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Screening Recommendation
Old 10-12-2005, 05:28 PM
 
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Have any of you had to recommend a child for a screening for learning disabilities? Were you able to make that decision yourself, or did an administrator/counselor help you? How did you tell the parents?


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I've had to do it
Old 10-12-2005, 05:53 PM
 
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First. Thank you for caring enough about the child to think that there may be a cause for his/her learning problem.

I would check with old teacher's to see if they had any of the same problems and if they had talked to the parents about it.

If not, call the parents in, discuss your concern, show proof and what you have done to help the child find success. Then discuss that you think that the child may have a possible learning problem. DO NOT say Learning Disability then you are making the diagnosis.

Explain that you hope that you are wrong but you would like to have the child tested to see if there are any learning problems. Have a plan of what you are going to do until you can get a diagnosis.

Is is just reading or math or both? Do you see dysgraphia, speech, or motor skills fine or gross? Behavior problems? IF so, get other input from the teachers. Does the child get any Title services or anything like that. If so get input from that person too. Ask art and p.e. especially since they see the motor skills as well.

Keep calm, expect the worse :Yelling at you, walking out, etc.

Again have your plan, have paperwork to have parents sign so that you can start the official paperwork. Document, Document, Document!
Tell them you are in this with them and that you will do what is needed to help their child find success. Reassure them that NO you are not pushing medications on the child but looking for a reason on why their child is have such a difficult time learning.

Use phrases that are posivice about the child peppered in with the problems. Good luck. You are a professional. Take a deep breath before going in. You are doing this for the child not to make your life easier. It will actually make your job more difficult.
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Evaluation for learning disabilities
Old 10-12-2005, 06:11 PM
 
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I have done this a number of times. The procedure may be different depending on your district policies and state regulations. I keep my principal aware of any significant learning problems in my class. Usually, I will have a conference, in person or by phone with a parent. If there is a problem that hasn't been solved by classroom intenventions, I refer the child to the Intervention and Referral Services committee. I&RS is composed of several volunteer teachers, the principal, and, if necessary, a member of our Child Study Team. Parents are invited to the meeting. We discuss the situation and try to brainstorm additional interventions to be used in the classroom and/or at home. If there is not significant improvement after a period of time, a referral is made to the Child Study Team for evaluation. The referring teacher completes the paperwork. Sometimes the interventions are enough to help. Other times, a CST referral is recommended by I&RS.

In order for me to refer a student to the CST, I have to list classroom strategies and interventions previously tried. These may include extra help, assigning a buddy to a student who has difficulty organizing materials, preferential seating in the classroom, etc. My principal must sign the form before it is sent to the CST.
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LD referral
Old 10-12-2005, 08:11 PM
 
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I teach K, so we are usually the gatekeepers when a child enters formal schooling. In our district, if we suspect any problem, we start with a Student Study Team Level 1. That is where I meet with the parents, and let them know that I have some concerns. I have usually collected samples of the child's work so that I can show them specifically what I am worried about. We work out a plan of things I need to do at school (preferential seating, using visual aids, etc.), things the child needs to do, and things the parents need to do. We set a goal of where we'd like the child to be in, say, one month, and then see where we are. If at the end of that time, I am still not satisfied with the child's progress, we call a Level 2 SST, with myself, the principal, the parents and our RSP teacher, sometimes the school psychologist as well. We talk with the parents and let them know that we still have some concerns, we listen to their concerns and get permission to begin testing so we can "gather more information." During the time between Levels 1 and 2, we have been communicating so that none of this should be a shock to the parents. We don't offer any type of diagnosis (even if we're pretty sure what's going on, based on our experience); we just let them know that we are trying to figure out what is going on.
Most parents want the best for their kids. Some will be in denial, some will get angry. But the majority know in their hearts when something isn't right and trust us to work with them to help them and their child.

Good luck!
 
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My Experience
Old 10-12-2005, 09:32 PM
 
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The process I've been through is similar to LisaM. Last year I suspected a child in my class could possibly have been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome (kept that to myself though).

This is what I had to do...
First I discussed my concerns with her 3rd grade teacher who had the same concerns that year too. She tried to discuss it with this child's mom, but she immediately got defensive and nothing came out of it.

I didn't want that to happen again, because I felt strongly enough that there was a problem. BTW, throughout this time I had told her mother I was concerned (I was sensitive to her feelings yet honest with her). At first she was very upset with me and wanted her daughter moved out of my class. After talking to her a few times (I also talked to the principal about the move out of my class-didn't happen) she was much calmer and willing to move ahead with the process.

I talked to the special ed. teacher and our school psychologist. I had quite a bit of paperwork to fill out based on my observations in the classroom (checklists, etc...). I had to describe the two main areas I thought were difficult for her. I then came up with a plan (2 goals for each area) of what I could do in the classroom to help her (called interventions). I had to document my observations for about a week.

Then I had to meet with the special ed. evaluator for our district, two special ed. teachers, and school psychologist (Child Study Team) to present my concerns and interventions. We discussed the fact that there were enough concerns to begin testing.

At this point it was out of my hands. The special ed. team and evaluators got in touch with her parents to discuss testing, scheduling, etc.

Awhile later a meeting was scheduled to discuss the testing results and what would be done to help this student. We set up an initial IEP and explained the entire special ed. process with her parents. I was relieved that I didn't have to tell her parents that she was diagnosed with Asperger's.

It can be a time consuming and difficult process, especially because it's difficult for the parents to go through. Eventually she came around and thanked me for going with my concerns and making sure her daughter was tested. I strongly suggest that if you feel a child may be LD, get the child tested. My student was at the end of 4th grade before she was finally diagnosed. She could have gotten the help much sooner in school.

If you aren't sure, talk to the special ed. teacher or school psychologist. I believe that typically it's not the teacher's responsibility to inform the parents of a diagnosis. I made the decision myself to have her tested, and thankfully had the parents' support.


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another possibility
Old 10-15-2005, 06:35 AM
 
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Keep in mind that the parents may just be RELIEVED. Yes, they could be upset, but in some cases, the parents see the child struggling at home, and have their own concerns. You never know how a parent will react (I have to make one of those parent calls myself soon). The most important thing is to NOT make special ed. a bad possibility, but to phrase it as helping the child with additional support. Special ed. is NOT the end of the world for many parents; there are alot of us that are quite glad that our children receive services (I'm a teacher and the parent of special needs children).
Document what you do for this child to help him/her keep up. There are guidelines for whom to talk to/what paperwork to fill out/ the process to follow in every school district. Ask someone in the special ed. dep't. to help you; that's what they do!
Good luck.
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Original Poster - update
Old 10-20-2005, 06:20 AM
 
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In case anyone is still reading this thread, I thought I'd give an update.

I was finally able to meet with the parents after about 10 days after I asked. Technically the student isn't learning disabled; it's more behavioral. I work at a small private school, so we don't have all of the services that many of you mentioned. I discussed it with administration, and we met with the parents yesterday. It went better than my worst nightmare, but I feel like the mom is kind of in denial, whereas the dad wants to find out what we can do to help. I just told the parents what I had observed and had to remind myself that it's their child, and they love him very much. The mom was a little emotional, but she was nice. I'm glad it's over!
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