Back in my advocacy days, I had a client who had been evaluated and found to be a student with dyslexia at age six. Up until middle school, he was enrolled in private school. He presented as an unusual case because he had a significantly higher comprehension rate than should have been seen and enjoyed writing, at a level three to four years above his current grade level.
Fast forward to an IEP meeting to discuss results showing a lower than expected reading level. The reading "specialist" a term I will use loosely, began spouting off her qualifications to hodge podge together a reading program. It included work with two specialists who espoused the benefits of whole language and a handful of weekend seminars. She was not all to pleased when her offer for remediation was declined.
Although most schools are going to try to convince you that they have a specialist, like the one I mentioned or a scientifically based, peer reviewed reading program, it is very unlikely that they do or what they have to offer is going to be effective for a student with dyslexia. A school will not willingly offer Orton-Gillingham (OG) tutoring/remediation. Almost always, it is because the school does not have anyone with OG training and certification. That combined with they'd have to pay to have someone trained and they don't want any of the other parents to find out they spent money on training.
In the 1930’s neurologist Dr. Samuel T. Orton and educator, psychologist Anna Gillingham developed the Orton-Gillingham approach to reading instruction for students with Dyslexia but the approach can be beneficial for all learners.
I’ve been called in to copious IEP meetings after a parent has presented a medical diagnosis for their child at their IEP meeting. They are disheartened after the team, or truly, the other side of the table, fails to qualify their son/daughter for any services. There are often two issues at play. The first is that the presence of a disability doesn’t automatically qualify a child for individualized services and two the school somehow feels compelled to ignore the diagnosis of the medical doctor or say the child in question doesn't qualify for services.
This morning in the local newspaper, there was a child find education brief from a location school district. Sadly, it contained a significant amount of incorrect information. It stated:
"XXX screens special-needs students
School City — XX Public Schools looks to identify children who may be in need of special education services. The child must be found to have a documented disability, must not be making effective progress in the general curriculum and need specialized instruction or related services.
Students who live in XXX who are enrolled in private schools or have left school without a diploma also may be eligible.
Screening appointments for children ages 3 to 5 may be made by calling ... For concerns about students ages 5 to 22, contact the special education office at ..."
Here is the actual child find information:
"Schools are required to locate, identify and evaluate all children with disabilities from birth through age 21. The Child Find mandate applies to all children who reside within a State, including children who attend private schools and public schools, highly mobile children, migrant children, homeless children, and children who are wards of the state. (20 U.S.C. 1412(a)(3))
This includes all children who are suspected of having a disability, including children who receive passing grades and are "advancing from grade to grade." (34 CFR 300.111(c)) The law does not require children to be "labeled" or classified by their disability. (20 U.S.C. 1412(a)(3)(B); 34 CFR 300.111(d))."
Please note that if you see your child struggling but they are receiving passing grades, advancing to the next grade, or are over the age of five, you can, in writing, refer them to the principal for evaluation to determine if they needs specialized education to meet their unique needs.
Here is a form that you can use to send to the principal, guidance counselor, or the special education director at your child's school.
Initial Evaluation Request
(EZIne)-Looking after children who have dyslexia can be a really tough job. Parents often do not know how to give the best education to their kids. No matter how good their intentions might be, they simply cannot find the best option for them. Since children with dyslexia are different than other children and have learning needs which are quite unique to themselves, it can be especially hard to find the right school for such children.
Parents often wonder if they should hire a private tutor for their child or let them go to a normal school. But given that children with dyslexia have a hard time grasping letters and words, their learning curve is a lot different than that of an average kid. For this reason, when choosing schools for them, parents need to take utmost care and choose the school that is best suited to the needs of their children.
Many parents find themselves confused between choosing a private school vs. a public school for their child, who has dyslexia. They often think that choosing a private school for their child's education will mean that their needs will be taken care of. While private schools are able to give greater attention to each child, given the optimum student teacher ratio, it doesn't always mean that such schools have special provisions for children who have dyslexia.
Children with dyslexia have needs that are quite different from other children and choosing a school that caters to their needs can work wonders for their education. Since we know how hard it is to find the best school for dyslexia, some of the points mentioned below will help immensely to find the right school.
I read with great interest a recent advertisement letter from the director of a local disabilities group. There has been a recent influx of plastic straw banning after the now infamous video of a gentleman yanking a straw from the nose of a sea turtle. Of course, we were all disturbed because that is awful and anyone with half a heart would think so. However, the conversation quickly turned from praise to discrimination when disabilities rights organizations came out against the banning of straws.
To those of you who have tried (and some have succeeded) it seems like you need a secret handshake to get Orton-Gillingham training. After a quick search on the internet, it might appear that you need to fly to a destination that is most likely east of the Mississippi and requires at least two weeks of your time away from home. Then once you complete this two week training, you must dedicate the rest of your life to become ‘certified.’ But this is all an illusion, an illusion that really hampers the ability of very good people to get their knowledge and training to those who need it the most, the struggling kids."
Here is a handout that offers a look at some of the most common myths surrounding dyslexia. Please feel free to download it, share it, or disseminate it on your blog, website, or social media pages.
Easy ways to help your child go to the head of the class
(BPT) - The education children receive today will help them throughout their lives. School is the fundamental component of the learning process, but education doesn't stop when kids arrive back home at the end of the day.
"Education and family go hand in hand," says Ellen Marks, curriculum director of Bricks 4 Kidz, an award-winning summer camp and after-school program. "Parents who take an active role by supporting classroom learning will not only see their kids' education blossom, but their relationship with them, too."
