DD referral - confused parents

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DD is 5 and is in kindergarten. She received all 3s ("mastered") and 2s ("proficient") on her report cards for this year, but her teacher is concerned about DD's behavior. DD interrupts, lacks focus and lacks concentration. Of course, she's 5, right?

Well, her teacher wants her to be evaluated. We received this email tonight and are confused. What does she think is going on?

DH is pissed and thinks the teacher is trying to get DD in the system and this is "how it starts." I just want what's best for DD, but have no idea what's going on. Here is the e-mail:

Begin forwarded message:

I wanted to share with you that I heard back from the Speech Pathologist for our school. She will be able to conduct an speech screening next Wednesday, March 6. The Speech Pathologist shared that the screening is informal and she will see if there is a speech concern or not. Then she will let me know if there is anything else that may need to be done, such as an intervention or if the concern is developmental. I will have a paper for you to sign saying we have your parental permission to conduct the screening. Thanks.

I also heard back from the School Psychologist, who is assigned to our school. She will be sending me some information to complete for the first step in the request for problem solving assistance. I will also include a sample of DD's handwriting, since I had a concern with her motor skills (legibility).

If there is additional information that I need from you, I will be in touch. As we work on this first step, I will keep you informed as I learn information. My goal is to find a solution that works best for your child and continue to build on their successes in school.
Loose botticelli curls and waves
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Last edited by LoloDSM; 02-27-2013 at 05:36 PM.
What does a speech pathologist have to do with lacking focus and interrupting? I find that part weird.

She's 5, but is she less focussed and able to concentrate than others in the class? I'd try to nail that down with the teacher. If she is standing out as having special issues in that department consistently vs. having the occassional bad day like a lot of the other kids, that would dictate how concerned I'd be.
cympreni and nynaeve77 like this.
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Has the teacher actually discussed all this with you previously? It seems that she's going full steam ahead to sort out some perceived problem and kind of sidelining you as the parents. Is it not up to you to decide whether you want an evaluation done for your daughter?
Also, as Amneris said - why is the speech pathologist getting involved, is her speech something you're concerned about and have discussed with the teacher?
cympreni likes this.
3b in South Australia.
At my son's school there is first a meeting with parents and others, then follow up evaluation if everyone agrees. The parents have to give consent first. I wish his K teacher had recommended it. Now in 4th grade his problems are much worse and we're finally getting evaluations done. I go tomorrow to get the outcome and see where to go from there. He didn't really struggle academically until 2nd grade but had all of the issues you mentioned. Not trying to scare you but at that young age it's much easier to help a child before they fall way behind and start to really feel the effects emotionally. Of course it's up to you. I'm just adding my experience.
High Priestess JessMess, follower of the Goddess of the Coiling Way and Confiscator of Concoctions in the Order of the Curly Crusaders

My 2 cents:
  • Get independent assessment not through the school. That may include basic checkup, Ear Nose Throat, neurologist, psychiatrist etc.
  • Teacher needs to be specific about what behaviors she wants addressed and a timeline for addressing them.
  • Teacher should collaborate with you/DH about behavior modification suggestions in conjunction with/before going down the medical evaluation route. Get plan in writing.
  • Be clear about what the school expects your child to do in order to advance to the next grade and focus on those skills.

I'm with DH. I'd be pissed too. I've been battling this sort of behavior from educators with my oldest son since he was in pre-K. It kind of reminds me of what I hear women experience when they have a hospital birth. They are more interested in showing you how to "behave" and work the way they want you to work instead of doing what's best for your individual needs.

You have my sympathy.
ruralcurls likes this.
hello.world.
The thing is, if your child has some kind of issue then they can and have to plan around their individual needs. In fact, they HAVE TO. I don't see anything to get pissed about at this stage. Sometimes delays are a fact, they happen. No one is saying your child is broken but she many have issues and identifying them can give a better idea of how to address those issues.

Trust me, if she needs some help in fine motor skills, you want the school to address this. PT is EXPENSIVE. It's also a lot easier on your kid if the teacher knows that there are some fine motor skills and the kid isn't just lazy when it comes to hand writing. My daughter has a tremor that causes her handwriting to be pretty sloppy sometime. I am glad her teacher knows she's doing the best she can and isn't riding her about something she can't help or change.

