Thursday, July 29, 2010

What is the Difference Between ADHD and Dyslexia?

The child or adult with Dyslexia struggles to make sense of the words on the page. Letters flip or overlap, words disappear, shrink, stretch,or flip, and reading becomes erratic and time consuming. Memory and comprehension may be compromised.

The child or adult with ADHD struggles with concentrating and focusing on the words on the page. Someone with ADHD is easily distracted by external noises, people, or activities. Sometimes the individual is wiggly or constantly getting up and down.

The child or adult with both disabilities has trouble making sense of the words while struggling to concentrate and stay focused on the text. Those individuals are constanly fighting the urge to do something else!

Current literature shows that between 10% and 25 % of students with ADHD also have a Learning Disability.

What is ADHD?

ADHD is a Neurological Disorder, and it is often inherited
*Symptoms begin in childhood, usually showing up by the age of 7
*Symptoms will last into adulthood
*Symptoms can include inattention, impulsivity, hyperactivity
*Academic problems usually occur across all subject areas
*May often have difficulty with any of the following concerns:
----organizing materials
----following directions
----staying focused and on task
----excessive movement
----anticipating consequences
*Can be diagnosed alongside Learning Disabilities and/or other psychological disorders
*Is usually diagnosed by a doctor or psychologist, and it is often treated with medication.

*Somtimes referred to as ADD or ADHD with or without hyperactivity

Sensory Challenges For Those on the Autism Spectrum

Individuals on the Autism Spectrum tend to have sensory challenges in some of the following areas:
*overloaded visual input (sensitive to light)
*auditory input (ultrasensitive hearing)
*tactile input when touching certain fabrics or surfaces
*problems with food texture or taste, odors
*problems with proprioceptive input (movement of one’s body in space)
*vestibular input (balance)

Those who are sensitive to light can help the interference by wearing sunglasses or a cap with a brim to cut out some of the incoming light.

Unplugged headphones or earplugs might help concentration during a test.

General Characteristics of a Person with Asperger’s Syndrome

Children and aduls diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome often struggle socially, but those individuals can become sucessful adults, too!

*Often struggle with social skills. Tend to want to be social but unsure of how to establish friendships. May “misread” socialization cues, protocols, and motivations.

*Language develops normally, but individuals may struggle with conversation and typical communication. May have difficulty with nuance and abstract meanings

*May fixate on certain topics or areas of interest, with difficulty shifting topics. Can tend to dominate the conversation with their own topics of interest. Often has a superior intellect with a penchant for the smallest, most obscure details

*May show inflexibility or repetitive patterns, with difficulty shifting tasks or attention.

*Sometimes has a higher rate of associated issues including ADHD, Seizure Disorder, Anxiety, Depression, Bi-Polar, OCD, LD, Tourette’s

*Sometimes medicated for associated illnesses like those mentioned above

Communication and socialization skills that often come naturally to some people will likely need to be taught to someone diagnosed with Asperger's.

General Characteristics of a Person with High Functioning Autism (HFA)

*Poor social skills, generally not interested in socializing. May have poor eye contact, pervasive ignoring
*Language development is often delayed and speech may be limited or generally non-verbal
*Can show inflexible adherence to routine or rituals which can sometimes lead to behavior “meltdowns”
*Sometimes has repetitive mannerisms such as hand or finger flapping, rocking, etc.
*Full scale IQ of 70 or higher in order to qualify as HFA
*May have coexisting disabilities such as anxiety, seizures, and other behavior issues
*Often perceived as more involved and more severe than Asperger’s Syndrome

High Functioning Autism (HFA) and Asperger’s Syndrome (AS)

Both HFA and AS are Identified through the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-IV) or ICD-10, World Health Organization

Diagnostician looks at three groups of symptoms to make DSM diagnosis:
*Social interaction

Some traits are common to both HFA, PDD-NOS, and AS

Degree of severity may also vary between HFA, PDD-NOS, and AS

The DSM-IV is in the process of being updated. The term Asperger's may not be included on the new Autism Spectrum, but Asperger-like references might still be used in reports. The changes are not posted as of this writing, but are anticipated for May 2013.

