ADHD Parents Together
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ADHD low level reading

I have an 11-year-old daughter with ADHD. She is just starting to learn to read finally in the fifth grade. Has anyone had experiences where this has turned around? I debate about keeping her back before middle school but don’t want to upset her socially where she is doing well. At the same time she is reading at a first or second grade level. We have a meeting with the school next week and I don’t know what to do. Help!

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Is she on an iep yet?

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Yes, I don’t know what to ask for for her though. She gets so much extra help but it’s not really helping enough

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Maybe you could get a tutor and have teacher and tutor work together to bring up her reading level. You could try going to library usually free tutor service there or sometimes they have them at churches also.

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My Child has ADHD I know he had trouble doing any academic only when he felt it was hard. I put him in a special school because of his behavioral issues and they teach academics differently incorporating it in a fun way where it encourages him to want to try. Sometimes if its approached a different way it can help.

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I would have him evaluated by a neurologist to determine if he has.a reading disorder, which it most certainly does. I'm a speech language pathologist working in a school. More often than not, I see children who are incorrectly diagnosed and therefore receive poor support. Speech doesn't work with reading disability but does reach started to help support thru strategy learning. See if your child can get speech or a reading specialist, not a tutor, at the school school. With so much cut in education your school might not have a reading specialist. With regard to holding back a year, if you have a diagnosis of reading disorder than you can being attacking the problem. Holding a student back without the right support is just going to affect him negatively. If the school really does suggest holding back then ask what reading level they want your child at before they move him on and what the plan is to getting him there. It must be concrete, otherwise it'll be a water year hoping he gets better. Hope this helps.

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My son is also behind he is in the. 6th grade and is at a 4th grade reading level

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I would request testing from School. Many children with adhd also have reading challenges like dyslexia (as my son does). His went undiagnosed until 2nd grade when I finally went to a neuropsychologist myself and paid for the testing. The school (private) he was in kept telling me all kids read at different times. I knew something was wrong.

There are proven teachings that can help children with this and experts who know how to teach them. After two years of intense tutoring my son is finally at grade level.

Good luck!

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My son also has reading challenges. He is being pulled out 3x/wk with a teacher trained in the Orton Gillingham method and it has made a world of difference.

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My daughter is an 11 year old 5th grader with ADD and learning disorder in written language(Dyslexia). She reads at a 2nd/3rd grade level. The learning disorder was diagnosed at the same time as the ADD. We have an IEP with testing accommodations and she receives ESE services. She leaves LA and math class for 30 minutes of extra help with her ESE teacher. At her previous school she went to her speech and OT therapists weekly as well. At her new school speech comes to her for in class observation. Pretty sure this new structure for speech and OT isn’t particularly helpful. We preferred the method used at previous school. But recently, in addition to all that we’ve added 4 hours per week at Huntington learning center. They did an evaluation and we decided it was best to start her at a first grade level of instruction with the goal of having her at grade level(5th/6th) by the time she starts middle school. She’s 3 months into that program and we are seeing a slight boost in reading ability and comprehension. Its expensive though. I’m considering private school or even homeschooling. I don’t think public school is a good fit for her learning difference. But, that’s a huge decision and I’m strugglug with where to begin with that one. We’ve decided that holding her back wouldn’t be beneficial, since her problem is reading comprehension. Repeating a grade wouldn’t help with that. Hopefully this has helped in some way. Learning disabilities are tough and there’s no one simple solution. My daughter has been on ADD Rx for a little more than a year. That has helped her focus. Although it won’t change her learning disorder, it does make it a little easier to learn.

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These have all helped a lot. I’m not sure holding her back would do you a world of difference. I’m just very fearful of her entering middle school at the level she is now. It sounds like she needs a specialist reading instructor. Is that besides her special education teacher? I don’t know the difference between special ed and specialized reading. And I’m afraid my school not know either. I want to get somewhere with this meeting next week.

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A lot of children with ADHD have specific learning disabilities. As some have mentioned earlier, some have dyslexia, but others have comprehension problems which can affect their reading level. Having your daughter tested will help narrow down exactly what areas she is struggling with, whether it's memory, comprehension, etc or a combination of issues. When you have a better idea of what's going on, then you'll know how to help her better and what kind of help to ask the school for. Another thing that helps children who struggle with reading is to get them books that they are interested in. A lot of times kids aren't interested in the required reading at school which makes it even harder for ADHD kids to focus. If you can find the genre that your daughter likes, it could help her advance faster. For example, my boys loved graphic novels and Manga, so that's what I'd get from the library. I gave them extra reading time at bedtime, so not only does it give a little bit of time for them to wind down, but you're encouraging them to read and up their reading level.

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Hi Alliea79, I know these are tough decisions for you...because I've been there too! I have a 16yr old daughter in 11th grade now. She's a wonderful kid and has ADD (inattentive) and dyslexia...and very high anxiety as a result of years of stress. My recommendations:

