View Full Version : Ed Psyh Test - now what?

02-16-2016, 01:03 AM
We went. We tested. We learned.

10th grade, age 16. Dyscalculia, working memory and processing speed problems, abstract and contextual reasoning difficulties, but 95-99th percentile in mechanical/visual/spatial/verbal abilities. He feels so relieved to have someone other than me tell him he is not 'dumb'; he's been walking around on a cloud.

I am researching options for some curriculum changes. Any thoughts on keeping up with Algebra I or should we bag it entirely and focus on math foundations in ways that may resonate with him? I found a couple of online math programs that are geared for dyscalculaics and of course could turn to Math U See or something similar. We are even going back to learn how to tell time again on an analog clock, which is often seen with dysC.

Recommendations are to use speech recognition software when writing/organizing papers.

Has anyone had experience with the brain training programs available online? BrainHQ by Posit Science has some good empirical data behind it; Lumosity is mainstream and sometimes not well-regarded; Cogmed and Mindsparkle Brain Fitness Pro; Learning RX is in town, but it is ridiculously priced, as is Cogmed. Just wondering if anyone has utilized anything similar with good results.

I wish we had tested earlier, but am glad to have a map to work with now. Intuitively I knew exactly what was going on, and now have some work to do to help him out!


02-16-2016, 01:24 AM
I think half the battle is helping your child understand that they are not dumb. I know that is makes a difference to my kid. I will be watching this post for people's suggestions. I just requested full testing as well from our charter school so I will be more knowledgeable in about 60 days or so. Dyscalculia is not an issue here but processing and dysgraphia is.

We use Dragon Naturally Speaking for speech to text options. We also have Inspiration which is organization software for planning. My son tends to prefer using word to draw graphic organizers instead, however.

So I will be watching for other's experiences and maybe I can give you more info when we get our testing. We have the added advantage of being with a public charter which means, after the testing, they actually will be required to offer help. I will pass on what I learn when I hear more.

02-16-2016, 09:37 AM
Our testing and amelioration was done at an earlier age so I am not sure this is apples-to-apples. We did CogMed and she had an intensive reading program right afterward, at 8.5. CogMed then lasted 6 months, daily, at home. We were dealing with ADD and its side effects (working memory, organization, task initiation, prioritization, follow through). She still has issues with all of those things...though age has helped her greatly. She does have number difficulties and her processing speed on anything is really slow.

I understand the learning curve for Dragon is pretty steep...but if your son speaks normally (my friend's child has an impediment) it can be a real time-saver, esp. if the child sees how much work he can get done in so much less time.

I hope EJsmom contributes to this discussion as she's adjusted a lot of curricula to help him. My gut says to keep up with algebra because things other than number fluency happen in algebra: it's symbolic thinking, after all.

02-16-2016, 10:40 AM
That is wonderful! I'm so happy that you got some useful information, and that you have some ideas about how to move forward.

I'm really struggling with the way we're doing things for my daughter. A couple of the post-secondary programs she is interested in require a high school diploma, so she is taking the regular high school math classes. She does them at home, with me. We work through each chapter, she writes the exam, and she's passing, but I know that she'll never remember this stuff.

I wish I could go back and work on foundational stuff like place value (above 10,000) and reading clocks and number sense, but she doesn't have time right now with all her other courses. I'd like to just skip high school math because honestly, the foundational stuff is more important for life, but she won't get her diploma without these stupid courses.

02-16-2016, 11:01 AM
Honestly it depends on what your son wants to do.
My son wants to graduate from a brick and mortar school, so I found an alternative homeschooling type school for him. We know he needs Alegbra, Geometry and Alegbra 2 to graduate. (These are state requirements, but have some other options if he can't pass these classes)

My son can not do online classes. He needs a pencil, paper and a book. So all the online stuff was a total bust. We tried, he failed, we learned online doesn't work for him. (He used Mobymax FYI)

So much is trial and error. What works with my child? How can I make what works with one subject, work with another.

So my son has both dysgraphia and dyscalculia. I've been through the gambit with him.

02-16-2016, 01:19 PM
Now you know what he is dealing with, and he knows it is not being "stupid"- he's just learning differently. My son was so very, very relieved, too. He felt so much better! And moving forward he KNEW when to tell me "I'm not getting this AT ALL, and it's not just that we need to keep working on it, but we are trying to put square pegs into round holes, lets find another way." Most of the anxiety, stress, worry, fear, bruised self esteem - all began to fade away for him.

My DS did not test for dyscalculia, but was extremely deficient in working memory, and it appears he's struggling with some sort of auditory processing disorder, too. That testing will take place this spring, I hope.

