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Psycho-educational assessment - advice needed

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    Psycho-educational assessment - advice needed

    Hello, I've posted here and on the K-8 board over the past year, since starting our first full core last September with my two sons, ages 12 and 10.5. I started them both in 4M to make sure there were no gaps in their MP studies and math. I've gotten lots of helpful direction on both boards. Thank you!

    Because my 12-year-old has had anxiety issues since he was small, I booked a Psycho-educational assessment for him after talking to an acquaintance who homeschools and had one done for her then-8-year-old. I told my son today that we will go to a "teacher" next week who will ask him questions about his learning to help me understand how to teach him better. This assessment will be 9-12 on Wednesday and Thursday mornings. The original slot was 9am to 4 pm, but I told the assessor my son wouldn't do a long stretch like that. My son is anxious and resistant about going and I can't help but think that it will be a disaster to try to make this happen.

    His challenges, in my mind are more about anxiety, "worry thoughts and feelings," not wanting to try new things. These are important issues and I want to equip myself with more tools to help him. But I don't know if the learning challenges are significant enough to push for six hours of testing without me beside him. That is what he wants. He wants me in the room with him instead of the waiting room. As for learning this year - he has done well with 4M - I use TSII with him and modify written work so he isn't so overwhelmed and we're going slowly through R&S5 math with long division. He gets anxious about writing a lot, but with modifications (i.e. he talks, I write, he copies; and he writes the shorter answers on his own, I help with paragraphs) he does the work. He is a grade or two behind his age because I wasn't organized and consistent in the early homeschool years. If I had started earlier with MP, my son would be at a grade 5 or 6 level by now.

    I don't know what to do about the assessment and I'd love some insights from others' experiences. A part of me says that if he were growing up 50 years ago, no one would blink an eye at his anxiety because children stayed closer to home in those days and were't sent to pre-schools and camps as my son was in his early years. He's hard working, loves to work, enjoys stories, enjoys his friends and family, is conscientious and interested in our Church and the world around us.

    Any sharings from your experiences would be appreciated!

    Monica

    #2
    Originally posted by KikaMarie View Post
    Hello, I've posted here and on the K-8 board over the past year, since starting our first full core last September with my two sons, ages 12 and 10.5. I started them both in 4M to make sure there were no gaps in their MP studies and math. I've gotten lots of helpful direction on both boards. Thank you!

    Because my 12-year-old has had anxiety issues since he was small, I booked a Psycho-educational assessment for him after talking to an acquaintance who homeschools and had one done for her then-8-year-old. I told my son today that we will go to a "teacher" next week who will ask him questions about his learning to help me understand how to teach him better. This assessment will be 9-12 on Wednesday and Thursday mornings. The original slot was 9am to 4 pm, but I told the assessor my son wouldn't do a long stretch like that. My son is anxious and resistant about going and I can't help but think that it will be a disaster to try to make this happen.

    His challenges, in my mind are more about anxiety, "worry thoughts and feelings," not wanting to try new things. These are important issues and I want to equip myself with more tools to help him. But I don't know if the learning challenges are significant enough to push for six hours of testing without me beside him. That is what he wants. He wants me in the room with him instead of the waiting room. As for learning this year - he has done well with 4M - I use TSII with him and modify written work so he isn't so overwhelmed and we're going slowly through R&S5 math with long division. He gets anxious about writing a lot, but with modifications (i.e. he talks, I write, he copies; and he writes the shorter answers on his own, I help with paragraphs) he does the work. He is a grade or two behind his age because I wasn't organized and consistent in the early homeschool years. If I had started earlier with MP, my son would be at a grade 5 or 6 level by now.

    I don't know what to do about the assessment and I'd love some insights from others' experiences. A part of me says that if he were growing up 50 years ago, no one would blink an eye at his anxiety because children stayed closer to home in those days and were't sent to pre-schools and camps as my son was in his early years. He's hard working, loves to work, enjoys stories, enjoys his friends and family, is conscientious and interested in our Church and the world around us.

    Any sharings from your experiences would be appreciated!

    Monica
    In my mind, information is always helpful. Either it will ease your mind about the extent of his learning challenges or give you more information about how to work on the challenges, if they are more significant than you expected. If the person doing the assessment is okay with it, perhaps you could start off with your son in the room, and leave once he's comfortable.

