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Autism/Granddaughter with ASD and sensory issues


Hello Doctor:  I have a 10 year 4 month old granddaughter recently diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorders.  She was originally diagnosed at age 4 with ADHD.  At age 7, it was determined that she has sensory disorder and has been seeing an Occupational Therapist since then.  Over the course of the years, she has been diagnosed with OCD, behavioral disorders and possible Bipolar, which I am being treated for.  When she was 4, she could do math, read at a 2nd grade level, and could remember incidents from age 2 clearly. Now, she can barely read at first grade level and, though she can add on the second grade level, she cannot grasp subtraction. She has been on every medication I can think of and is currently on Kapvay, Celexa and Geodon.  Her medications are still being adjusted.  She has been educationally tested and her I.Q. is 132.  She sees the O.T. for upper body strength, fine finger movement, sensory issues and leg strengthening.  We have been told that she has the emotional age of 5.  My daughter tried home schooling this year and, although it started off quite well, it has simply fallen apart.  I hope I have given you enough info to help me with my question.  Anna was in public school kindergarten through third grade.  She did fairly well in kindergarten and first grade, but very nearly failed 2nd and 3rd although we provided her teachers with aids and information from the O.T., the teachers, especially her last one, told her she could never pass and isolated her from the other children.  We complained and forced the school to provide an I.E.P. so that we could get the McKay Scholarship and send her to a private school, however, though we did get the scholarship, my daughter decided to home school, so we have now lost it.  We are very concerned with what to do in the next school year.  We, as are most people, fairly limited in funds, and we want to be sure we know what kind of school she needs.  She seems to be slowly getting worse in all areas and we are completely confused now.  What kind of schooling does she need and is she going to get worse?  Knowing what we need and what to expect will help.  Thank you for your time.

Oh, Tricia. What a worry this must be for all of you.

I've read what you wrote three times and the most troublesome part of it is the regression you describe. The diagnoses of autism, ADHD, OCD and bipolar do not explain the significant lapse in academic skills you describe. Have you noticed any changes in her language skills as well?

Despite her good intellectual abilities, you don't paint a picture of a child doing well academically. What do you think is the problem? Is her behavior so extreme that she cannot accomplish anything in school? Do you think she can do the assignments but will not?

If you don't see her academic difficulties as stemming primarily from oppositional defiance, then I would worry about what may be going on cognitively. I would suggest that you discuss this with her psychiatrist or neurologist. Explain, with concrete examples the things she used to be able to do that she cannot manage now. Examples from school would help as well, as would samples of her previous writing, the books she read at age 4, compared to now, etc.

I agree with your concern over the type of schooling best suited to your grandchild, but would first try to determine the underlying reasons for her lack of academic progress.

I wish you and your family all the best with this,


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Dr. Sharon A. Mitchell


Sharon can help with parenting and educational concerns. She has worked in teaching, special education, counseling and consulting for over thirty years and gives workshops to educators and parents on working with kids with autism spectrum disorders. Sharon speaks from both the education and parent points of view, having an adult son with Asperger's.


Sharon has spent decades as a special education consultant with a school district and autism consult for the province's Department of Education, giving workshops and individual consults. Currently she works as regional autism consultant for a health district in between teaching university classes. She is an Amazon bestselling author or a series of novels, each depicting a child who has an autism spectrum disorder. Sharon's Master's thesis looked at the long-term outlook for persons with high functioning autism and Asperger's. Her Doctorate focused on strategies to help those with autism spectrum disorders.

Website at and sits on Autism Today's Panel of Experts (

Author of "Autism Goes to School" - a novel about autism that that became an Amazon bestseller. Get this Amazon bestseller free at In the next book, Autism Runs Away, Ethan is only in grade one and already has been kicked out of one school due to his tantrums and pattern of running away when in a panic. Now in a new school his mom remains glued to her phone, waiting for the call to tell her that they don’t know what to do with a child who has autism. Sara is about to learn if this new school is up to the challenge. ( Autism Belongs is the 3rd book. Manny's life has shrank to the confines of their house. His parents are desperate not to rock his world because the aggression has gotten to much worse. Where will this lead? Is there a chance that Manny could actually belong out in the world? You bet! Get a free sample at Book four, Autism Talks and Talks, is about a 12 year old girl who has Asperger's. She's bright, inquisitive, highly verbal, but lacks social skills. Try a free sample at Book five, Autism Grows Up features Suzie, a bright, twenty-one year old whose life collapsed after she finished high school. Now, she lives in her mother's basement, spending nights on her computer, afraid to broach the world outside their door. Autism Grows Up is found at Prefer a boxed set? Get the first 3 books bundled together at Co-author of bestseller, The Official Autism 101 Manual (

B.A. in Psychology, B.Ed. in Special Education, M.A. in Educational Leadership PhD. in Psychology Management, specializing in autism.

Awards and Honors
B.R.A.G. Medallion for the novel Autism Goes to School - Book 1 in the School Daze Series. ( Like Autism Goes to School, the third book in the series, Autism Belongs, also ranked #1 on Amazon ( Manny is not like other children. He doesn’t talk. He doesn’t leave the house. His parents desperately try to arrange their world so that Manny does not get upset. Because, when he does, well, the aggression was getting worse. At ten, Manny was becoming difficult to handle.

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