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mum2jp

9 year old resistant to learning assessments? WWYD?

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mum2jp

Background reasons for assessment: Extremely bright child, off the charts for numeracy, does well overall for reading as his visual memeory of words is great. However struggles with handwriting and to spell, sequence tasks and layout/structure written work (teachers always seem to think he is ok though, but i feel he masks his difficulties well due to his brightness). Dylsexia runs in the family so i thought it best to rule out. 

So due to this we did a preassessment through the Australian Dyslexia Association for DS9. This was a non event as it was just checklist by myself and the teacher, a reading and writing sample from DS which he could do at home. The report has come back to say he has indicators of dysgraphia and recommendations further assessment (have listed two particular assessments) through the school counsellor as well as some classroom supports. 

My problem is DS is really upset about having to do any assessments at school. He is refusing to even speak about it and getting teary hiding in his room if I try bring it up.  I thought I did the right thing by discussing it with him (he knew he did the first assessment, I told him it was just to see where he was at, what he was good at and what areas we could help him develop. I have said all those things again about the school based ones, that it's just to see where he is at there is no pass or fail but he remains adamant he will not do it.

I have emailed the report to the teacher and asked her to contact me to discuss. I just don't know where to go next. Do i pursue the school based assessments even though he is really upset by this or is it enough to know he has indicators and just make classroom supports for his learning. I don't want to make him unnecessarily upset if the extra info won't add anything to his learning as I worry about his confidence.

Thanks if you got this far. 

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xxyzed

If you are worried about his confidence wouldn’t a psychologist be an appropriate next step to understand his strong feelings around this. I often find recommended classroom interventions aren’t implemented even with a diagnosis without strong advocacy and follow up as a parent and is very dependent on the individual class teacher so you get to have the conversations every year in primary school and every semester in high school.  I would engage with the school, listen to their response and then see if their follow through matches. If not then seek further assessment.

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Julie3Girls

Can you do the assessments outside of school.

problem with doing things like that at school is that they get pulled out of class time to do it. And it can make some kids very self conscious, worried that “everyone will know”.

My daughter had her assessments done by a clinical psychologist, outside of school. There is no way I would have convinced her to see people at the school.

as for importance of the assessments ... yes, they are important.  And increasingly so as he gets older and moves into high school.  The difficulties he is having get amplified as the work gets harder in high school. And while some teachers may give assistance in the classroom without need of an official diagnosis, there will be some who won’t. 
a diagnosis on the other hand will give him the right to extra accommodations, in the classroom and with exams and assessment work.  It gives you (and him) a firm platform to stand on when asking for assistance. Immediate impact of getting definite answers can help him understand why some things are harder for him - like your son,  my daughter is very bright, and ended up with huge anxiety as she didn’t understand why she was struggling with things like spelling. She was so relieved when we found out when she was 13 that she was dyslexic - she was so bright that she had been able to compensate for it.
And then long term - final exams for high school, a diagnosis might get him some considerations in his final exams, like extra time. 

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Kreme

I don’t have any helpful advice but I just want to empathise. So often people urge parents to take their child to a psychologist as if that’s a “fix”. The reality is that it’s a two way street and if your child refuses to engage with the person or won’t do the assessment then nothing will be achieved.

My DS is highly gifted but ‘something’ is preventing him from consistently achieving on paper what he is capable of. We are just embarking on round two with a psychologist, having wasted months with one a couple of years ago. DS just worked out what she wanted to hear and told her that. This time we’ve chosen a male who is very into sport and he and DS are bonding over AFL and cricket for a couple of sessions in the hope that trust will be established and he will start to open up. If the psych can start to break through his anxiety of being exposed as somehow deficient then we will look at further testing. Doing all of this in the first year of high school against the background of Covid isn’t easy so yes I would encourage looking into it earlier, but with full understanding of how difficult it is to actually implement. 

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CrankyM
Posted (edited)

I'd do them outside of school. You can go through your local SPELD (I actually have the assessments you are talking about booked for March next year, because, yes, that is how long the SPELD in our state is waitlisted for). A good education psychologist will work on making sure that the child is happy and settled because otherwise whatever assessments they do will not be reflective of the child. It's also good to have these done privately because YOU own the results and if you change schools, go somewhere else, you are not dependent on the dept. education being forward enough to send them with you.

Maybe a psychologist in the mean time to talk over things with? There may be anxiety in the cards (not uncommon for bright children with learning). And talking about where you are struggling can be really hard and impact self confidence. There could also be the idea that the assessments will say something is "wrong" with him. I'd continue the conversation around it, with the clear theme that assessments are not about finding out if something is wrong, its about drawing a picture of places where things are hard. And IF these places are identifies then there are ways to make it so in the classroom it is a bit easier. But that school needs these pieces of paper to put in place tools to help him. 

Maybe talk to him about neurodifferences? There are a few books out there, like Fish in a tree, Can you see me? that have characters who are a bit different but explain that, you know what, that is perfectly fine. That there is nothing wrong with them, they are just different. Like people have blue eyes or brown eyes. But that this means that these people sometimes require different support. And part of getting that support means doing assessments. But these assessments are just a like drawing a picture of who they are inside.

Edited by CrankyM

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lizzzard

Eek... poor kiddo.

