. I spoken with a local private school and they said if he tested for second grade they would not be opposed to him transfering into the second grade . I know that third grade is very vital as this is the year you read to learn instead of learned to read. If I have a way to get him some confidence and get a hold of us should I? I feel like time is of the essence instead of just letting her struggle his whole life. Please advise! I'm so worried.
 

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Has the school evaluated him for special needs? If not, I would request an evaluation. Make the request in writing, a real letter with a date and signature. Having an IEP would offer him extra help as well as accommodations, such as having directions and word problems read to him, and having reduced or modified work. Wright's Law is the best reference on special education:
http://wrightslaw.com/


What services does he currently get from school? Is he in Response to Intervention or anything like that?


Where I live, being 9 at the beginning of 3rd grade would already make him old for his grade. Putting him back in 2nd would put him 2 years out of sync with his age mates. The reason schools don't like to do this is because the long turn outcome for those students isn't good. Only about 20% of students who are 2 years behind their age mates finish high school. They also have higher rates of risk taking behaviors in the teen years (drugs, sex, etc.). Sometimes it can look like it is "working" for a year a two, but things can get VERY ugly for those kids later.


I'm not sure what you mean by "getting through addition" and "not starting subtraction." I'm not sure how I child could sit through 2nd grade math without starting subtraction. If you mean achieving a certain score on timed fact tests, I wouldn't get too hung up on that. Many students with LDs in math will never achieve those scores, but if they understand the concepts can continue on him math -- even go to college. The conceptual understanding is a lot more important than speed.


Lots of 3rd graders, especially those with LDs, are still learning to read. Lots. Try not to get too hung up on that. I think you are doing a lot of things right. I think it is great that you hired a tutor and that you are working with him.


Things I recommend:

  1. Asking in writing for an evaluation from the school.
  2. Meeting with his teacher and asking that she IMEDIATELY make accommodations for his reading skills. Realistically, this is a kid who will learn more math if it is read to him, and him being checked out for an entire day is a massive loss of instructional time. This can be easily done. Just seat him next to a strong reader, and make sure both kids know that the strong reader can read to him.
  3. Consider talking to your Dr. about ADD/ ADHD. Nothing in your posts points either to or away from ADHD for me.
 

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My questions are almost identical to Linda on the Move's.

Does he have an IEP? Are there accommodations happening? What accommodations? Was he evaluated and determined not to qualify?

The adoption was only two years ago? I would expect him to be still struggling in some ways with the transition and with new expectations. So being behind is not surprising. However, it does sound like he needs help.

My daughter is starting 4th, she has an IEP for reading. Math was an issue for her last year given the large amount of reading required. We are already talking to her teacher this year about ways that we can better accommodate my daughter in that subject. Last year in 3rd grade there were a large number of students going to the resource room daily for reading help. My daughter is about a year behind in reading and there were several who were at about her level and some even further behind. 3rd grade is a common grade for learning disabilities to be diagnosed as the reading requirements finally reach a level where many students deficits are finally apparent. A number of students joined her reading class in the resource room throughout the year. She didn't go to the resource room for math help, but many of her classmates got help in that subject as well.

It is possible to give your son the the extra help, support and accommodations he needs in his current grade. However, a formal IEP would help a lot in getting those supports.
 

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If you can get him into a program tailored to his actual level I would bet he can catch up pretty quickly. I don't know what your local resources are, what the school offers, etc. Talk to them about it. I really hope someone there can recognize it's a late start, need to build the foundations and don't work above his head thing, not mainly a learning disorder. If the school cannot accommodate him, look into other schools too. Or, if you can be home, homeschooling for this year to catch him up.

If you (or his doctor) do see any signs of ADHD then look into coping skills and therapy first, perhaps there is something useful in that whether the diagnosis is clear and accurate or not. I am skeptical about any need for medication, but I don't know the boy.

My dear cousin was adopted as a preschooler from an orphanage in another country. She spent her first couple of years normalizing to a secure loving family life and learning language and other skills she was behind in. Before long she was clearly a bright and very mature girl for her age.

