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Advice needed - public school or home school for learning delays?

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Looking for education guidance...I'm a working mom to a 6 year old who was a micro-preemie diagnosed with cerebral palsy. She has documented learning delays, showing signs of dyslexia, recommended by teacher & special ed to discuss ADHD possibility with doctor (tested at "clinical concern" in school assessment related to attention)...need help determining if staying in public school is best or home school for 1-1 instruction (we'd hire a qualified instructor).  

Specifically, after receiving therapy services since she was 6 months old and early education starting at 3 years old, she is now in kindergarten and lost all therapies and special education instruction in December 2022. IEP was discontinued because annual review tested for IQ. The IQ and assessment tests were not 20 points apart (per Missouri requirements). Daughter's IQ is in the 70s so testing would require assessment scores under 50 to qualify. A "normal or average student" with an IQ of 100 (average) would qualify for IEP and Special Ed services at scores my daughter received (70-80) but she doesn't due to low IQ. Frustrated because she lost all 1-1 help. She is lost in group instruction. Classroom teacher is trying to help but finds it difficult to devote needed time to one student throughout the day. My daughter will continue to fall farther behind her peers if we don't find a solution. Teacher has documented my daughter has attention issues, behind peers and grade level for reading and writing, is lost during group instruction and doesn't advocate for self - will sit quietly and leave work blank, and she is starting to be bullied by students who are realizing she can be taken advantage of. Considering tutors, seeking additional diagnosis with doctors to see if can get any help through those avenues, or possibly homeschooling with a private instructor. 

If there is anyone that has experienced this or is a teacher and can chime in, please do. If you live in Missouri and have any insight I'd really appreciate your input. Open to any feedback including pros/cons of public school versus home school for kids that NEED 1-1 attention. Thank you!

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I looked this up - thanks for mentioning your state so I knew where to look.  What you are talking about is the discrepancy model.  It's where what the child is doing doesn't match their  ability which is generally measured by the child's IQ.  Ex:  a gifted child who performs at an average level would qualify for intervention.  Your child's IQ is below average and they are performing at a below average level so everything is OK.  This is what I'm reading from your post.  This is a link to what's in the MO regs:  https://missouriparentsact.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/MOSpecificLearningDisabilityCriteria-FS-4.2020.pdf

The thing with your child is that they are performing at a below average level.  This means there is room for improvement with the right intervention.  You want intervention.  The link ^^ does mention about professional judgement.  I feel your child does need intervention.  I'm just not sure how to advocate for this but I do feel the school is not using any judgement by saying your child doesn't need anything.  This would put a child who is well below average (level of an infant) and performing well below average into a general ed classroom without any supports.  I would see if the Arc of MO or Disability Rights MO can help you fight to get your child additional supports.

Your child is not accessing their education due to their disability.  This means that they might need something different from gen ed to access an education.  They should have an IEP as well as accommodations due to the disability.  Audiobooks are a great accommodation for a child who cannot read - for any reason.

Dyslexia.  The definition of dyslexia is low reading ability relative to IQ.  Your child's IQ is low & their reading ability matches this so your child cannot be dyslexic per the definition of dyslexia.  They will benefit from O-G based reading interventions & my suggestion is for you to supplement their education with a homeschool dyslexia program like Toe by Toe or Horton Literacy Primer.  I don't see the school providing this unless IQ was to shoot up to where there is a discrepancy.

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  • 9 months later...
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Hi Christina.  I advocate in Missouri, specializing in specific learning disabilities (particularly, dyslexia), but also am familiar with ADHD and other disabilities, which often go hand in hand with specific learning disabilities.

In Missouri, the discrepancy model is only used for determining eligibility under the category of specific learning disability.  This lack of discrepancy between IQ and academic scores does NOT affect her eligibility under other disabilities, such as Intellectual Disorder (low IQ), Other Health Impairment (ADHD), or Young Child with a Developmental Delay.  It appears that your daughter might very well qualify under any of these categories.

My recommendations are as follows:

1) Don't give up on the public school just yet.  In my opinion, they haven't done the proper evaluations yet and could be "forced" to do more.

2) So my second recommendation is what Sharon suggested - ask for an IEE (Individual Educational Evaluation).  Make sure it is done in all areas of suspected disabilities, which it appears (but I don't have all the facts) the school district's evaluation did not do.

3) As far as dyslexia, I wouldn't rule that out as a possibility just yet.  The definition and diagnosis of dyslexia is very complicated.  Although rare, it is possible to have both a low IQ and dyslexia.  Plus, what kind of IQ test was administered?  If she does have dyslexia, a non-verbal IQ test should be done, and most school districts don't do that. 

4) Ask for a 504 evaluation.  At a minimum, she needs accommodations.  And getting her back on an IEP (I assume you're beyond the 10 days of the school district's notification that they were exiting her from services?) will take time.  A 504 Plan can be implemented much quicker.

5) Depending on what the IEE shows in terms of dyslexia, reading struggles, etc., if you decide to go the home-school route, I would suggest reaching out to a tutor certified in Orton-Gillingham or another recognized multi-sensory, structured literacy program.

I am happy to expand/explain if you would like to contact me offline.

Carolyn Rowlett (crowlett@dyslexiaadvocates.net or 816-547-5476)

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