We are navigating similar issues with DS11. I think it’s easy to forget that kids can be very sensitive to the stigma of being different - as adults many of us are practiced at rationalising things to maintain our sense of self esteem but kids at that age can be very self conscious about being judged negatively by their peers, especially if they have traditionally been seen as the ‘smart kid’. 

I don’t have any great suggestions. I would just say Im being really conscious of DS’s feelings with regard to the assessments and trying to make sure he understands it’s nothing to be ashamed of (which we as adults know of course, but can take some explaining for kids). 

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too tired to care

Not sure if this would work for you, but I have taken my kids out of school for the day or 1/2 day , had them do the assessment and then taken them to lunch , or morning tea at a place of their choosing , even if its McDonalds . I have also done this when they have had regular appointments (OT, Speech, Psych). It gives them some time with you, a treat (or a bribe) and you get the assessment / appointment  done usually without too much whinging.  I've never had any issues, but it does rely on you being able to take the time off and have money to spend on lunch / treat.

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Grrrumbles

I am with too tired to care. We are doing assessments privately  with an educational psychologist in November and I will be promising McDonalds afterwards and may have to agree to Robux (credit for an online game) if desperate.

DS is 10 and we have seen multiple child psychologists with absolutely no useful insights and exhausting resistance from him to counselling sessions. Now we are going to someone who only does assessments and they won’t have met before hand. We are treating it as we might a painful day surgery - informing him about it but then not trying to dwell on it and rewarding afterwards.

But in our case the school psychologist has expertise in trauma rather than testing so there is only so much we can get from her even with the waiting times. We wasted so much time and money last year with practices that did not want to do assessments, despite our suggesting it and he is not severe enough to get much help through the school.

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Julie3Girls

That’s the other reason not to just rely on teachers without an assessment - if your son is bright, it is quite likely his school results will actually still be reasonably good.  And if their results are good compared to their peers, they won’t get the special attention, the assistance. There are too many other kids who also need assistance who are falling off the bottom in terms of results, kids with more severe problems. 
In year 6, I was asking about how my daughter was doing, to work out whether to get her to sit for the extension class test for high school. Average to high average was response, and they didn’t recommend the extension test.  A month into high school, a meet and greet with teachers, I had her high school teachers asking why wasn’t she in the extension class.  It was the high school that picked up on her problems.  The primary school simply didn’t see any problems because her results were still “high average”. 
 

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Prancer is coming

My kid lost the plot in grade 3.  I already had a dysgraphia diagnosis from an OT.  School finally agreed to cognitive assessment to find out what else was going on (ADHD and high iq).  DS was also really anxious and extremely difficult.  When I was talking to the psych and how I was concerned he may be difficult to engage, I also realised this was her domain and of course she was good with dealing with hard to engage kids.  
 

Kids at out school get pulled out of class all the time - speech therapy, extension class, small groups, leadership opportunities.  So for us it was less of a big deal it happening at school.  And psych was probably much better explaining it in an age appropriate way than I was.  My DS really enjoyed doing the assessment.

 

i have another kid who needs a diagnosis who is resistant to seeing anyone.  I am not giving him a choice and will be finding a way to get him to either a private service, or if it is the school psych thst is needed, they can work out how to get him on board!  I would also think attitude toward testing would be a useful observation for a cognitive assessment.

 

So worth getting it done.  I have no doubt my kid not being diagnosed until grade 3 increased his anxiety (to a point neither of us were able to manage it) and really affected his self esteem.  Life is so much easier for all with the diagnosis.  I actually find the involvement of the school psych really helpful as given she is part of the school, she knows what recommendations are realistic and can assist with helping things get implemented.

 

Good luck.  Navigating my kid’s diagnosis was one of the hardest things I did and it is still hard the second time!

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mum2jp

Thanks everyone. I will meet with the school and go from there. He already leaves class in a small group for maths extensions and has no problem with this and he loved NAPLAN last year so assessments don't usually bother him. I think maybe it's the pressure to perform on the spot more than getting taken out of class and the fact that he doesn't actually know the school counsellor. I will let him process it a bit then try discussing again. 

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amdirel
12 hours ago, mum2jp said:

Thanks everyone. I will meet with the school and go from there. He already leaves class in a small group for maths extensions and has no problem with this and he loved NAPLAN last year so assessments don't usually bother him. I think maybe it's the pressure to perform on the spot more than getting taken out of class and the fact that he doesn't actually know the school counsellor. I will let him process it a bit then try discussing again. 

You need to look at it from a kids point of view- NAPLAN- everyone does. Maths extension- means he's smart. Going to the school counsellor? That's for kids with "issues". **(In a kids mind! Not mine!) 

I would be offering him the option of doing them privately outside of school.

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BusbyWilkes
16 minutes ago, amdirel said:

You need to look at it from a kids point of view- NAPLAN- everyone does. Maths extension- means he's smart. Going to the school counsellor? That's for kids with "issues". **(In a kids mind! Not mine!) 

I would be offering him the option of doing them privately outside of school.

This is what I was coming in to say too. 
 

Also wondering if ADHD (inattentive) has been considered. The poor organisation is a key indicator of this. Poor handwriting is anecdotally also common (though certainly not a diagnostic feature).
 

Given your DS’s bright, he may be masking the effects at school currently. It gets increasingly difficult to continue to mask as you get older and the work/demands are increasingly  complex.

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