1) Have professional evaluation testing completed ASAP. Preferably by a recommended well-respected private licensed psychologist (not a counselor). Approx cost $1200-2000 and worth it (our public school could also provide their own less complete free testing but there was a long wait list - DO NOT WAIT). This report will be used repeatedly over the next 5 or so years whenever you request school accommodations, IEP or 504 Plan, etc. And the report will be the used by any specialized learning program (reading tutors, etc) that you bring her to afterwards. It's very useful. You need to know what's actually happening and communication disorders are complicated. People wrongly assume dyslexia is only related to reading, but it's also related to spelling, writing and composition. They will also diagnose the ADHD/ADD and any other co-morbid conditions (this is very common). My daughter's dyslexia was diagnosed only after 3rd grade when academics became heavier and she couldn't keep up. She had been given a 1:1 reading tutor 1X week during kindergarten and first grade and had made good improvements to make it up to grade level but by 3rd grade the teacher said she would look busy at her desk but then would turn in nothing. She'd spell 4-5 letter words with wildly wrong letters (a G for a /d/ sound for example), almost illegible writing and some flipped letters. The testing let us know that she had an above average IQ and also a phonemic awareness condition. This combination somehow allowed her to have a high level of comprehension but not know all of the sounds linked to single letters, blended letter sounds, etc. By third grade when the academics became more writing-heaving she could no longer rely on a visual memory of individual whole word spelling, she actually needed to know how to read in order to spell in order to write a sentence, a paragraph, a composition piece. Her ADD/ADHD was diagnosed at another professional evaluation session in 7th grade when her anxiety had become unbearable. I was in shock. Now she had THREE conditions. Again, the evaluation paperwork has been referenced through middle school and high school for her IEP, and now the recent paperwork for SAT accommodations. You have to have a papertrail.

2) Get her specialized tutoring ASAP. Classroom teachers don't have the specialized training needed for a dyslexic mind. Regular reading tutors do not either - do not waste your precious time with them! You need specialists now. Our daughter's report listed a few recommended private reading programs to take her to ASAP. It was the beginning of the summer break so she went 3X/week and had practice work for home. It's about muscle memory so frequent practice is important. When 4th grade started up she went 2X/wk. After 1.5 yrs she was reading at grade level and her reading comprehension went up even higher (but we could never find a WRITING program so she continued to lag greatly behind on that, for her reading/input is easy but writing/output is still painful & incredibly slow). It was a big time investment as well as money ($85-120 per 50-60 minute sessions is common) but absolutely required. You're building her foundation. It needs to be as solid as possible to build on top. The more holes, the more stress, anxiety and loss of self-esteem will happen. Don't delay.

3) Hold her back a grade if possible (public schools are often reluctant to do this, ours will only consider if TWO grade levels below), or even better, transfer her to a new school where she can start fresh in 4th grade with intensive private tutoring at the same time. I know, this will also be hard on her self-esteem but keeping her on the current grade level trajectory is a recipe for an even bigger disaster in the later years when she'd have very low self-esteem due to constant failure in academics and in social settings and friendships. Although my daughter is a tech-geek tomboy with all guy friends and not very savvy to the sophisticated girl social dramas, even she still notices the alienation and indifference other students at her large high school show her. Thankfully she a good group of solid friends, not a lot of friends, but true friends developed since elementary years.

4) Find something she's passionate about and do everything you can to grow that interest in her. Help her thrive in at least one thing, one area of her life. It's a long road ahead and she'll need something to point to and label herself as...a soccer player, a drama theater geek, a guitar player, a cook, a fashion designer, etc. The years coming up are when she's forming her own self image and there needs to be something positive.

5) Spend quality time with her everyday. It can just be simple snuggling at night, rubbing her back, etc. Some relaxing personal contact time to reassure her that you will ALWAYS be there for her, be her rock (even though you also have to be the homework nag, her prefrontal cortex, her clock timer, her organizer, etc). Have a mother-daughter date once a month to do something together. Grow your bond, she's going to need a strong relationship with you to get through the years to come. You will be her scaffolding to navigate the demands the world puts on her because of her age although her ADHD mind will not be ready for it for another 2-3 years. She needs to trust you with her greatest insecurities.

6) Take care of yourself. You'll be in the trenches for many years to come. Sorry this sounds so cynical and pessimistic but truly, I'm an optimistic person! The mental and physical stress will be hard to carry for so many years in a row. Find something physical to release stress and help you stay in shape.

I could go on and on but I'll leave it at 6 recommendations for now! Hang in there!

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And I have more ideas!

7) Find a learning differences specialized school now in elementary years because there's few choices for specialized middle and high schools.

8) Seriously consider starting meds ASAP to help her ADHD. It will take a few months to find the right one and right dose but it will help. Meanwhile she'll need to learn more organization skills, etc. Meds can only do so much, behavior needs to grow and change with time as well.

9) Don't rely too much on the school to guide you or provide what she needs. Especially a public school, but also private schools. When my daughter went to all those private reading tutoring sessions I was often sitting in the waiting area next to several parents whose kids went to $40k/yr private elementary schools...and they were still sitting next to me! Paying even more money beyond their expensive school. Find your local Dyslexia Association chapter and go to meetings, meet other parents at your school or district with similar students, continue to reach out to this online community that knows what you're going through!

10) Don't bother with a 504 Plan. The teachers don't seem to take them seriously. Go straight to an IEP. Even then, it's hard to constantly enforce. Mostly what happens for my daughter is that she is allowed extra time to complete work, with occasional reductions in the work load. This mostly just results in a mountain of overdue work and new stuff just piling on. Instead, she needs a no-homework school (this doesn't exist in high school) so her brain can rest after an exhausting day at school.

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I held my son back in the second grade. I don't regret it at all but it did have some effect on him personally. With her going into the middle school, I wouldn't recommend holding her back. My son too is ADHD and has a hard time reading however, he makes the A honor roll. If she is doing well in her classes with the exception of being behind in reading, let her move forward with her classmates. I too however, am looking for resources to help him catch up on his reading. Good luck!

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