camelschool

Some answers, and a lot more questions

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camelschool

We just got back from a trip to Hungary to have my two of my sons (DS1 just turned 16, and DS3 is almost 12) officially tested for learning issues. The results weren't exactly what I would have expected, but I at least now have some official document explaining some of what we have been dealing with.

DS1 tested as having dysgraphia (which I wouldn't have guessed, although he does write a bit slowly, and his handwriting isn't great) and low processing speed (21st percentile--although other IQ percentiles are in the mid- to upper- 90's, and she said he has the highest working memory she has ever seen--way above the 98th-99th percentile cutoff). And he is completely unaware of the passage of time and unable to initiate anything. We're doing Core 200 history, Bible, and lit, and I'm trying to use Byline (by the creator of OYAN to help him learn to write essays, plus he should be working on language (which he enjoys), math (at a small expat co-op school), and Dr. Wile's Chemistry, and he has lots of extra-curriculars he'd like to be doing. The funny thing is that the tester said she didn't observe any attention issues with him. Clearly, she hasn't seen him in our house with his four siblings, distracting them all from their work when he is supposed to be doing his. Cutting books and assignments is especially hard for me, because DS2 is doing the same history, lit, math, language, and chemistry, and it feels awkward to cut assignments for one and not the other. At the same time, I really can't ask DS1 to write a 1-2 page paper every week or two when it can literally take him ten hours for a one-page draft.

DS3 hasn't gotten his results yet, because he took so long to test (a couple of hours longer than she had expected on what should have been a 4-5 hour test, and she even dropped one of the tests because of time), but I think I saw the percentile for processing speed on her screen, and it was in the 1-2 range, probably below (which wouldn't surprise me), and I fully expect a dysgraphia diagnosis. He is the kid who can do a long math problem in his head, but takes forever to do it and occasionally gets lost in the details, since he won't write down any intermediate steps.  He also has no problem answering comprehension question of things he hears orally--or reads, if you take the time to let him read something, but it could take an hour to get through a short passage.  His working memory has been really trained by how long it takes to read anything. People frequently seem to think DS3's problems look like dyslexia, but dyslexia intervention programs haven't seemed to help much, since he already know his phonics but reads really slowly.

I think one of my real struggles with dealing with all of this is that in normal non-academic circumstances, neither boy's issues show up, so other people have a hard time understanding what I'm dealing with, and they don't seem to understand why I don't have time to do other things. (The standard response when I say that DS1 can't focus is “Oh that is normal with teenagers.” Never mind that a preschool teacher had noticed these issues at age three, and his kindergarten teacher said he was always either the first person done or the last (aka didn't finish at all).

The good news is God has provided someone who will probably be coming to help us in a month or so—we're very excited about that. It should allow me to spend more time with DS1, and hopefully do language study as well. 

If anyone has suggestions for how to improve processing speed in kids, I'd much appreciate them. Most of the suggestions I read were work-arounds, rather than ways to work on the root problem. Maybe processing speed is something you can't really improve much. DH is a slow processor and tends to be selective about what he bothers to use his processing speed on, which has led to some interesting predicaments over the years. Normally, though, he is fine. Software development is something better done slowly and thoroughly than quickly and carelessly, and there are procedures for checking your work as you go.  DS3 started coding this summer and really enjoys it, so maybe that is the way he'll go as well.

 

 

 

 

 


 


 


 


 


 


 

 

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Countrymom9

Ds17 has slow processing issues as well as dyslexia, so I will be interested in solutions as well.

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ora pura

I saw your post & even though it was from some time ago, I thought it might be helpful if I replied.

Motor skill efficiency relates to dysgraphia and may have been the reason for the diagnosis. Often work with an occupational therapist is warranted. Because your children are older, use of a keyboard is the primary accommodation. Also, with your ds16, the 21st percentile sounds bad, but it is still a standard score in the upper 80s which is still low average. I assume that along with observations during testing, the assessor did not observe significant attentional disruptions - especially with a very high working memory score. I would be curious to see what his memory span scores looked like in isolation.

Anyway, processing speed is a broadband category on the Wechsler intelligence scales. It refers to a student's ability to perform simple clerical tasks quickly, when under pressure (timed). By adding the timed component it requires sustained and selective attention. In terms of reading, when a student has slow processing speed, it often affects reading fluency/automaticity (rate in terms of wpm read) which then can secondarily affect comprehension. If reading fluency is an issue you can utilize Choral Repeated Reading (have your ds read along as you read out loud - you may add comprehension questions if comprehension is an area of concern).

In terms of intervention tailored directly for processing speed, there is a lot of controversy in the field right now. Programs like Brain Balance claim to be able to work on it, but there isn't anything in the literature that substantiates those claims (that I have found). Neuroscientists are developing programs and right now there are many promising ones that create new neural pathways for memory. Furthermore, because of the fact that attention plays a significant role in processing speed, students with low processing are often diagnosed with ADHD-inattentive type (however, low processing speed is not in and of itself diagnostic). In those cases, stimulant medications can really impact processing speed. So, beyond "speed drills" there are academic computer games that require quick, simple decisions (http://www.arcademics.com/games) but I think that your ds16 would be far too old for these.

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. I am graduating in May with my PhD in School Psych & am working on a neuropsych certificate - so, this has become my job (on internship now & doing evals regularly). 

Edited by ora pura
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