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What? – Auditory Processing Disorder

August 20, 2014 in Special Education Articles by Jess

The weird thing about the diagnosis of auditory processing disorder is that, although most everyone agrees on the variety of symptoms, the actual testing of it can differ widely. Assessments, and therefore instructive strategies, can fluctuate by state, district, profession and resources, both public and private. The California Office of Administrative Hearings for [Public School] Special Education has over 500 notices of fair hearings with the term Auditory Processing Disorder, meaning that either a parent or a school district was attempting clarification or a decision regarding some aspect of this disorder. Further, the California Speech-language Pathology, Audiology and Hearing Aid Dispensers Board has published a notice-

It is incumbent upon the licensed audiologist and licensed speech-language pathologist to use only diagnostic assessments and therapies that are supported by rigorous empirical evidence. While it is important to conduct research studies on new and emerging assessment tools, such studies should take place within the confines of an approved experimental protocol, and it should be clear to consumers that assessment with such tools is experimental only and provided at no cost. In keeping with B & P Code 651(b)(7), licensees are prohibited from making scientific claims that cannot be substantiated by reliable, peer-reviewed, published scientific studies. Read the rest of this entry →

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The Five Keys to Unlocking a Successful School Year

July 11, 2014 in Special Education Articles by Jess

Executive functioning skills are essential to succeed in life. Certain executive functioning skills, such as time management and organization, help individuals in their jobs, daily chores, and day to day responsibilities. Students with a variety of learning challenges, such as ADHD, learning disabilities, or autism spectrum disorders, may have deficits in such executive functioning skills, which can, in turn, adversely affect the school experience. Although these deficits may seem insurmountable at times, there are ways to tackle them to achieve success.

As a new school year is beginning, high school faculty and staff, parents, and students themselves, are searching for systems to put in place to develop such executive functioning skills and to maximize the classroom learning experience. To help, here are New Frontiers in Learning’s Five Keys to a Successful School Year: Read the rest of this entry →

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Dyslexia: ‘I’ve never taught a student with dyslexia.’

May 21, 2014 in Special Education Articles by Jess

Have you ever asked yourself what your local school teachers know about dyslexia? What have they learned on their own? What professional development have they been exposed to since they finished their teacher training programs? Have you ever wondered what they know to be an intervention for dyslexia? I recently read a thread on a Facebook page dedicated to teachers when the topic of dyslexia was posed to 75,000+ teachers. How they responded was not completely unexpected, but it was unnerving.

Before I go on, let me assure you that I love teachers. There are many, many teachers in my life. We have five teachers who work for us as reading therapists and I think they are all intelligent, empathetic, creative and passionate people. So, this article is not a bashing of teachers, instead the purpose is to shed light on what they have been taught, or not taught, to do for children with dyslexia. Read the rest of this entry →

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Learning Attributes vs. Learning Disabilities

February 23, 2014 in Special Education Articles by Doug Goldberg

The other day I was shopping in the local grocery store, one that is part of a chain of supermarkets up and down the state.  It was later in the day and it seemed everyone in town was shopping in the same place.  The lines were long, the clerks were trying to hurry, and some customers were anxious.  But the baggers were methodical, calm and worked with smiles.  I began observing all the lines as patron after patron had their bags packed in the same disciplined way by these smiling baggers.

Then I watched the baggers more closely and suddenly I was struck by the fact that all of them  had some kind of disability.   Two had Down syndrome, some had different physical deformities like a crippled arm or extremely thick glasses, and many had problems I couldn’t identify.  But they were all persevering in their jobs – packing the bags carefully, loading groceries onto the carts, and courteously asking customers if they needed help to their cars. They all worked diligently and with kindness.  If a clerk asked one to run and get an item or check a price, the bagger complied happily.  Read the rest of this entry →

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What is Nonverbal Learning Disability (Disorder)

January 24, 2014 in Special Education Articles by Jess

I was in a Team meeting once and the team chair said “I was surprised that the student with diagnosed with nonverbal learning disability because they talk all the time.”

