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8 year old struggles at school

(7 Posts)
millimurphy Thu 26-Sep-19 15:43:11

Hello - wondered if anyone could give me some advice. I have an 8 year old son who has just started year 4. He has struggled throughout school with just about everything. Literacy, Maths, Spelling - he is at least a year behind with all of these!

I was convinced he was dyslexic - due to him ticking mostly all of the boxes when you look on-line for symptoms of this. The SEN lady at school did some type of screening test and says he isn't dyslexic. He is a very anxious child, very sensitive and is constantly worried about things.

He has an EHP plan in place which gives him targets to meet each term. I listen to him read every week day morning. Homework is always done at the weekend. The teacher has asked if I can do some writing practice with him as well each day as the writing and spellings he produces at school are incomprehensible.

He is trying but gets easily frustrated and wound up whenever we try to practice something at home to help him. They have bought in this new times tables thing as well and he is often in tears trying to practice this. He says he finds it overwhelming at school and too noisy. He says people are talking all the time and it makes his head hurt.

So if he is not dyslexic what else could it be? What else can I do to help him? He seems a bright lad to me - he is clever on computers, at building lego. I am so sad for him as it feels like he is slowly sinking. Any ideas?

Thank you - worried Millimurphy

artichaut27 Sat 28-Sep-19 08:15:13

Is it the SENCo who did the screening or an actual Ed Psych. I'm not sure a SENCo can actually determine if a child is dyslexic or not.
Would you consider having him assessed privately by an Ed Psych.

The noise bothering him at school sounds like some type of Sensory Processing Disorder (NHS won't really diagnose unfortunately). It could be Auditory Processing Disorder (APD), which you can have looked at the NHS Audiologist.

Now, APD never comes alone. It comes with either Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, ASD, ADHD or Language Disorder.

Have you seen a Speech and Language therapist. Does he have any language delays or issues?

Other thing to check is his motor coordination, ie how is his balance, catching balls, running, walking, etc.

Did he have any developmental delay by age 2?

Sorry, lots of questions but it would help narrowing it down. Development issues are under NHS, learning issues are school. Problem with both being underfunded, we found that we ended up doing everything private.

twoyears Sat 28-Sep-19 12:29:38

The amount of support that you’re giving your son is amazing. However, if he’s getting frustrated the activities are almost certainly too difficult for him.

The key to success is to start at the point at which your son is always successful. When you then introduce new material the increase in difficulty should be almost imperceptible to your son so that even this is ‘just easy’. There are some very simple ways of organising this.

I have years of experience of research in this area and work with high performing teachers. I’m also very happy to give parents free advice. You’re welcome to pm me.

millimurphy Sun 29-Sep-19 08:34:40

Thank you both so much for the feed back. I will get back in a bit with some answers. Just coping with a stressful homework session at the moment.

SugarPlumFairyCakes Sun 29-Sep-19 16:30:18

Is it an Education, Health and Care Plan? If so, I would wonder what difficulties the EHC Plan is for? Cognitive and Learning, Sensory Impairment, Social and Communication, Social, Emotional and Mental Health? At the Annual Review, you could request updated Educational Psychologist advice and query Dyslexia.

If it is a school plan, are the targets realistic, if your son is highly anxious, too much expectation on learning and homework could make him more anxious. meaning he is not mentally happy and relaxed enough to learn. I would suggest meeting with the SENCo and requesting a full Educational Psychologist assessment to ascertain under-lying difficulties.

If he is happier doing things on the computer, I would let him do that and use the Lego for Maths! He is much more likely to absorb if he is not anxious and stressed.

Good luck!

millimurphy Mon 30-Sep-19 08:17:57

Thank-you again. Will try and answer some of your questions.

Screening Test - this was done by the SENCo teacher just in school. It was some type of DST-J Score Test sheet. Her diagnosis at the bottom was 0.5 which is apparently below mild risk of dyslexia. Some of the test results do not make much sense to me.

