A Parent’s Guide to Effective Instruction

Reading problems are the most common type of academic underachievement. Especially for students with dyslexia, learning to read and write can be exceedingly difficult. Dyslexia and related reading and language difficulties are the result of neurobiological variations, but they can be treated with effective instruction.

Effective instruction is instruction that is tied to student needs, as determined by diagnostic testing and evaluation. It is instruction delivered by knowledgeable and skilled individuals in a step-by-step fashion that leads to the achievement of desired outcomes or goals by targeting a student’s relative strengths and strengthening his or her relative weaknesses. Effective instruction also requires the ongoing monitoring of student progress to determine the ultimate course and duration of the instruction.

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Positive Emotions: Helping a Teen with LD Cope Better with Stress

With mounds of homework, looming SAT tests, and worries about the future – being a teen in today’s world can be incredibly stressful. Add a learning disability (LD) to the mix, and you’ve no doubt witnessed your fair share of short fuses. You can’t eliminate stress altogether for your teen – nor would you want to. But when stress is taking too high a toll, what’s the answer?

A growing body of research shows that instilling positive emotions, such as gratitude, hope, awe, and compassion, can make a big difference. Not only can it counteract the fight-or-flight stress response and improve well being, but it may also enhance the goals of traditional classroom learning.

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Excerpts from the Texas Dyslexia Handbook

Chuck Noe, PRN Education Specialist, shares excerpts of interest from the Texas Dyslexia Handbook (available online at https://www.region10.org/r10website/assets/File/DHBwithtabs10214.pdf)

“Texas has a long history of supporting the fundamental skill of reading. This history includes a focus on early identification and intervention for children who experience reading difficulties, including dyslexia.” and determining a student’s reading and spelling abilities and difficulties “In Texas, assessment for dyslexia is conducted from kindergarten through grade 12.”(page 6)

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5 Common Techniques for Helping Struggling Students

Teachers know that students walk into their classrooms with a wide range of abilities. But teachers try to find ways to meet the needs of all students, including those with learning and attention issues. Here are five common teaching methods.

1. Differentiated Instruction

With this approach, teachers change and switch around what students need to learn, how they’ll learn it, and how to get the material across to them. When a student struggles in one area, the teacher creates a plan that includes extra practice, step-by-step directions, and special homework. Find out more about differentiated instruction.
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Identifying Struggling Students

Early and accurate identification of learning disabilities and ADHD in schools can set struggling students on a path for success. But identification can be influenced by many factors—and too often is not happening early enough.

Not all children with learning and attention issues are identified in school as having a disability.

Students who are identified by schools as having a disability may qualify for one of two types of assistance. An Individualized Education Program (IEP) provides specially designed instruction, accommodations, modifications and related services such as speech-language therapy to students who qualify for special education. A 504 plan provides accommodations and related services to general education students who are identified with a disability but who do not need special education.

Students with IEPs or 504 plans are protected from discrimination. Schools are also required to report certain data on students who are identified as having disabilities, such as how many repeat a grade, receive out-of-school suspensions or graduate on time.

But many of the 1 in 5 children with learning and attention issues are not formally identified with a disability. When these children receive the right interventions and informal supports, many can succeed in general education. Without enough support, however, children with unidentified disabilities may not reach their full potential and risk falling behind and having to repeat a grade. This could lead to other problems, including dislike of school, absenteeism and dropping out.

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Advice for Parents of Kids With Learning Disabilities

Was your child recently diagnosed with a learning or attention issue, like dyslexia or ADHD? Would you like some advice from parents who are farther along in the journey?

As part of Understood.org’s Real Parents, Tough Topics series, Understood has brought together four parents of kids with learning and attention issues. Watch their conversation as they each share “What I wish I’d known sooner” about their children’s issues, working with schools and more.

Understanding Dysgraphia

This article from Erica Patino and Understood.org will help you understand what dysgraphia is, which skills are affected by dysgraphia, how dysgraphia is diagnosed, conditions related to dysgraphia, and how you can help your child.

You probably hear a lot about learning and attention issues like dyslexia and ADHD. But chances are you don’t hear much about dysgraphia. If your child has trouble expressing himself in writing, you may want to learn more about this condition.

Writing difficulties are common among children and can stem from a variety of learning and attention issues. By learning what to watch for, you can be proactive about getting help for your child.

There’s no cure or easy fix for dysgraphia. But there are strategies and therapies that can help a child improve his writing. This will help him thrive in school and anywhere else expressing himself in writing is important.

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Nonverbal Learning Disabilities

This article from Understood.org will help you understand what Nonverbal Learning Disabilities (NVLD) are, skills affected by NVLD, how NVLD is diagnosed, and how you can help your child.

Many people think of “learning disabilities” as issues with verbal skills such as reading or writing. But what if your child has strong verbal skills and a big vocabulary, but doesn’t understand when somebody is being sarcastic? What if he reads at an advanced level but can’t tell you the most important parts of the story?

These are classic signs of nonverbal learning disabilities (NVLD). NVLD is a brain-based condition that affects skills like abstract thinking and spatial relationships. While NVLD can affect your child’s learning in many ways, it creates an even bigger challenge when it comes to your child’s social life. Read more about the signs of NVLD, possible treatments and ways you can help your child at home.

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Comments that Parents Hear: “We do not evaluate students for dyslexia.”

Many schools do not understand dyslexia or have staff trained to evaluate for dyslexia.  While schools may have dyslexia programs, they are often weak or not available especially at the middle and high school levels, although they are required.  Many students with dyslexia are served in special education programs which may or may not be appropriate.

In Texas and a few other states, schools are required to have specific programs for students with dyslexia that are not part of the special education program.  The Dyslexia Handbook: Procedures Concerning Dyslexia and Related Disorders is at http://tea.texas.gov/academics/dyslexia/ 

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Dyslexia: What Is and What Isn’t?

If you’ve heard the term dyslexia and aren’t sure what it means, you’re not alone. People tend to have a lot of questions about dyslexia. Is it a general term that covers many kinds of learning issues? How is it different from (or the same as) a specific learning disability? The answers here can help you develop a better understanding of dyslexia.

What exactly is dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a brain-based condition. It causes difficulty with reading, spelling, writing and sometimes speaking. In people with dyslexia, the brain has trouble recognizing or processing certain types of information. This can include matching letter sounds and symbols (such as the letter b making the buh sound) and blending them together to make words.

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