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