{Ask an Advocate} problems at school but not at home

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Today’s question:

My teacher’s son says that he has problem following directions in school. We do not see that at home. He follows house routine very well. He has trouble expressing himself especially when is something a little complicated. What can the school do for him? and what can I do at home to help?

Well, when you filled out my form, you also stated that your son is 6 years old. He’s a relative newbie as far as being in school. The demands at school are much different than the demands at home, especially if you are just 6 and new to it all. The social demands are different, the routine is different….all of it. So it shouldn’t be a surprise to them that behavior at home and school is different.

If you do not have any academic concerns (reading, writing, how he is doing keeping up with his peers) and he is keeping up with the group except for in these areas, I would pursue executive functioning issues. Executive Functioning encompasses the sometimes-hard-to-define skills for kids. When your EF skills are fine, you don’t notice and you take them for granted. But when a kid doesn’t have them, boy is it noticeable! The National Center for Learning Disabilities has a tremendous amount of information on their website about Executive Functioning.

If this is all it is, he’s young enough that you can probably help him develop skills to learn EF and compensate for what doesn’t come naturally for him. You also alluded to some expressive language issues, so maybe you want to have him evaluated for that as well. All of my answers, of course, are based on the few sentences that you’ve written to me. If he has these issues in addition to having an already diagnosed disability and has an IEP, then you just need to request more evaluations and bring it to the IEP team’s attention and get these areas of need added to his IEP.


Good Luck and keep us posted!

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Hi, I'm Lisa, owner and main writer for this site. I live in Chester County, PA with my husband and two boys. I work PT as a Special Education Advocate and Disabilities Consultant, plus I have this blog and a weekly newspaper column. Thanks for reading!


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