How do you navigate the tangled maze of getting your child tested for a learning disability (specifically a suspected case of Central Auditory Processing Disorder) in Chicago or north Chicago suburbs? Or even find a trusted professional to evaluate your child?
posted by anonymous to Education (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Since our daughter started preschool at the age of three, I've wondered if she had a minor learning disability. Everyone advised me to wait (and wait and wait) to test her. I didn't talk about it to many people as the few other parents/friends I mentioned it to usually dismissed my concerns with, "It's fine, she'll grow out of it." I'm a relatively laid back mom, I don't need my kid to be an academic superstar or a little genius. However, these nuanced "quirks" seem to hamper her ability to communicate clearly with other kids and with us.
Now she is five, and the situation is not getting better. If anything, she gets increasingly frustrated and angry with us when we don't understand her. Just today, she burst out with, "Why don't you get it?" when I had to ask her to repeat something she was trying to tell us.
It began when she consistently would forget names. Since she could speak, she has frequently forgotten the names of people she sees everyday. Her grandparents. Her best friends at school. Her teachers (who have been the same for the past two years.) When she was younger, no one seemed to mind and her friends didn't notice. But now, her friends feel offended when she addresses them by pronouns or "you!" or the wrong name entirely. Worse yet, when she turns to them and asks, "What's your name?" Then feelings are hurt and she is embarrassed and hurt as well.
When she began to write, she wrote backwards. I don't mean the occasional letter or word. She can write a mirror image of words or short sentences. Yes, I understand a lot of kids grow out of this. But now she is beginning to get frustrated when other kids point it out to her or when she really wants to get it "right'. She will quit trying to write her note or sign or whatever it is she wants to create in frustration. Her teachers have been working with her, so she does write correctly sometimes. When she began to read 2 and 3 letter words, she read backwards as well. ("God" for "dog". "On" for "no".) She sits quietly with books, turns the pages, and looks at the pictures. She'll memorize the story from the book or guess what words are missing if you read slowly along with her. (We know she's guessing because she'll fill in a word that makes sense, but is not written on the page.)
She has reversed words in spoken sentences since she's started talking (flips nouns and verbs, subjects and predicates, etc.) She frequently makes up a word for an object if she can't remember the proper word for it or just uses "it" or "that". And by frequently, I mean everyday. (Ex: "Give me that thing, Mommy." When referring to a ball.)
She has always hated loud noises or even loud environments with consistent noise. Yet, she also wants things turned up louder (the radio, for example) than her father or I are comfortable with ourselves. If she is engrossed in something, it's as if she cannot hear me calling her name even when I'm standing right next to her. I often have to wave my hand between whatever she is looking at and her face to get her attention, or snap really loudly near her ear. At the same time, she can hear things that my husband and I cannot hear sometimes, like a knock at the door downstairs. It is really confusing.
Sometimes we'll ask her a question and she'll seem to answer a different question, then get frustrated when we are confused. Or she'll talk to us about something and when we ask for clarification, she'll get upset with us.
Sometimes she'll remember how to write letters and associate them with their sounds. Sometimes she will just go blank. Today, she asked me how to spell "car". So, I spelled it out for her slowly "C"..."A"..."R". She hesitated and then asked, "How do you do a "C" again?" She's been writing "C's" since she has been 3 1/2. She has a "C" in her name. I don't make a big deal of it, just show her a "C", she copies it, we move on.
She is a bright and engaging kid. She is outgoing, enthusiastic, charming, and funny. Our neighbors call her "the Ambassador" because she will talk to anyone, anytime, anywhere. She sings and follows music note for note. Makes up dances, makes up plays, has an active imagination, is very social. Doesn't seem to have problems with balance or coordination (likes to run, jump, can hit a ball with a plastic bat, swims like a fish).
I would wait and go through the IEP process with CPS except that she's frustrated. She's beginning to dislike preschool (she'll go to kindergarten next fall) because at this point in her Montessori program, she is being given "works" in writing and phonics and so on. Her peers are breezing through them, and she is not. And she knows it. When I asked her pediatrician for a referral to get evaluated, the doctor waved her hand and said, "Oh no, it's too expensive, let CPS do it. They'll test her before second grade if there are problems." Well, hell. I KNOW it's expensive and I can afford it and this is my kid and I don't want to watch her continue to get discouraged and confused and frustrated. Even the doctor was a bit taken aback, though, when my doodling child wrote her full name and age mirror image backwards in the office.
I realize that part of my worry is based on my own experiences with school and language growing up and my personal sensitivities. I struggle with auditory cues, cannot bear to talk on the phone or listen to voice mail because I get anxious trying to decode what is being said (I need to see something...lips, pictures, something!) I got very, very good at figuring out what was being asked of me in school and at work from cues other than auditory cues. I cannot understand what is being said to me if there is other distracting or white noise. My father is very similar. So, if genetics plays any part in this, there is precedence.
Complicating things is the fact that she tested positive for (low) lead levels as a three year old because of a problem with our house (which we immediately corrected after a dreaded visit from the city inspectors). That twists us up with guilt every day.
I've heard of programs such as Lindamood-Bell, FastForward, and so on. I've Googled, I've read articles. But I don't want to guess at what the problem might be, I don't want to give her an armchair or amateur diagnosis, or pick an evaluator out of the phone book. I would be very grateful for any recommendations or any advice you could share.
(Posted anonymously because my regular username is pretty well connected to who I am, and this is about her, not me. Worst case scenario would be that some bully in the seventh grade finds this and taunts her with it someday. You can reach me at email@example.com if you have other questions. Thanks.)