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Archive for the ‘Twice Exceptional (2e)’ Category

So after I sat and thought more about the situation, I became more frustrated. I became even more confused. I really began to doubt myself – again. (Let me tell you – that meeting was way more intimidating than I could have ever anticipated). I became really depressed and really worried. I did some reading. I did some thinking. I did some more reading. Then, I did some more thinking. Then, I told DH that we were going to need some help to sort through this, because I just can’t figure it out alone and I certainly am not ready to ‘let it go’. There is just too much at stake. I needed a plan…..

So I contacted the Gifted Development Center in CO. We were fortunate enough to hear Dr. Linda Silverman, the Center’s Director speak about 18 months ago. It was after her lecture that DH & I started to think that EE was in fact gifted and that perhaps we should have him tested as Dr. Silverman suggested. The Gifted Development Center (GDC) does nothing but ‘gifted’. They are the SME’s (subject matter experts) on the gifted and their issues. These people know what they are talking about. They are also infinitely more qualified to give us an evaluation of EE and his ‘issues’ than anyone on that Child Study Team – Master’s thesis on Twice Exceptionalities or not.

In preparation for our phone consultation, we were required to fill out 16 – YES sixteen – different background forms. There were forms on family history, medical history, introversion/extroversion scales, sensory, OE, HIPAA, etc. It was quite the undertaking. DH & I spent several evenings trying to interpret what they were asking and whether we felt that particular trait, question or characteristic fit EE. In short, it was a lot of work. However, I will say it was worth it in so many ways.

Conference day finally came. We were nervous (no clue why) and excited to be talking to someone who might be able to give us some good advice about the situation. Or even just to tell us if there simply was n0thing to be worried about and that I was indeed a crazy, neurotic mother (well – yes – but I meant in reference to this particular issue).

We spoke with Bobbie Gilman for over an hour. She was great. Very down to Earth and friendly. Not at all intimidating. A wealth of information. She immediately put us at ease by letting us know that we were on the right track. In her opinion, the difference in the Verbal and the Processing speed scores are significant. Significant enough to render his FSIQ score unusable. (BTW – She is co-chairing the NAGC testing board.) She told us that we should use his GAI (General Ability Index) instead as it is closer to his truer ability. (She calculated this for us and I just about fell over when she said what it was.) However, she also felt that this was probably not very accurate either as his WIAT scores were much higher than anticipated. (I think that she really wanted us to come to CO for a re-test and evaluation, but it is SO NOT IN THE BUDGET.)

Another point she made was that if his scores on the Verbal portion were normal and the Processing was below as much as 2 standard deviations, then the school would be taking notice. So they were wrong to tell us that it isn’t significant.

We discussed a LOT in that conversation, but the overall gist was this – He is not lazy.  And yes, he likely has some form of learning disability that his high cognitive ability is able to over-compensate for this with self devised coping mechanisms or strategies. It is probably something very subtle, but to him it would be extremely frustrating. It may not be anything that can be ‘fixed’ per se, but we should investigate and evaluate further and seek accommodations for him – particularly with testing.

Suggestions:

