Saturday, March 22, 2014
Worrying and Education
One of the most fun parts of parenting is watching a personality develop. This is even more fun if its a pleasant sort of personality. And seeing your child grow and learn new things and become independent is really a pleasure. Since Keira started school we can see its sometimes hard for her to focus. She is a dreamy, imaginative child and still spends much of her time in "own little world." She is also what we would call pokey. She moves at the pace of a turtle. But personalities come in all types so we didn't worry too much. And what she lacks in speed she makes up in sweetness. See the orange card ( above picture) she recently gave me? She is so loving and sweet. She makes me many notes and cards and presents every week. She also struggled with exhaustion last year but we chalked it up to her being barely 5 and attending full day Kindergarten. Mid way through Kindergarten her teacher mentioned her handwriting and how awful it was. Awful is probably not the best word to use but its pretty awful. Her letters are all different sizes and she writes with a odd mix of caps and lower case letters, she forgets spacing between words and her actual letter formation is messy and hard to read. We worked with her on weekends and all summer. This year in first grade its actually gotten worse. As she writes and tries to think about spelling, punctuation, grammar and composition she gets confused and ends up writing even more sloppy and doing things like reversals that she wasn't doing before. She struggles a bit with multi step math problems as well. Her private school is definitely academically rigorous and I know that the things they do in Kindergarten now are probably the things we did in first grade when I was little. Now if you are not reading half way through Kindergarten you might very well be "behind. " Note I think these are private school standards not public. And there is something to be said for academic rigor and I am a big fan of it but.... maybe not so much at 5 and 6 years old. And just so we are clear we absolutely LOVE her little Catholic School. Its a gem of a school for sure.
Anyways come January of first grade we had the conversation with her teacher about holding her back because of her hand writing and because of "emotional immaturity " Her grades are good and she reads very well so we were unhappy with the thought of holding her back simply because of handwriting and "emotional immaturity." She is one of the younger kids in the class and definitely on the young side emotionally. But she doesn't cause any trouble in school for sure.
So now we are researching alternative charter schools, private schools, and public schools ( would be academically easier for her) but neither of us are big fans of regular public schools but we want to make sure she is the best place for HER. I know I know why not just home school? Its just not a hat I want to wear unless I absolutely have too.
We have great insurance this year so I took her for an OT ( Occupational Therapy) evaluation back in early February because something just wasn't right in my mom gut and any seasoned mom knows to trust her mom gut. She struggles with certain areas ( writing, multi step math) and not others ( like reading) and since she was little we have noticed that she is terribly uncoordinated. It took ALOT of effort for her to learn how to tie her shoes and ride a bike with no training wheels. There are other things she can't do like bounce a ball and catch it, play hopscotch, or jump rope. And I just needed another opinion. Israel is getting older and learning to write and he effortlessly writes letters that look equal or better than hers. Something isn't quite right. It should not be this HARD for her.. Last week we finally got the report from her testing. She scored below average and well below average in most areas of motor proficiency. Overall her score was equal to that of someone who is 5 years old not almost 7. In one area (Bilateral Coordination) she scored below a 4 year old level. She was also given a test of handwriting skills in which she scored well below average overall. Other clinical observations included that she has poor motor planning and that a new motor plan is extremely difficult for her to learn. She also has trouble with sequencing ( difficulty knowing and organizing the steps to take to accomplish a motor plan that she has not yet mastered. Which also makes sense why she struggles with anything that is multi step. Even multi step directions seem to confuse her.
But some things are starting to make sense. Like why she does everything slower, why she is always running late and can't move fast to save her life and why she is so so tired after school ( her brain is working twice as hard to process the info and make sense of it ) . I guess some parts of a writing difficulty falls under speech therapy so she had a speech ( even though she has NEVER had any issues speaking) evaluation as well to get some more info. She has a oral and written language test ( Owls-II) and the Jordan Left-Right Reversal Test ( for Dyslexia) and a listening inventory done with the Speech Therapist. She had significant difficulty with the Reversal test. She was a given a page with many reversed letters and was to circle the ones that were reversed. She circled 6 but missed 14. On the oral and written language test she scored average on listening comprehension, average on reading comprehension, average on oral expression and and below average on written expression. Its worth noting that Keira preformed significantly higher on reading comprehension compared to written expression. This magnitude of a difference that she had occurred less than 1% of the time. Which makes sense to us because she reads really well and understands what she reads really well but writes horribly. They also noted that she has all the markers of dysgraphia.
What exactly this all means I do not know. Does she have a learning disability? Is she just a developmentally "young" kid? Does she have Dyslexia? Are her writing issues just stemming from motor planning issues and poor coordination or is there something else there ( dyslexia etc) I didn't realize learning issues were such a gray area. I thought you either had an issue or you didn't. Even the diagnoses of one seems vague. Everything I read and everyone I talk to tells me something different. Hold her back a year in school, don't hold her back, get her coded and get her an IEP, don't get her an IEP, wait and see how things pan out as she grows and develops, don't wait for her to grow. So now we worry and try to figure this out. Worry that she is not in the right place. Worry about what the next step exactly is???Worry that maybe the right school costs too much. Worry about her soul and her faith education if we have to take her out of Catholic School. Worry about having a learning disability if she does have one, worrying about what to do with the learning disability and how to help her and how to educate her educators on things that might help and figuring out what those things might be. And praying of course that we can make the right decisions. And waiting. Wait for the school lotteries to happen. Waiting, praying, and worrying. I am good at all but the praying part. But I know she is God's child too and I pray and know he will help us figure this out.
For now we know that she will have OT ( to work on her motor skills) and Speech Therapy ( to work on bring her writing up to grade level) weekly this summer.