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Teacher strongly recommending LS assessment for my son - but I don't see anything wrong

(13 Posts)
Busyworkingmumof4 Tue 21-Mar-17 07:04:55

Hi all

My first post but I have been making notes for a while so please bear with the length.

My oldest son is in year 3 at school. His teacher has repeatedly suggested that he take a learning support assessment as he says that he is distracted by anything and everything, and he is worried about him accessing the curriculum in full. He says he will struggle more and more as he progresses through school.

I can see DS1 is not as high an academic achiever as DS2 (who has a great creative imagination, likes to read, plays with his toys and lego for hours - all the things I wished DS1 did more of), but is he so different from his peers that he needs LS?

I've made a list of observations from over the years. What do you think?

Baby/infant development stage:
•Late crawler – started exactly on his first birthday
•Late walker – at 1 year 5 months
•Normal speech
•Not keen on reading at all – he would take the books from my hand and throw them across the room if I tried reading to him
•Note: we did not allow children’s TV / Cbeebies until his second birthday but after that he loved it and would watch TV all day if we let him

Starting school stage:
•His reception teacher said that he was always keen to put up his hand to answer the question, but then would talk about something completely different to what had been asked.
•His reading was slow – he did not really ‘get’ the concept of blending the letters into words until right towards the end of Reception
•Not interested in imaginative play – I never saw him role-play or make up stories with his toys
•Blocks and building toys were only really used for building the highest possible tower – nothing else

Year 1:
Note: we moved house (and country) in the summer between reception and year 1, so the Year 1 teacher took into account the move and that he was new to the school
•Teacher reported a consistent lack of focus or concentration on the task at hand. By the end of the year she had begun suggesting a LS assessment, but this never got scheduled.
•He was near the bottom of his class in reading – by the end of year 1 he was only just moved up to ‘Blue’ book band. There were 5 other children who were also on blue, but the teacher said they were about to be moved up to Green. The other children were already on Green or above.

Year 2:
•Over the summer between year 1 and year 2 we did a focused reading initiative – I made sure he read one ORT reader every day, working through Blue, Green and Orange readers.
•At the start of year 2 his reading was assessed and he was put on Orange reading level which we were very proud of.
•His year 2 teacher never mentioned any focus or distraction issues or made any suggestion of LS
•The issue in year 2 was more around maths. They are ‘setted’ for maths from year 2 and he was put into the bottom set out of five sets for the year.
•His maths teacher found him to struggle even in that bottom set. She said that he seemed to get the strategy at the time of teaching it, but when they revisted the topic a few weeks later he had forgotten the strategy to apply.
•I observed him doing his maths homework and saw him getting confused with basic place value concepts – e.g. thinking that 259 was larger than 301 because the unit 9 is larger than 1 – or reading the number 240 as 204.

Year 3 (current stage):
•Over the summer between year 2 and year 3 we arranged one-on-one maths tutoring. The maths tutor praised his cheery attitude and keenness to do the tasks set and he made excellent progress.
•At the start of year 3 he was automatically slotted into the bottom set again, but at the end of the first week he was moved up a set (i.e. 4th out of 5) due to his progress.
•His current maths teacher thinks he is steady compared to his peers in his class. She also reports that his presentation has improved tremendously since the start of the school year. At first it was sloppy and messy, but now she reports it is the neatest in the class and exactly what he is looking for.
•His reading has just been assessed and he is on Gold ORT level, which doesn’t seem too bad for his age.
•He does not always follow instructions for his writing. I.e. misunderstanding what ‘alliteration’ is meant to involve, or writing a narrative instead of a ‘report’ with sub-headings and paragraphs. In all writing activities, he does the bare minimum required - e.g. the shortest possible sentences for learning his spelling words.
•He enjoys science and won the science fair competition for his class (limited parental help)
•He goes to chess club and is one of the better players in his year – he reached the finals for the year 3 chess competition this year.
•He enjoys sports but not those that require lots of running, as he is not particularly fast or athletic. He does Tae Kwon Do, gymnastics and waterpolo.

Relationships with others:
•He is our oldest child and has three younger siblings. He enjoys playing with DS2, aged 6, but also fights with him. However, we have seen more maturity from him recently. E.g. sometimes when they play rock, paper, scissors in the car, DS2 will cry if he loses a number of times in a row. DS1 will be mature about this and let him have a headstart, saying ‘ok, first to 10 points, and you can start on 6 points’.
•He adores baby DD2 and carries her affectionately. He also looks after three year old DD1 if DS2 is fighting with her.
•He is appropriately affectionate and caring with his parents and grandparents.
•He does get upset and frustrated easily with seemingly small matters, such as not being able to win a computer game, or us taking the computer away after he has been playing for too long. His teachers in year 1 and year 3 also reported that he seemed more sensitive than others at his age, in terms of getting easily upset, but I don’t know if this behaviour is too unusual at his age.
•When asked who his friends are, he will list a number of children (around 5 or 6 boys) in his class who he plays with. I have a feeling that although he plays in their group, none of them regard him as a best friend. I.e. he gets invited to class birthday parties, but very rarely to a playdate with one friend.

