Archives for September 2013

IEPs and School Transfers

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The Role of Psychotherapy in the Treatment of ADHD Through the Lifespan

Within the healthcare professions, there has been a movement towards the use of evidenced based or scientifically validated treatments. This movement is reflected in mental health care as well. However, the first wave of empirically supported treatment research has focused rather narrowly on efforts at relieving the specific symptoms used to define diagnosed conditions. While this is certainly a valid means of assessing treatment effectiveness, there are other benefits to be derived from treatment, particularly for individuals with chronic neurologic or medical conditions. For example, we would not argue that someone with a terminal medical condition could not be helped… Read More »

Student Success Formula

Today’s schools face numerous, difficult challenges in preparing students for their roles in the world. The Expansion of Information Content explosion – the ever-expanding amount of information being added to world knowledge daily – can be overwhelming when content coverage is a priority. Combined with the pressures of state standards, mandatory testing, and school reform prevalent in today’s educational community, educators can feel ill-equipped to meet the needs of their students. What, then, can schools and individual educators do to prepare students to successfully respond to heavy curriculum demands at the middle school and high school levels? This article describes… Read More »

The Ins and Outs of Learning Disabilities

Learning disabilities (LD) is a broader term in the United States to describe various types of neurologically-based processing problems. These processing disorders can interfere with learning basic life functioning skills such as reading, writing, or mathematics. They can also interfere with higher level skills such as organization, time management and abstract reasoning. The types of LD are identified by the specific processing disorder and can be categorized within one or more of the following four areas. They might relate to getting information into the brain (Input), making sense of this information (Integration), storing and later retrieving this information (Memory), or… Read More »

How Much Time Should Be Spent on Homework?

Time spent on homework should be appropriate to the child’s grade level. At the elementary level homework should be brief, at your child’s ability level and involve frequent, voluntary and high interest activities. Young students require high levels of feedback and/or supervision to help them complete assignments correctly. Accurate homework completion is influenced by your child’s ability, the difficulty of the task, and the amount of feedback your child receives. When assigning homework, your child’s teachers may struggle to create a balance at this age between ability, task difficulty and feedback. Unfortunately, there are no simple guiding principles. We can… Read More »

The Importance of Avoiding Excessive Corrections

Excessive correction reduces everyone’s motivation and increases feelings of low self-worth. Be sensitive when providing feedback. Learning occurs in safe environments where children do not need to defend their actions, strategies or opinions. Some correction is necessary for children to learn what does not work or is inefficient. Most times, however, children will arrive at their own understanding. This process can be accelerated by asking your child if he or she can think of another way to complete the task. You can then guide your child specifically by asking him or her to think of a faster, more careful way,… Read More »

The Importance of Remaining Task Oriented

It is important for you to accept the feelings of frustration your children may occasionally have with homework. It is also important that you then redirect your child back to the current task, explaining what needs to be done and how to best to do it. Feeling frustrated, at times, is a normal occurrence of life. Nonetheless, if it occurs too frequently, there is a problem to be addressed. In response, if you become irritable or angry, your behavior will only heighten your anxiety as well as your child’s frustration. Perhaps a good initial question to ask your child is… Read More »

Helping Your Child Complete Boring Assignments

It would be wonderful in life if every activity were interesting. But you and your child know that is not the case. Sometimes we have to work on boring tasks, because they are necessary for everyday life. These not only include general household chores but for many children, some homework assignments, as well. There are two basic things you can do to help your child make a dull or boring homework task more enjoyable. Increase rewards your child will obtain after finishing a dull task. For example, what activities can your child look forward to? What snacks, games, or phone… Read More »

Helping Your Child Manage Difficult or Long-Term Assignments

Children struggling to manage difficult or long-term assignments will need to develop self-management skills. Some children are overwhelmed by multi-step projects or confusing assignments. Their first reaction is to ask for help or put the assignment off for another time. A number of strategies can help your child handle these types of assignments: Underlining. Use magic markers to highlight important parts of directions. Read all of the headings, table of contents, chapter questions and bolded words in reading assignments. Highlight or write them down if that helps. Highlight directions on any worksheet. If it is a math sheet, highlight symbols… Read More »

