In my many years of dealing with schools and establishing eligibility for Independent Education Plan (IEP) services, some things have become evident and should be discussed. First let me say teachers are dedicated to the well-being and success of our students. This is true across all districts. However, the funding schools get is finite and has to be distributed across many programs. Special Education is just one area among many. If you think about how our education system serves so many children and they do get educated, it is truly an amazing fete.
That being said, even though “no child left behind” seemed like a great edict, financially it was unsupportable. So a cut off was devised that determined only students that tested two years behind their peers would be considered for IEP help. The testing given usually shows “strengths and weaknesses” and when those are averaged together often the student is considered “average” even though they might be significantly below (more than two years) in some areas. If they are above the norm in other areas, it averages out. They are deemed ineligible for services and parents are told to “wait and see” their student MIGHT mature and be able to keep up with their class in a year or two. The reason for this approach is to limit the number of students receiving services.
Often the student is left to fail additional years and instead of being given grades the school instructs teachers to designate them as below expectancy by giving the student an “M” on the report card. If enough time elapses, the student stops trying and becomes disenchanted with school and learning altogether.
If you are convinced your student is not learning, I would urge you to approach the school with the following precautions:
- TRUST the school administration’s advice without questioning or weighing against your own intuition about YOUR CHILD. Bottom line, you know your child best and if you feel in any way that your feelings are not being taken into account or if you are not comfortable with the outcomes or care plan does not meet the needs of your child, then it is your job to voice that concern. Your input is as important or more so than anyone’s.
- BEWARE of brain babble – if you do consult someone outside the school – just know that everyone has jumped onto the bandwagon of brain phrases such as “plasticity”, “pons” and “neural pathways” – all legitimate language around brain training, but be sure they are using research driven approaches – not just something that sounds good but is not evidence based. You can easily research this on line to verify their claims.
- Go to a TUTOR. There is a difference between fixing the problem and just hand-holding.
Tutors teach the same way as the school and if that is not working for your child, then doing more of the same will not help. Brain training fixes the area that is not able to process information quickly and easily and that is a much different way of coming at the problem. The difference is that you end up with an independent learner who only needs a tutor to fill in the learning that may have been missed along the way.
- Get an ASSESSMENT by a specialist in one thing, i.e., ADHD! They always find it! It’s what they are looking for! Example, Auditory Processing Disorder presents much the same as ADHD inattentive type because when the brain is overwhelmed from working too hard on listening – you can’t rest your ears from listening. The only way to rest the auditory system is to “tune out”, look out the window, not pay attention, etc. This, to the average person, looks like what they determine to be ADHD behavior. It may be ADHD as well as APD, the point is – there are other reasons for the behavior. Be thorough in looking at the problem, don’t leave any stones unturned because if we remediate the APD, perhaps the ADHD will be manageable and it takes some of the balls out of the air that your student is juggling.
- Put your child on MEDICATION without checking on other possible areas first.
What can Parents do?
Assess, assess, assess. Based on findings you may then need to go to the deeper assessments with the specialist where deficits occur and if physiological differences are identified, then go to a neurologist, psychiatrist or physician for medical intervention. This is a fact finding journey and will let you gather information from which to make informed choices.
Start with Screening
Vision – Developmental Optometrist trained in perceptual visual assessment NOT just whether vision is 20/20.
Auditory – Audiologist trained in perception of sounds NOT just whether or not hearing is normal.
Cognition – Speech/Language/Hearing assessment of receptive and expressive language, sound discrimination, perception of individual sounds, and phonemic awareness. . . READING!
So now you are on a fact finding journey and there may be multiple reasons contributing to your child’s struggle.
- Sleep disturbance
- Visual perceptual deficit
- Auditory processing deficit
- receptive/expressive language
How can Encinitas Learning Center Help Parents and Struggling Students?
At Encinitas Learning Center we like to think of ourselves as a hub where parents can come to have a modestly priced screening that will point you in the direction you should go to get to the core problem so that it can be addressed. After over two decades in Encinitas, we have seen literally thousands of children and helped families find solutions. We are here to help guide you through the many offerings out there – steering you towards those that are helpful not spin wheels in programs that are a waste of your time and your child’s time and energy.
Call us today for a free consult: 760-634-6886