These things also take a lot of time to get in place. Anything they do now will make next year easier. If she needs a 504 or IEP to make allowances for some things or help her in some areas, setting up now will mean they will be in place next year. If she needs services (PT, OT, speech), they can take months to set up.

I don't know how it works in your state, but in my state they do a full eval, no matter what they're looking for. For instance, my daughter has dystonia. Her eval found that she's also gifted. Bonus. I don't know why, but it seems like speech always happens first. Maybe it's fastest?

In my very limited experience, most five year olds can handle the small amount of seat time by this point in the year. They can follow the routines they've been following for several months. If most of the rest of the class can and she's struggling, don't you want to know why and what you can do to help? They have learned to raise their hands, etc. This is a lot of the "work" of kindergarten. Maybe she's just a young five. I know a lot of kids who go to Transitional First or repeat K because they just had some growing up to do.

Also, this is how WHAT starts? There is no benefit to the school for having a kid "in the system." Screening is time consuming and expensive. Services are costly and stretched thin. PT and OT are doled out in minutes per month. MINUTES. She may not even need services, but she might benefit from accommodations. If there's a problem, I'd be happy that the teacher is willing to investigate for the root and not just writing it of as "this kid needs to sit down and shut up" behavioral.

The process is long, convoluted, and often confusing. Ask for a meeting and take in a list of questions. Ask what kind of benefit your daughter might expect from all this, and what kind of plan they can put in place to help her focus. Take a notebook and write down as much as you can, starting with everyone's names, what they do, and a contact number.

There's a certain amount of teamwork in a group class setting. One child who repeatedly interrupts or is disruptive impacts every kid and if they need extra support, why not get it for them? The extra support may come in the form of sitting closer to the teacher. It's not like they're going to send you home with a bag of pills

Get a meeting with a teacher and ask a lot of questions. It's hard to get a complete picture from notes and emails. You have questions, make them set aside some time to answer them.
I would also ask about what she has done in the classroom about these behaviors and your child's responses to them. The big focus is on RTI (Response To Intervention) in which the classroom teacher generally has to show documented in class trials with "research proven" methods before getting to the next level with testing.

I believe there are ties between speech and handwriting and certain learning disabilities that exhibit in behavioral exhibitions. I do work in special education but at the high school level so most of my kids were identified a long time ago.

I would also talk to your daughter about what goes on in the classroom, if she gets talked to a lot by the teacher. She could just simply be wanting more attention from the teacher and has found a negative way to get.

I would absolutely be asking for a meeting with the teacher and want specifics on behaviors (with dates if available) and what the teacher has tried with the student, and what areas she feels are of concern before consenting to any testing. I would even ask to talk with the school psychologist about what testing is being planned, why, and what possible outcomes are. Most likely it's just a general assessment and some IQ testing (as this is used in RTI to provide a measure of where the student should be performing).
I'd say that a meeting with the teacher is in order, for sure. If you can pinpoint the problem, it will give you a better idea of what to do going forward, if anything needs to be done at all. It might not be anything to be concerned about but if she does need some extra help, there's no shame in it and it's definitely easier for her if she's younger. Is she a summer baby, by any chance? I know Danae's K5 teacher attributed some of her behaviors to simple immaturity; she's always one of the youngest in her class. Since so many people send their kids to school essentially a year later than when we all went, it's common for a younger student to look unfocused and antsy in comparison to a child who is a half or full year older.

I do think the way the teacher approached it was kind of odd. Sending that letter seems like something you would do after a conference, not in lieu of one, so I can see how that would rankle if you didn't know there was a problem all year long.
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Thanks, everyone. I really appreciate your input.

The teacher has brought up DD's behavior before and has said DD is disruptive in class. She was even sent to the office twice in one week because she was talking so much and disrupting the class. I asked if the teacher thinks it's ADD or just immaturity, and the teacher doesn't know. DD's birthday is in May and she is one of the youngest in her class which I think is part of the problem. The teacher said somedays DD is right along with the class and "gets it" and other days she is way below everyone else behavior wise.

CGNYC, you articulated what I've said to DH about going forward with the testing even though I don't know what we're looking for. If DD does have something going on, I want to identify it now and work on it right away.

