Taylor’s Story Continued with Visual Processing Disorder

About a year ago I wrote a post about our youngest daughter, Taylor, who had been tested by an educational therapist. His diagnoses were Auditory and Visual Processing Disorders as well as ADHD. You can read post here if you have not already to catch up on the back story. And again, I tried to keep this short, but it’s difficult.
visual processing disorder

When I wrote that post it was the beginning of Taylor’s second year. As soon as school started last year I got on the ball with trying to get a 504 in place for Taylor. Part of that process was to have her evaluated by all of the school professionals. So, they sent us to the school district paid to have Taylor’s hearing tested by the Superintendent of Schools office.

That was where it started. The gentleman performing the hearing test came out when he was finished scratching his head and said he was going to perform the tests again. After the second time, another audiologist came in and he asked her to test Taylor without telling her his findings. She, too, came out scratching her head, and tested Taylor a second time. They both proceeded to tell me that sometimes she passed and sometimes she failed and they couldn’t tell me why. Their recommendation was to take her to the Children’s Hospital and pursue it further.  I did.


Auditory Processing
CHC Theory: Auditory Processing (Ga) definition

The audiologist at the Children’s Hospital ran the hearing test and said that Taylor had impeccable hearing. I was so frustrated at this point that I began to share our back story with the woman and mentioned the idea of auditory processing to her. At this point she ran one more test. She gave Taylor the hearing test in the presence of background noise. And, it was here, that Taylor failed.

The Children’s Hospital then told us we needed to find someone who could test for auditory processing disorder specifically as this was exactly what they thought the issue was.

Well, that’s easier said than done. I searched the internet and called many well-known places including the House Ear Clinic down in LA and no one offered such testing. However, House Ear Clinic was able to give me the name of someone they thought that did.

I found Dr. Beatrice Braun at the Auditory Processing Center of Pasadena. We spent about half a day in testing and she confirmed that Taylor did have some auditory processing issues with the main one being that she could not identify the important voice in the room in the presence of background noise.

What did this mean? It meant if a teacher allowed children to talk while he or she was talking, Taylor would not hear the teacher. I went back to the 504 meeting armed with what I needed.

Now, mind you, I am a teacher. I have been in the world of education for many years, but have always been on the opposite end. This was a real learning experience for me as I was treated like just another parent.

The exact words from Taylor’s 504. So frustrating!

While the school district did agree to purchase Taylor a microphone system in which the teacher wears a necklace that connects her voice to the earpiece Taylor is wearing, the teacher rarely used it last year.

As for Taylor’s issues with visual processing, well, I was told in the 504 that the educational therapist couldn’t diagnose ADHD or visual processing. But, the school psychologist had observed that Taylor seemed to move more that most kids and did not always appear to be on task. Other than allowing her to stretch and giving her more time on assessments, really no other accommodations were made.

What I was fighting against as well is the fact that Taylor was scoring advanced on most everything, including the IQ test that the school district gave her. We learned that she even scores superior in Reading Comprehension and Fluency as well as Perceptual Reasoning.

CHC Theory: Visual-spatial processing (Gv) definition

Here’s my issue. We assign kids to special education when we can determine that there is a discrepancy between what they are capable of and where they are currently performing. Here was Taylor, an incredibly smart kid, but she was still reversing letters, inserting/deleting words when she read, and couldn’t keep her place on a page to save her life. We had huge discrepancies, but she was passing all the academic tests, so according to the school, she didn’t have any issue that they could see. I was tired of fighting and decided to see how things went before I pushed any farther.

Enter the school year of 2013 and third grade. Also enter the start of Common Core standards a year sooner than expected.

I was pleased to learn that Taylor’s teacher this year had thoroughly read through her 504, and she specifically placed before the year started. I was also happy to learn that she had a background in audiology.

What I was not happy about was the fact that my daughter was in tears every night at homework time. She was beginning to show signs of hating to read and write. When I listened to her read, she was still losing her place and making all kinds of simple errors. When I looked at her assignment page that she copied from the board, it was full of mistakes. When I looked at her writing, her letters were all different sizes and the spacing between words varied. She was still reversing “b” and “d” and began to melt down over even coping a summary that I had transcribed as she verbalized it.

One night, the third week of school, it took us two hours to read a short picture book and write a five sentence summary. It was a time filled with tears and frustration not only for her but for myself. When she was finally done, I drew her in and began to try to comfort her. “The writing will get easier the more you do it,” I told her. It was her reply that sank deep into the pit of my stomach.

“Mom, every time I see a writing assignment I get sick to my stomach, like I want to throw up, because I know it’s going to take me three times longer than everyone else.”

Taylor’s eyes work fine, but they brain
reads them independently instead of
letting them work together.

Wow! What’s a mother to do with that? All I could tell myself was that the fight wasn’t over and it was time to get back at it.

So, this time I hunted down a visual processing specialist. These specialists are hard to find people!

Last week we spent a day in Los Angeles with Dr. Etting, a developmental optometrist. It was an enlightening experience to say the least as I was able to sit and be a part of all of the testing.

I watched as Taylor was given a list of four shapes to look at for ten seconds, then had to find the matching set out of four choices on the next. The doctor and I both watched as she mouthed the shape names. On this test, she scored in the 90th percentile.

However, when she was asked to find the shape that was different in a set of four, she couldn’t. She also could not determine which letter or number was facing the correct way with any accuracy unless she had both the correct version and incorrect version to look at.

The doctor said that it is only her intellect that has gotten her this far. She has come up with other ways to deal with the information, but her processing skills are significantly behind, scoring as low as the 9th and 15th percentiles for some of these tests, including her ability to track across a page. I mean it was even things like when the doctor had her follow his pen with her eyes, she could do it, until he started talking to her. Then, she could only do one or the other, but it’s something that should be on automaticity by now.

The doctor used this metaphor. He said, “It’s like a car that is supposed to get 30 miles to the gallon only getting 12. In the end, the car still gets to where it’s supposed to go, it’s just a whole lot less efficient.” He also said that the reason Taylor looks like she had attention issues is simply because she gives up. The amount of effort she has to put into everything is two to three times what normal kids do. She’s exhausted and quits.

What does this all mean?

Well, I finally believe we have found the answers we have been searching for since we started teaching Taylor to read at three years old.

This is what words can really do at times
to Taylor.  It brought me to tears.

Starting on September 28, Taylor and I will be traveling to LA each Saturday for two sessions of therapy with a small break in between. She has been prescribed 36 sessions, which if we can squeeze into every Saturday would mean we will be this for the next 4.5 months. Moe than likely, it will take 6 months to complete.

It also means a cost of over $5k that there is no guarantee insurance will help with. It’s not an exclusion of our policy, but everything must be deemed medically necessary, and it’s out of network. So, I will submit a super bill after each 12 units, with the hopes that I will get about a third of it back, half if I am fortunate.

Furthermore, it also demonstrates God’s provision once again. Last spring we had two professors leave the university that I adjunct for, and I ended up taking on four unexpected course assignments. I am grateful that these courses will allow us to front the money without touching our budget. It also gives incredible meaning to all the time I put in this summer when I didn’t want to, as well as the now exhausted feeling I have from working two jobs. Every moment of this extra work was and is because God knew the timing of His answers and the provision we needed to get Taylor help.

The Lord continues to watch over us and Taylor. I am so very grateful to know that with therapy, there is an end in sight for Taylor’s most challenging learning struggles. I pray that when this is over I will be able to report back that her skills are completely caught up.

PS We still all take the DMAE and we still love it (from first post).

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