All posts by Mrs. Ferrell

Another Disorder ?!

Another Disorder?!

Well, I know that I am not the sharpest knife in the drawer but let’s face it. new “disorders” are popping up on a regular basis. I want to know why and I am sure you must wonder about it also. I have taught school for a very long time and I just heard of this “disorder” was on the scene now. Ever heard of Sensory Processing Disorder? Never heard of it? You’re in good company. Neither have many pediatricians, neurologists, psychologists and teachers. Some people think that it is just another attention deficit disorder but it is not related to ADD.

In 1972, A. Jean Ayres, a University of Southern California (USC) psychologist and occupational therapist, published the first book on the condition. Here are just a few of the symptoms that she stated: children have low muscle tone and they are mostly lethargic while others are revved up to go all the time; they annoy other children by running and crashing into them; some cannot stand to hear noises; some cannot tolerate the feeling of clothes on their body; some seemed to be clumsy and are called losers, klutz etc; can’t maintain an upright position at a desk; some are so sensitive to touch that they shriek when their fingernails are trimmed or if they get oatmeal on their face. Sounds and smells can be overwhelming.

Here is a link to two different examples of SPD: I found this quite interesting because I have seen children like this in the past. I just thought that they were misbehaving.

Sensory processing (sometimes called “sensory integration” or SI) is a term that refers to the way the nervous system receives messages from the senses and turns them into appropriate motor and behavioral responses. Whether you are biting into a hamburger, riding a bicycle, or reading a book, your successful completion of the activity requires processing sensation or “sensory integration.” The exact cause of Sensory Processing Disorder–like the causes of ADHD and so many other neuro-developmental disorders–has not yet been identified. So what are we supposed to do if we have a child in our classes OR we are a parent of a child with these symptoms? When I was growing up the adults would probably say, “That child just needs a good spanking!” Let’s face. it, a spanking was for all types of out-of-control behavior. However, we knew nothing of how the brain dictated every move we made. Even though research has come a long way many people still, are not understanding that everyone’s brain is “wired” differently.. And along with this, comes frustration for the lack of being able to cope with what is not understood.

On a personal note, one of my best friends, Linda, could not run. When we were outside for recess she would hit the ball but I would take her runs for her. Other kids called her a loser, klutz and all the other related names. She could hit a ball into the next county! {well, almost} When she was in her 30’s, she was diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy. So could she have had SPD? That would be up for debate.

If I had not heard of this until recently, I feel sure you haven’t either. Ask someone to tell you about Sensory Processing Disorder. They probably haven’t heard of it but if you want to be of help to someone, this website will help you in understanding HOW someone can be successfully treated:

Until I find another disorder I have never heard of, I remain…

Janie Miller Ferrell


Written Expression Disorder

Disorder of written expression

What in the world is Disorder of Written Expression?

Actually this is a relatively new term. Back in my early days of teaching it was called developmental expressive writing disorder, This is a learning disability in which a person’s ability to communicate in writing is substantially below the level normally expected based on the individual’s age, intelligence, life experiences, educational background, or physical impairments. This disability affects both the physical reproduction of letters and words and the organization of thoughts and ideas in written compositions.

Disorder of written expression is one of the more poorly understood learning disabilities. Learning disabilities that manifest themselves only in written work were first described in the late 1960s. These early studies described three main types of written disorders:

  • inability to form letters and numbers correctly, also called dysgraphia
  • inability to write words spontaneously or from dictation
  • inability to organize words into meaningful thoughts

There are several difficulties in studying disorder of written expression and in implementing a remedial program. Disorder of written expression usually appears in conjunction with other reading or language disabilities, making it hard to separate manifestations of the disability related only to written expression. Delays in attention, visual-motor integration, visual processing, and expressive language may also contribute to writing disorders. Also, there are no standard tests specifically designed to evaluate disorder of written expression.

What causes this? This answer is astounding. The cause is unknown. Imagine that! . Different manifestations of the disorder may have different causes. For example, people who cannot form letters correctly on the page (dysgraphia) may have delays in hand-eye coordination and difficulties concentrating. People who are unable to write words from memory or dictation appear to have deficits in their visual memory. They cannot remember what the words look like. People who produce legible script but cannot organize their thoughts on paper may be suffering from cognitive processing problems. Because disorder of written expression is a little-studied disorder, specific causes have not yet been determined.

Symptoms that suggest disorder of written expression include:

  • poor or illegible handwriting
  • poorly formed letters or numbers
  • excessive spelling errors
  • excessive punctuation errors
  • excessive grammar errors
  • sentences that lack logical cohesion
  • paragraphs and stories that are missing elements and that do not make sense or lack logical transitions
  • deficient writing skills that significantly impact academic achievement or daily life.

These symptoms must be evaluated in light of the person’s age, intelligence, educational experience, and cultural or life experience. Written expression must be substantially below the level of samples produced by others of the same age, intelligence, and background. Normally, several of the symptoms are present simultaneously.

Several studies have estimated that between 3% and 5% of students have disorder of written expression. However, it is difficult to separate this disorder from other learning disorders. Deficits in written work may be attributed to a reading, language, or attention disorders, limited educational background, or lack of fluency in the language of instruction. Disorder of written expression unassociated with any other learning disability is rare.

