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Haley23 Haley23 is offline
 
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Identifying kids as "educationally ADHD" rather than LD
Old 01-31-2016, 05:09 PM
 
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I was going to post about a specific situation, but I think it got too complicated . I don't know if this will make sense as it is, but if anyone does understand and has any advice, I would appreciate it. . This year, my district has decided that we can qualify kids as "educationally ADHD" and qualify them for IEPs under OHI even if they don't have a medical diagnosis. In the past when parents were unwilling to seek a medical diagnosis, we've ended up qualifying the kid under LD because they technically qualify in that category even though it doesn't describe them very well.

IMO, the problem with this is that I work in a very low SES school where numerous students technically could qualify under LD if evaluated. About 25-35% of our kids are performing below the 10th percentile and not "closing the gap" with interventions. These are the only qualifiers necessary for LD identification in my state (no IQ discrepancy needed, can't say they're just "low achievement" if they're low in every subject). My sped groups are typically larger and meet for less time than title 1 groups. This is due to the fact that I teach all subjects while they only teach reading, and they can turn away students while I can't. As a result, we end up qualifying kids with ADHD under LD so they can get "individualized instruction" and they end up in a bigger reading group with less intervention minutes than they were getting in title 1 as a gen ed student. In addition, parents hear that their child has a "learning disability" and then ignore the issue of attention problems and blame everything on the "learning disability."

We've had a couple situations like this come up through RtI recently. Parents see no issues with attention/focus/behavior and think the kid is typical for their age. Technically, we can evaluate them and qualify under LD, so our psych wants me to do that. She says LD is "better" than OHI because it's more specific. She doesn't go to the data team meetings and look at all of the data constantly like I do, so I don't think she understands just how many kids in the building technically could be LD (yes, I have tried to explain this to her, but it hasn't worked). I think if we could identify some of these more severe students with ADHD at school, it would help their parents understand that the attention/focus is a real issue, and maybe more parents would seek treatment. Under OHI, the title teacher could also keep seeing some of these students for academic hours, if I consult with her. We've already talked about a few kids and she's willing to keep them with my help. I'm trying to decide if this is a hill I'm willing to die on or if I should just let it go. What do you think?


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ADHD vs. learning disabiity
Old 01-31-2016, 05:59 PM
 
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I'm not sure if I will be able to help, but I do have a few thoughts.

1) In my state, a student has to have a processing disorder to be eligible under learning disability. I know some places are getting away from the discrepancy model and that's fine, but there needs to be a disorder of some kind. If there isn't one, there's no disability.

2) There has been some talk about OHI vs. learning disability for attention issues. One of the processing disorders under learning disability is attention. If a student has an ADHD diagnosis or has ADHD-like symptoms based on my testing and they meet learning disability criteria, then I say learning disability. If the ADHD symptoms are affecting them, but they don't meet learning disability criteria, then I go OHI.

I would go with whichever diagnosis best captures the disability and how the student's needs can be served.
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Old 01-31-2016, 07:41 PM
 
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Very interesting, Eeza. The only qualifiers for LD in my state are for a child to be performing significantly below grade level expectations and not responding to research based interventions (unless they meet the disqualifiers like lack of instruction or lack of English proficiency). Every below grade level student in my building receives TONS of interventions and we progress monitor them all, so anyone that's referred has already met that criteria. I give the Woodcock Johnson for our formal testing. I've never had a student score above the 10th percentile in the area they were referred for. I'm pretty sure if I just (hypothetically) gave the test to the entire school, I'd find 200+ more kids that would qualify as LD. Any child that's been referred in the past 3 years since I've started working there has qualified. What testing are you using to determine a processing disorder? Most of the time the only thing we give is the WJ. Our psych will occasionally do cognitive testing, but only if there is evidence that a child may have a cognitive disability. She won't do it for most kids that we just suspect LD.
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ADHD vs. learning disabiity
Old 01-31-2016, 08:11 PM
 
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I do cognitive testing, but I also look processing for LD. The WJ-IV COG test gives you some processing scores if you do the full battery or the extended battery. Same goes for the DAS-II. There also is the TAPS, TVPS, NEPSY, WRAML, and VMI.

I just don't see how a kid can qualify if there isn't a processing disorder. Can you look at you ed code?
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Old 01-31-2016, 08:30 PM
 
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I did just look it up and ours actually specifically says a processing disorder doesn't need to be identified. I had to use my phone because my computer is having issues opening pdfs so I can't post the exact paragraph, but it was from this document: http://www.cde.state.co.us/cdesped/s...1_introlawsrti

The part about processing assessments and cognitive assessments is on page 45. Essentially, it says there is no research to say that processing assessments are "necessary or sufficient" to identify SLD.

The only criteria on our eligibility page for SLD is to be performing significantly below grade level and not responding to research based interventions.


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ADHD vs. learning disabiity
Old 01-31-2016, 08:50 PM
 
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I looked at the document, but had trouble finding the part you are referring to.