  • Read ‘The Mislabeled Child‘ by the Eides. They talk about many issues in the book, but one that may be of particular relevance is the idea of ‘Stealth Dyslexia’. This could be what EE is dealing with.
  • Focus on his strengths. Continue with SEP (Sat. Enrichment) Classes. He will benefit from the stimulation and the camaraderie of being around ‘his’ peers . (Anyone got a winning lottery ticket laying around that they don’t need?)
  • Continue to advocate at school. Try again to get him placed in the gifted program. She realizes that this may be doubtful, but try anyway.
  • Have we considered Homeschooling? (Yeah and I do not look good in orange – nor do I want to reside at Statesville.) We said we have, but that with EE being an only child and being as social as he is, we did not feel that Socially/Emotionally this would be the best choice for him. How about part time? Hmmm…maybe. If we had a part time arrangement, then we could enrich and accelerate in the areas we need to at home, but he still gets the benefit of the social aspect of public schooling. (Yes – Ecemom – I know – you suggested this months ago. Again, you are a Superwoman. LOL)
  • We talked about re-visiting the eye therapy. (Yeah – again with the lottery ticket…anyone?) Even if we continue at home, we would likely see a benefit. She had suggestions for books on this – Surprise! I already own them. And yes Virginia, they are excruciating to read.
  • She suggested an OT evaluation because the Processing Speed score could also signal a fine motor coordination issue.
  • She suggested getting him to work on his keyboarding skills.
  • She also suggested that we take him to see a specialist who deals with Central Auditory Processing Deficits. Huh? What’s that? We told her that we just had his hearing checked and it was fine. Oh, but this is different. Much like the visual tests unless a trained specialist is looking for it, then it likely will not be found as it is less about the ‘hearing’ and more about how the brain interprets the signals. She was concerned that this may be an issue as EE (like so many gifted kids) had lots o’ ear infections as a baby/toddler. Oh goody – more testing. I could see the tension rising in DH’s face as he is trying to figure out how much this is going to cost?
  • Practice. Practice. Practice taking standardized tests. It is not so much about cramming for the material, but more about the actual practice of taking a test. Time constraints. Guessing. Moving on. Teach him to be a good test taker.
  • Keep trying to get those accommodations for more time.
  • Should we work with him on Executive skills? Yes. Help him to develop his own strategies for dealing with his areas of weakness.
  • What about the rote memorization issues? She said that this is not at all unusual for a high ability child. They simply do not see the point in it. Or rather there are more important things to remember than times tables, etc. Try to help him, but don’t be overzealous about it.  Like the testing – practice it over and over at home. It will come in time. Make a game of it when possible.

So here we go…

I have called, but not yet scheduled the Auditory evaluation. I have ordered books. I am trying to develop my plan. I am trying to be prepared for the ‘talk’ with the principal about placement for next year.

DH & I have talked about all of this ad nauseum. He is in a place where he is angry about how things are being dealt with at school. Which is actually good because when he is like this, he is engaged in the process with me. He wants to know what the game plan is? He will be meeting with the principal too. He will be armed with his questions and trust me…He is a master at ‘playing the game’.

HA! Public school system. Watch out. We are ready ‘to take up arms’ and ‘oppose’ because 2e or not 2e – it doesn’t matter. What matters is helping EE succeed and feeling like as parents we did not give up – so maybe he won’t either!

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“Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And, by opposing, end them.”

Ha! At first I thought that I was just being punny. Then I thought about it. Is it easier to just ‘deal’ with whatever EE’s issues are at home and screw forget the public school system? Or ‘take up arms’ and oppose? Oppose the fact that this child scores off the charts verbally, but despite this has been denied the little gifted language arts based programming that our district has to offer because he doesn’t test well (on the CogAT)?  Do we simply come to grips with the fact that as he gets older and these timed tests hold higher stakes for him –  that he just will be placed incorrectly? Or continue to be an advocate?

We choose advocate. After that Child Study (CST)/ 504 meeting, I was pissed discouraged. I felt (and wrote) that we were summarily dismissed. I was made to feel like this because  in many ways my child is extraordinary, however  we were basically told his struggles are irrelevant. His issues don’t matter – because in their words – there was no relevant educational deficiency at this time. Relevant to whom??? I assure you, it is relevant to my son (and his parents). He doesn’t understand why everything takes him longer. He is frustrated that he knows the answers – they are there, but for whatever reason he blanks out, panics, or whatever. Why, oh why does he ‘zone out’? He is struggling to master the act of simple rote memorization like multiplication tables, but he got the concept of exponential value in about 60 seconds.