To be honest, there are no specific tests to diagnose disorder of written expression. This disorder is not normally diagnosed before age eight because of the variability with which children acquire writing skills. It is most commonly diagnosed in the fourth or fifth grade. Requests for testing usually originate with a teacher or parent who notes multiple symptoms of the disorder in a child’s writing. Several standardized tests accurately reflect spelling abilities, but do not assess other writing skills with the same reliability.

Well, there are no tests, no treatment, no prognosis, no prevention. So what should one do? I would suggest talking to your child’s teacher. If the teacher is unaware of this and just blows it off, tell them to get a life and do some research on the situation so their child can be helped. I can say this in all honesty because I have a 6th grader this year, who has this disorder and I have been doing research on this.



American Psychiatric Association Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.4th ed. text revised. Washington DC: American Psychiatric Association, 2000.

Sadock, Benjamin J. and Virginia A. Sadock, eds. Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry.7th ed. Vol. 2. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, 2000.


American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. P. O. Box 96106, Washington, D.C. 20090. (800) 333-7636. <>.

The Thought Came to Me Recently

The thought came to me recently and it was this. Why do parents pull their children out of public schools and place them in private schools? Also, why are these students from public schools so far behind the private school curricula? I will get into the second question another time.

In considering the main question, why do parents pull their children out and place them in private schools? From what I have seen in 40 years of teaching in private schools, the number one factor seems to be that teachers are mistreating their child. Of course, children have a slanted perspective of how one is supposed to be treated. Parents will believe their children, which is only natural. However, parents should ask for a conference with the teacher to bring things into a manageable perspective. It is always wise for the child to be at this conference also because more than likely the child will admit to their own misgivings.

Then, on the other hand there is mistreatment from teachers from time to time. We hear on the communication air waves, where teachers have sexually assaulted students. Once this teacher is apprehended they are dealt with by the law enforcement system.

Another factor is that parents think that private schools are reform schools. Parents are not fully aware of the fact that if they hide the information about behavioral problems, teachers WILL find out. Teachers might not see that there is a problem until the “honeymoon” time is over and that is when unmanageable behavior sets in. All of the training in the world, as far as psychology, sociology, and other such courses go, do not prepare teachers for what can actually happen in the classroom. The challenges from this unruly behavior will be discussed at another writing.

In closing, I will relate to you, what happened to one of my students three years ago. She was in Pickens County public schools. She was a smart student with impeccable behavior. One day she went to the restroom. There was an older student, who was in the fifth grade. After this girl came out of the stall, the fifth grade girl sexually assaulted this younger girl. To make a lengthy story short, the fifth grader presented a strong case for herself, as she and her parents met with the school authorities. The bottom line is this: the board believed the fifth grader, who said she did no such thing. The younger girl was punished for lying. At that point they call me and we enrolled her and she has been with our school ever since.

Janie Miller Ferrell


Thought # 2

In reference to my previous post on students from public schools being so far behind, once they come to our school, here it is. First of all, many students do not get the one-on-one attention from their teachers so that they can “get it.” I know want to ask why aren’t they placed in “Resource” or “special ed.” Many more students have special needs but the system will not permit classifying students with a handicap because funding is low and they feel like they cannot waste money on these students.

We know about the “dumbing down” of the curricula nation wide through the “School-to-work” program which was implemented several years ago. You have never heard about the school-to-work program? It equates school-to-work with school-for-work–that is, education and training programs in which preparation for work is explicitly a major purpose. Basically, the baccalaureate and advanced degree programs are not discussed here. The focus is on work-preparation programs that serve students in high schools or non-baccalaureate postsecondary institutions or out-of-school youth.

A key element of many, though not all, school-to-work programs is that they combine school and work during the same period of time. This may mean some hours of work each day, some days of work during the week, or some weeks working during the year. Combining school and work serves two purposes. First, it helps young people learn skills and knowledge to qualify for a full-time job in the near future. Second, it gives them the experience of using work to foster their own learning and thus contributes to their capacity for change and continued growth in the longer run.

Now what about the curricula for this program? It is not up to par because it has been weakened or “dumbed down.” Students are asked at an early age, what they want to do in life. They are then placed in this tract and courses will be inflicted upon them so that they have to stay in this same path through high school. One example is this, where a student in the 3rd grade had to make a declaration as to what he wants to do when he finishes high school, he wants to go to college to become an attorney. That is too bad. He has been in this lower tract and he cannot be expected to pass the college entrance exam.

Can you determine the destination of the school-to-work program? We are heading into a socialistic nation. Our forthcoming president is more than glad to carry us all the way into Socialism. In my next post, I will discuss ‘Socialism in a Christian Society.’ In the meantime, how about reading 1984, which was written in 1949, by George Orwell. This book depicts all that we are seeing around us NOW.

Janie Miller Ferrell


Once Upon a time

Once upon a time, there was a weekend that was calm, quiet and restful. That was this past weekend. No pressures. …just relaxing.

Not a lot of people are not on line for chatting because they are trying to get in those last few days of summer  That is as it should be.