School Evaluations for Emotional Challenges

When a child’s emotional needs get in the way of his or her education, a request can be made for an assessment to see if the needs are severe enough for Special Education or a 504 plan. Put this request in writing. If your child is already in Special Education, the assessment would find out if counseling should be added to the IEP as a related service.

Because Special Education counseling is to help students with their emotions so they can benefit from their education, when writing a request for an evaluation, use school examples. Areas might be grades and meeting grade level standards. School attendance, behavior, or discipline are other areas.

Continue Reading


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.

Continue Reading


13 Holiday Survival Tips For Your Child With Special Needs

While most children live for the holiday season, it can be an extremely stressful time of year for children with autism and other forms of learning disability. The disruption to their routine, unfamiliar sights and smells, the house full of noise and people – it can all prove too much. Holidays are all about the family, but it can be hard keeping everyone happy.

The following tips for surviving the holiday season have been contributed to Scope by parents of children and adults with special needs. The general consensus seems to be to plan ahead. Whether that’s creating a visual story for your child, preparing them for what to expect, or giving relatives a heads-up in advance about your child’s particular needs – preparation is key.

Continue Reading


The Dyslexia-Stress-Anxiety Connection

What is stress?

Stress is the reaction of the body and brain to situations that put us in harm’s way. The stressor may be a physical threat (e.g., a baseball coming quickly toward you) or a psychological threat (e.g., a worry or fear that you will make a mistake delivering your lines in a play or write a passage that won’t make sense to the reader). Stress, or more specifically, the stress response, is our body’s attempt to keep us safe from harm. It’s a biological and psychological response. When we’re under stress, the chemistry of our body and our brain (and, therefore, our thinking) changes. A part of the brain called the amygdala does a great job learning what’s dangerous, and it makes a connection between certain situations and negative outcomes.

How can stress be good and bad?

All human and non-human animals have the built-in capacity to react to stress. You may have heard of a “fight or flight” response. This means that when faced with a threat, we have two basic ways of protecting ourselves. We can run away (flee) or stand firm and try to overcome or subdue the threat (fight). When we have a sense that we can control or influence the outcome of a stressful event, the stress reaction works to our advantage and gets our body and brain ready to take on the challenge. That’s good stress; at the most primitive level, it keeps us alive. It also allows us to return to a feeling of comfort and safety after we have been thrown off balance by some challenge.

On the other hand, bad stress occurs in a situation in which we feel we have little or no control of the outcome. We have a sense that no matter what we do, we’ll be unable to make the stressor go away. Body and brain chemistry become over-reactive and get all out of balance. When that happens, it can give rise to another protective mechanism, to “freeze” (like a “deer in the headlights”.) We can freeze physically (e.g., become immobilized), or we can freeze mentally (e.g., “shut down.”) In these situations, the stressor wins and we lose because we’re incapacitated by the perceived threat.

How does good and bad stress work with dyslexia?

Individuals with dyslexia are confronted regularly by tasks that are, either in reality or in their perception, extremely difficult for them. These tasks might be reading, spelling, or math. If they have experienced success at mastering this kind of task in the past, good stress helps them face the challenge with a sense of confidence, based on the belief that “I can do this kind of task.” If, on the other hand, someone has met with repeated failure when attempting this or a similar task in the past, his or her body and brain may be working together to send out a chemical warning system that gets translated as “This is going to be way too difficult for you! Retreat! Retreat!) That’s bad stress in action. And remember, perception is everything! It doesn’t matter if a teacher, a friend, or a spouse believes that you can do something; it’s that you think you can do it that matters.

Continue Reading