Pervasive Developmental Disorders (Autism Spectrum)

Autistic Disorder
Wide range of cognitive skills
Performance IQ >Verbal IQ
Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD-NOS)
Cognitive skills varied
May not meet all of the criteria for other disorders on the spectrum (i.e. later onset, atypical symptoms)
Asperger’s Disorder
Usually average or above average/superior cognitive skills
Verbal IQ >Performance IQ
Rhett’s Disorder
Typically severe or profound intellectual development
Affects only girls, head size stops growing, severe regression
Childhood Disintegrative Disorder
Typically severe or profound intellectual development
Abnormal regression after age or 2 or 3, seizures develop

The DSM Manual with these catagories is in the process of being updated with new catagories, definitions, and subsections. Completion scheduled for May 2013.

Tips For Studying With Your Child

*make eye contact when working with your child
*ask questions to check recall and accuracy
*watch for signs of confusion
*give your child enough time to process what you just said
*have your child repeat the information back to you
*provide frequent breaks as needed to avoid frustration and exhaustion
*have your child write the information on a board standing up
*tape record the lesson on a digital recorder for your child to listen to or download to a computer or MP3 player
*breakdown the information into manageable steps
*connect the information to a toy, object, or picture that your child can see or touch
*do not let your child manipulate you into doing the work for him or her. Let your child write the work out or type it on the computer whenever possible.
*if your child is capable of reading or writing, then your child should be doing the reading/writing ...but use a tape recorder of you reading the material as a back up.
*if reading is labor intensive for your child, then you should read so he or she can listen.
*you may need to act as a “secretary” to jump start your child, but then turn the work over to him or her as soon as possible.

***The final step is to see if your child can verbalize the information without stumbling, especially after a significant time delay***

Strategies for Learning Correct Spelling and Definitions

*Try chunking the word into syllables
*Use different colors to mark the syllables
*Box in each syllable
*Capitalize B and D to avoid reversals
*Highlight every other syllable with a second color

*Use silly diagrams to remember the meaning
*Tape record the word. Let the tape run blank about 15 seconds, and then tape record the definition. This will provide immediate feedback.
*Create word lists of terms only (no definitions...have the correct information
*Change paper color or ink color for different words, vocabulary lists

Short Term Memory, Long Term Memory, and Effective Strategies

Some students have short term memory problems, and they lose the information shortly after they learn it. That is the "Here today, gone tomorrow" memory problem often seen in someone with a Learning Disability.

Those students usually need study techniques for inputting information into their brain, such as the following memory strategies:
*creating word lists
*having a set of back-up notes
*having copy of PowerPoints
*tape recorded lessons, especially on digital recorders that can be downloaded onto computers or MP3 players .

Some students have long-term memory problems. They can understand the information but have difficulty retrieving the information for tests. Those students need retrieval strategies such as the following techniques:

*hilighting small pieces of text
*different colored paper for certain topics and notes
*writing text on their own board by themselves
*studying ALOUD
*studying from word lists

Mixing and matching any of these strategies can be very effective

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sample Learning Disability Profile

Notice that the skill levels vary from subject to subject. Some skills fall below IQ score, and some skills are above IQ scores. A typical LD profile shows as varied. Someone who doesn't have a Learning Disability will usually score at or very near the IQ level.


More About Dyslexia

*Is often inherited.
*Does not come from a lack of trying
*Individual usually has average to gifted intelligence.
*Cannot be spotted by the way a person looks.
*Individual may be very strong verbally, but that same person may have problems putting the words to paper.
*MRI tests have shown a lack of activity in parts of the brain of students identified as dyslexic.
*Some brain scans have shown difficulty with auditory processing and distinguishing between particular sounds, such as ga and ka.
*Studies also show a chromosome connection in some children with language disabilities

What Is a Learning Disability? Is That Dyslexia?