The term Nonverbal Learning Disorders (or NLD) refers to a neurological syndrome believed to result from damage to the white matter connections in the right-hemisphere of the brain, which are important for intermodal integration. Three major categories of dysfunction present themselves: (1) motoric (lack of coordination, severe balance problems, and difficulties with fine graphomotor skills); (2) visual-spatial-organizational (lack of image, poor visual recall, faulty spatial perceptions, and difficulties with spatial relations); and (3) social (lack of ability to comprehend nonverbal communications, difficulties adjusting to transitions and novel situations, and deficits in social judgment and social interaction). Individuals with NLD generally have exceptional verbal skills, do well in school subjects requiring decoding (the word recognition aspect of reading) and encoding (spelling) written language, have excellent auditory attention and memory, and learn primarily through verbal mediation. This syndrome appears to be the exact opposite of dyslexia. This is taken from Nonverbal Learning Disorders Revisited in 1997 by Sue Thompson, Read the rest of this entry →

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In order to be fair we have got to treat them different

December 19, 2013 in Special Education Advisor Blog by Doug Goldberg

A couple of months ago I was touring an inclusive charter school that my wife and I want my son to attend for middle school. As we toured the different classrooms I noticed a sign hanging over the blackboard in every class. The sign read, “Fairness is not getting the same thing as everyone else, but getting what you need.” This motto seemed appropriate since the charter’s school inclusion “model allows for the individual needs of each child to be addressed in a manner that enhances each child’s strengths while also addressing learning needs” all within the general education setting.

Being the curious type I snapped a picture of one of the signs and went home to research the individual who came up with this philosophy. After doing some Google searches I found the following YouTube video from Rick Lavoie. Read the rest of this entry →

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Learning Disabilities Fact Sheet | Includes dyslexia, dyscalcula, and dysgraphia

October 6, 2013 in The National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities by Jess

Sara’s Story

When Sara was in the first grade, her teacher started teaching the students how to read. Sara’s parents were really surprised when Sara had a lot of trouble. She was bright and eager, so they thought that reading would come easily to her. It didn’t. She couldn’t match the letters to their sounds or combine the letters to create words.

Sara’s problems continued into second grade. She still wasn’t reading, and she was having trouble with writing, too. The school asked Sara’s mom for permission to evaluate Sara to find out what was causing her problems. Sara’s mom gave permission for the evaluation.

The school conducted an evaluation and learned that Sara has a learning disability. She started getting special help in school right away.

Sara’s still getting that special help. She works with a reading specialist and a resource room teacher every day. She’s in the fourth grade now, and she’s made real progress! She is working hard to bring her reading and writing up to grade level. With help from the school, she’ll keep learning and doing well. Read the rest of this entry →

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Father’s Day: What Makes My Son Special

June 15, 2013 in Special Education Advisor Blog by Doug Goldberg

Over the years, there have been many famous quotes about the responsibilities of a father.  As Father’s Day approaches this Sunday, the three that speak to me the most are:

“Any man can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a Dad.” (Anne Geddes);

“I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father’s protection.” (Sigmund Freud); and

“It is a wise father that knows his own child.” (William Shakespeare) Read the rest of this entry →

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To Spell or Not to Spell: Is it important?

March 11, 2013 in Special Education Articles by Jess

It happened again. I was in an IEP for a student with dyslexia who is struggling with spelling the most. This GATE-identified young man is in the 5th grade and spelling phonetically, yet he was not receiving  services for spelling last year – which is why I am now involved in the IEP process. The meeting was somewhat tense from the beginning, but when we got to the spelling goal this is what was presented: Thomas will be taught to memorize and spell 200 of the most common sight words. Hmm. Ok. So, my response: Can we change this goal so that we are actually teaching him to spell versus just memorizing some words? This is when I got the death stare and then silence. I interpreted the silence to mean that the RSP teacher didn’t know how to write the goal because she did not know how to teach a kid who is spelling phonetically how to spell. Then she said it, and the general ed teacher agreed with a nod of his head: He is going to middle school next year and he really doesn’t need to know how to spell anymore. I mean they don’t give spelling tests. My heart started to pound and then she added the ubiquitous suggestion: He can just learn to use spell check. Read the rest of this entry →

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Dyslexia: The deconstruction of school testing

March 4, 2013 in Special Education Articles by Jess

This may come as a surprise, but most school psychologists do not know how to identify dyslexia, and if they do identify a reading problem, it is usually mislabeled as an auditory processing disorder. To further complicate the problem, the report may do an excellent job of describing the reading and writing issues and then fall absurdly short in the recommendations section.  Recently, I read a report that did a beautiful job of explaining a young girl’s difficulty with decoding, spelling and fluency. The tests showed a clear deficit in phonological awareness, so what were the recommendations that got my blood boiling and provoked me to throw my arms in the air? Student needs to improve reading. Yes, that’s right. That was the recommendation to the IEP team. So, what is the underlying issue and what do parents and teachers need to know about the testing in order to make appropriate recommendations? Read on for answers. Read the rest of this entry →

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