Tuesday, October 30, 2007

This is a hard one to write......

My two oldest boys are like night & day different. They look different (to me- although some people have thought in the past that they were twins.) They have different personalities. One thing they both have in common is being extremely intelligent. But, none of that matters when it comes to love. I love them both, equally, but differently. Because they each require things that are different, when it comes to what they need.

My oldest son is extremely gifted. He's so smart about so many things, but specifically his strengths are in reading, science, computers/technology and math. I mean, the child reads on a college level since 5th grade (and he's in 6th now.) This child is far more intelligent than I am. (He gets it from Big Daddy.)

Our 2nd son, he's also very smart. He is a Math Whiz!! His teachers have always commented on that and his outstanding artistic abilities. But, he's a completely different child than his brother. He seems to have trouble focusing his attention sometimes, unless he's extremely interested in it, and then you can't seem to break his concentration. He's quite immature for his age, still throwing the occasional tantrum. He will pout for a long time when he doesn't get his way and he can hold a grudge to punish you for quite some time. In addition, he still wets the bed. (now, he probably got this from me.....as I did this till the 5th or 6th grade. I'm just saying, another immaturity issue...) But, he's also fun and sweet and loving.

So, since our child began Kindergarten, there has been something that hasn't quite been right, regarding his learning. About 6 weeks into the Kindergarten school year, his teacher called me at home to talk. She expressed to me her concern about J's phonics on phonemics skills. She was concerned that he was very inconsistent from one day to the next about which letters/sounds he knew...then, seemed no to know. Like I said, inconsistent. And then, there were his struggles with reading. If you don't know phonics and phonemics, then you can imaging how hard reading would be.

And of course, as his Mother, all I wanted to do was help him. The teacher suggested that we put him in an after school tutoring program, funded by the state. So, Jensen went to tutoring after school, 3 days a week for about 5 months. In addition to this, we took him to our beloved pediatrician for advice. He had us and the teachers fill out some questionaires that are to help pinpoint what his difficulties were. In part, this was a screening for some common learning issues, such as ADD or ADHD. But, these were ruled out. We were sent for hearing checks. Eye checks. A speech evaluation. And nothing, nothing, nothing. Basically, at the Kindergarten level with the extra help, he eventually made it to a passable level, although, not necessarily where you would hope he'd by.

Then, in First grade, we got a wolf in sheep's clothing a.k.a. the dud teacher. She was not what she seemed to be. The entire year Jensen struggled, but when I specifically asked her, she always assured me he was caught up and doing fine. Before I knew it, it was Christmas Break. When school started up again in January, Jensen's shortcomings and struggles were becoming more and more evident to me. By March, I had serious concerns. I emailed the "dud" inquiring about his progress, specifically in reading and spelling. At home, Jensen was becoming more and more difficult when it came to homework and reading with us at home. I expressed concern about how he would ever be able to pass the CRCT tests. (the test they use in GA, associated with No Child Left Behind laws) But, she assured me that he was doing fine. (BUT.....when I went to pick up his report card 3 days after school got out.....another teacher that I knew said to me....I didn't realize Jensen was your son. Then commented how much fun they had together. Ummmmm.....excuse me?!?! I said, "What fun?" She said, "Oh, the fun I had tutoring him for reading and spelling for the CRCT." UMMMM.....EXCUSE ME?!?!

Apparently, after I expressed concern about Jensen being behind.....she placed him in tutoring. Now, I don't have a problem with him getting extra help. But, I DO HAVE a problem with being lied to about it. (omission is lying, in my book!) So....I was not happy. I guess after I pointed it out....she caught on to the fact that he was struggling and tried to cover her own ass.

But, when the test results were given to us, he FAILED the reading comprehension portion of the test and only passed the entire reading section of the test by one point. ONE POINT!

And they also gave them a Lexile reading test score. (A lexile score is a rating system to help match books to a person's reading level. It starts rating books at 10L and goes all the way up to Adult levels. For instance, Green Eggs and Ham is a 30L book level.) And Jensen's score on the Lexile was BR. Um...what does that mean? All the information that they sent home for interpreting the scores... the scores were numbers, not letters. So, I had to do research to find out what those numbers even meant. I thought for a while, it was maybe even a mistake. Nope, no mistake. It's just that my angel boy was so far behind that at the end of 1st Grade, he was reading at the BR level. BR=Beginning Reader He could not even read the simplest of the Dr. Suess books or a Clifford the Big Red Dog book.

I. was. heartbroken.

I felt completely and totally betrayed by this teacher. I trusted her and she let me down, but more importantly, she let Jensen down. I was completely devastated.

So, Jensen started 2nd grade behind. And just like in years past, his teacher in GA recognized a problem very early into the school year. She contacted me and suggested, again, the after school tutoring program. The conversation between she and I was like a flashback to 2 years earlier, when Jensen was in K-garten and the teacher first called me.

More inconsistency. More stuggling. Reading level that is at grade level 1.4 which equates to 1st Grade, 4th month, when he's in 2nd grade, 2nd month. (so almost a full year behind) Spelling tests were a disaster.

I went back to my now beloved pediatrician, who recommended that we go to a Child Psychologist for testing. We tried, but our insurance refused to cover it. And because Jensen is very smart in Math, the school wouldn't do anything for us. So, it was back to the eye doctor, ear doctor and the Speech Pathologist. All determine again, he is normal. So, we head to the Child Psychologist.

