Yesterday with the help of a generous dose of pain medications I managed to attend a meeting with their schools vice principal, principal, welfare officer and my 16 yo it was a strategy meeting.
2 weeks ago when we scheduled the meeting, I word vomited into an email my blog posts are often enough word vomit so I am sure you get the picture although I will throw my email below this post so you can get a good eye full. it made a substantial difference for them to have just a peek at what I know and am witnessing. Some of it had already been implemented in the 2 weeks between the email and meeting and in the meeting it was more about how to implement the rest, getting it clear as to how it all fits together!
It allowed them to see the full picture without me being interrupted or side tracked which happens very easily.
I highly recommend the occasional word vomit particularly where its constructive, not done in anger, and is used to BUILD bridges I need this and this is why!
We will now be meeting every term and communicating regularly by email
Shannon’s challenges unfortunately skill wise pin her into a corner yes she is a hard case.
The symptoms of one disorder quite often the recommendation is undermined by the symptoms of another which she has. Camhs described it as a perfect storm of challenge.
Shannon’s diagnosis from Camhs is;
• Acute anxiety
• Inattentive type ADHD
• Non specific speech and language delays
• IQ of 79
Speech and language delays were identified when she was 2 by early intervention team with speech therapy provided from 2 until we arrived in Victoria in 2007 at which point speech therapy was only obtainable sporadically and when I was able to convince schools to, they had her piggy back the teachers assistant and reading support groups. Forest street primary schools answer to the challenge was to hold her back a year. Honestly it’s a toss up, it put her in closer proximity to Jamie which was good but also gave her ego a beating it didn’t need I really wasn’t given a choice on the issue but what’s done is done.
There is a critical difference between NT and Vic. NT addresses any delays the moment they present without identifying cause, this reduces the impact of delays and if successful it never reaches a clinical level, even if not successful the severity of the delay is not as pronounced as it would have been if left unaddressed.
Unfortunately Victoria insists on identifying and diagnosing the cause of delays before funding or intervention is provided and even if it is identified the delay has to reach a particular severity before intervention is provided. Waiting lists with private services meant it wasn’t any more accessible that way either and Hamilton was more interested in telling DHS the girls were physically healthy and fine than helping get her assistance. While I appreciate his efforts to try to keep DHS from our door I eventually dealt with them myself anyway and their only contribution was to delay jac and shannons diagnosis.
That is the chasm Shannon fell in when we moved here. If I had known I would’ve chosen another state to leap to when we left the NT.
It is purely by circumstances that we accidentally provided Shannon with one of the recommendations for addressing inattentive ADHD by putting her with Jamie because schools they attended often weren’t large enough to put them in separate classes Shannon was taking visual cues on what to do from Jamie. She was playing follow the leader without realising. Jamie’s lead told her which book was needed when which equipment was required and which classes to go to. Until we first split them up in year 7 sending Shannon to Traf and Jamie to Lowanna I was not aware of to what extent Shannon had been taking visual cues from Jamie to deal with the myriad small stuff every day.
Everything from grabbing lunch showering putting shoes on brushing hair teeth and sharpening pencils she took Jamie’s lead from 2008 til 2014.
In the class room it is worth providing Shannon a leader to follow someone sitting close who is organised and knows what to do without guidance that Shannon can take visual cues from to cut down the noise.
Shannon’s attention is poor
Focus is poor
It takes effort for her to think about what she is doing in order to do it. The noise of all the small things to remember every day and to think of what to do next can drown out everything she is trying to learn. By having a leader to follow with visual cues it reduces some of the noise. They don’t have to be paired up as such it’s about who she is placed with what input and guidance does her immediate surroundings provide.
Small lists help I have things like cue cards laminated and blue tacked around the house at sink brush teeth. Wash hands. Put folding away. Brush hair.
A suggestion for one at school is a small memo list in her locker. What to take to class. (there is a small calico bag she took to school she can use to put stuff for class in to carry from her locker) as an example
• pencil case
• English text
And one for end of day.
Before I go home pack:
• Pencil case
These things help reduce the noise and means simply being there isn’t as exhausting and confusing.
Yes Shannon needs a lot of help it takes 21 days to form a habit. Habit forming helps her but it seems to take her a little longer for her and she has to want to. Inattentive adhd seems to involve an absence of motivation. Combined with the trauma and anxiety, new things people places and changes are incredibly scary. Made worse by having to relearn all the small things for this new environment. Cheering her on and supporting what she is interested in is 100 times more effective than pushing her.
For science I have given the school some games which may help her learn the concepts I will keep my eye out for any others and there is more at home that haven’t made it to the school yet.
Her textbooks are installed on their pearsons and jac plus account so can be used on the laptop with narrator to be read to her. Shannon is very embarrassed about using this feature though she has the equipment it will take the support and encouragement of teachers to get her using it to access course content. They also need to encourage her to access the additional media provided in the Ebooks. It is one of those things she will have to be lead through using multiple times to get the hang of it, I do a few times a year since she got the laptop but it simply isn’t enough it needs to be reinforced at that end too.
All her English textbooks have been purchased on audible and have been installed on her laptop she also has the paperbacks to read through. I did include the study guides in the audible purchases in case they are helpful.
The problem isn’t her handwriting, her handwriting is what it is because there is no fluency in her language skills there Likely never will be. At this point we need to focus on expressive language and expression of ideas. Vocalisation, vocabulary over writing. That’s not to say we give up on writing entirely but focus on writing is such that her expressive language her vocabulary is falling further and further behind because it isn’t being exercised because forming simple words in a line on a page is taking so much time.
She is eligible for scribes and she has access to narrator. If we don’t work on her vocabulary and language even with the help of a scribe she won’t be able to express ideas and concepts to portray what she knows for the purpose of assessment. It takes practice, repetition and exercising it in various different applications to be developed.
Everything I came across recommended the use of mind mapping for projects and assignments
Just to get started it might help you begin to understand where some of the challenges are. I am definitely up for that meeting when you are ready, it will only be by comparing notes on requirements and limitations on assessments and Shannon’s limitations we will be able to figure out exactly where and how we can build these bridges.