I got in trouble for talking all through elementary school, so it's hard for me to tell if there is a problem or not.

Thanks again everyone. This is hard, especially because DH and I aren't on the same page with what to do.
Loose botticelli curls and waves
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Last edited by LoloDSM; 02-27-2013 at 05:38 PM.
Female students who are White and from educated families are not "tracked" into special ed so I wouldn't entertain hubby's conspiracy theory.

It seems your daughter does possibly have some legitimate deficiencies and the teacher is trying to do her job...however awkwardly.

Bc she is so young and bc she has parents who care and a teacher who is trying to be proactive, it seems like your daughter stands a good chance of getting thru this.

I agree w/ CGNYC in that I'd rather the teacher overwhelm you with resources and help than ride the kid for things she can't control.
Amneris likes this.
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At least in my state, students who are identified as needing services must be evaluated every three years (by law) to determine continuing eligibility. The goal is to get them the services they need to perform in the least restrictive environment. It does not mean she'll even end up receiving services or that she will always need them. Some students just need a bit to get over that hump till the age maturity evens out.

Testing should help determine if it is ADD or just immaturity. It is best to know now so that good habits can be set. Many teens I know get into bad habits with their ADD (such as using it as a licence to do nothing) or feel more stigma if they are identified later.

At any time in the process you should be able to call a meeting to re-evaluate. Just write down all your questions and make sure you get satisfactory answers and stay involved in every step of the process.
I also don't understand why the school would refer her for a speech evaluation if their concerns were behavior and motor skills. I do look at schools' special education systems with a critical eye because, as someone up thread alluded to, minorities and boys are very over-represented. That trend tells me that *something* else is going on with diagnoses.

I would second Webjockey's recommendation for an independent evaluation. If you're open to traveling out of state, I have a clinic that I recommend highly for children with possible speech/language delays. Or if you have a local university with an SLP or OT department, they might have clinics that do evaluations and therapy services. My son has speech therapy twice a week at our local university, and the services cost much less than a private SLP.
Amneris likes this.
I'm a former school administrator--Special Ed Sup and Elementary Principal, so may be coming from a different perspective.

Kindergarten is usually a time for students to adjust to being in the "big" school. It's more "academic" then it was when many of us were growing up. If the teacher is experienced and used to teaching students of that age, they are usually aware of skills that are typical/atypical. It could be that they are seeing the behavior, fine motor and speech issues together or separately--but not what they would expect at this point of the school year.

Most districts do not screen for speech issues until the students are a little older (because certain sounds are not developed until the students are older and will come in on their own without therapy.) However, a routine screening is usually done at a certain age (I've been retired for 8+ years.) If they are referring her, her speech and/or language must be below what they would expect for a child her age at this point of the year.

I live in PA. We've had a prereferral screening process in place for a LONG time. Parents are a part of that process--participate in the meetings, complete forms and receive the information that is collected by school staff. At that point, the school develops some interventions with the parents and implement them (behavior program, non special ed academic support available in the school, etc.) If the student is still having issues after that, formal evaluation process would be started.

As someone else said, the evaluation and services are costly and not done unless the school is truly concerned.
sarah42 likes this.
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What does a speech pathologist have to do with lacking focus and interrupting? I find that part weird.

She's 5, but is she less focussed and able to concentrate than others in the class? I'd try to nail that down with the teacher. If she is standing out as having special issues in that department consistently vs. having the occassional bad day like a lot of the other kids, that would dictate how concerned I'd be.
Originally Posted by Amneris
Lack of focus can be due to receptive language deficits (among a host of other things) and not interrupting is a social language skill. That is what a speech pathologist has to do with those things. Special education professionals don't exist in a bubble. The teacher is probably relying on the speech pathologist's expertise with typical vs. atypical child development.

Initial evaluations are comprehensive by law and include at least a screening by the psychologist or special education teacher in all domains (cognitive/ academic, social emotional, communication, motor, adaptive). It gives a much better picture of the child's strengths and weaknesses.

Independent evaluations are great, but in my experience, parents use them more to help identify or explain issues that the school is denying. Getting services from the district can be a challenge.