I guess as long as you truly rule out environmental, cultural, etc. factors and the student is not responding to interventions, then that might make sense. I just don't feel like there should be a disability label on a kid if there isn't a disorder present. There has to be a reason for the low performance. That's just me though....

Last edited by eeza; 02-01-2016 at 07:25 AM..
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Newer SPED teacher here...
Old 02-02-2016, 05:07 PM
 
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Eeza when you say disorder are you referring to dyslexia, Dyscalculia, language processing disorder etc?

I ask this because in my district/school we don't ever make any reference to what is causing the SLD (specific learning disability) or developmental delay (DD).

When I first started teaching SPED this completely confused me... everything was labeled SLD or DD, with no mention of what's going on with the child at all. On the psych reports there are scores for memory, processing etc. but nothing ever discusses what type of specific learning disability a student has.

That being said, I guess it's just assumed (not that I agree) that if the student is struggling with reading they automatically are dyslexic, math they have dyscalculia.

As far as the original posters question... at my school we give students 504's when they have ADD/ADHD. This only gives them accommodations. OHI, hasn't ever been given to a student with ADD/ADHD. My niece has ADHD and she has an IEP for OHI, but this doesn't happen at my school. I would think that if the attention is significantly impacting their ability to learn it needs to be addressed. I do think giving them a 504 works because they are receiving some accommodations and help with the ADHD.
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ADHD vs. learning disabiity
Old 02-02-2016, 06:50 PM
 
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SpeedLimit62, when I refer to a disorder, I am referring to a processing disorder. The areas that apply are visual processing, auditory processing, sensory-motor, attention, phonological processing, and cognitive abilities (e.g., conceptualization, association). We don't use the terms dyslexia, dyscalulia, etc in my district. Those all fall under specific learning disability. It can be specific in the areas of reading, math, and/or writing.

Most of our ADHD kids have 504s because that meets their needs. They usually have an output issue rather than an input issue. The kids who are so ADHD that they have input issues too may qualify for an IEP under OHI.

It's so weird how district does it one way and other places do it different way. Wouldn't it make sense for it to be consistent?
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Old 02-02-2016, 09:55 PM
 
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Haley- I have often wondered how it really worked in districts like yours where they only use RTI data to qualify. Yours isn't the only state to have SLD criteria like that, and I've heard people raving about using RTI data only and no cognitive. While I do think a lack of achievement is a disability in society in general, I don't know what having an IEP is going to do for a child who is really doing the best they can with what they have.

In my old district, schools psychs would qualify kids under OHI for ADHD all the time. Really, when you think about it, school psychs who are competent are far better equipped and placed to identify attention disorders. IME, when medical doctors do it, they interview mom for a bit, talk to the kid for a few minutes, possibly (if they're "thorough" <-- said sarcastically) also get a little data from school (usually one checklist). A school psych, on the other hand, observes the child in a variety of school settings (recess, academic times, lunch, unstructured times, structured times, variety of group sizes, etc, etc) and gather lots of information from home and school setting. But I digress...

It makes sense to qualify the child under the disability category that best explains the concerns. I was curious to see the exclusionary factors for SLD in your state and found this document. Attention isn't a factor. I do see that your state allows (but does not require) a secondary eligibility category. If your team would go for that, then you could at least get ADHD concerns documented that way, but I'm guessing your psych prefers to go LD because it's easier/less time-consuming for evaluation purposes, and she might be uncomfortable with ADHD as an educational diagnosis if she doesn't feel trained/qualified to do that. I see that it is required that someone observe the child in the subject of concern (pretty standard for SLD), so perhaps she (or whoever observes?) can be encouraged/convinced to, at the very least, comment on the attention level and make sure it's documented? Of course, one might argue that the SLD is causing the child to be inattentive in the difficult subject. If she is willing to at least collect some rating scales from parents/ teachers addressing attention (e.g., Conners 3) and share that information, then it might make more of an impact even if the category ultimately chosen is SLD.

I'm not sure what you can/should do. Do you even see the child enough to know whether ADHD might be the major concern before the child gets put into sped under SLD? If so, you could be the voice at every meeting that brings it up as a concern. I think I'd keep mentioning it in your discussions with the school psych and continue to be clear on what your concerns are. Also, your criteria do state that low SES and/or ELL status are exclusionary factors if they are the primary reason for the lack of progress. Does your psych/team ever address that?

Regarding the processing disorder topic-- there is considerable dissension over the actual definition of SLD in the literature/field. There is also significant difference in how people define "processing disorder," ime. Some places have carved out specific working definitions for their own district/schools. Hence all these states with extremely different criteria for SLD. In most districts, SLD seems to be a "catch-all" for whoever people can get to qualify under whatever criteria are used. In our district, it became such an issue that they really tightened up the eligibility requirements and made the paperwork three times as much to make it a little harder for teams to choose that category.

