Posted by: Claire | 2012/11/21

Child- learning disability?

Hi there CS, I am hoping you and the readers can shed some light and give a bit of advice on the below:

The cleaner at work has a daughter of 10 years old, in Grd 4. She seems to be a bright girl, I''ve never met her but I print out activity sheets for them and the cleaner says she enjoys doing them.

The problem with her is that she cannot write. She has been going for one on one classes at school for about a year to try and get her to be able to write, but she is still struggling. She can apparently write her name, but it is very messy. She can apparently write just a few words, but cannot write sentences and such. The school has pushed her up to the next grade, but the writing thing is becoming a problem even for the school now.

The school also complained that she was dirty and our cleaner was upset because she knows she washes, irons and puts her child''s uniform on the bed for her to wear. Then she discovered that her daughter will crumple up her clean clothes and put them back in the wash, then wear the dirty clothes. The cleaner leaves work VERY early, before her children, and this little girl leaves for school before the older kids wake up, so they can''t check that she is wearing her clean clothes.

Our cleaner also says that her daughter doesn''t want to eat food prepared for supper, she prefers to eat the left overs and " old"  food.

The cleaner wants to take her to a neurologist, but he will charge more than her whole salary. I suggested some therapy, for someone to teach her how to write properly and she said that they did go to a government hospital for that, but the problem is that there is such a queue that they go for one appointment, and the follow up appointment is in 5 months time.

What could be the problem with this child so that when she does go to a doctor, they know to take her to the RIGHT doctor so no money is wasted?

Thank you.

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Our expert says:
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I agree with Purple, she'd probably best see a good GP for a full physical and psychological assessment, and then a discussion of what might be wrong and who might be the best specialist for her to see ( and that may be arranged at the nearest major state / provincial hospital, or medical school.
There are many possible causes for this sort of puzzling situation, including dyslexia, poor vision, and neurological and other physical disorders. Some of her odd behaviour may be attempts to avoid school where she feels bad about performing badly ?
The doctors you know might at least be able to help arrange referrals for the child to a suitable person.

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Our users say:
Posted by: Liza | 2012/11/22

If the child can read but not write, it''s usually not dyslexia(unless the child has found an appropriate coping mechanism to help with reading, but hasn''t found an appropriate coping mechanism to help with the writing). It could possibly be a vision problem - has she had the childs'' eyes tested recently? Spec-savers have a special offer where children under 12 get a free vision test and spectacles should the child require spectacles. So money will not be an issue.

Other than that - an occupational therapist would probably be the best person to assess the child. A neurologist is definitely not necessary at this stage - especially since I sincerely doubt one would help at all in this instance.

Good Luck,

Reply to Liza
Posted by: Purple | 2012/11/22

Its wonderful that you and the doctors can help where possible.

What a horrid situation to be in.

Reply to Purple
Posted by: Claire | 2012/11/22

Hi Purple,

thanks for your reply.

The cleaner says that she does the exercises, with her at home and even the school does them but she still can''t write properly.

It seems to be affecting her because she is apparently teary all the time, and is very upset when someone brings it up.

I print out very basic activity sheets- colour by numbers, connect the dots, find the words (she can apparently read just fine), mazes, those kinds of things. Nothing that requires actual sentence writing.

I never thought about her being dyslexic, I''ll mention it to her.

Ironically we work for doctors, so they do try assist as well but they aren''t exactly the kinds of doctors that can really do something about this.

Reply to Claire
Posted by: Purple | 2012/11/22

As much as there is a long wait at the government hospital, if she sticks with the programme and does the homework excercises with her daughter that the OT prescribes, then it will work. There are some cases where OT is beneficial - and this is probably one of them.

Its not a good idea for her to take her child to a nuerologist directly - if we hop around from specialist to specialist things don''t get diagnosed - its better to see a GP and let them refer to the correct specialists. The help is available via the state system, but it takes a long time - it is however of the same standard as the private care once you are actually on a particular treatment plan.

It is strange that the school did not hold her back. Grade 4 is a different phase of education and although one can only be kept back once (essentially if one needs keeping back a second time, it doesn''t actually bring about any benefit - if repeating something twice doesn''t wrok, neither will repeating it 3 times). However, given that she is the correct age for the grade, she hasn''t been kept back. Grades R-3 are for learning to read and grade 4 onwards you read to learn - so you can''t do grade 4 if you haven''t mastered reading and writing yet.

Is it possible that she is dyslexic? Has her mother spoken to the school to hear their suggestions for help?

How does she enjoy and manage to do the work sheets you print out for her if she can''t write at even a grade R level (children have to entre grade 1 being able to write their own names and knowing the various letter sounds and letters in the alphabet and able to count to 30).

The dirty clothes could be a cry for attention rather than part of a learning disability.

Reply to Purple

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