We spent the fall doing CogMed. Yes, it was expensive. However, when I looked at how he struggled not just in Math, but day to day life - it seemed like a necessary investment. It has helped. Not in huge leaps, but enough to make a difference and I don't regret investing the time and money into it. CogMed was intense for DS to get through, and we switched to "unschool" mode while he was doing it We wanted to keep the pressure low in his life while his brain was training and rewiring to some degree, and I don't regret that at all. It also sort of provided a "de-schooling" sort of time so that he could go back into math and formal school work with a new attitude. And it gave me time to look into some executive functioning things and print out and laminate charts for steps of chores, lists for going to different classes/sports, etc., schedules, multiplication tables, etc. Tools to help DS stay on track without having to remember it all. This all explained why DS has always been a kid who craves structure, wants written lists, a whiteboard with the day's events, a cork board with visual aids, etc.

CogMed, for us, really helped most in math. I'm not seeing the improvement as much in day to day life, however, most of that is his lack of response to me telling him things (which is MY fault, because I know he has auditory processing issues.)

I would say it doubled his math ability as far as keeping track of multi-step problems. That's not to say he still doesn't struggle. He was functioning at about a 1 or 2 out 10 (with 10 being a typical average ability) in math previously. Now he's operating about a 4 or 5 out of 10. So his ability at least doubled. But...he's still not where he "should" be. However, he is capable of making progress now, where before it wasn't EVER going to happen. He simply did not have the capacity. That alone is remarkable.

He literally was "stuck" at 4th grade math - since 4th grade, even though he understood concepts quite easily and at a much higher grade, he couldn't work the operations to solve problems. We did have to do a year of vision therapy, and were treading water in math for awhile due to that. Then I thought the next year would see progress. That didn't happen. Then I tried various new approaches for a year. That didn't help, either.

Since finishing CogMed he is now actually making progress! I make sure to take it slow enough that he gets plenty of practice and really masters a concept, but he is working through math at a much faster pace, and the new concepts seem to "stick" now. Before, I would have to re-teach him how to do multi-digit multiplication every single time he tried to do it. Even if he did 20 problems the day before - I'd have to talk him through each problem one step at a time, and the next day, it was like he'd never seen it before. He was always overwhelmed by all the numbers, symbols, steps and keeping track of it all. Every math session ended in tears and him claiming he was "stupid!"

It's not like that now.

Also, we switched to a more simplistic visual way to teach concepts. He has to SEE the math happen, not just get a verbal explanation with numbers on paper. We've been using CTC Math online since finishing CogMed and DS is really enjoying it. I often use the lesson to teach a concept (it's online, with visuals he understands), then I give him worksheets or workbook problems throughout the next few weeks (just a few a day per concept) to keep him practicing and get the skill drilled into his long term memory. He likes that he can work at various grade levels for different concepts, so when something comes easier for him, he can move ahead.

I've learned to teach math in 2 parts: part 1 is the concept, part 2 is the figuring. I allow "cheats" on figuring (like a calculator) while he is learning the concept. We work on learning concepts like this: I write the problem on a white board. He tells me the steps to take. I do the math/figuring (so he doesn't lose his place with the steps by stopping to remember a basic math fact.) Eventually, we switch, and still doing the problem on a white board, he tries a problem, but I will jump in with help to remind of the next step, or a math fact, until he is confident and he knows the steps well enough to work the problem without much thought to "how", or he has found ways to keep track of the steps (sometimes he writes out the steps of a problem on scratch paper and checks them off as he works.) Using various colored pencils or highlighters to teach/work math problems and keep track of what goes together is helpful, too.

Anything you can find to help with executive functioning (the Smart But Scattered books come to mind) may be helpful, too.

I hope that whatever you decide to do, you and your DS find ways for him to achieve all he wants to accomplish.

02-16-2016, 01:36 PM
Can you explain CogMed a bit? I have heard about it but want to know more from a parent point of view.


02-16-2016, 03:55 PM
I feel for you, Avalon. Being between that rock and hard place is not fun. I wish you could have some space to tackle the foundational stuff - doesn't it seem silly that the diploma 'requires' the high school math instead of getting to the heart of the matter? Argh. I am frustrated for you! As to remembering the math, that's the rub. He can get through an algebra lesson and do the problems (albeit very slowly) and do pretty well on the problems. The next day or week, though - information gone. So on paper (pun) he can sometimes look like a B or sometimes an A student... but not really.Piling more Jenga blocks in math makes the tower tumble.

02-16-2016, 04:13 PM
In some of the reading I did on CogMed, parents said that the program was intense for them and the child - because work was done daily for 30-45 minutes and parents needed to help the child stay on task. The exercises get progressively more difficult and this can tire the child easily. But, I also read that parents saw improvements and some of those improvements were dramatic.

I knee-jerk reacted to the price tag - it's between $1K and 2K'ish and is certainly a time investment for all parties. Hearing ejsmom's experience and ej's experience is helping me settle down. Thanks, ejsmom. Your insight is invaluable.

Ideally, I'd love to give DS the breathing room to work on brain building. Something to think about - each day brings new information and new feelings.

Aren't our children absolutely incredibly lucky to have parents who are trying to stay on top of these issues and do right by them?????

