Friday, May 18, 2007

learning disabilities

A while back I posted about our concerns for Maria and her problems with reading/spelling. I've been meaning to post an update but I've been waiting for as much information as possible first. We first made a couple of appointments, one with an optometrist for an evaluation for vision training and another with a psychologist for evaluation for dyslexia. She was not diagnosed with dyslexia. As I suspected, her reading, although painfully difficult for her, is still on grade level. Her reading comprehension is even better. But her spelling and writing are way down on a second grade level. That's what they were looking for, a discrepancy between her test scores in certain areas versus her scores everywhere else. The psychologist diagnosed her with an "expressive language disorder"...a fancy way of saying she has a really hard time learning to spell and write. She couldn't give us much direction in what we could do for her, however. We have been told to just keep working with her so she can progress as far as she is able, then teach her how to type and use spell check. I am poking around into different language arts programs, all expensive and all dubious in their value to us. In the end, we will probably keep doing what we are doing and allowing her to make her very slow progress.

The optometrist was more hopeful, definitely feeling like she would benefit greatly from the vision training. However, our insurance doesn't cover this, the school district here doesn't provide it, and it costs....are you ready for this?...$3,360. When we were at the appointment, she wrote this nonchalantly on the contract and handed it to me, where I quickly smothered my gasp of horror and folded the papers over so John wouldn't see the figures until we were gone. Obviously, we cannot even begin to afford this, especially since this comes with no guarantees of working either. We are not on a "gamble $3,360 on something that might do some good" kinda budget. Honestly, I really think this could help. I've researched it in my typical obsessive-compulsive way and there's a lot of good feedback out there for this therapy, and I wish we could provide it. I wish our insurance covered it. I wish the school system provided it. But unless one of these things changes, we just can't do it. I have had to let this go. I have placed it in Christ's hands. If it is His will that she have this, He will have to open a window for us.

She also gave Maria reading glasses, saying the bigger print would help her eyes to coordinate better and be a kind of crutch until she could have the training. And she recommended teaching her to type.

I also spoke a bit with the school district's special ed services person when I called about the vision therapy. I told her about Maria's diagnosis and she asked me to send her a copy of Maria's test results, but she said she didn't think there was much she could do for her either. If she were in school, they would basically pull her out for tutoring in these subjects, which is basically what she has at home full time now. She did say that other school districts did do this vision training therapy, and that it was very possible that the school district would offer the therapy sometime in the future. She also recommended teaching her to type.

So, that's where we stand...with an official diagnosis, but one that doesn't do us a whole lot of good because there's no where we can go with it. It's extremely frustrating to me. She is an intelligent girl who does well in other subjects. But since pretty much all subjects require some amount of reading and writing, she hates school. In fact, her attitude about school can be pretty lousy. She is at an age where she talks a lot about what she wants to do when she grows up, and now she sifts her dreams through her disability and wants to know how much college different careers require because she doesn't want to go to school any longer than she has to. I hate to see this define her life's path. In fact, it makes me cry every time I think about it. But there isn't anything else I can do at this point but wait for a window to open. I am working on Maria's attitude, trying to encourage a virtue of fortitude. I am looking for some multi-sensory methods for working on her spelling lists. And, yes, I am teaching her to type.


scmom said...

I know two people who did spend a small fortune on vision therapy for their kids, with no great results. It's probably a good choice to wait. There are no guarantees. My second son had some very big delays in several areas when he was younger, and while I sometimes get a glimpse of them still (8th grade) he has compensated. God bless you.

Kelly said...

Wow. I'm happy that you have a diagnosis now, so at least you know what the problem is, but geez! How awful not to have access to the therapy that *might* help. [But I'm with you - no way we could afford that either. :( ]

You are right to put it in Jesus' hands of course - the best thing you can do.