Sunday, March 17, 2013

Aspergers and Extended Time on ACT or SAT

If you are a parent of a student with autism or aspergers, a student with a learning disability of any kind, and/or a student with ADD, APPLY FOR EXTENDED TIME FOR THE ACT IN SOPHOMORE YEAR!!!

We are learning this the hard way.

Our son's high school advisor did all the necessary work to apply for extended time for his SAT test.  All I had to do was sign the thing.  Viola, a few weeks later, he received extended time, as he should have.  I thought this was just the way things were done.

Having heard that the ACT was a better test for kids with math/science interests, I began the application process for extended time on that test.  There was a lot more involved in the application process.  I provided a copy of his diagnosis from when he was four years old, as well as other documentation.  I sent the application back to our son's advisor/counselor for her to sign, and she sent the application on it's way to the ACT people.

This weekend, we got the rejection letter.

Apparently, over recent years, it has been the practice of wealthy parents to get a neuropsych exam done on their children to prove that their child has ADD, therefore receiving extended time on the ACT.  They then get the extra time WHEN THEY DON'T ACTUALLY NEED IT.

I had no idea, until now, that this was even a problem.

I've been doing a lot of research online about other people who have run into this problem (and apparently there are A LOT of us out there), and from what I can see, this is what we need to appeal the rejection of extended time on the ACT:

1.  A neuropsych evaluation -- with data that proves the student has a disability that affects their ability to do standardized tests in a timely manner
2.  Reports from their teachers specifically stating that the student actually USES extended time for tests -- preferably within the past year.
3.  Report from a special ed/resource teacher that verifies that the student needs extended time on standardized tests
4.  Possibly sending in something like a PSAT where the student DID NOT have extended time, showing a lower-than-average result (we have this).
5.  IEP's from elementary school and throughout the years proving a long-standing disability
6.  Diagnostic testing
7.  Basically, proof has to be made that there is daily impairment:

Under the ADA model, to get accommodation a student must demonstrate how his/her daily academic functioning is impaired. This is the new gold standard: evidence of functional impairment. According to the ADA, what may be a relative weakness may not indicate a true disability. Under this new ADA model, requests for accommodation for attention deficit disorders and many other types of disabilities are being denied left and right.  (

From what I can tell, the most important thing is to be able to prove that your son or daughter has needed extended time on tests WITHIN THE LAST 12 MONTHS prior to taking the ACT.

This should be a warning call to any parents who are thinking that they should avoid special accommodations for standardized tests for their children.  You need those special accommodations, because without proof of using them, the ACT testing people can deny your child access to extended time on their test.

It would appear that denying extended time on the first application is standard.  Then, even with appeals, it seems that THREE APPEALS is the average needed to receive the accommodations for your student.  UGH.  There is the temptation to give up on this, which is exactly what the ACT people are hoping for.  My reasoning for NOT giving up, at least for now, is:

1)  This just bugs me.  I cannot believe that I am having to PROVE that my son has a disability, and that with all of his struggles, we have to FIGHT to get extended time on a college entrance exam, when he has already received extended time on a similar college entrance exam.
2)  The ACT has a history of being better at measuring math/science proclivities.  I have also read that this test may more accurately measure things students have been learning more recently in their high school experience.  Also, I thought that I have read that the ACT just seems to produce a better result for LD kids.
3)  If my son's ACT score is better than his SAT score (which is pretty average, or lower than average), then we can just submit that score instead of his SAT score.

I am really hoping that by writing this post, I can save some other people the trouble of finding out what is needed for an ACT extended time approval too late.  

The moral of this story is DON'T WAIT to apply for extended time.  Make your application during sophomore year, and document LIKE CRAZY the multiple situations in which your child has needed/used extended time for their standardized, and their regular, tests.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Mothers exhaustion and Aspergers

I've been spending some time reading the comments section to the post I wrote about mothers and depression when dealing with Aspergers.  I marvel at what we mothers deal with, and the fortitude that is required to keep doing the work that we must do to support our children.

I have a funny feeling that if we were able to get a group of women together who have children on the spectrum, we would all look very tired.  We might look ten years older than our peers of the same age.  We might not be as stylishly dressed as others -- because our spare income goes for therapy, or social skills classes, or even just for nice clothes for our children to make up for their lack of social skills.  We don't have time to be stylishly dressed, or to wear much makeup.  We have a job to do.  A job that others never even have to worry about.

Only another mother of a child on the spectrum understands that you spend almost EVERY WAKING HOUR wondering what you could be doing to improve your child's chances.  Every waking hour is spent reading books about autism or aspergers.  Every waking hour is spent dealing with teachers or therapists or psych people of many persuasions.  As the children age, every waking hour is spent checking their grades, checking teacher's websites, making sure that you catch the fact that the child has forgotten a test, forgotten a paper, forgotten a project.  Every waking hour is spent feeling a sort of pervasive sadness that your child isn't asked to a party, that your child isn't involved in a sports team, that your child doesn't even think to invite a friend over.

It gets pretty overwhelming, doesn't it?

Trouble is, this isn't helpful.  Sure, reading the books helps, because you need to understand the situation you're in.  BUT, after a while, you learn that you can't physically take in any more information.  You've become saturated on the topic of autism, and you shouldn't take in any more data or your head will explode.  YOU MUST READ OTHER BOOKS THAT BRING YOU HAPPINESS.

Sometimes we go to support groups, to hear from others which school is the best school, what is the best program, who is the right "expert" to see in the hopes of learning something new.  As great as these support groups are, again, one becomes saturated with all things autistic.  YOU MUST MAKE OTHER FRIENDS UNRELATED TO AUTISM.  It is frustrating, because sometimes these friends don't understand what you're going through.  But the very fact that they don't deal with what you deal with on an daily basis can be liberating.  You'll find that all of us have our difficulties with life -- and though we don't have the same difficulties, we still all have to find a way to get through the hard times and come out the other side in tact.  Friends outside of autism are helpful -- going to dinner or lunch with them provides laughter, and a chance to see how the other side lives.

Do you ever look at your child and think "if only we didn't have to bother with school, we could all be happy"?  I think this a lot.  When taken out of the school context, I really adore my son.  He has so many wonderful qualities.  He's funny, he's charming, he's more sensitive to my needs than my other children.  He's good looking, he's beautiful, he's easy to be around.  Yes, sometimes we don't get his jokes completely because he thinks we can read his mind -- that's ok, when the situation is separated from other people.  Eventually he'll explain his joke, and ya know what?  It's pretty dang funny.

SCHOOL IS TEMPORARY.  Eventually, your child will be out of school.  Yes, real life has it's pressures as well, but social pressures will never be as hard as they are in school.  I've come to realize that at some point, my son will either have a life of his own, or he will be with us permanently -- and either way, life will become routine and will calm down.  It may even be enjoyable.  There will be future happiness there.  Let's repeat that.  THERE WILL BE FUTURE HAPPINESS THERE.  It may not be what I had hoped for, or even what I think my son is possibly capable of -- but eventually, we won't have to work as hard, and eventually, the routine and the calmness of regular life will be a sort of happiness.

THAT'S what we are all working toward.  Let's not be so hard on ourselves.  We parents deserve a break.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Hit Counters