Helping Your Child Gain Independence with Homework

Eventually it will be important to transfer adult assistance to methods that will improve self-help for your child with homework. Remember that an important goal of homework is to develop independence and responsibility. Thus, the most important lesson to be learned from homework is how to complete it successfully the next time. Fostering independence is accomplished by moving your child from dependence on you to dependence on homework buddies and material resources (e.g., references, lists, reminders). Remember that focusing on what is right about your child is the best way to help him or her strengthen and develop homework completion… Read More »

Help with Homework

The amount of assistance your child requires with homework will be determined by his/her age and level of ability. Elementary school students, as well as those with learning problems will require more of your time, assistance, and support than secondary students. Your assistance also depends on whether the homework assignments represent practicing a skill already mastered by your child or developing and mastering a new skill. The later will take more time and involvement on your part. Most parents feel quite capable of providing assistance when the goal of homework is to practice previously learned information. For example, using flash… Read More »

The LD/ADHD Teen Driver: Risky Business or Worth the Risk?

Learning to drive can be difficult for many teenagers especially if they reside in a high traffic area. It can be equally stressful for parents who are teaching their teens with specific learning disabilities. These disabilities can include processing delays, perceptual difficulties, memory, executive function disorders or ADHD, which can compound the challenge. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. With a little planning, time and a lot of patience your teen can learn to drive and gain the independence that many teens crave and need to be successful on their own. Is your teen ready? Although your teen… Read More »

Section 8 Housing Program

What is the Section 8 Housing Program? The Section 8 Housing Program is a subsidized housing program for low-income families and individuals. The Housing and Community Development Act of 1974 authorizes the payment of rental housing and utilities assistance to private landlords on behalf of approximately 3.1 million low-income households. Under this act, tenants pay approximately 30% of their income for rent, with the rest paid by the federal government. Sometimes there may be funding to help with mortgage payments as well as rent. Who is eligible to participate in a Section 8 program? Eligible participants are families or individuals… Read More »

Summer Activities for Children with Learning Disabilities

When summer vacation arrives, parents are faced with selecting meaningful activities for their child with learning disabilities. Many parents see summer as a time for catching up on academic skills through tutoring, summer school, or one-on-one instruction with parents. Other parents view summer as a much needed time to rest and be free of the stress that is associated with school and learning activities. Still others see summer as time for learning new skills that there isn’t time to learn during the school year. There is no one correct answer. It all depends on the child and his needs. Volunteer… Read More »

Back to School: Working with Teachers and Schools – Helping Your Child Succeed in School

Starting school each fall is a challenge for the student and parents. The following article has been adapted from the US Department of Education website and offers some valuable suggestions as your child starts a new school year, regardless of whether the child is entering kindergarten, junior high, high school or any grade in between. Many teachers say that they don’t often receive information from parents about problems at home. Many parents say that they don’t know what the school expects from their children or from them. Sharing information and communicating is essential. Both teachers and parents are responsible for… Read More »

Learning Disabilities and The Law: After High School: An Overview for Students

Do the legal rights of students with learning disabilities continue after high school? Depending on the individual and the learning disability, legal rights may or may not continue after high school. Children who receive services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”) or the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (“Rehabilitation Act”) in public elementary and secondary school may continue to have legal rights under certain federal laws, through college programs, and in employment. When students graduate from high school or reach age 21, however, they no longer have rights under the IDEA. The rights that may continue beyond high school… Read More »

Parents with Learning Disabilities – What You Should Know

Parents who have learning disabilities often have specific areas of strengths and challenges that affect their parenting success. With the tips in this article you can determine your strengths and challenges, find out how to use your strengths and technology to cope with your challenges, and check out other great resources to help you and your children succeed! Following is a list of strengths and challenges that many parents with LD may have. Strengths of Parents with LD: problem-solving skills, empathy, creativity, persistence, high energy levels. Challenges of Parents with LD: distractibility, impulsivity, disorganization, communication, inappropriate social skills, difficulty helping… Read More »

