Home » Chapter 8: Case Study 2 » Reason for Referral

Reason for Referral

Robbie is a 4th grader in Mr. Sweeney’s class. He was referred to the Student Study team by his father and Mr. Sweeney. They were both concerned with the increasing anxiety Robbie’ s exhibiting in class and at home. Robbie often does not want to go to school. He often comes home from school in tears reporting that school is too hard. In the past, Robbie has been a solid student. He has always been a hard worker and liked attending school.

When Robbie was in 3rd grade, Robbie’s father, Mr. Vern, had some concerns regarding his son. This year, Robbie’s frustration and school avoidance has resulted in a consultation with Dr. Stevens, a child psychologist, in February 2007. Dr. Stevens met with Robbie and gave him a psychological assessment. She indicated that Robbie might have Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. The following month in March, a physician later diagnosed Robbie with Alcohol- Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder. Mr. Vern feels that it is important for the staff to understand ARND in order to provide a successful educational environment for Robbie. Ms. Pankin, the Director of Special Education for the district, has recently presented an after school workshop for the staff at Baker Elementary on FASD. Ms. Pankin’s presentation was well- received by the staff. Effective teaching techniques and educational strategies for students with FASD (which includes ARND) are reflected in this IEP.

Mr. Sweeney describes Robbie as a likeable student. Mr. Sweeney believes Robbie wants to do his best; however, Robbie seems forgetful at times and does not always pay attention. Mr. Sweeney views Robbie as an inconsistent learner; he knows something one day and another day he can’t seem to remember what he learned previously. Reading comprehension is weak and his written language production is below grade level. Mr. Sweeney is concerned with Robbie’s poor organizational skills especially evidenced when he switches classes for mathematics. Robbie needs peer and adult cues to help remind him to bring his math materials to class.

Ms. Kazan, Robbie’s math teacher, indicates that Robbie is a capable student. However, at times math does seem stressful for Robbie. On occasion he has bitten his pencil and eraser and torn papers from pressing down too hard on his pencil. Ms. Kazan’s academic concerns are in the areas of problem solving, long division, and telling time.

The Student Study Team suggested Robbie receive an educational evaluation and a psychological assessment to profile his learning strengths and areas of concern.

Strengths & Needs

Dr. Stevens, Child Psychologist, Reports:

Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder (ARND) is a hidden disorder. Robbie does not show any of the physical characteristics present in Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). He does not show abnormal facial features, or have a small head, or short stature. Robbie does have some mild learning and behavioral difficulties that are typical of ARND. His IQ score is at the high end of average. Neuropsychological measures indicate memory deficits, distractibility, and weak abstract reasoning. Sequential skills were weak, and he demonstrated a haphazard approach to some tasks. The cognitive difficulties Robbie is experiencing are greater than would be assumed by solely looking at his IQ.

As expressed in his psychological assessment and demonstrated in the classroom, Robbie has been anxious about school. Robbie describes feeling “stupid, because no matter how hard I try, I make a lot of mistakes. I’m letting my dad and my teachers down.”

Two weeks ago, Mr. Vern, Robbie, and I sat down to discuss ARND. Robbie was relieved to learn about ARND and realized that his difficulties weren’t all his fault. He responded, “Oh, so that’s it! I didn’t do anything wrong.”

Ms. Lundgren, Resource Specialist, Reports:

Robbie has many educational strengths. Robbie enjoys reading and does read for pleasure. His overall reading is at grade level, 4.9 grade equivalent. His reading decoding is above grade level, and he has a good vocabulary. His reading comprehension scores are 1.5 years below his decoding scores. Literal comprehension is strong; inferential comprehension is more difficult for Robbie.

In written language, Robbie tests at grade level in spelling. When given individual picture prompts, Robbie is able to write complete sentences at a beginning 5th grade level. When asked to write a composition, given a picture prompt, Robbie’s written language scores fall to the mid 3rd grade level. He started off with a topic sentence and then his thoughts rambled. He never completed the task. Robbie was biting his pencil throughout this subtest.

Mathematics has always been a strong area for Robbie, and he is scoring at grade level. His standardized scores are at the 50th, lower than last year’s state achievement scores, which were at the 72nd percentile. Robbie worked slowly on the mathematics subtests. He guessed on several word problems, frequently asking if he was proceeding correctly. He is able to do simple division, but he becomes confused with the process of long division. Telling time was a particularly weak skill.