His processing speed is more than 2 standard deviations lower than his verbal ability. If his verbal ability were normal, then would they be jumping through hoops to help him? I’d be willing to bet (heavily) that they would be very concerned. However, since my child’s processing speed is just average as compared to his verbal ability being … well…we’ll say significantly above average, they couldn’t care less. Because for them, it is ‘irrelevant’. He still gets straight A’s. He still does very well on the NWEA MAP (an untimed assessment that his teacher admits he is always the last to finish). So what is the problem? The problem is my kid is struggling in his own right.** Something is going on with my muffin. He is not lazy. He is not fine with the status quo. We as his parents are definitely not fine with the current situation. Why? Because we know that it will only get worse as he gets older. We know that he is losing precious time. He is losing confidence. He is losing interest. He is in a nutshell – getting lost in the shuffle. We are not okay with this.

Right after our CST/504 meeting, we had an appointment with another developmental optometrist for a second opinion. He came highly recommended by a few parents in our district. He was also on the list that the psychologist that tested EE gave us during our consult. So off we went to see what he had to say. The sessions with our previous Dev. Optometrist ended on a cordial note. EE made some significant progress in the beginning, but since we had not been seeing any further progress, we were starting to wonder if we were being taken advantage. The new eye doc evaluated EE and basically told us that his eye problems were not bad enough to warrant therapy (nor did he feel they ever were). FANTASTIC!

Great! Now WTF what do we do/believe , etc??????


**Disclaimer – I know that there are children out there with horrible conditions. Children who are far behind and will likely never be able to do half of what my son can do. I know this. I feel for these children and their parents. I truly do. However, this is about my child. This is a blog about gifted kids and their struggles. And yes, they do have struggles too. Please keep context in mind here. Thanks.

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I am not really even sure where to start. Ecemom and I decided we needed to write for all those moms out there who were taking life ‘one day at a time’ with their gifted kids. Life in our house has been very chaotic and not simply because of the abundant ‘gifts’ in our family, but because God decided we needed to shake things up a bit. To not bog you down in details – the cr*p hit the fan here in a big, bad way.  In the midst of it all, we are struggling with my son’s learning disability. WOW! That was the first time that I have ever written it. It has only been said a few times. Gifted or not…realizing your child has a learning disability is not easy or comfortable. Not because I am ashamed – not at all! My son is amazing. He is kind and has an ‘old soul’. I strive to be the kind of person he is. It is hard because of what it means for him. Struggle. And there lies the irony folks….struggle? As gifted parents isn’t that what we are constantly touting? “I want my child to struggle.” And I do. Just not like this. I want him to ‘struggle’ by being challenged….not by the simple act of reading or writing or being able to sit still enough to do both. Careful what you wish for? I am learning by necessity to be very specific in my requests. Like this…”God, please merciful Lord, do NOT let anyone in this house become ill in the next month. Please allow us this vacation because quite frankly….I will have a nervous breakdown if I do not get to go to Disney with my family….and I do not think it is too much to ask that there are no crises between now and then (or during for that matter).”

But I digress. Learning disability (written twice now and still not any easier). We had a ‘challenging’ school year last year. He was miserable. Bored. Sad. And was hating school. My son used to love school. I knew something was ‘off’. (And not just me and my rocker.) So we started by having him evaluated and tested. We saw a woman who specifically works with gifted individuals. I needed to know what we were dealing with – so I could ‘shove it’….errr…I mean explain politely to his school that they were wrong and that he is ‘gifted’ and needs more. She performed IQ and achievement tests with my baby. Results? Yep….just as I suspected…he is ‘gifted’. In fact, I believe her words were, “there is nothing that isn’t gifted about your son”.  What I did not expect was the statistical anomaly that rendered his scores invalid. HUH? What? Yep. Not only did these tests affirm that I was correct in my suspicions that EE (my son’s pseudonym – which we will say is Emotional Edward) is ‘smarter than your average bear’, his scores revealed that he may have a visual processing deficit.

We were floored. NOW what?