For example - a test for 'One Minute Writing' which she gives a result as a '+' - this is meant to be 'above average for age'. At the same time his teacher has took me aside last week and said his writing is barely readable and I need to do extra writing with him at home! So I can't figure that one out. There was also a nonsense reading passage but with really simple words - mostly CVC words which he can do. Not an age appropriate reading passage.

Speech and Language - he has been signed off from this and is said to be fine now - but he is still pronouncing words wrong, stumbling and almost stuttering trying to find correct words when he is talking and explaining things. He does not have an extensive vocabulary. I carefully say the right way to pronounce things when he says something wrong.

Co-ordination. He can trip over a flat floor. Not great at catching balls. And his pain threshold is so low. You would think his leg was hanging off if he stubs his toe. He becomes hysterical over the slightest knock and it takes me quite a while to comfort and calm him down.

Developmental Delay - looking back he didn't meet quite a few targets. Slow for walking. Slow for talking. I didn't really know any different as he was my first child. It is only now I have a daughter who has managed to do things much quicker than him that I have noticed so many differences.

He is very happy doing work on the computer. His Maths had started to get much better as the school last year had introduced Mathletics - an on-line program for practicing Maths work. You could build up points and then get a certificate each week if you had enough points. He loved this and it really gave him a sense of achievement getting a certificate each week. We put them up on his bedroom wall. Now this year apparently the funding has gone and so no more Mathletics, just back to paper Maths homework which he hates.

Right. Sorry that was so long. I will request another appointment with the SENCo. Do I go to the doctors and ask about the possibility of an Auditory Processing Disorder? If I get him privately assessed for dyslexia and it turns out that he is, would the school have to give him extra help?

I feel so sad sometimes - I wake up at night worrying about him. He says he struggles so much in class and wants me to be there to help him with his writing and spellings. I do think he needs extra one to one help. But again the schools funding has been cut and TA support is down.

Thank you for your replies. Just want my boy to do the best he can and not be miserable and anxious going to school.

I think I read somewhere about the 'Nessy' program being quite good? It is quite expensive though so I would really like some recommendations before purchasing!

artichaut27 Mon 30-Sep-19 13:27:35

Thanks for your answers.

I can relate to the sadness. My son's diagnosis hit me really hard at first and then it was a relief. From a full diagnosis we've been able to understand him much better and advocate for him when need be.

My son took the dyslexia screening (he's not dyslexic but could have dyslexic tendencies). It is just a screening, and has limited validity. It did evidence his dyspraxia partly. For example, he took timed tests for fine motor co-ordination and he did poorly.

SALT: my son was discharged by NHS (who did very little) but we have been to private SALT for almost a year and he still has a long way to go on his lateral lisp. What sounds are difficult for him?
Difficulty finding words might be linked to word retrieval issues (symptom of dyslexia).

Co-ordination: you could also look at his table manners (handling fork, knife), riding bike, etc. 50% of dyslexics are dyspraxic.
To get possible dyspraxia looked at, you might be able to self-refer to NHS Occupational Therapist (that's one of the few NHS professionals that have been helpful in our experience, but once diagnosed you're left to your own devices).

APD: GP should be able to refer to audiologist. You need to research it and see if he fits the profile ie hypersensitivity to sounds, not hearing well when there is a background noise etc.

Now, you could have him assessed by a private Ed Psych which can cost from £400 to £700 depending on where you live. It will give you a sense of his weaknesses (if dyslexic he probably would have Working Memory issues and Speed of Processing issues). If he has slow speed of processing he will be granted extra times at exams in the future.

What the school does with a dyslexia diagnosis really depends on the school. I used to think that if I had a clear diagnosis the school will do a lot more intervention. But to be hones, teachers don't often have time in a really packed day to take a child 1:1 for intervention. We're doing a lot at home on top of his homework.

With proper Ed Psych report you might discover that he has unexpected strength in visual-spatial thinking. Working from his strength, i.e. finding strategies that work with the way his brain is wired, will be make both your lives easier.

Hear is a good website with lots of free handwriting ressources:

I don't know much about Nessy, maybe you could start a thread to check on usefulness.

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