Sunday, March 16, 2008

Figuring out our Dear Daughter - Part 2

So after so much time spent praying and trying to figure out how we could better reach and then teach Reagan, we received a large chunk of wisdom from her psychologist. She sat with us this past week to explain what she observed in our dd. We were nervous to hear what she had to say but also ready to learn something that would clear things up for us and help us determine our next course of action with Reagan. So what did the psychologist tell us about our daughter? Well, first of all, she didn't diagnose her with Asperger's Autism. This was our greatest relief as this would have been something she would have to live with her entire life.

Her actual diagnosis:
Developmental Articulation Disorder (slight speech difficulties)
Post-Otitis Auditory Disorder (see below)
Lateral Dominance - MIXED

So here are the tests Reagan was given:

Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence-III -> This showed us that she is extremely intelligent (92% verbal i.q.) but is weak in complex comprehension. The educational implications of these results are as follows:

  • she has very good long-term memory; can respond to specific, detail-oriented questions
  • she has good visual perception of essential details; she has talent in art
  • she experiences subtle difficulty comprehending language - keep verbal directions short and specific, present visual demo's if possible
  • she evidences difficulty following directions, understanding what she hears, or grasping key concepts - slow down with presenting information
  • her answers improve when she is encouraged to think about the question for a little while - she may need hints or props to better develop her thoughts
  • she shows very good vocabulary but needs additional 'wait-time' to formulate her thoughts for speaking
  • she needs readiness skills to help her perceive numbers as symbolically representing quantities
  • she is likely to have good mechanical constructive ability - she will do well in hands-on learning situations
  • she has fast visual tracking speed along lines of print -it's unlikely that she has any vision systems problem
  • she has difficulty with auditory processing - she can hear well but does not fully understand or easily misunderstands things which are presented in a verbal format

Lateral Dominance Examination -> this showed her to be right-hand dominant and left-eye dominant (mixed - not commom, most of us are left or right not mixed); mixed-dominant learners often reverse letters, numbers and sequences and may have diffuculty with the mechanics of writing; mixed-dominants may also display various characteristics that are problematic in the conventional classroom setting (impulsive behavior, forgetfulness, messiness, difficulty following directions)

Wechsler Individual Achievement Test - II -> this showed her to be right where she needs to be academically; it looks for learning disabilities and found that she has mild articulation errors and requires 'wait-time' to formulate thoughts

These are the tests which I can most accurately portray here. There were others done but the info is overwhelming and draws similar conclusions. So what does this all mean? How to we help her to change and grow for the better? How do I teach her so as not to frustrate her (and me for that matter)?

The difficulties Reagan has with formuating words to communicate and with language comprehension seem to be related to the 'Post-Otitis Auditory Dysfunction.' This is apparantly from episodes of middle ear fluid (from ear infections - of which she's had many) build up which causes phases of intermittent and unpredicatable hearing loss during the critical early years of language development. Although she can hear well now, this can interfere with aquisition of basic oral language skills and cause deficiencies in auditory perception and development and the ability to recognize the sounds that make up a word.

So when dh and I would require her to obey us (immediately - as we did with Jefferson), we often didn't understand why on earth she didn't understand us! When we pulled her aside to train her or discipline her, she couldn't answer us quickly enough or formulate words to let us know why she was upset, why she disobeyed, or that she didn't understand in the first place - and in an instant we would have world war 3 on our hands with no ability to calm her down or speak to her at all. Now we know the 'why' on this behavior and can deal with it! We have seen marked improvement in her controlling these tantrums by just giving her time to respond and teaching her how to respond (telling her what words to use to explain emotion or needs). We can now tell when she understands us and she accepts her discipline better due to this better comprehension. Hugging also seems to diffuse her anxiety and allows her to relax enough to formulate words. Well, duh! But really - we didn't realize how affective something so simple could be or that it was so important to this particular child.

And when she snuck another tube of toothpaste to smoosh into her bedroom carpet, after already being punished for 5 similar incidents that very week, we scratched our heads as to why she would deliberately disobey us again. It took us months to understand that she loves to touch and feel things in order to learn about them - something these tests also confirm and something which will be so valuable to understand when homeschooling her. I know now to use playdough, manipulatives, and visuals to reach her!

