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 →
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 →
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 →
October 6, 2013 in The National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities by Jess
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 →
July 15, 2013 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 →
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 →
February 12, 2013 in Special Education Articles by Jess
Every teacher in every classroom in every school in this country (and beyond) will come across several, if not dozens, of students who just can’t seem to get the ‘reading thing’ down. The students are smart, articulate, and creative, yet they omit small words, read slowly, have difficulty spelling, and stumble, guess or mumble through multisyllabic words. They are placed in reading groups for extra instruction and still don’t seem to ‘get it.’ And during his or her career, every teacher in every classroom in every school will ask themselves, “How can I help these children?” The answer is to learn as much as possible about dyslexia , because the child described above has dyslexia. Read the rest of this entry →
January 21, 2013 in Special Education Articles by Jess
Students with Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) have significant difficulties in identifying and discriminating sounds despite having normal peripheral hearing. These students often have reading difficulties due to significantly poor phonological awareness, decoding ability and grapheme knowledge. Time and again a student with Auditory Processing Disorder will lack the necessary reading foundation skills that are essential in becoming a strong reader. Read the rest of this entry →
January 13, 2013 in Special Education Articles by Jess
In the world of advocacy and dyslexia, the observation seems to be a forgotten and seriously under-utilized tool. In fact, the observation can be the one thing that can turn a case around and create some change, but it has to be done correctly. The observer needs to know what to look for and what to report. It may also come as a surprise, but one of the most heart-wrenching things I do as an advocate and dyslexia expert is the classroom observation. There have been observations where I actually felt nauseous the longer I sat and watched the instruction. The reason for my visceral response is usually caused by the ‘instruction’ the student I am advocating for is receiving; but it is also caused by the students in the class for whom I am not an advocate – who is watching out for them? I take solace in the thought that advocating for one student will have a ripple effect for others. So, what could provoke such a response to what should be an innocuous experience? Below I have described why an observation should take place and what the observer should be evaluating. I have also shared some very common experiences that occur in classrooms with students with dyslexia. Read the rest of this entry →
January 1, 2013 in Special Education Articles by Jess
During this time of year, high school juniors and seniors are hard at work preparing for college entrance exams, writing the perfect admissions essay, touring colleges, and eagerly awaiting decision letters from their institutions of choice. While this can be an exciting, yet stressful time for all students, students with learning differences have another level of factors that they need to take into consideration when choosing the right college. It is important for these students to not only consider the skills necessary to set themselves up for success, but to also be aware of the supports available to them at the colleges where they are considering attending. Read the rest of this entry →