Bear in mind that much of what is expected of Ks in terms of academics and behavior is developmentally inappropriate. Many 5s can adjust, but many cannot. 5 year old children are not supposed to be ready to sit all day and read and write proficiently. They still should be learning through play. It's too bad, really.
Amneris and sarah42 like this.
Delays, especially speech delays are a known cause of behavioral problems. They get frustrated so they act out.

STs also work with social skills and can teach appropriate behavior and coping mechanisms that could be beneficial to all kids.

In my area, they can't do anything without consent, which can be revoked at any time by the parent. After you leave the program, the records get sealed (at least it used to be). It doesn't necessarily mean there's going to be a label that follows them forever. Minor delays aren't uncommon and sometimes kids just need some short term assistance. It's much easier to take care of these problems sooner than later.

And even with an independent eval, they still need to do one with their people. What a private dr. says and what a school can afford to treat aren't always the same.

And IME, the therapists themselves that will be doing all the work have a big say on who gets what. They have limited time and resources and can't afford to waste it on kids who don't need it.
cosmicfly likes this.
DD's speech assessment was normal. Phew! Her assessment with the school psychologist is next.

I had another meeting with DD's teacher who told me she thinks DD is just on the young side and needs to mature, but she wants to make sure there are no problems. Apparently the teacher is sensitive about it because her younger brother had similar issues and wasn't diagnosed until 4th grade because his issues were attributed to maturity. The teacher thinks DD is fine but wants the reassurance nothing is wrong.

We will probably have DD work with a tutor or do an educational camp this summer to keep her focused. Thanks for your input, everyone.
CurlyCanadian and Starmie like this.
Loose botticelli curls and waves
No silicones/no sulfates since March 2008
Hey Lolo,

I'm 22 years old, I had the same "issues" as your little one and was diagnosed with ADHD when I was six, oddly enough I remember a few things. I was evaluated by a psychologist and diagnosed in the middle of the school year. Saw a psychiatrist and was prescribed what I now know to be Ritalin. They tried to put me in special classes but my parents refused, I struggled. I didn't like the way i felt on the meds so my parents said I could stop in a month. So my dad came up with a regimen. 1) I would work on my hw in parts. 2) I would practice an altered version of yoga, practicing quiet, relaxation and following direction. 3) Extra play time and a sport to burn some energy, my sport was soccer. 4) A gluten free, mostly raw food and salmon diet and just a little bit of sweets just so I could still feel like normal kid. And I think it worked because my senior year and college I let the regimen go because I was a know it all teen lol and my parents didn't fight me because I was 18 and they wanted me to start making decisions for myself and my academia suffered, I became depressed and my friendships suffered. I started back the regimen a little before my 21st birthday and have been doing well since. I'm pregnant with my first child and her father also has ADHD lol strange coincidence, I'm hoping my baby doesn't have it but if it happens I already know what to do. I know it's a bit long but just wanted to give you a scenario for reference.

Love and hugs to you and your family!
I was faced with this same exact situation.
Another teacher for my child made all the difference.
I do not believe in using medication for my child.
Good luck.
My older son had similar behavior problems in K. He was always talking, poking people, interrupting, etc. One time he even pulled his pants down in class. Mind you, his birthday is in January, so he was one of the oldest kids at that time, and this was half day K and very non-academic by today's standards. His gross motor skills were fine, but fine motor was a struggle until he was about 10 or 11, and I don't think he could button a shirt easily until he was a teenager.

Fortunately, his K teacher had been a chatterbox as a child and was willing to work with him on his behavior. In first grade, his behavior had improved somewhat, but his teacher had unrealistic expectations of six year olds in terms of behavior and that wasn't a great year. After that, we ended up pulling him and putting him in private school because we felt that much of his behavior issues were due to lack of academic challenge. Turned out we were right--he thrived at a more rigorous school that also focused on making sure the kids had plenty of breaks and playtime. He's graduating college next year and working on applications to PhD programs.

My point is that the school may have a legitimate concern, but there are many factors that govern a child's behavior at any given time. I wouldn't dismiss the school's concerns, but at the same time this is your child and you shouldn't feel pressured into doing something that you don't feel is right for her. If I had been faced with the same situation, I probably would have opted for outside testing. I know you've probably already figured this all out, but thought I would give you an opinion from someone whose disruptive child is now a highly functioning adult, academically speaking.

ETA: He functions in non-academic areas, too, lol.
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