Saturday, January 25, 2014

Does My Child Need Special Ed. Services?

Resource Specialist in General Ed. Class
No need to panic! Kids develop on their own schedules. But it is a good idea to notice how your child (or a child in your class) is responding to instruction since there could be a learning disability hampering their success.

Here are some general questions to ask:

  • Does the child remember verbal instructions well?
  • Does the child retain information in written or graphic form?
  • Is the child's attention span similar to that of her/his peers?
  • Does the child's handwriting and art fall within the general expectations of the grade level?
  • Can the child spell within grade level expectations?
This is a very general list. If parents and teachers do think there may be a learning disability, the most common are auditory and/or visual. In my experience, the students usually qualify for services in Reading/ELA with a mild visual processing disorder.

In this state, the Special Education teacher would use specialized testing materials to pinpoint the current academic levels for the student. We tested with WIAT II or Woodcock Johnson and sometimes the TOWL, but there are many tests that will be sufficient. The law states that a qualified staff member must do the testing. To discern a processing disorder or other handicap, a district educational psychologist will administer other tests. Then the IEP team will initially meet and a decision will be made if the child qualifies for services.

Here are some links to further inform a parent or teacher of what performance or behavior might indicate a learning disability.

Learning Disabilities Association of America

Visual Processing Disorder (Dyslexia)
  • Reads slowly and painfully
  • Experiences decoding errors, especially with the order of letters
  • Shows wide disparity between listening comprehension and reading comprehension of some text
  • Has trouble with spelling
  • May have difficulty with handwriting
  • Exhibits difficulty recalling known words
  • Has difficulty with written language
  • May experience difficulty with math computations
  • Decoding real words is better than nonsense words
  • Substitutes one small sight word for another: a, I, he, the, there, was 
National Center for Learning Disabilities

 Auditory Processing Disorders

  • Learning to read
  • Distinguishing difference between similar sounds. Example: Seventy and seventeen
  • Understanding spoken language, following directions and remembering details
  • Seems to hear but not listen
  • Remembering people's names
  • Memorizing telephone numbers
  • Following multi-step directions
  • Recalling stories or songs 
  • Confusing multi-digit numbers, such as 74 and 47
  • Confusing lists and other types of sequences 
  • Remembering the correct order of a series of instructions
These are the two prominent processing disorders, with Reading/ELA being the most common area to qualify for Special Ed. services, at least in my experience.  Attention Deficit and its variations  is another topic altogether, but can aggravate other learning problems.

Check with the child's team--parents, teachers, Special Education staff--see what's up and how this young one can get the assistance to succeed.

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