Our nation’s special education law, the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) defines a specific learning disability as…

“…a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or using language, spoken or written, that may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or do mathematical calculations, including conditions such as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia”

Dyslexia is one type of learning disability


*Is a neurological disorder
*Affects visual and/or auditory processing
*Usually affects reading, writing, and spelling.
*Words and letters can trade places, disappear, overlap, stretch, shrink, and generally move around.
*Students may have trouble with word recognition and/or reading comprehension.


circle is attached to a stick = b d p q g
m n u h w y
l 1
j t r
5 2
d 2
S 8
9 6
7 1

Dyslexia is a disability with reading, spelling, and language skills.
Dyscalculia is a disability with math and calculations.
Dysgraphia is a disability that makes the physical act of writing difficult, but Dysgraphia can also be impacted by Dyslexia.

Can You Read This?

Here is a sample of what someone with dyslexia might read in a textbook. The difficulty of typical reading depends upon the severity of the dyslexia.

Assti uptue stupeut mitu puslexia caupe cualleupiup oddortuuitu. I sau opportuuitu, pecause if I cau successfullu teacu muo strupples mitu reapiup, tueu tue rest of tue class mill follom. Oue of tue critical proplems mitu teacuiup tuose mitu puslexia is truiup to fipure out muere tue uole are iu tueir learuiup packprouup. Stupeut mitu puslexia teup to uave it topau aup loseittomorrom. Tuis teupeucu create larpe uoles or paps iu tueir acapemic packprouup. As a teacuer, mu respousipilitu is to preseut mu messape aup eusure tuat tue iuformatiou is impressep iuto tue stupeut’s memoru so tuat tue stupeut cau retreve tue correct kuomleppe for tests.


Assisting the student with dyslexia can be a challenging opportunity. I say opportunity, because if I can successfully teach someone who struggles with reading, then the rest of the class will follow. One of the critical problems with teaching those with dyslexia is trying to figure out where the holes are in their learning background. Students with dyslexia tend to have it today and lose it tomorrow. This tendency creates large holes or gaps in their academic background. As a teacher, my responsibility is to present my message and ensure that the information is impressed into the student’s memory so that the student can retrieve the correct knowledge for tests.

Assisting the student with dyslexia can be a
Assti uptue stupeut mitu puslexia caupe

Cualleupiup oddortuuitu.
challenging opportunity.

Words and letters can trade places, disappear, overlap, stretch, shrink, and generally move around.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tactile/Kinesthetic Learners

*Love to exercise
*Prefer short study segments with lots of breaks
*Can be easily distracted
*Like trial and error when working out a solution
*Tend to take things apart to figure out a mechanical problem
*Tend to “feel” where they are going
*Like to learn using manipulatives
*Write lots of notes
*Remember best through “hands on” lessons

If you are a tactile/kinesthetic learner, you love to get your hands into the lesson. You should find an active way to learn the material. Have you ever considered studying aloud while you are kneading bread or whipping cream? How about repeating your topic of choice while running on a treadmill? Try learning with a game like basketball or ping pong. Answering questions as you toss a ball or swing a bat will connect the information to an active memory, and that specific detail and memory is what you will bring back during the test! The idea is to find an activity you enjoy and have fun while you learn!!

Auditory Learners

*Are generally not as neat as visual learners
*Like verbal explanations and lectures
*Enjoy role playing, acting, and listening to a good story
*Remember what they said for a long time
*Might move their lips or whisper when studying for a test
*Talk under their breath when reading
*Prefer oral directions, not a map
*Are easily distracted by noise
*Out of sight…out of mind
*Love their Ipods!!