We were referred to a Behavioral Optometrist. He was evaluated. We were then told he has something called Convergence Insufficiency. In addition he has Oculomotor Dysfunction and Accommodative Infacility. Okay – so what the heck does that mean???? It means the poor kid sees 20/20, but his eyes do not ‘team’ or work together well. Also, he has trouble shifting focus from near to far or point A to point B. What are the symptoms? Here are a few:

  • eyestrain (especially with or after reading)
  • headaches
  • blurred vision
  • double vision
  • inability to concentrate
  • short attention span
  • frequent loss of place
  • squinting, rubbing, closing or covering an eye
  • sleepiness during the activity
  • trouble remembering what was read
  • words appear to move, jump, swim or float
  • problems with motion sickness and/or vertigo

Unfortunately, a lot of this appears very much like ADD. Now if your child has ADD, I feel for you. I cannot even imagine, because I am having trouble with EE’s inability to concentrate in certain situations and the distractibility is off the charts. In addition, throw in the reading issues with losing your place or having to re-read for comprehension and homework time is excruciating. This is 3rd grade…Can you imagine HS? We need to get this child some help.

He was going to eye therapy. What is ‘eye therapy’ you ask? It is a series of exercises to re-train the body and eyes to work they way they should. Seems simple enough – right? It would be except that our insurance carrier considers this to be an ‘experimental’ treatment and is thus, not covered. Yikes! Well, not only is it not covered, but it is obscenely expensive….. about $600 a month. So we whipped out the Mickey card and paid for 3 months. He was improving, but we ultimately decided (while the sh*t was hitting the fan in other aspects of life – car accidents, heart surgery, dog dying, MIL dying, etc. in the span of 2 months…Yes! God thinks I am a rock star.) that we like our home and would like to keep living in it. Therefore, we ceased doing eye therapy for the time being.  So I feel like the worst mom on the planet for not being able to give this ‘therapy’ to my child. Something that he really needs – So what to do? I am trying to educate myself to be able to continue at home….that is a whole other post.

In the mean time, the problems at/with school are increasing. He is very well behaved. Thank God. However, this little ‘eye’ thing has reared its ugly head in a new way. We were told that this may impact his performance on timed and standardized tests. Okay, big deal…just a few meaningless tests right? WRONG. As we all know….testing is our society’s keys to the kingdom. Test poorly and doors open for some. Extra reading help. Special services. Great for those kids that test below grade level and the schools are desperate to make “adequate yearly progress” so they bend over backwards to help these kids. What about my child? He tests above grade level, but not to his ability. What does this mean for him? EXCLUSION. Exclusion from the one thing that he enjoyed most about school….working with the gifted coordinator. You see, he bombed the CogAT. Our district’s identification for the gifted Language Arts program (the only gifted programming available) is heavily dependent on the scores from this test for admission. Nevermind the fact that EE scores off the charts on the WIAT or the NWEAs…no CogAT score = no gifted. He (and I) was devastated. We plug on though. We talk about feelings and discuss how to make the eyes better. We stress that not being in the gifted program at school doesn’t mean that you are not a smart little boy. Then we he scampers off to bed, Mommy cries. I am failing my child. Why? Why does he have to be the ‘twice exceptional’ kid? Why can’t it be the mom who is a psychotic idiot about her brilliant child and is freaking out about preschool? Why can’t she have the 2e kid? Why me? Why him? It isn’t fair. I don’t like it. I want him to not have this struggle. Excuse that rant. Pity party is over. Now what do I do? How do I help my child?

One suggestion was a 504 plan. A 504 plan gives students accommodations for their disabilities. Like for instance, extra time on tests or a testing environment free of distractions. So how do I get one of these magical plans? And will it be enough to help EE? Well, we shall see. We are in the process of inquiring about a 504. As a matter of fact, I should be researching for my meeting at school next week, but I needed this ‘therapy’ time. (Lots of issues in my head = lack of concentration for me.) Thanks for allowing me to ‘get some of it out’. Stay tuned. I will let you know how the meeting goes.  In the meantime, hug your child and tell him or her how wonderful they are – just as they are – gifted or not. Learning disability or not. Children are little rays of sunshine on a cold bleak winter day. EE and his father are the reason I get out of bed in the morning. SO chaos or calm…I try to always remember that I am truly blessed.

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