The start of the new year is the ideal time to evaluate what you're doing right and where you could improve in regards to supporting your child's education. Marks offers these smart ideas guaranteed to help you keep this resolution in 2017 and beyond:
Connections to real life: One of the best ways to help kids understand classroom lessons is to connect the material to everyday experiences. Practice fractions while cooking. Chat about biology as birds fly by the window. Learning moments are all around, you just have to point them out.
Daily conversations: With a fun, no-pressure approach, go over what your children learned in school. If they don't want to talk right after school, wait until later. During or after dinner may allow enough transition time so you'll find they'll open up more.
Positive attitude: Kids will mirror your attitude toward your work as well as how you view their school, homework and teachers. Stay positive, respectful and model resilience during difficult times; you'll find they'll do the same.
Enriching activities: Select fun after-school activities that emphasize cognitive development while building self-esteem. For example, Bricks 4 Kidz uses relatable tools like LEGO Bricks to teach science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills. Learn more at www.bricks4kidz.com and sign up for an After School class.
The parent-teacher relationship: Sending check-in emails, attending conferences and volunteering are ways to build strong relationships with teachers. Be proactive about asking where your child excels and what areas they may need additional help.
Homework help: Good study habits are essential to excelling at school. Create a comfortable homework space with adequate supplies and few distractions. What's more, be an active partner in your child's homework and assist when needed with gentle guidance and encouragement.
Reading buddies: Reading together can instill a lifelong love of literature. Try reading the same books your child is assigned in school so you can foster a good discussion about characters and storylines. When you both finish the book, rent the film version and plan a movie night.
Active learning opportunities: Reading, writing and solving math problems are passive learning activities. At home, encourage active learning where your child builds models, creates art projects and can ask questions. It's amazing to watch their minds work and see what they create.
Health and wellness: A child must first be well before they can effectively learn. Make sure kids stay fueled with a variety of healthy foods. Next, ensure they get a good night's sleep. Full, well-rested kids are always ready and eager to learn.
I belong to a Mom group and recently a mom asked the other Moms for suggestions on creative or proven ways to come up with more money. I jumped right in because through both ways, I have paid for college and for expensive summer programs for my child. I have had some really great, albeit challenging, experiences with getting things done.
For example, we were once lucky enough to get accepted to a summer program for kids with dyslexia. The caveat, it was going to cost us a minimum of $7,500. Now, good on you if you have that chunk of change lying around, but we didn't. However, I knew it was paramount to our child's success that we figure out a way to pay for it. Here is what we did:
(BPT) - Healthy living is an admirable goal no matter what time of year. The problem is that many people shoot for the stars, resolving to lose a big amount of weight or completely give up foods they adore. A better approach is to make small changes that together can make a big impact.
Acclimated all of these tips into your families life, can have a significant impact for kids with disabilities. Drinking water, staying active, and living a positive impact can make learning a lot easier. When these tips combined with proper and appropriate advocacy, can be life saving.
"People who make smart yet simple lifestyle changes will find it's easier to succeed," says Dr. Margot Savoy, a practicing family physician in Wilmington, Delaware. "It's about all the small victories that add up to winning the war. If you want to feel your best and make changes that will last, think small for big results."
Healthy habits take mere minutes a day to complete, but over time can overhaul your health and wellness. What's more, she notes that when you do these easy activities for two or three months, they become automatic.
Dr. Savoy suggests five simple steps for healthier living in 2017 that take 10 minutes or less to complete.
Stomach pains? Sore knees? Not sure if it's the cold or the flu? Being healthy means staying informed. When you need more information about your health, visit a reputable website such as familydoctor.org to learn more with a few clicks of the mouse.
Developed by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), the website features easy-to-understand information geared toward the patient. Plus, all information is reviewed by a panel of board certified family physicians, so you can trust the content is updated and accurate.
Eating well is all about balance, and while many Americans are striving to eat healthier at mealtime, it's snacks that are sabotaging their diets. When hunger pangs strike, instead of junk, reach for nutrient-rich foods instead.
One of the best ways to do this is to select one drawer in the refrigerator and dedicate it to foods for healthy snacking. Stock it with fruit, veggies, whole grain crackers and low-fat cheese and nuts. Spend 10 minutes each Sunday cutting vegetables and portioning out nuts and other snacks, and all week long you and your family can easily reach for healthier munchies.
Move and groove
You don't need a fancy gym membership to get fit. Just block off 10-minute increments each day to work out and you'll start to feel the difference. Try walking, biking or doing sets of squats, crunches and jumping jacks. Within minutes you'll raise your heart rate and work those muscles.
If you have kids, join in the fun with them and you'll be surprised just how quickly you get in a quick workout. A game of tag, for example, is a great running exercise. Plus it's a wonderful way to bond with your family. Bonus: Your kids are learning to exercise through play. Not sure how to get started? Familydoctor.org has you covered.
Everyone knows soda is unhealthy, but for other drinks it's not so obvious. Many fruit juices and sports drinks are packed with sugar and calories. Hydration is important, so drink as much water as possible to boost your health.
Staying properly hydrated is essential to healthy living, and because the body is approximately half made of water, there's no better drink than good old H2O. If that is too bland, add some healthy flavor with cut fruit, such as oranges, apples, kiwi or strawberries.
The sun gives off rays of light that are helpful and harmful. Some sun exposure is good because it helps the body create vitamin D, which absorbs calcium. Too much sun exposure, though, can lead to skin changes, a lowered immune system and cancer.
It takes just a minute to slather on sunscreen to block harmful rays even in the winter months. Focus on the face which is exposed all year long, and during warm months or while vacationing, make sure to use sunscreen on the entire body, reapplying regularly. What's more, teach children to do the same to create healthy habits that will last a lifetime.
The Oak Tree Academy mission is to improve the quality of life of people with language-based learning disabilities and their families by developing programs and disseminating knowledge based on current research.