Tutoring him on his level in spare time will only help so much while they are telling him he has to do work that's beyond him right now. If you are lacking other options it will help eventually, though his frustration in school would continue for a while, and somehow you'd have to work through homework plus the extra tutoring with him. You could make it almost fun though, with computer challenges and family reading time. Try www.khanacademy.org and have him go through their k-2 math with you beside him to help, plus the video lectures to further explain each concept. Middle son found his level with that, breezing through a lot of material until he hit less familiar concepts, and working a little further each day after that. He barely reads, so I have to read him word problems. Both my school age boys are happy to get use it for their math, my 9 year old is into it for programming too. Each day for just a short time, read books to each other. Take turns each page, point out sight words and phonics rules whereever he gets confused. Discuss the story to see that he comprehends it. Make it routine, but not at bedtime because he'll need to be alert. Read to him at bedtime too if you can though, even once they can read to themselves it is a nice way to gather around and share a story.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Wow, such great advice. Thank all of you. I have a questionnaire from the doc for me and the teacher in regards to add. Appointment is in two weeks.

The school won't test him yet. At first, in second grade he was too young. Now they feel his attention issues" would skew the test scores. They want that addressed first. We googled diet changes and have dove into that. I think he fidgets bc he can't keep up. I am it opposed to an ADD diagnosis, but want to wait until he is evaluated for it in a situation where he isn't experiencing anxiety from the reading and math. His therapist doesn't think ADD is an issue. So, you guys think I should make the formal request anyway?

As far as math, yes that was just timed "rocket math". You have put me at ease knowing that I can relax on that. Thank you.

The statistics of holding him back you shared terrify me. :(
 

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The school won't test him yet. At first, in second grade he was too young. Now they feel his attention issues" would skew the test scores. They want that addressed first. .... So, you guys think I should make the formal request anyway?
Unequivocably yes!

His attention issues won't resolve until his anxiety over poorly-aligned academic expectations is dealt with. Their reasoning makes no sense. None of it. Put your request in writing. Get him evaluated. You are doing wonderful things with him at home, but it sounds like you are getting no help from the school at all. Make them help him.

Miranda
 

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It sounds to me like he's being damaged by being in school right now. He's not keeping up with the work, he's stressed by trying to do it anyway, and it's hurting his self-esteem. If it were my kid, I'd be very torn between pushing them for a full IEP examination, and wanting to yank him out yesterday and stop putting him through all that.

It's probably the most logical to push the school for the evaluation, and see what they have to offer him before deciding whether or not to keep him there. A few weeks of this kind of stress will not cause him permanent damage- he'll heal once he's no longer in an inappropriate school setting. Once the evaluation is done, your options are to keep him in public school with the accommodations they offer, move him to that private school you looked into, or teach him at home.

Whatever option you choose, you'll have the information from the evaluation to better tailor the education to his unique learning style.
 

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Wow, such great advice. Thank all of you. I have a questionnaire from the doc for me and the teacher in regards to add. Appointment is in two weeks.

Awesome. The dr. is going about this the right way. ADD/ADHD has to show up in at least two environments to count.



The school won't test him yet. At first, in second grade he was too young. Now they feel his attention issues" would skew the test scores. They want that addressed first.

They are jerking you around. (I'm a special ed. teacher in a public school). Lots of kids are tested in second, or even first, or even K. I could see them making the argument that he hadn't had long enough to adjust after earlier deprivation, and that testing could wait until he had longer to catch up so that delays caused solely by his early life experience weren't mislabeled as being learning problems, but there really isn't such a thing as "too young."


They can't demand that the attention issues are addressed first. ADD/ADHD is a medical diagnosis, so they aren't qualified to diagnosis it, so they can't even equivocally say that he has attention issues. Educational testing is done one-on-one, and many kids who have trouble in the classroom do lovely with testing. It's quiet and calm, and they have all the attention from a kind and interested adult.


Third, it's your legal right to request an evaluation, and their legal obligation to provide it. Spend time on the Wrights Law web site. Communicate with them in writing -- create a paper trail.


His therapist doesn't think ADD is an issue.

What kind of therapist does he see?


Also, for the record, attention issues are a real thing that keep some kids from learning in school, or from being able to show what they know. One student I know was taken off her meds and lost the ability to even write her own name. It can be very hard to sort out what is going on with a child, which is why a multi-disciplined evaluation is required. It can be very hard to tell if a child is goofing around because they don't understand the work, or if they don't understand they work because they are always goofing around. It can be a chicken and egg thing.