    I know the feeling of "50 years ago this wouldn't be a big deal." I don't think that's completely true. I know that 50 years ago, my mother-in-law was a teenager suffering from extreme anxiety, and it definitely affected her studies and ability to enjoy life. Her family was supportive and loving, but they just did not have all the resources and information that I have to help my teenage son now that he is in a very similar situation. I've also thought, if my son could just have grown up on a farm instead of in the middle of a big city, then he wouldn't have this anxiety. Well, now my mom has a farm, and my son definitely loves spending time there. But his anxiety follows him there. :-( Even in the Little House books, you can see evidence of depression and anxiety amongst the pioneers. Without denying that our society can breed anxiety, it may be the case that your son needs some help, and would need some help regardless of his circumstances. Or perhaps the assessment will help ease your mind completely! I would go for it.

    Catherine

    2018-19
    DS15, 9th
    DS13, 6th
    DS11, 5th
    DD11, 5th
    DS6, K
    DD3
    DS 10 mos

    Homeschooling 3 with MP
    2 using First Form series in school

    Comment


      #3
      Stick to the assessment. Sounds like you both need it.

      First, remember that this is what the assessor does. This is their speciality. If they think you can be in the room, they'll invite you in. In fact, you may start off in the room and they'll slowly transition you out. I would call the office tomorrow and give them a heads-up that your son is already anxious over being separated from you.

      My son went through this style of assessment. He showed all those signs of anxiety too. Then he did just fine during the actual deal. Well, he was himself. And that's exactly what you want. My son smelled everything in the room then rubbed toys against his face to "better feel the texture". He pinched his nose with plastic pliers. He kicked the assessor repeatedly under the table they were both sitting at because he has no concept of someone else's personal space. All of this was totally him, normal. I would've corrected his behavior or he would've looked to me to guide his behavior. I wasn't there, so he had to be himself. This was more beneficial to the assessment than I could've possibly predicted.

      My son was 10 when he did his assessment.

      Hang it there...you got this! It will be incredibly beneficial.
      Married to DH for 13 years. Living the rural life in the Colorado mountains

      DS10- Simply Classical 4 / Grade 3 Classic Core,
      DD8- Grade 2 Classic Core,
      DD 6- Classic Core Kindergarten

      Comment


        #4
        I always felt as CatherineS above, that more normed information was better than my own guessing. Rather than frame it as a teacher asking him questions, which might seem a little scary to him, you might tell him something equally true but less anxiety-provoking. We found this helpful here: You have been homeschooling for quite some time. You have learned many things! This will be an opportunity to show what you know."

        They have already modified for your suggestion to test over two days, but they cannot modify to have you present throughout the entire tests. The tests are normed for one-on-one administration. As Colomama said, your son would be very tempted to look to you for answers, and you might be tempted to correct him or coach him, if only nonverbally, and possibly invalidate the administration. He might be tempted to have you rescue him from the situation as it is happening.

        You do not have to proceed, of course. If you believe there are no learning disabilities and nothing causing his delays other than circumstances and anxiety, then an evaluation by a pediatric/adolescent psychiatrist might be more helpful than an academic assessment. However, if the only thing stopping you from a full evaluation is his anxiety, it could backfire to let him out of the commitment. For example, if you find a good psychiatrist or counselor to help him with anxiety, you might set the appointment only to have him feel so anxious he persuades you to cancel that too.

        One interesting finding in anxiety research is that a pattern of rescuing can breed anxiety, just as anxiety breeds a pattern of rescuing. It is tough to know the difference between sparing our children unnecessary angst vs. catering to the anxiety with overt rescuing. The danger seems to be that when we pull them from something based only on their overblown fear of it, i.e., rescuing, we are "telling them" by our very rescuing them that we do not believe they can handle much. Then they believe they cannot handle much. And the cycle continues.

        We do not know from here whether this evaluation will be helpful or not, and we're not here to push you in either direction. I think the three of us are saying that, simply as moms, we are thankful we pursued formal testing despite the inconveniences to ourselves and our children. If it helps, you can pair the experience with something enjoyable afterward. A friend with a very anxious child with autism does this -- testing is in a large city, so each year they pair the outing with a trip to the city's zoo. For us, as I've mentioned before, my children "earned" ice cream, a walk in the nearby park, or a favorite restaurant afterward.