Sorry again for the long post. Any thoughts please?

Wh0Kn0wsWhereTheTimeGoes Tue 21-Mar-17 07:18:36

The school are concerned that your DS will struggle more and more as he proceeds through school and are offering to assess him in order to support him better. I cannot see why you would say no to this. So often it is the other way round, parents concerns being brushed off by school.

zzzzz Tue 21-Mar-17 07:18:59

My thought is that you would be better getting him assessed by professionals than trying to assess him yourself in this way. I have probably missed something, but why don't you want to? Is it terribly expensive or something?

Avioleta Tue 21-Mar-17 07:22:49

Can I ask why you are so resistant to this? I can see no harm in letting him be assessed by professionals. If there is nothing of concern then great. If there is, then he has a much better chance of accessing the support he needs.

Busyworkingmumof4 Tue 21-Mar-17 07:54:18

We have just yesterday agreed to the assessment, but I don't know if the teacher is blowing things out of proportion.

Wh0Kn0wsWhereTheTimeGoes Tue 21-Mar-17 08:12:49

Well, if they are the assessment will confirm that. I know it's worrying, but really, if any help is offered, take it, don't wait until he really is struggling. Of course things might turn out fine without any extra support, but why take that chance?

zzzzz Tue 21-Mar-17 09:43:02

They won't be persuaded into thinking he's worse than he is. The assessments are designed to remove 'opinion' as much as possible. It's one of the reasons they assess and don't just go on a particular teacher/parents say so.

Try not to worry. Your own list of observations is good and would probably be helpful so stash it somewhere so you can give your impressions if helpful.

Busyworkingmumof4 Tue 21-Mar-17 10:11:16

Thanks all so much. My main worry is DS1 is going to somehow get mislabelled or wrongly diagnosed.

I'll give you an example relating to DS2 who is now in year 1. At the parents evening at the end of the first term this year, we were told he was in the bottom set for phonics. DS2 is really bright, an excellent reader, and had been in the top set for phonics in Reception, and so we could not understand how he was in the bottom for year 1. We spoke to his phonics teacher and she whole-heartedly agreed with us and said she had been trying to convince the year head to move him up but they had a rigid system which meant she had to wait until the next assessment time. She said DS2 must have just been having an off day when he was assessed. When they did do phonics assessment again, he shot up 5 sets....

So all of this assessment and setting and labelling is a little concerning if the assessment results do not ring true.

zzzzz Tue 21-Mar-17 10:24:53

I'd focus on your own thoughts/impressions. School sound a little...chaoticgrin

From your list it does sound you have some minor concerns. I would get him assessed, because I would be interested in just where this obviously bright little person is stumbling.

As far as over diagnosis goes, if you are in the uk or anywhere with uk schools, I personally would relax on that one. It just doesn't happen outside of newspapers. It's the opposite to what people think.

I would be reading about dyslexia given the reading difficulties, but I'm a reader anyway and like to mull things over on my own.

Roomba Tue 21-Mar-17 10:26:35

Agree to the assessment and take any and all help offered. It's so hard for many children to get the support they need at school - they really won't say there is an issue and offer help if it is not needed in the end.

I had a similar issue with DS1 and my ex. School wanted to have DS assessed for suspected dyspraxia and/or ADHD. My ex was adamant there was no issue at all as DS manages just fine at home. I would have agreed with this but for the fact that I know schools cannot afford to offer support for those who don't need it, so clearly something wasn't right at school even if all was fine at home. I had to insist on the assessment and really argued with my ex about it - turns out DS does have dyspraxia and help is now being organised for him.

Extra help won't do your son any harm, will it? It can only benefit him to be assessed - it may well be that they find your DS is fine and no extra support is needed, in which case at least you know and aren't worrying about it.

Busyworkingmumof4 Tue 21-Mar-17 10:44:02

I know... I will just have to wait and see the results and hope they are accurate...

Wh0Kn0wsWhereTheTimeGoes Tue 21-Mar-17 11:05:51

Try not to worry, he really isn't going to get misdiagnosed on the basis of one assessment. It's a long and complex process getting a formal diagnosis of a specific SEN and it may well be that this assessment just rules that out, but gives the teachers indicators of better ways they can support your DS, which could be short or long term. Obviously there is the possibility that they will recommend a referral for further assessments etc, but this is not the end of the world, it doesn't change who your DS is, just gives you more information about him to work with and really is useful as you head towards secondary school age. Try and see it as a positive thing, many children who need it don't get this help and end up with greater difficulties a few years down the line as a result.

Also, keep that list you have put in your OP, all this info can be really useful down the line if any further assessments are needed. You might not need it, but it could turn out to be very useful.

youarenotkiddingme Tue 21-Mar-17 22:39:28

I agree to allow the assessment to happen and see what it yields. It often highlights strengths as well as weaknesses and can form a good picture of a child's learning style - so input can be structured to them. Some children just learn a different way.

I also agree relax re worries about over diagnosis.

Keep your list and just be open and honest when they ask you direct questions and try not to second guess why they are asking, what they are trying to establish from asking and assume they are trying to fit answers into a box.

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