Educational Psychologist – Liam’s Story

We had about a year and a half of bliss once Liam started Occupational Therapy, where no new issues were brought up by his teachers at school.

We put him into a new school for Grade 00 when he was 5.  His new teacher was amazing and seemed to know exactly how to handle him and bring his attention back to her in the classroom by doing a ‘hands on shoulders, hands on head, finger on nose’ routine.

He made friends easily in his new environment and had a close bond with one of the boys in his class.

We were extremely happy with his new school.

When he went into Grade 0 when he was 6, things changed quite a bit.  During the first week of school all parents went to the school for an introduction and talk with the teachers.  We were all told that Grade 0 was going to be very different to the previous years Grade 00, that our children will need to be more responsible and the workload would be dramatically increased.

Within the first few weeks of school starting I was called in to see Liam’s teacher as she was concerned about his inability to follow instructions and said that he was very easily distracted.  She also said that she thought he urgently needed to see a speech therapist.  Obviously, after a year and a half of peace, this came as a bit of a shock.

Liam had had a bout of ear infections at the beginning of that year, and we had been taking him to an ENT specialist who was deciding at the time whether he should have grommets inserted.  We thought that the ear infections had caused a problem and could possibly be the reason he wasn’t following instructions properly.

By April his doctor advised that he thought that grommets were needed and we booked Liam in for the procedure during the school holidays, he also had his adenoids removed.

Once school started again, I was confident that the following instructions issue would be resolved, but was called in again and his teacher recommended we take Liam to an Educational Psychologist and have him assessed.  His teacher told me that Liam was beginning to struggle socially (his best friend had left the school and Liam wasn’t making friends easily).

We immediately booked an appointment with an Educational Psychologist recommended by Liam’s Occupational Therapist and went in to see her.

She spent quite a bit of time chatting with us about Liam, how he is at home vs how he is at school, any concerns we had etc.  Her next step was to do a school visit, she felt it was important that she do the school visit without Liam knowing who she was so that she could observe him properly.  Once she had done the school visit, she spent two days with Liam in her office where she ran many different tests.

After the first day she told me that the next day would be quite a busy one for them both and said that we should give Liam a hearty breakfast, preferably with eggs, as eggs were packed with protein and would help him maintain focus during the extensive testing she will need to do.

The next morning I boiled 3 eggs for him and toasted some bread to make little bread soldiers for him to dip into the eggs.  He gobbled that all up, along with a glass of milk.  Job done, I felt confident that he would do well during his session that day!  Whoop!

About a week later Ray and I returned to meet with her and hear what she had found…

Eish…

The main problem she had picked up was that Liam couldn’t transition.  She had observed this during the school visit when all the children were doing a task on their whiteboards. The teacher had told all the children to put their whiteboards down and to sit on the carpet, Liam couldn’t bring himself to put the whiteboard down, he kept working on it, his teacher had to ask him again to put his whiteboard down and to go sit on the carpet, and again, he didn’t do it, he kept on working, until eventually his teacher had to go up to him and take the whiteboard out of his hands.

The Educational Psychologist had done an IQ test on Liam too, but she couldn’t finish it as he wouldn’t focus.  Although she couldn’t finish the test, she had worked out that he was ‘above average’ with what he had managed to complete.

She had also asked him a series of questions for another assessment and all of his answers included eggs and toast.  For example ‘I get angry when’, Liam’s answer ‘I don’t eat eggs and toast’, next ‘It makes me happy when’, Liam’s answer ‘my Mommy makes me eggs and toast’, ‘My favourite thing to do with my Daddy is’, Liam’s answer ‘eat eggs and toast’.  And so it went on.

At the end of it all she gave us a list of recommendations, starting with the most important steps and followed by other less important steps.  Her first recommendation was that we take Liam to a Pediatric Neurologist and do an EEG, her next recommendation was to take him to a Behavioral Optometrist and have him assessed.  Another recommendation was to have his hearing screened and take him to a Speech Therapist for an assessment.  She also thought that Liam would benefit from a smaller school environment.  She said that Liam was extremely quiet in the classroom and feared he would fall through the cracks of the school system.

I contacted the Pediatric Neurologist‘s office that was recommended and made an appointment, the waiting list was quite long, so we had to wait until October for her to see Liam.  While we waited for the appointment I followed the other recommendations.

His hearing seemed fine and his ENT specialist was happy with the results.  The audiologist was also a Speech Therapist and didn’t think that Liam needed speech therapy, but it was tricky to tell as both his front teeth had fallen out.

I took Liam to an amazing optometrist in our area, and they did a behavioral assessment on him, which resulted in Vision Therapy.  I’ll cover Vision Therapy in another blog post 🙂

We also enrolled him into a smaller school for Grade 1, which was much more intimate, each class had a teacher and an assistant and there were only approximately 200 children in the entire school which went from Grade 0000 to Grade 9.

We had direction, and it felt great!  The Educational Psychologist’s assessment on Liam gave us much needed insight into Liam’s wonderful personality, and helped us understand him so much more.

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