        One more tip: Not all testing is created equal. You might find that this particular battery is less than helpful. He may score better than you think he will, and they will say, "He is fine." That does not mean he does not have difficulties. It might mean only that you have done a better job teaching than you think, and his difficulties may lie elsewhere as you suspect.

        Let us know what you decide to do --

        Comment


          #5
          We looked into a psycho-educational evaluation. We didn't end up doing it (for a variety of reasons), but we did find a practitioner who wanted to do the evaluation with me present and in as small a chunks as needed so my son wouldn't be traumatized. Anxiety is no longer an issue for him so testing would look totally different if done now, but it was huge then. She also was used to working with homeschooling families and would have written the results for us with that in mind, which was really important to us. All that to say that there could be a better fit out there if this practitioner doesn't work out but you still would like to have him evaluated.
          Cheryl, mom to:

          ds 24, graduated
          ds 23, graduated
          dd 15, 9th Grade
          dd 12, 6th Grade
          ds 10, 4nd Grade

          Comment


            #6
            We had psycho-educational testing done by a Ph.D. candidate doing her...umm...internship? I don't know, but she was great. Everyone who administers these tests has to be observed by an expert who has been trained, and it's hard to keep doing it when you're not good. Most of these people LOVE children and have advanced training and expertise at making children feel at ease. My daughter had so much stress built up about how it would be. I started in the room with her, but I was quickly booted out after the personal health, educational and home environment history was taken. She did GREAT! She loved it so much she didn't want to go. She bragged to all of her friends about how she got to "play" in a cool office with toys for hours on end. They really know how to make it feel fun. Interestingly enough, they did give a general write up on anxiety after interviewing her and giving her a battery of 10 tests.

            I think I was most disappointed in what I didn't find. The diagnoses I thought we were chasing did not clinically manifest, and it doesn't necessarily mean they don't exist. Sometimes they can only see a pattern when they look at a trend or two sets of data points. I was told not to come back for at least 2 years while her brain continues to develop. I don't know if we'll make it back at the cost it entails.

            But yes, stick with it. My son is also prone to anxiety, and I have to be very cautious about playing into that anxiety. To my own detriment, my parents rescued me too much growing up. It wasn't until my teens that I made a heart change with God's help to confront my fears head-on. I started scuba diving, rappelling off mountainous cliffs, white-water rafting, bungee jumping, traveling internationally alone, going into unsavory "downtown" areas by train, taking taxis alone, going jogging (alone) in my neighborhood, giving myself injections (to cure my fear of needles)...all of these things gave me paralyzing fear, and with the Lord's help, I did them all. I'm trying to take the long view with my kids. They both struggle with anxiety and fear, and I'm in a unique position to speak peace & truth into their lives through my own journey to recovery from life-altering fear.

            Comment


              #7
              Hello and thank you all for your insights and sharing. I know I need to do something and the thought of starting from scratch to find some other appropriate support is too overwhelming, so I am planning to stay the course with the evaluation for next week. There are so many helpful comments made above - thank you! Cheryl's point regarding rescuing from stressful situations is one that fits with what is going on here. In the past year or so, I have been working to help my son see that tackling the smaller fears is important so when he faces the "have to" fears, he knows he is capable. He's been waffling about taking on umping responsibilities in baseball this year, but when I pointed out that this is the perfect place to practice doing new things, when it's not vital, i.e. he doesn't have to do it to earn a living or fulfill a commitment, and he has control over how many jobs he accepts, he understood and agreed. (Here's hoping he still feels like that in June!) I'm going to present the assessments in that way - it's something he can handle, I'll still be in the building, it won't last that long, and it's good practice for the activities he finds hard. Thanks again for taking the time to respond to my questions.
              Monica

              Comment


                #8
                Hello again, just an update to say my son completed the two mornings of assessment. It went really well and I am so glad I stuck with it. Thank you all for your encouragement. We'll meet with the psychologist in a couple of weeks and then get her report within a couple of months. I'm sure whatever shows up will be helpful information.
                Monica

                Comment


                  #9
                  Yay! Excited that you'll soon be getting the answers you sought!

                  Comment

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