Dyslexia really just means a dysfunction in reading. Some people equate that with a learning disability in reading, some people feel like it's very specific and different from a general learning disability. As eeza said, SLD should always have a specifier made clear in the evaluation summary (e.g., SLD in reading comprehension, SLD in math calculation, SLD in whichever of the SLD categories is appropriate, and can be more than one).
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Old 02-02-2016, 10:50 PM
 
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Grace, I don't know how to quote on here () but I agree with what you said about it making more sense to identify ADHD at school anyway. It never made sense to me that it's a "medical diagnosis" when the doctor goes off of rating scales that the child's teachers fill out anyway. However, this is new for our district and I think the psych is apprehensive about that, and she is worried it may become a "slippery slope" with lots of requests coming in for kids to get IEPs for ADHD rather than 504s like we have traditionally done in the past.

I know this particular student very well. She actually had an IEP for speech in Kindergarten, and got academic hours under our "needs based" model, so I worked with her all year then. At the end of the year she tested out for speech and didn't meet the criteria for SLD at the time, so she was exited from sped. I knew she'd come back around again. Last year I worked with her in an intervention group as part of a reading intervention model my school uses where gen ed students and sped students can be in the same group. We talked about her in RtI all last year and all of the strategies we discussed were related to attention/focus. I'm 100% sure that's her main problem. She is very sweet and wants to please adults but just cannot attend to anything to save her life. Even 1:1 she is constantly looking around the room, talking about other things, asking me to repeat directions, repeatedly dropping her pencil/materials, etc. She's even fallen out of her chair because she moves around so much.

We can do a secondary disability, but we've never done it at my school (my first school did that all of the time). Since we do the "needs based" thing, we just identify them in whatever is the easiest category that they fit in to and then give them whatever services they need. While this makes sense to us because they get the services no matter what, parents often don't understand SLD at all. They definitely think SLD= dyslexia or something very specific that can be "fixed" at school. In the referral meeting, this mom went on and on about how she thinks the girl's attention is very typical for her age, sees no issues, and thinks that the problem is a learning disability. This is why I think it's such a big deal that we get the identification right. If we identify this student SLD, mom is hearing what she wants to hear, will continue to refuse to do anything about the ADHD, and will think that the "learning disability" will be fixed at school. I like the idea of doing a secondary disability and will definitely suggest it, but I just don't think the psych will go for it. To her it will seem like unnecessary work.

We do talk about the disqualifiers, but I don't think either apply to the student in this case. She's not ELL, so of course that one definitely doesn't apply. We've had a hard time figuring out when it's actually okay to say that the concern is due to socioeconomic factors. The psych and I actually went to a training from the state last year for this specific purpose and they told us it was illegal for them to give specific guidelines and it needed to be a "team discussion." This student is on free lunch, but so is 80% of the school. Her mom is employed and they do have steady housing. We've never really felt like we could answer "yes" to that disqualifier without being discriminatory. We have occasionally used the "lack of instruction" disqualifier for a kid that has moved around tons and misses a lot of school, but that doesn't apply here.


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using quotes (mini-hijack)
Old 02-03-2016, 09:58 AM
 
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Quote:
I don't know how to quote on here ()
I have been a member of PT for a while and figured this out only a few years ago!

This is what you do:
1) Copy the phrase you want to quote.
2) Hit reply.
3) Above the text box there is a QUOTE button. Click on that and [QUOTE][QUOTE] will appear.
4) Paste your phrase between the inner brackets of the [QUOTE][QUOTE].

Viola!
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Quoting
Old 02-04-2016, 08:01 PM
 
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I tried it and it didn't work . I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong. I copied some of your post, hit reply, and no quote button came up above the text box.
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quotes
Old 02-05-2016, 04:21 PM
 
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That is so weird! It's a few buttons to the right of the bullet point button on my computer. Maybe it's because I'm on a Mac or I'm on a different browser?
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Haley23 quoting
Old 02-05-2016, 04:43 PM
 
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Maybe you need to fix your setting options. Go to your desk, go to options and settings, and then settings. I think you need to check off the option that says to show the formatting. I'm not positive, but you could try! Here's what mine looks like:
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Old 02-06-2016, 01:11 AM
 
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Quote:
Maybe you need to fix your setting options.
Yes, that was the problem! Thanks!
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Old 02-06-2016, 10:23 AM
 
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I'm so glad it worked!
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Which district in CO?
Old 02-15-2016, 01:11 PM
 
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Haley,

Which district are you in in CO? I used to work in Denver, and there were a number of ways to qualify a student with LD. The most common way was to have the student performing below the 12th percentile on a psychometric and not responding to interventions for 2 cycles of 6 weeks. If you go here you can get all their SLD info. The man who wrote it is a genius! Look at the info on Gap analysis.

As I remember, the district/state was moving away from testing (psychometrics) for everything if you had a good body of evidence from CBMs and observations. But that was 2 years ago and nothing is ever the same day by day.

As for the attention part, have you thought about movement breaks? Or purposeful errands (she needs to go to office to get xyz). What about having her standing to work? Have you tried fidgets? Another thing you might try is have her do her learning in visual forms. Teacherspayteachers has some great worksheets where students cut out letters to put together sight words. This one is my favorite!
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