I recently evaluated an 8 year old third grade girl who had significant reading, spelling and writing issues.

Previously evaluated by the special education team and a local hospital, the mom was informed that her child was “average.”

Closer inspection of the child’s assessment data found scores around the 15th to the 20th percentiles on tasks such as word identification, oral reading fluency, spelling and written expression – not quite “average” in my book.  (When was the last time that you felt good about  85 people out of 100 beating you in a race, which is what the 15th %ile represents?)

Yet, the child was considered “average” and the case was closed.  No services warranted.  Thank you very much.

As I would have predicted from the previous assessments, there were “red flag” concerns that I identified.  When I shared these concerns, the mom said something like, “I knew it in kindergarten, but I was dismissed.  Everyone said, ‘she’s so cute, she’s so sweet,’ but I knew there was something up with her, but I kept hearing that I was overacting or exaggerating.”

So, now in third grade it is clear that the child is overwhelmed by the level of demands placed on her, yet  no one is stepping forward to offer this child a life vest or to teach her how to swim.

The take away point is that I have found practically 99% of the time that “where there’s smoke, there’s fire.”   That is, the mom knew that there was something going on when the child was in kindergarten.

There was plenty of smoke.  Something should have been done then.

My dad was a horse player who schooled me from a young age on odds.   Thinking of odds,  I can tell you this.  If a mom thinks that something is going on with her child, I would bet there is and win that bet virtually every time (and do a lot better than my dad ever did betting the horses).

It’s extremely rare that a mom raises concerns and the results don’t support her concerns.

So, moms (forget the dads), when you think something is going on, odds are there is.  The odds that it is just a mom being unduly anxious are extremely low.

Unfortunately, in school for a child to get a life preserver or some other such thing to help him/her to swim in the deep end of the pool, there has to be a significant and severe discrepancy shown between the child’s theoretical level of intelligence (i.e., IQ) and an the achievement score.

In the case of the child mentioned above, the fact that 85% of the other kids her age were beating her in a race was not enough.  That was fine – she was viewed as “average.”

I  just didn’t agree with this view.  I thought she needed a lot of help.

So did the mom who has known since kindergarten that her daugher needed help.

It’s a shame that no one listened to her.

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