Should you get testing done from an outside agency?
Before my son began fifth grade, his reading comprehension was tested through an independent agency (not affiliated with the school district).
Why did I have my son tested?
One area that some children with autism tend to struggle with is reading comprehension. Our kids tend to be literal thinkers and have trouble with abstract thinking.
When my son is reading a book, I will sometimes stop him and ask what he thinks the author is trying to say or if he can predict what might happen next. I will also ask if he can discuss the motivation(s) of the characters.
My son was usually stumped.
With fifth grade approaching, I felt his reading comprehension was a problem that had to be addressed.
With that in mind, I took him to a reputable outside agency that specializes in the reading abilities of autistic students. They tested his reading comprehension.
How did he score?
He scored well in some areas and not so well in others. There were some problem areas.
I approached the school district and officially requested after-school funding for this program.
After fifth grade began, the school district did their own testing in reading comprehension of all of fifth graders. My son scored below average. Three months later, (two weeks before his IEP), the school district retested the fifth graders and my son’s scores had jumped tremendously.
In the meantime, the district had yet to give me an answer about funding the outside agency.
By the time we had the IEP, we didn’t really have a leg to stand on because our son had improved in reading comprehension so much. How could we argue for funding for the outside agency when we no longer had proof that he needed the assistance?
What did I do?
I knew ahead of time that this was going to be a fight. My contact at the outside agency knew that my son’s school district tended to be “stingy“ when it came to funding their programs. She advised me to have a representative from their agency at the IEP to explain the test results as opposed to letting the school district simply interpret the numbers.
Still, as it turned out, it was my son who made this decision for us. He had improved so much that we had lost the argument before the IEP.
He also had an awesome fifth grade teacher. She noticed my son?s challenges and learned to be on the lookout for improvement in my son?s reading comprehension. She pushed him and got results.
We continued to support his reading comprehension skills at home (we read every night and we discuss the chapter book(s) often). With practice, we now felt he was begin to “get it.”
What did we do?
We held off on requesting an outside agency’s intervention program. We simply did not have the evidence on our side. If our son was improving, then why would we intervene?
By the time my son finished fifth grade, he had greatly improved in his reading comprehension ability. We were proud of him.
In my next blog, I will add more thoughts about the experience of using an outside agency.
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