Tools for Life

Researching and locating new apps can be an overwhelming task. The Tools for Life AppFinder database helps make your app search much easier. The Tools for Life AppFinder has hundreds of apps for living, learning, working and playing. Search for apps by disability or multiple disabilities, price ranges and device types. See reviews and comments from apps users across the country to help you make informed decisions before purchasing and using an app. Get links to other app databases that were designed for specific disabilities. Every Tools for Life AppFinder app has been used and/or tested by one or more… Read More »

Epilepsy and Learning Disabilities

If one area of the brain is wired differently, it is not uncommon that other areas of the brain will be wired differently. The relationship between epilepsy and learning disabilities is but one example. Epilepsy, also called seizure disorders, is characterized by recurrent seizures. It is associated with structural or biochemical brain abnormalities. It is estimated that 1% of the general population has epilepsy. This disorder occurs more commonly in boys than girls. About 40% of individuals with epilepsy between the ages of 4 and 15 have one or more additional neurological disorders. The most common ones are intellectual disabilities,… Read More »

Transition Planning Requirements of IDEA 2004

What is transition planning? Transition planning is a process mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004) for all students who have an Individualized Education Program (IEP) in K-12 education. The purpose is to facilitate the student’s move from school to post-school activities. The transition planning must: start before the student turns 16; be individualized; be based on the student’s strengths, preferences, and interests; and include opportunities to develop functional skills for work and community life. Who develops the transition plan? The IEP team; The student; Parents; Optional–employers, college representatives, student advocates What is the transition team’s job?… Read More »

The Concept of ADHD Is Changing. How Does This Impact You or Your Child?

The concept of inattention, one of the three behaviors found with ADHD, is changing. And, with this change, the explanation of what is ADHD is expanding. The understanding of inattention has shifted from the inability to stay on task to a broader concept called Executive Function Disorder (EFD). This expansion of the concept of inattention is a positive move. However, until a fuller understanding of  EFD is part of the thinking of the clinicians who diagnose and treat individuals with ADHD, only part of the problem might be seen, leaving other results of EFD not addressed. Marcus, a ten-year-old fifth… Read More »

Why Are There So Many Different Medications to Treat ADHD? Or, Are There That Many?

ADHD is a neurologically-based disorder resulting from a deficiency of a specific neurotransmitter or group of neurotransmitters in specific areas of the brain. Neurotransmitters are the chemicals in the space between nerve cells (i.e., in the synapse) that transmit signals from one nerve cell to the next. The primary neurotransmitter involved is called norepinephrine. Two of the building blocks needed to produce this neurotransmitter, dopa and dopamine, are also involved. The purpose of the primary medications used to treat ADHD is to stimulate specific cells within the brain to produce more of the deficient neurotransmitter. Because of this role, these… Read More »

Post Secondary Educational Options

There are many postsecondary options for people who have learning disabilities. Whether it’s a four-year college, a two-year college, a technical program, adult basic education, continuing education, or a life skills program, the key to choosing the right school for you starts with these steps: Contact your selected school’s Office of Disability Support Services to set up a meeting. Take your current learning disability documentation with you for that meeting. Know what accommodations you will need to ask for in a college or university setting. Determine if the school will provide your requested accommodations. Follow with a tour of the… Read More »

Changes in DSM 5 and its Impact on Individuals with Learning Disabilities

The “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual” or DSM is a manual for use by physicians as well as other health and mental health professionals. Its purpose is to provide clear descriptions of diagnostic categories in order to enable medical clinicians and investigators to diagnose, communicate, study, and treat people with specific disorders. With each revision of this manual, new knowledge has permitted the diagnostic criteria to become more specific; thus, enabling further clarity of the disorder. The American Psychiatric Association (APA), in collaboration with other mental health organizations, updates the criteria for mental disorders, which includes  Learning Disorders, Motor Skills Disorders,… Read More »

Eligibility: Determining Whether a Child is Eligible for Special Education Services

When is a child’s eligibility for special education and related services determined? In most states the eligibility of a child for special education and related services is considered when a child has arrived at the Tier 3 level of RTI (Response to Intervention). When a child has been in Tier 2 for a pre-determined amount of time and an evaluation is given, then a meeting is called to determine eligibility for special education services. Who makes the decision about whether a child is eligible for special education and related services? The parent of the child and a team of qualified… Read More »