Testing for giftedness/high-functioning autism?
My 10y/o son is a bright, quirky guy. He likes to talk about the philosophy of prisons, politics, chemistry, and nuclear power. He has no friends at school, and has experienced significant bullying over the past few years (which the school is trying to address). He's only really made two friends ever, though has other kids that he plays quite well with and considers friends among children of family friends and neighbors. He has inattentive ADHD, used medication for 3-4 years on school days, but has been off for a couple months with some decrease in focus and organization but nothing extreme. He has an IEP for support around writing (both mechanics and organization) and previously for general academic support, though he no longer seems to need that. He also had a half hour/week of social skills group at school which he hated and I'm not sure really helped him much. As part of his IEP testing they've thrown in a little testing for autism, but he never quite fits the profile. His cognitive testing in the IEP evaluations always comes out average or somewhat above, but everyone who knows him (including friends/family who are educators) thinks he's a lot brighter than that. We've never shelled out for any kind of comprehensive private testing, and I'm not sure what it would do for him if we did. We already know he has social challenges, and picked a middle school with that very much in mind. We already have some pretty interesting dinner table conversations about whatever his interest/obsession of the moment is. He already gets support in school around some of his weak areas. Would we gain much of value by doing more testing to see if we can find the right labels to describe who he is? And if so, any recommendations about people or places to do the testing?
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I was wondering if you've heard about Crestmont, a K-8 School? It's a mainstream school, but very much able to embrace and support a multiplicity of kids and learning styles. Classes are small and there's just one classroom for the middle school students. Bullying isn't allowed and there are weekly classes in emotional/social development. There are some kids in the class with LD's and other differences like autism and they are fully integrated into the classroom. I don't know if there are any places available in the middle school for next year.
Highly recommend Carina Grandison for testing -- one of the top testers in the area who trains therapists -- 510-704-1820, carinagrandison [at] hotmail.com.
Here's some more info --
Crestmont School is still offering tours and accepting applications!
Looking for a community-based, progressive school environment that uses a hands-on, project-oriented approach? Crestmont School is a unique co-operative K-8 school located in the scenic Richmond/El Cerrito hills. It was founded in 1969 with the goal of encouraging curiosity, critical thinking, and a desire for social justice, while emphasizing community spirit and academic excellence for all children. Originally an elementary school, Crestmont now also provides an innovative middle school curriculum and supportive social environment for our growing children.
We want Crestmont students to love school and feel enthusiastic and proud of their wonderful and unique sets of skills and talents. In all subject areas, we encourage spontaneity, investigation, creativity, and fun. We’re committed to nurturing our children’s compassion, sense of community, and love of learning.
Please come tour the school, meet our faculty and staff, and learn about Crestmont School’s innovative curriculum and the unique benefits of our modern co-op structure and special community!
Our final tour of the application season is Wednesday, February 27, 2019 at 9:30am. Our "late bird" application deadline is March 6, 2019. Please email us if you have any questions or need to schedule an alternate tour time!
For details and to sign up, please visit: https://www.crestmontschool.org/apply/tour/
I am the parent of two 2E kids both of who have been tested. I generally say that testing for Gifted/2E kids isn't necessary if you have a workable educational situation, and know that it won't change what you are doing for your child in terms of services. Unless your middle school option is gifted/2E specific, I suggest you do it anyway. You suspect that he's much brighter than educational testing has show, it's sounds like he's got a complicated educational profile. Gifted kids are often misdiagnosed with ADHD and even when they do have it characteristics of giftedness can exacerbate it in a typical classroom setting. We had theories about both our kids and were off on both. We thought our eldest had auditory processing difficulties and ADHD. Wrong. We thought our youngest was gifted without his sibs LDs. Wrong. Having evaluations changed how we understand them and how we help them. We ad both our kids evaluated at Summit Center. I recommend them highly, they get quirky bright kids. Even just having a look at their website, which has some really helpful videos, might put some of your concerns in perspective.
Summit Center in Walnut Creek
Hi! It sounds like you are doing some wonderful things to support your kid. I'm a teacher and a parent, and I think in your situation I would go for it and get more testing, even though I know it is incredibly expensive for your family and pretty exhausting for your kid. Comprehensive testing would help you understand if his social challenges might be rooted in specific things such as speed of processing and producing speech, sequencing events, interpreting implicit rules, etc. One thing that's been helpful for me as a teacher when I have this information is that it leads to some more specific strategies. I've also seen that around the tween/teen age, it becomes important for kids to be able to express to their peers what is different about them and own it with pride, so getting a more clear diagnosis that you can explain to your son could help him advocate for himself and avoid getting ashamed of his differences. One unconventional way to go about social skills development that I've seen work for a kid with a similar set of challenges was to go into theater. Theater is all about exaggerating the ways people communicate, and it requires a lot of focus and attention training in a very active, fast-paced setting that can be an easier place to practice focusing than a sit-down classroom. The right theater class could be a great after school community and skill-building activity for him. Good luck to you and your son!
UC has sliding scale testing. We used it a few times, and the reports were useful, and zeroed in on the specific areas of LD and giftedness -- though we weren't primarily testing because of that.
It was empowering for our kid to find out he is smart but has slow processing speed and executive function problems. He was sad about not being able to get work done in a reasonable amount of time, and falling behind. For him it felt good to know he is not lazy or stupid. Just having the explanation of how his brain works made a difference. We used Carina Grandson for the evaluation. She is very warm and experienced, as well as smart and caring, and we and our child had a good experience.