Special Education/handwriting

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Question
Hi, I asked for my son to get an O.T. eval and I expressed no other concerns. He does amazingly in school. They subjected him to TWO I.Q. tests and he did well but in the middle he stopped answering questions which they noted and they still compiled a score! The score was OK but should've been through the roof (interestingly, it was in the beginning portions!) That's not fair to him. He's an A student, he has many friends, he's 8 and he didn't need this. It's not right. Is there something I can do to dispute this. And are two I.Q. tests required just because you have concerns about your child's handwriting legibility? This seems so absurd and a waste of resources not to mention it annoyed the heck out of my son apparently.  Is it necessary by law to give two I.Q. tests when a parent expresses concerns only about handwriting legibility?

Answer
Dear Alice,

Thank you for writing about an interesting concern that you have.  If your child is in the public school, or in a school paid by the public agency, the school team would have met to consider your request for occupational therapy due to handwriting concerns.  

If your child does not have an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 Plan, the team would have met to determine if there is a suspected disability.  If there is a suspected disability, the team would recommend evaluations and get your consent for those evaluations.  When a parent gives consent for evaluations, the team has an obligation to be sure you understand the purpose and type of the evaluations.  It sounds like this did not occur.  

Two IQ tests may be needed for some reason to determine if a child is a child with a disability eligible for special education or related services (OT is a related service).  

I hope that the team did an OT evaluation, also.

Sometimes, the team recommends an IQ or psychological evaluation because the school psychologist can give visual motor integration tests which can lead to the recommendation for OT or other visual, perceptual or motor tests to see if the team is going to go to the next step, to develop an IEP or 504 Plan, where OT can be provided.  

It is unusual, in my experience, for a school only to provide OT without an IEP or 504 Plan in place.  Part of the criteria for providing such a service would be that your child's handwriting is affecting his ability to make progress and learn the curriculum.

So, I guess my answer is, maybe?

If you want to dispute the findings of a test given by the school, you can either go get a private evaluation and pay for it, or you could request an independent evaluation at public expense (school would pay), as a second opinion.  Be careful, though, because the school can take you to a hearing to uphold and defend its evaluation.  You can always withdraw the request, if this occurs.  

I am not sure if this is a good idea, but if you want to have me consult and review the reports, I am happy to do it.  

Do you have a private psychologist who would be willing to review the reports and tell you if they are valid and reliable?  

Have you ever seen "Handwriting without Tears" program, or considered keyboarding?  By the time he gets to college, I am sure he will be typing or speaking most of his writing.  :)

I would also be happy to review your son's case and let you know my thoughts.  I hope this answer is a bit helpful, but I would like to understand the situation better so I can be more help.  

Thank you again for writing to me! And for using this service!  And I wish you all the best as you advocate for your child's education!

Special Education

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Michelle R. Davis, M. Ed.

Expertise

I can answer questions about disability definitions and criteria for services, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act 2004, No Child Left Behind, 504 plans, how to craft an IEP that drives the appropriate services, school placement, dispute options, and least restrictive environment. I worked in the public school system as a special educator and am now in private consulting practice where we assist parents as they navigate the special education process. I have expertise in all educational disabilities except blind/visual impairments and deaf/hard of hearing. This includes ADHD and other health impairments, medical conditions, dyslexia and learning disabilities, Autism, emotional disabilities, language processing problems, and interfering behaviors.

Experience

10 years as special educator and administrator in public school system; Director of ABCs for Life Success since 1998; Expert services such as analysis and testimony; Author: Special Needs Advocacy Resource Book: What you can do now to advocate for your exceptional child's education; Special Needs Advocacy Training Institute; internet radio show Teach Your Children Well: Hot Topics in Education; author School Success for Kids with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders released March 2010 (Prufrock Press).

Education/Credentials
Masters in Special Education with Emphasis on Inclusive Education (Johns Hopkins University); B.S.in Special Education (James Madison University); Conduct training for Universities, public and private schools, parent groups. Adjunct professor current George Washington University and prior George Mason University.

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