02-16-2016, 05:44 PM
Vicki, what you describe about forgetting the math as soon as he's done doing it, is what our biggest issue was for DS. I feel that in our case, CogMed helped with that.

CogMed is a series of online "games". They are designed to work out the working memory. They start easy, and get progressively harder. You can never master the program. The better you get, the more difficult the "games" get. That aspect frustrated the hell out of my kid. There are series of lights to click on (think of the electronic game Simon - sort of like that), moving objects around (looking at a table top and being told "Put the blue pen in the red cup, then the green ball in the orange box, and then the purple stapler in the black bag" and then after given the multi-step instruction you can start the task), that sort of thing. We set up a series of rewards with DS for finishing each week and the program as a whole, on the suggestion of our psychologist. That worked really well, and DS swears he ONLY finished the program for the rewards. He hated it, I'm not going to lie. We've done every type of therapy you can think of from Sensory Intergration, OT, speech, RDI, Therapeutic Listening, etc. etc (I could write this list for days)....and this was by FAR the one that DS found the most difficult and hated the most.

Here is a sample: https://search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?p=youtube+cogmed&ei=UTF-8&hspart=mozilla&hsimp=yhs-001

Once you sit with your child and see them try it, and see how taxing it is on them.

But he feels that it was what has helped him the most in math (besides vision therapy which he needed to start with, or CogMed would have been undoable), and bit by bit, we are seeing some improvements in day to day life - as long as I remember he needs visual cues, not auditory, and send him texts or written lists.

02-16-2016, 10:57 PM
I don't consider a calculator a "cheat", it is a necessary tool. My son has a 504 and should have been able to use a calculator in math and science and the teachers weren't allowing it. So he got sloppy, part of what I do is to get him to slow down, do things step by step and remind him to use the calculator.

Amazingly my son is getting higher math, yes he gets bogged down with the minutiae of facts, but he understands so much, I thought he would never get.

02-19-2016, 07:20 PM
I ordered Ronit Bird's Overcoming Difficulties with Number (http://www.amazon.com/Overcoming-Difficulties-Number-Supporting-Dyscalculia/dp/1848607113/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1455927532&sr=8-1&keywords=overcoming+difficulties+with+number)for age range 9-16 - specifically written for students with dyscalculia. Also picked up an analog clock tool to review telling time and signed up with mathsexplained.co.uk. DS likes the British accent! He is all over Dr. Who and loves British humor, so why not? As a place to start. I have Cuisinaire rods and Ronit's book comes with a CD to print out other manipulatives.

Strongly considering CogMed for working memory and processing speed.

Thanks everyone for your comments. I've learned a great deal in a week's time!

02-19-2016, 07:22 PM
ejsmom, how long is the CogMed program on average would you say? I think we might spend the rest of spring semester at it.

02-19-2016, 10:00 PM
I believe it was in the 6-8 week range. I think it depends on how much time the person can do each session, too. Daily sessions can range from short to long (something like 15-45 minutes - I'm not certain what the choices were exactly.) DS picked the middle time range, and I felt like it was a long session for him to get through and his frustration level was huge, but he really just wanted to get it done and not do it for many weeks.

CogMed was our main focus in fall to start our "school year." Other than that we only did one group class per week, reading, music lessons, yoga, nature walks, hiking, and any art he was inspired to do. Other than that we only did whatever caught DS's interests, so very easy going, loose, and child-led. My kid had headaches and sleep disturbances from doing CogMed, but I believe that is very rare. I wasn't surprised by that response in my DS, though. Any sort of neuro therapy has always done that to him from when he started Sensory Integration therapy at age 5, then Therapeutic Listening, Vision Therapy, Biofeedback, and CogMed - they all caused what I refer to as "re-wiring side effects." Fortunately for us, he has responded with significant gains from each therapy, and they each changed his abilities, and his life, permanently and he's very glad for it!

02-21-2016, 02:44 PM
How was he doing in Algerbra? I don't see a reason to go back and spend more time on "facts" if he can do the processes with out the calculations. If you give him a calculator and allow him to use it for the arithmetic, would algebra be possible? If there is a learning disabliity involving basic facts, going back and trying again with the MUS blocks isn't necessarily going to get you very far.

02-24-2016, 03:35 AM
We don't use the MUS blocks. But this curriculum is explains things to him in a way he understands. (And that is a first) It is not perfect of course. For example This week he was having "issues" with how they were teaching a skill. I showed him the way I learned, (which he understood better ) but my older son, said their way was better and encouraged #3 to learn it. (And after several days, he did get it)

I did get Ronit's ebooks on multiplication. They helped some. But I don't care what she says, he will never learn all the facts. (This was hard to admit btw) He can use a calculator and he is understanding higher math.

02-24-2016, 08:29 PM
Darkelf, what curriculum are you using right now for your son for math? Just curious. Thanks.

02-24-2016, 08:33 PM
MathUsee PreAlegbra.

He won't use the blocks at all. But we haven't needed to. So for now, I'm not pushing it.