Also, what interventions have they tried? We have a lot of things that we do at my school before evaluating -- Response to Intervention for both reading and math, an afterschool academic program with homework help and enrichment, etc. What have they tried?
 

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The only reason I can see to refuse to test is because they are in the middle of response to intervention. What that means is they have to be attempting to make reasonable accommodations and see if those improve things before testing. They do legally have to do this step regardless. However, there is absolutely no reason you shouldn't be in the loop as they do this step and know what they are trying. There should be a SPED teacher, his classroom teacher, and preferably a veteran teacher on a team that tries to figure out normal classroom modifications that can happen. If those modifications are not successful the next step is testing and an IEP.

We did have to do the response to intervention step with my daughter even with existing test scores in hand. I had enrolled her in a program at our local college that had PhD candidates in counseling do IQ testing, ADHD testing, ett. to learn how to administer them. During the course of that testing they discovered she met the legal criteria for having a learning disability and suggested we contact the school. So we already had the testing. We still had to do response to intervention. All that really meant for us was that her teacher documented all the things she was already trying in class to get my daughter caught up. Once that documentation was in place we were ready for the IEP.
 
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You should definitely put the request in writing. If the school is in the middle of doing an RTI/Tier II intervention and needs to finish that up (and get the data) to move forward with testing, they will be able to tell you that.

However, not every child who has a parent request an evaluation gets evaluated. The school is required to do an Evaluation Determination.. they have to gather info from past and present teachers, look at school records, class grades, report cards, standardized test results... and then they get to decide if they test or not. I'm a neuropsychologist in private practice in NJ (school psychologist in NJ and PA) and I can't tell you how many kids/teens I see who have been refused for an evaluation by their child study team.

It is often a "miss" on the school's part if they refuse, and you should keep pushing if they do (including an official appeal/due process). However, on the other side of things when I worked in a school for 10 years, there were a handful of parents each year who formally requested an evaluation because their child, after years of doing fine in school, failed a math test (or something else that made no sense).
 

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ADD just sounds like they are grasping for a 'traditional' diagnosis. Though it sounds like your child lacks interest and attention because it is too hard! Is home school/online school an option? He's never going to catch up in traditional class when he's already a mile behind everyone else. Seriously consider going back to second grade. Familiarity with the content and a second chance to gain mastery might make all the difference. My nephew started school late, motor and speech issues, he will be 9 spring of second grade. He just wasn't physically ready to master some skills at his 'tradition' school age. Waiting made all the difference. Brains are similar too, not all brains are ready for the same skills at the same time, nor same pace as others. Have you also checked other medial issues? Dyslexia or other reading/perception issues? Occupational therapy for motor skills? He will not excel or achieve if he is anxious, stressed, and feels like a failure when everyone else is doing something he can't yet.
 

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I don't think that suggestions to homeschool are any more appropriate on this board than suggestions to put a child in school would be appropriate on the homeschooling board.


Second, children being old for grade is linked to a variety of long term problems. Having actually set down and researched it, I'm not a fan, and I strongly suspect that people who easily suggest it haven't really looked into how those students tend to do in the teen years.


Also, doing response to intervention means that the child is getting very intensive, research based instruction by an experienced teacher who basically has a master's degree in reading. At the school where I work, they have a lower student/teacher ratio than special education. They also keep tighter data. If your child is in RTI, don't feel like it is just a holding place before sp. ed. It is (in most schools) really wonderful instruction, personalized to exactly where the student is.


The reason why kids need to go through the RTI process is to help ensure that we don't label kids as having LDs when the truth is that they were never really taught. Back when Whole Language was a big thing, lots of kids were labeled as LD when they didn't learn to read, but provided with research based instruction (which is systematic, sequential phonics) those kids learn to read just fine.
 
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Coming in late here but yes, please put everything in writing to the school. Ask for an evaluation. I went through a similar situation, I got the ADHD dx and had a 504 plan put in place for special accommodations. What a difference! There is still "something" there but I'm working on having him evaluated.

Is there a reading specialist at your school? I would be asking what their interventions have been and ask for it in writing. I hope they haven't been turning their heads on him.

It sounds like your child could have a learning disability. The school psych is able to look into that with your consent and request.
 
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