I can't tell you how eye-opening this POAD information and evaluation has been for us! The psychologist gave us gallons of recommendations of books, computer programs, and curriculi to use in order to teach to her strengths and to train her weaknesses. We are so glad to have somewhere to go from here and to have resources from which to pull. I will discuss the specifics of the recommendations in another post for anyone who has similar learning styles in their children.

For now we are also going to have Reagan evaluated through IU13 for any services that we can get that will help. The psychologist told us that for these particular issues, when they are caught before the age of 10, they can be fixed! This is another time that I am particularly thankful that we will be able to teach her at home and teach specifically to her needs! What great news! We will be planning her lessons this summer after using the resources provided and the knowledge gained. And did I mention enough times that we've already seen improvement? God is so faithful! He not just provides for us but also builds my confidence in the job that He has given me by guiding us to the right tools to educate and develop our kids.

I hope that this can be an encouragement for those moms out there with questions about a particular child with whom they may be struggling. Remember that God is in control - He has given us these beautiful, unique children and He will give us the means to raise them. He knows what they need because He has formed them! :-) And He will guide you!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6


Monica said...

I'm sitting here in awe of God's goodness to your daughter!! He has given you such a complete understanding of her specific needs and the resources to work through this. This is going to change her life (and yours:).

We've been working through Miriam's auditory processing problems going on 3 years now. An AMAZING improvement. Her problems caused her to withdrawal and become very quiet. I had major concerns that she would always be on the fringes and led unknowingly into bad situations.

It's been nothing short of a miracle to see the child who has emerged. There have been many tears and frustrations through the process as her brain has to be "retrained" how to take in info, but I've seen the characteristics of hard work, perseverance and a sensitive heart shine through. Being able to read has helped tremendously in social settings because it gives her one more piece to understand what's going on. Now we are working on lots of vocabulary that I thought, "of course she knows that", but she never really learned it in the first place.

More than anything, I thank God for allowing us to homeschool her. I do believe that she would have been "labeled" early on and held back to her own detriment.

All that to say. Thanks for sharing your story. I am so happy for all of you!! I know that in a few years the frustrated, difficult daughter will be a memory long gone.

Sharon said...

Thanks so much for sharing your story Andrea, it is extremely encouraging to see people who stand up and say honestly, "what I'm doing isn't working, I need to try to find out why" rather than just giving up on their child. Well done and may God continue to bless you as you keep on loving and mothering your daughter the best you can.

sbharnish said...

Thank you for posting really helps to understand her better, and to know how to work with her. I praise God that you got such a positive CAN do this!
-Aunt Becky

Becky @ Boys Rule My Life said...

Oh, I'm so glad for you... that you've now got resources, help, support, some answers, and a better way to move forward.

You have such a beautiful heart to listen to your daughter's needs and God's timing.

Jennifer@DoingTheNextThing said...

Wow, that's a lot to absorb. Very interesting, though, that they can pinpoint her strengths and weaknesses. She's precious! I hope that it is an encouragement to you to hear about her strengths and also to have a better understanding of the way she's "wired." It will be a lot of work, but at least you are now more equipped. Thanks for sharing and for your godly attitude!

barrellfullofmonkeys said...

Boy, oh boy do I know what you went thru!! Our oldest (8) was diagnosed this summer with Dyslexia and an Auditory Processing Disorder. Our middle son (6) was diagnosed two years ago with Sensory Integration Disorder. He also has a few dyslexia red flags. Our youngest son (3) is a little spit fire. We're just bracing ourselves for what is to come with him! I see you'll be using Earobics this year as well. I'll be interested to see what you think of it.

Our Audiologist said that our boys are very lucky to be homeschooled. We wondered if our oldest would have more help in a special school and she said "Absolutely, positively not. Don't you dare even think about stopping homeschooling, it's the best thing for him right now!" *sigh* What a wonderful thing for a homeschooling mommy to hear :)

Kathy D.
(found you via Trivium Academy)