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Hi everyone.

 

I am having a hard time deciding how I feel about this issue for my daughter, so wanted to bounce it off of the smartest parents I know :)

 

DD10 has had a rough year pandas-wise.

 

Normally, she is a bright, enthusiastic, anxiety free, school loving kid. She excels academically and loves school. When pandas has hit her, twice now, ocd is her major issue. She has an INTENSE fear of vomiting in public which keeps her from attending school. We do ERP, and work on increasing her time at school, but this year she has done almost half of the year as a homebound student.

 

We moved, and were new to the school system this year. She is in her first year of middle school, fifth grade. All new students start in regular literacy and math, and are moved to honors classes as advised, the following year. She was completely on track to be put in honors- the regular classes do NOT challenge her, and her average is a 98. Her school has been beyond wonderful. They have a homebound program, where here actual classroom teacher comes to our house for an hour a week, tutoring her and giving her the class and homework. At the same time, she attends about 1/3 of the day at school. She keeps up academically with NO issue, although due to some time limitations some of the assignments were skipped or abbreviated. I have lots of support available to her as my dad and his wife are very active, hands-on grandparents who are retired middle school teachers (math and english)- willing to tutor or give extra help when needed (have needed when Math teacher could not make some homebound sessions).

 

DD has a great work ethic, and is very motivated/concerned about grades/ academics. She was not thrilled to be in regular classes this year, and was expecting/ looking forward to being in honors next year.

 

At the onset of pandas, when she had missed a month- I planned to push for her to still be put into honors. But as this has dragged out for almost half of the school year- I expect that honors would be out of the question.

 

One part of me wants to just forget honors- it is 6th grade- I know it has no bearing on her future. The other part of me (maybe the denial part) doesn't want pandas to define her life, and take yet another thing from her (ocd has driven her from her formerly beloved extra curricular activities). I have been trying to push it out of my mind, but ...

 

This morning she mentioned that she was nervous about the standardized tests (today), because they might determine whether she was in honors next year. So her expectation has not changed, even in the face of the reality that she is not actually IN school that much. So I realize that this issue needs to be addressed, with her, and possibly with the school, soon.

 

What do you think?

 

Should I tell dd to forget about honors for next year, it is important to just work on getting to school, etc.

 

Do I ask her what she wants?

 

Do I push the school to offer her at least on honors class, to try?

 

Help!

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can you check out what other types of programs there may be in your area that would be challenging for her that would not be the direct school honors program?

 

JHU (i know!) has a 'center for talented youth' program that if you qualify, you can take honors classes (rather expensive) online and there are family activities(not so bad but a still little pricey) that are exciting field trips. do a google search -- i believe you could nominate her yourself. perhaps a field trip would inspire her to do an in-depth research project.

 

ds9 is in it for verbal. he didn't take the classes this spring but read the books on the reading list that were not books i had heard of and wouldn't have suggested for him.

 

something like that may be able to provided you some structure to challenge her but in a looser manner.

 

there are also "advanced" workbooks you can get at bookstores that are geared to challenging an advanced student but not jumping too far ahead that they don't get it.

 

i am trying to check out listening programs for ds6 and a line of referrals has led me to a tutoring company. i wonder if a tutoring company could be helpful -- usually they're used for those having trouble, but i wonder if they may be able to provide something for you - ?

 

i know not really what you're looking for, but just some other ideas to help her stay challenged.

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Hi DCMom --

 

Our middle school doesn't call its program "honors," but it does have "advanced" math, as well as a "gifted" pull-out program. Like your DD, our DS, out of exacerbation, displays great intellectual abilities and a grasp of complex ideas. Even in exacerbation, as I think you're indicating your DD does, as well, when he can move past the OCD doubt and perfectionism, his intelligence is on bright display. And, yes, these kids seem to have a great work ethic and a drive to be seen by their teachers and their classmates as bright, capable and "good."

 

One of the best ever 504/IEP accommodations we were able to get into writing for our DS, thanks to his gifted teacher, reads as follows: "Assignments modified for length, not for content." I.e., because he's capable of understanding at a certain level, just because his output may be slower or more restrained due to OCD, he's not to be penalized for it. He's only worse when he's not challenged, because then he really thinks, "What's the point?" and has trouble being motivated to push past the doubt and perfectionism in order to demonstrate his grasp of the material.

 

I would push for the honors classes or whatever level your DD is intellectually capable of undertaking, and then continue to expect that assignments, assessments, etc. be properly modified for her. She shouldn't be bored and/or held back because of her homebound status or any other condition. She's entitled to be engaged and challenged, to have her mind and perspectives broadened, no matter where she's undertaking the work or whether or not she can complete 5 questions correctly versus 10 in a given time period.

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Hard call...

 

I'm thinking if my family were in a similar situation, I would probably try to find out what my PANDAS child wanted and expected (assuming she was at a point where she could really know and tell me)

 

I would make sure she is aware of the realistic demands that being in an accelerated program has, and then I would probably follow her lead and let her have most of the power in this decision.

 

I think it really would depend on a couple of factors about the program. If she started in accelerated classes, and found it too difficult, would they be willing to move her to regular classes? Is there only one shot in getting into the classes or is there a chance that she could join these classes at a later date?

 

This is such a hard call...I would also talk to your family who have been helping her a lot. I'm sure they have some insight.

 

Good Luck!

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DS is completing his first year in HS in a very competitive school with fancy advanced classes. Before the current flare, we had pushed him to get into the school even though we knew it would be a stretch for him, and we were really happy he got in. Imagine our horror when he started bringing home 70s and launched into major OCD that refused to let him start any homework or test because he might get one wrong (and the school, although listening sympathetically, had written in large letters in their eyes "JUST ANOTHER PARENT WHO IS UPSET THAT THEIR CHILD ISN'T GETTING INTO HARVARD.") Lot of crying went on this year...