Ms. Freemire, School Psychologist, Reports:

Robbie has been identified as having one of the FASD called ARND. Psychological and educational testing indicate that Robbie’s IQ is an above average IQ. However, ARND causes behavioral and cognitive impairments.

Some of the learning issues Robbie has that have been identified with ARND are:

  • Difficulty with abstract concepts
  • Memory deficits
  • Attentional issues
  • Difficulty with transitions

Some of the behavioral issues Robbie has exhibited in class can be explained by his ARND disorder:

  • Attention seeking may be due to an inability to understand
  • Incomplete schoolwork or homework may be due to memory deficits

IEP Goals:

Area: Reading Comprehension

Reading decoding scores are at grade level. Reading comprehension scores are at a 3.5 grade level. Robbie is having particular difficulty understanding the main idea, the author’s point of view, and drawing conclusions and inferences when facts are not stated directly.

Effective Strategies:

Robbie’s reading comprehension is strengthened when a teacher provides the chapter review and chapter questions before the reading assignment has begun.

Long Term Goal: Robbie will increase his reading comprehension skills to a beginning 5th grade level.

Short Term Goals:

1. Given five short stories at the 3.5 grade Robbie identify the main idea with 80% accuracy.
2. Given a short chapter book at the 4.0 grade level, Robbie will answer 5 inferential questions with 80% accuracy.
3. Given a short reading assignment at the 4.5 grade level, Robbie will identify the author’s point of view 3 out of 4 times.
4. Given a short novel at the 5.0 grade level, Robbie will orally summarize each chapter accurately as measured by the teacher.
5. After completing the novel in #4, Robbie will answer 10 comprehension questions including literal, inferential, and the author’s message with 80% accuracy.

Strategies and Resources:

1. Reduce distractions. Highlight important information. Use contextual clues. Use a visualizing/verbalizing technique. Use praise.
2. Use above strategies and pre-read chapter review and questions.
3. Use above strategies for 1 & 2 and give multiple choice answers.
4. Use strategies for 1 & 2. Books on tape
5. Use all the above strategies including some multiple choice answer.

Area: Written Language

Robbie has a good vocabulary and is very imaginative. He is able to write in complete sentences. Paragraph writing is laborious for Robbie. While Robbie starts off with a strong beginning, he has difficulty sequencing his story properly. His story becomes jumbled, and he gets off track.

Effective Strategies:

When Robbie dictates a paragraph to the teacher, he is better able to stay in sequence and remain with the topic.
Picture cues stimulate ideas and assist Robbie in staying on topic.

Long Term Goal: Robbie will write a beginning 4th grade level paragraph essay.

Short Term Goals:

1. Given a topic, Robbie will independently use brainstorming and thought mapping 3 out of 4 times.
2. Given 4 situations, Robbie will write step-by-step directions (e.g. recipe, brusing teeth) with the proper sequence 75% of the time.
3. Robbie will chose a topic and write a paragraph, including a topic sentence, supporting sentences, and a conclusion as noted by the teacher.
4. Robbie will choose a topic and write a 3 paragraph essay as noted by the teacher.

Strategies and Resources: For All:

Find a quiet space to work.
Provide picture cues.
Provide practice.
Provide topics of interest.
Reinforce and praise.

1. Provide sample thought maps. Provide sample brainstorming/ inspirations.
2. Provide a sample sets of directions. Follow directions, does it work? Draw pictures for each step.
3. Use word processing. Brainstorm/inspirations
Thought mapping
Draw 4 pictures and write captions underneath.
Write a skeleton/outline. Allow extra time.
Use a tape recorder..
4. See #3 above. Model, practice and provide samples.

Area: Mathematics

Robbie is testing slightly below grade level on the educational assessment he was given (4.3 GE). His standardized test score for 4th grade is at the 50th percentile. Strongest for Robbie is his ability to add and subtract, including regrouping for both operations. Robbie also knows his math facts for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.

Word problems are difficult for Robbie to solve, and at times, he becomes confused by extraneous wording. When word problems involve more than 1 step, Robbie isn’t certain which operation to use or where to begin. About 50% of the time Robbie is able to correctly complete a long division problem. When Robbie does make long division errors, they are sequential in nature. Robbie’s weakest math skill is telling time.

Effective Strategies:

  • When a new concept is introduced, Robbie receives 1:1 assistance.
  • Robbie benefits from an example of long division broken up in steps.
  • When Robbie, with the teacher’s assistance, draws a word problem picture, he is more likely to solve the word problem correctly.
  • Robbie wears a digital watch.
  • In certain areas Robbie needs to be given modified math assignments.
  • Testing may require extended time.

