Josh's Journey
First Grade: “He doesn’t know how to write, spell or read his name”

First Grade was a better year emotionally for Josh. He had a lovely teacher that supported and understood him. He didn’t cry at drop off anymore! He also made some friends and was invited to a few birthday parties.

Josh’s academic issues however were getting increasingly critical. I went to open house night and noticed that Josh’s last name was spelled incorrectly, by accident, on the name card that the teacher had made and taped to his desk. All the kids had these name cards. I told the teacher about the mistake and she said, “I wonder why he didn’t tell me”. I told her, “He doesn’t know how to write, spell or read his name”. I don’t think she could have looked more concerned if she had tried. It was a look of horror really. I think that’s appropriate, it is how I felt, horrified.

Unfortunately  Josh  was found no longer eligible for speech because “he had met all his goals”. I expressed some concerns that he continued to confuse sounds but no additional speech language testing was performed. He no longer had an IEP so now it was back to SST (which I would like to rename school stall tactic instead of student support team).

I continued to request educational-psychological testing for learning disabilities because Josh continued to struggle despite participation in the Early Intervention Program (EIP) program for reading and math. Josh’s teacher fully supported me in my requests. The School District finally agreed to perform a psychological during January and March 2008.

What they found was that Josh performed on a beginning of kindergarten level but he had already been through kindergarten twice! By first grade he was already two years behind!!!

Kindergarten x2: Notes from a school conference state Josh is not progressing with reading as hoped. He wasn’t progressing at all. The district was refusing to teach him or acknowledge his disabilities.

Josh repeated kindergarten the next school year. Once again he cried everyday at drop off. He was so far behind academically it was starting to feel desperate.

I was still a student and could not afford a full blown educational-psych but I manged to get together some money and took Josh to a developmental optometrist for a private evaluation. The developmental optometrist identified cross-dominace which is a form of dyslexia and recommended vision therapy. I also had Josh privately evaluated for occupational therapy (OT). That evaluation also resulted in recommendations for services. I provided the reports to the school.

The school district told me that they could not give OT services to a child who just had a speech Individual Education Plan (IEP) (I found out later that this is not true). They also would not provide the recommended vision therapy. The school district also declined to provide the education psychological testing that I had requested.

His teacher agreed that he needed testing but she couldn’t make the county approve it anymore than I could. Notes for a SST meeting state Josh is not progressing with reading as hoped.

He wasn’t progressing at all. The district was refusing to teach him or acknowledge his disabilities.

Kindergarten: Scores from the speech evaluation were shockingly low!

Pre-K had been rough but I was hopeful that Josh would have a better year in kindergarten. Unfortunately he cried again, everyday when I dropped him off. Now some people might say “well then why did you keep sending him?” To be perfectly honest I didn’t know what else to do.

Once again conferences with the teacher validated my concerns with Josh’s speech and now with academics. He could not read or write his own name at 5 years old.

At a student support team (SST) meeting I expressed concerns regarding intelligibility and decreased ability to sound out words and spelling. The school district’s Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) finally agreed to observe Josh in the classroom setting. Her observations lead to formal assessment. I thought “ok, this would have been better last year but now we have got the ball rolling!”

At the same SST meeting I brought up that Josh was struggling academically and I requested an educational-psych evaluation to look for learning disabilities. The county declined to conduct that evaluation. I also requested Josh to repeat kindergarten because he was not emotionally or academically ready for first grade. My older daughter had repeated kindergarten and then gone on to excel in school, even testing into the gifted program. I thought maybe Josh just needs a little more time to mature.

In November 2005 Josh was found eligible for speech therapy services. His scores from the evaluation were shockingly low! Normal scores range 85-115. Anything below 70 is a severe impairment. Josh had scores in the 60s!

His teacher reported that Josh loved to participate in classroom activities such as use of the computer and listening to stories and that he has a desire to learn. She also stated that he is performing below grade level in all academic areas and often becomes frustrated when unable to complete classroom activities. Throughout the school year I continued to express concerns about his pre-literacy skills and it’s relation to speech concerns. Josh was placed in the Early Intervention Program, which is a regular ed classroom with children who are struggling but not in special ed.

Pre-K: Where it all began.

In August 2004 Josh began pre-kindergarten in public school. He cried every single day that I dropped him off. I kept thinking that he would “get use to it”. He had no identified disabilities at this time, although I did suspect something was wrong, maybe a speech problem. After conferences with the teacher, Josh was referred to the Student Support Team (SST). The pre-k teacher noted that Josh uses “baby talk” and that “Josh has great restraint when approached aggressively by peers and will shut down when he is upset. He is quite truthful without thought to consequences”. I requested a speech evaluation. The county declined the request. I was a college student and working in an after school child care program so I did not have the funds to pursue private testing.