 

Nonetheless, I say get her into the honors program. Here is my reasoning: If she is anything like DS, one of the cores of her self esteem is being a smart kid. The fact that she can't produce sometimes doesn't change her appetite for learning, nor her enjoyment (when she can do it) of the competition of understanding. We thought pretty hard about getting DS into a less demanding high school, but we decided that 1)We have to believe that PANDAS (at least in its virulent form) is not forever and when it lets up, DS can astonish everyone with his resurgence. and 2) He would probably do worse in a less demanding school because he wouldn't have the stimulation and competition that he really enjoys, so he would take even longer with homework, even if there was less, and would study less because he wouldn't care. Stress is not all bad

 

I know this is long, but one final thought. We have been struggling with the OCD, and even though we know better, we initially fell into the trap of sort of keeping DS coasting along by doing the busy work part of his assignments. This was a really terrible mistake because then it became our homework, not his. So if you do go ahead with the accelerated class, make sure she is the one asking for help or shortening of assignments or whatever. OCD or not, the work is hers and the only way she will have incentive to beat back the OCD is if she is the one in charge. (I know everyone on this board already knows and practices this, but it is amazing how easy it was for us to fall into...) Whatever you decide, it sounds like she will have a really great team working with her!

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Here's my thought, don't push on the standardized tests for now since it's causing worry. Apply no pressure. And if the scores don't reflect honors, then it seems like you have good evidence to fight for placement. If they do, and they probably will, then that's great. I should disclose that I think basing any decision of an individual student's academic future on a standardized test is ridiculous. I home school now, but last year when my kid was in kindergarten, his school had a song they taught to all grades that was about the cumulative achievement score the school was trying to reach. I thought that was disgusting.

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I would advocate for honors. Sometimes guidance counselors and teachers make the decision more on perceived maturity rather than academic ability and innate intelligence. My son was left out of Latin in 7th grade for that reason...I had to force the issue. It was an uphill battle with the admins, but they yielded... He spent his senior year of high school in a total immersion program in France, is now fluent in French and halfway there in Italian. My point is that you know your child and what she can achieve. She obviously takes pride in her academic abilities. It probably gives her confidence knowing that she is a smart kid, even in the face of all this. Worse case scenario you could always home-school or bring in a tutor...she'd learn the same material in about 1/3 of the time.

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She obviously thrives on challenging materials, and she KNOWS she'll do better in the honors class, so I would push for that. But, I would not get her hopes up too much, just in case. That is a lot of pressure for her to think the test will determine her placement... does it really work that way? I would talk to the teacher or whoever at the school and see what happens.

 

The other day I saw this quote (can't remember the exact words): "things turn out the best for those who make the best of how things turn out". So, if she doesn't make the honors class (and really, it would not be that she didn't "make" it, she and you know she is smart enough but PANDAS is getting in the way), try to make the best of it and find other ways to challenge her at home. Maybe this will be an extra incentive for her to work on her ERP (although we know there is only so much they can do to help themselves :( )

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My school allowed me to stay in honors classes even when I was on homebound etc. It would have really killed me to give those up, honestly. My academics were such a big part of my life and it was such a big part of my self-confidence to say that I was smart enough to be in those classes. Sometimes I couldn't do work in the time they alloted...we worked it out. That definitely wasn't a reason to let it go. If you're worried about the added stress of an advanced curriculum, I just want to say that what might stress her out more if feeling like she's been demoted. And honestly, in my experience, honors classes are usually "easier" as in they give less busy work. So being in those classes might be lessening the work load for her. The advanced part usually comes with delving into topics a little more deeply than the regular classes and not necessarily in doing more work on paper. So if she's doing alright grasping concepts she might do better in this than in a regular class.

 

Also, staying in my honors classes allowed me to have a connection with my friends even while I was at home. We were reading the same books, learning some of the same stuff. It definitely would have cut me off even more from them if we lost that thing in common.

 

Honestly, and this is just from my experience (but as I was in high school just a couple years ago I like to think it's worth something :D) you've got to educate at your level. If her level is honors out of exacerbation, educate her at honors. It really is just as hard to be working down a level as it is to be working up a level. If she ends up struggling in honors, she probably would be struggling in the regular class to (by this I mean, if she's struggling because she's not physically in school, it will hurt her performance in both classes, regardless of their level). Why not put her in the class she wants to be in, that she might enjoy more and get more out of when she can be there? You can't measure the knowledge you gain from an experience--only the homework you can do based on it. Being in a great class might be setting her up for later on. She'll see how it works, she'll definitely learn stuff while she's there, and you can't beat the confidence it inspires.

 

Again, this is all just from my experience, but I wanted to add it on to this thread because this was such a hard decision for me too at the time. I'm so sorry your smart girl is going through this! I hope she ends up where she can be most successful.

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My two Pandas kids are older and have been there. One qualified easily for honors because of test scores one was not recommended. In our school district you as a parent can ask(demand) that your child be in honors if you feel they should be. I wanted mine in honors more for the classroom environment. Honors classes are typically easier learning environments. The kids in honors are usually less discipline problems which causes less distractions. My kids are ADD and needed less distractions. This also leaves the teacher more time to work individually with students as needed. I would find out if she even needs to take this test and just put her in which classes you feel is best for her. My theory was If they couldn't handle it I could always take them out. It worked out best and they continued to stay in honors through high school.

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