Before we go, I spend days and weeks on the internet looking, searching for answers. All I can find are more questions. Dyslexia?? Maybe. Unnamed Learning Disability? Possibly? ADD or ADHD? Maybe. I just don't know. At some point it all becomes so overwhelming as a Mother, that your ability to look at the situation becomes hard to see clearly.

After several appointments for evaluations. After having teachers fill out forms about him. We commence in having the testing done. The testing is supposed to look for learning disabilities, ADD, ADHD, etc. The testing pinpoints nothing. We are told. He's intelligent, but perhaps just immature. No specific learning disabilities found.

So, I figure, this is the expert, so this is the end of it. At least, what else can we do? So, we continue going to after school tutoring and we see the pediatrician who helps me monitor the progress, or shall I say his lack of progress.

Then, earlier than we thought, Big Daddy starts seriously looking at jobs in October of 2006. So, we know that we will be moving most likely before March '07, as we originally thought. When school lets out for Christmas break, Jensen is still behind, but doing a bit better. And Daddy moves on Dec. 30th. So, I am left in GA w/ 4 kids and a house on the market.

The tutoring doesn't start up again, until late January, the week we moved to Kansas.

We get to Kansas and things seem fine. Jensen has a nice teacher and due to all the extra tutoring, he's not terribly behind. But, in the teacher's defense, it's often hard to pinpoint these things when the student is new to you in February, with only 3 months of school left.

So, fast forward to this year. Jensen started 3rd Grade this Fall. And 1 week ago, Jensen's teacher informs me that she is recommending him to an after school program, called SuccessMaker. It's a computerized program and it is supposed to pinpoint his weaknesses and hopefully help him catch up. He is still reading nearly 1 year level behind. And his spelling, well, he's really having trouble. (She has cut his spelling list from 20 + 5 bonus words to 15 words.) We'll see if it helps. It's too soon to tell.

At this point, I am going to really push for some assistance. I want him tested again. Clearly, there is a problem. I'm just going to have to be persistent enough to figure out what it is. I at first assumed that I would have to get private testing again (which is super expensive and the insurance will not cover it - just like last time.....it cost us hundreds) But, my pediatrician here assures me that there is a law that requires the school system to test Jensen, as long as we put it in writing that we are requesting the testing be done. So, we're doing that, for sure.

In the meantime, we are trying to get a spot for the SIT (student improvement team) meeting on Nov. 28th. This is when the Principal, School Psychologist, School Counselor, classroom teacher and parents get together and discuss what the child needs to be helped and to be successful. The teacher has already warned me that the school psychologist will insist he doesn't need to be tested, since he's not that far behind. Well, screw that. If this was her child or grandchild, I'd be willing to bet she'd be singing a different tune!!! And most likely she'll be telling me about the rules and guidelines for testing and not to take it personally. But, you know what.....this is my baby and IT IS PERSONAL!!!! It's my job as his mother to get him the help he needs and that's exactly what I intend to do.

At this meeting, I plan to lay out my argument, regarding Jensen and his deficits. He clearly has a long history of problems and it's time to figure out once and for all, what the problem is and how to help him.

Have any of you had any situations similar to this and what would be your advice to me? Are you aware of any resources I should know about? My baby needs help and any information you might have would be greatly appreciated.

And....if not, thanks for listening......



Tam said...

I know what you mean...P and all this..you know

Anonymous said...

go with your gut. You have a mother's instinct for a reason. You have to be his advocate. Good luck.

sherry said...

I'm sorry to hear he's still struggling. I hope you get the answers you need. Good luck with the big meeting!

*** hunzer *** said...

You are doing an awesome job Roxann ~ you are fighting for your son. Good luck with the meeting and let us know how it goes.

Huge hugs!!

PS...shoot me an email when you get a chance toots.

amy h. said...

You're making me cry.

And I can't help because my kids are littler than yours and I've never been through it.

But you know I'm always, always here when and if you need me.

FlipFlop Mom said...

I have this son.. who is 12.. who seriouisly HATE and DESPISES school.. and the story goes on and on.. and on... Except if he puts his mind to his school work he excells... which is totally rare because he struggles with self esteem issues.. etc...

I've done these meetings.. we called them BAT meetings.. I aske REPEATEDLY for and IEP or some sort of testing.. the only testing they were willing to do was ADD.. ADHD.. they were VERY VERY QUICK to say YES to ADHD... I was skeptical...

If you can honey pie... I HIGHLY suggest you higher a lawyer that ONLY specializes in these situations... and if I AM correct... I believe the school system MIGHT have to pay for them !!! Gosh.. my neighbor has one for her Autistic son .. and she brings this lawyer with her in every meeting.. I'll have to ask if she pays her or if the school system does... But the lawyer is CLEARLY there for YOU and YOUR child!!!

Hugs to you honey.. sadly.. my son is 12 and STILL wets the bed.. Dr says it's normal.. usually by the time puberty hits it's gone... I'm PRAYING For puberty.. for his sake!!!

Tam said...

Okay I have a contest on my blog...this is for you...to take yor mind off of J. Lets have some fun and if you win I promise that it was not fixed!!!!

love ya lots

RickertsZoo; Summerfield, NC said...

You need to call me so we can discuss this.
Hopefully, I can help you understand this a bit more....
My hard drive crashed and I lost your website..finally googled roxann and scrapbooking blog...and found you! What was your exciting news that I never found out about?
Call me over the holidays!

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