Long Term Goal: Robbie will gain 1 1/2 years of growth in mathematics.

1. Given 5 long division problems with a single digit divisor and a 3 or 4 digit dividend, Robbie will compute with 80% accuracy or higher.
2. Given 4 word problems at a mid-4th grade level that require a one-step process, Robbie will identify the key words that indicate the mathematical operation with 100% accuracy.
3. Given 4 word problems at a 5.0 grade level that require a two-step process, Robbie will analyze aloud the steps required to solve the word problem with 75% accuracy.
4. Given 4 word problems at mid 5th grade level that require a two-step process Robbie will restate the word problem in his own words and compute with 75% accuracy.
5. Robbie will match a linear clock with a face clock and digital clock/watch 4x during the day, and tell time.

Strategies and Resources:

1. Find a quiet place to work.
Use long division process cards.
Allow extra time.
Use graph paper.
Include a few problems on a page.
Practice by working the 1st long division problem of the day with Robbie.
Use real-life situations (e.g. money).
Use a calculator to practice division and check answers.
Use reinforcement & praise.
Find a quiet place to work.
Allow extra time.
Include a few problems on a page.
Discuss and provide key words required operations.
Use real life situations.
Create concrete representations of the word problems.
Allow use of a calculator.
Provide a number line to use as a
5. Linear clock with key events
Maniupulative face clock
Digital clock/watch accuracy

Area: Homework And Class Assignments

Effective Strategies:

  • Communication with parents is helpful.

Long Term Goal: Robbie will complete and hand in 90% of his assignments.

Short Term Goals:

1. Given 10 assignments, Robbie will ask for help if he needs it 90% of the time.
2. Robbie will turn in completed homework and class assignments 90% of the time.

Strategies and Resources: For All:

Provide short, successful assignments.
Provide enough time.
Have Robbie work in a quiet area.
Ask Robbie to explain the assignment to demonstrate understanding.
Provide written and oral instructions.
Develop self-talk strategies to organize and complete the assignment.
Reinforce and praise.
2. Assign a peer to remind Robbie to turn in completed work.
Establish a time to turn in completed homework (before school begins).
Set up homework and class bins to put completed assignments.
Create a daily assignment sheet.
Provide a homework sheet/notebook that requires a parent signature.
Put homework assignments on line.

Area: Transitions

Effective Strategies:

  • Peer or buddy helpers reminding Robbie that math class is approaching have been beneficial.
  • Letting Robbie know ahead of time if there is going to be a disruption to the schedule (teacher’s absence, assembly, etc.).
  • Communication with Robbie’s father is helpful if there’s a big change of any sort.

Long Term Goal: Robbie will transition from one class to the next with greater success.

Short Term Goals:

1. Robbie will be on time and come prepared for class 95% of the time.

Strategies and Resources:

1. Set up a transition time.
Provide a peer or buddy to remind about the transition.
Provide cues and assistance.
Offer rehearsals.
Limit transitions.
Have 1 set of books in 2nd class.
Have 1 color-coded notebook for all subjects.
Provide consistency and routine.

Area: Attention

Robbie is less attentive when he finds the subject matter of an assignment difficult or if it does not interest him. He is easily distracted. He sometimes withdraws, looks out the window, and seems to be in his own world. He does not know directions to some of the assignments.

Effective Strategies:

  • Robbie is most focused when he sits close to the teacher.
  • Robbie is focused and attentive in science class.

Long Term Goal: Robbie will increase his attention span.

Short Term Goals:

1. Robbie will increase his time on independent assignments as noted by the teacher.
2. Robbie will increase his participation in class lessons as noted by the teacher.

Strategies and Resources:

1. Provide enough time.
Use of quiet study space to reduce
Provide brief and successful assignments.
2. Pair verbal lessons with visuals.
Provide multi-sensory teaching techniques.
Periodically ensure understanding.
Decrease distractions.
Reinforce and praise.

Team Recommendations:

The team recommends that Robbie continue in the regular education classes. Next year in 5th grade, Robbie should stay with his core teacher for all subjects including math. Thus, math transition will be eliminated. He will receive assistance from the Resource Specialist in a variety of ways. The Resource Specialist will consult with Robbie’s core teacher. The Resource Specialist can serve Robbie in the regular education class. He will also receive pull-out services from the Resource Specialist as needed. The last period of the day will be spent in the Resource Room to work on IEP goals, review assignments, and work on homework.