Frustration and anxiety

My 7 year-old son has SPD, is performing at or above grade level in reading and math, and is inconsistent in his writing skills(sometimes is can't do and other times, won't do). He also has orthopedic issues (tightness in hips, hamstrings, and postural issues). His frustration with schoolwork is increasing. He says he has trouble doing his work; completing things, feeling overwhelmed with work and just tries to escape into a book. He has a 504 for his orthopedic issues. We have had him evaluated by the school, but they simply say he is impulsive despite reports from OT, neurologist, and other doctor. They say he needs to move around more than peers, but then say he is fine. How do you support the frustration and anxiety and get the school to understand what is going on? We have a kid in tears, which is heartbreaking.

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May 20, 2010
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Frustration and anxiety
by: Anonymous

Thank you for all of the comments. It does reassure me that there are others out there dealing with similar struggles. In working with the school, it makes you feel like you are on an island by yourself. I work in education in an exclusive district, where this wouldn't be such a struggle. That is also adding to the frustration. Our home district is a good five years behind.

I appreciate the strategies too. Some we have tried and/or are using. we will be working on he typing over the summer too to help provide some relief.

My son thinks there is something "wrong" with him. Without giving a kid too much information that they can't process and/or handle, how do you reassure you kid that they are in fact ok? They may just have some greater challenges with certain things.

May 19, 2010
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Sounds like what we went through
by: Anonymous

My DD was doing fine in school (because we sent her to outside tutoring) and in her school evaluation, when we asked for help with her handwriting, we were denied because her SPD was not impacting her grades.

Her 4th grade teacher, told me in the eval meeting, that she had no problem reading my DD's handwriting. I was about to tell that teacher that she was a magician, cause no one else on the planet could read her printing. Especially if my DD had to print fast- as in copying homework assignments from the board. But I bit my tongue and looked at all the tests that were done in the eval.

Sorry to say, when I was denied any help for my DD, that I believe that the school had no additional funds available at the time to help her with a weekly OT visit.

I also explained, in the meeting, that my DD will not test well, for teats that require her to repeatedly fill-in circles with the answer. She will need extra time and maybe just shut down from frustration because she can not handle all that writing.

Here's some handwriting tips that came out of the meeting, They were from the school's OT.
-use a binder as a slant board to print
-take frequent breaks- make you son flex hands, fingers etc
-pencil grippers may help
-the teachers agreed to copy down homework assignments in my DD's assignment book, so we could read them.
- I have also printed "LONG' assignments for my DD - she could not handle so much printing and got frustrated and overwhelmed.
- use keyboarding- you will find out that as your son get older- he can do all his homework writing assignments on the computer
- see if you can move your son from printing to Cursive writing, asap, my DD seems to do better at cursive writing than printing
- have toys to fidget with when doing assignments
- get with your OT for hand strengthening exercises - my DD gets fatigued quickly and has to put down her pencil often.
- try to do assignments after a sensory break
- for spelling tests - ask the teacher to take your son to a back table and let him spell the words out loud instead of writing them
- do homework before dessert ( added this one in myself-LOL) but it worked also as a motivator.

My DD was often in tears from 1st to 3rd grade, until we learned the best techniques for helping her cope with writing assignments.

Be patient, my DD often had days when she wrote entire sentences with backwards letters. When we asked her what happened, she said that she got confused, but saw the letters in the right direction. I think on that day she was having a very bad sensory day.

We also 2 great teachers who were willing to work with my DD, when she needed extra attention.


May 18, 2010
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Frustration and anxiety
by: Anonymous

My son has SPD and is 7 years old. He too is on grade level with reading, ahead in math and in general doing well academically, except for handwriting. He receives special ed services and has an IEP for a written language learning disability. (dysgraphia, but the school system won't call it that). Once he got the IEP a lot more services were offered for his SPD. He is allowed to type longer assignments in the classroom and uses a word recognition program on the classroom computer. He is offered two sensory breaks a day, a teacher's aid will take him for a short walk or do some exercises with him and then he is ready to focus again. They also put a theraband around the legs of his desk so he could kick it and not disturb anyone. So if you can get an IEP because of his handwriting issues then it may open it up to more services.

May 18, 2010
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Frustration and anxiety
by: Anonymous

We have been in contact with the school since late fall for the orthopedic issues and since January for the sensory concerns (they became more pronounced after orthopedic treatment to correct shortened tendons from tip toe walking). Since he hasn't "fallen behind" academically, the school doesn't see an issue. The only thing he is consistently marked below on his grade card is handwriting (previously marked down in PE until 504 plan was put into place). He was evaluated for OT and PT by the school, and not found eligible. the reported him to be "impulsive" but would not look deeper as to why. His sensory issues are with motor planning, visual perception, deceased proprioceptive feedback and general trunk/core weakness. We have outside PT and OT weekly. At this point, we are waiting out the last two weeks of school, hoping that summer will be welcome relief, and help with continuation of outside services. We are seeking a nero psych evaluation this summer based upon an outside recommendation. Hoping this will put all of the pieces together. His annual 504 review is prior to school starting. We will be bringing an advocate with us at that time.

We started trying to make lists for our son, so he can see what is coming (like a schedule) to alleviate some of the anxiety. He is aware of his struggles, and describes it as the mystery of why he can't get his body to do what he wants. Self-esteem is a big concern right now for me seeing how upset he gets. The fact that the school staff cannot "see" what is going on with him neurologically makes the explanation difficult. We have shared his history, tried to explain what he struggles with, singed releases, given every report, etc. to the school. It just seems silly that it should be such a battle. How long have others had to "fight" for their kids and how were you able to turn the corner?

May 18, 2010
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It's All You
by: Anonymous

You can't stop until you make everyone understand what your child needs. Sometimes we think the teachers should know how to handle kids but they don't have the time to make plans on how to deal with all of the issues their kids can have (trust me there usually handfuls of kids who need special consideration). So it's on you to spell out what you need to see happen. I made sure my daughter had a chance to move more by asking her teacher to let her walk to the drinking fountain after or sometimes before tests or writing assignments. If the teacher noticed her being too fidgety she would send my daughter on an "errand" to the office she would have her carry a couple of heavy books (which would help ground my daughter and calm her nervous system)and maybe the next day re-pick up those books.

My daughter was allowed hard candy to suck on for concentration during tests as long as she was discreet, one year the teacher actually gave out jolly ranchers to all of the kids during testing week because she had read the benefits for helping concentration.My daughter used fidgets at her desk. I also was allowed to write paragraphs for my daughter as long as she dictated it to me. My daughter has great ideas but when asked to write would completely shut down and cry until she developed better small motor control in her hands.There was no way she could have shown what she knew otherwise.

We also finished any unfinished classwork on the weekends(my daughter worked better at home in a quieter predictable place) And she wasn't the only one, a friend of hers sat on a plastic disk that had nubs on it,and used fidgets. It was used for sensory feedback to help him stay calmer. I learned all of these techniques through an O.T. and books on sensory disorders. A mother of one of my daughters classmate needed the Handwriting Without Tears, program she swore it had a night and day impact on her sons writing skills. Don't wait for suggestions from your childs teachers they won't be the expert on your son that you need.

May 18, 2010
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Therapies!
by: Anonymous

My suggestion is get with the school again, request a meeting or whatever, and tell them the story from the beginning, when and how you knew he was different. Ask for an evaluation and their professional opinions. Talk to your pediatrician and try to get in to see an occupational therapist. Also, check out this website. There is a book mentioned on here with lots of therapies you can do at home if they don't have a learning center near you. They work with SPD, ADHD, and ASDs. Good luck! http://brainbalancecenters.com

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