If you are an auditory learner, you should study aloud. You should share your expertise with others. The more you verbalize the details, the better you will know the information. Tape record you lessons and your notes, and play them back on your computer or MP3 player. The world is your stage!!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Visual Learners

*Make up most of the population
*Prefer neat, organized work areas with clearly marked storage areas
*Like pictures, diagrams, charts, handouts
*Write things down as much as possible
*Look for notes on the board
*Use a board to write out problems
*Create lists of things to do
*Remember faces, but may forget names
*Close eyes and stare at the ceiling when trying to recall things
*Are detail people who tend to notice changes
*Prefer to be shown how to do something or prefer to read own directions
*Develop concept maps
*Use color coding
*Create own study guides

Visual learners like a clean room with everything in its place! If you are a visual learner, then an organized environment will help you learn. You like to read and reread your notes and materials. You should use colors, flashcards, or some sort of binder system. You likely know where everything belongs, and once things are in place, you are ready to study!

VAT/K - What is Your Learning Style?

Have you ever heard of VAT/K? You will be a better student if you understand your learning style and VAT/K - Visual, Auditory, Tactile/Kinesthetic - is the foundation for understanding your best way to learn!

Imagine that someone just gave you a brand new “state of the art” computer system filled with dozens of apps you never heard of! What is the first thing you do?

Do you prefer to read directions for yourself?
Do you prefer to listen to someone tell you what to do?
Do you prefer to just get your hands into something and work it out on your own?

We all use visual, auditory, and tactile/kinesthetic strategies (VAT/K), but which is best for you?

With a little self-analysis, you can figure out your learning style and the best way for you to approach your schoolwork or job. VAT/K is just the ticket for figuring yourself out! Use your strength to study, but aim for the most blended approach of all the VAT/K strategies for the most effective results!!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Understanding the Learning Process

The Learning Process can be broken down into 5 steps:
1. Input
2. Short term memory,
3. Processing (with short term/working memory)
4. Long term memory storage and retrieval
5. Output

A Learning Disability can occur at any stage of this process.

1. Input is the student’s ability to receive your message. Letters and words might get mixed up, reading might be slow, and spelling and math calculation can be very difficult. Dyslexia interferes during input. Likewise, with an auditory processing problem, sometimes what you say is not what the student's brain hears although the hearing works fine!

2. Short term memory lasts only for few minutes. Students with a short term memory problem will get the message but will lose it soon afterwards and will need to hear it again.

3. Processing occurs as a student is analyzing and digesting the information, trying to understand what the teacher is saying, and trying to make sense of the information.

4. With long term memory students are able to retain the information until they needs to retrieve it. Memory storage occurs where the student files the information. It's very much like a filing system where information in the brain is organized and put away. Retrieval is the method the student uses to retrieve the memory during the test. STORAGE AND RETRIEVAL ARE THE POINTS WHEN STRATEGIES BECOME VERY IMPORTANT TO THE STUDENTS and enable the students to pull up information studied for a test.

5. Output is the act of showing what students know! Output occurs when they remember and retrieve the information learned when taking a test, writing a paper, having a discussion, or answering questions in class.
My Resume as Learning Disabilities Specialist, college professor, and K-12 teacher.

My Biography

I want to take a minute to share with you a little bit about myself. I am currently a college Learning Disability Specialist as well as an adjunct professor in Developmental Writing. I have also taught Developmental Reading, College Study Skills, and College Success classes. Before moving to Florida, I was an SLD high school teacher in Ohio, but I have taught all grade levels at one time or another. I even taught students with learning disabilities at a Montessori school. I have a Master’s Degree in Education in Curriculum and Instruction and a teaching certificate in Learning Disabilities and Severe Behavior Disorders.

My experiences in both the K-12 system and post-secondary system will bring a unique perspective to those who struggle with disabilities yet plan to attend college. I do many individualized sessions on learning strategies with my students, and I also train faculty and tutors concerning the needs of our students with disabilities.

If you click on the About Me link, you will find a more detailed resume of my skills and experiences.

As you read through my blog, I hope you will find the information beneficial. Feel free to take a minute and send me an email with your questions and comments! I look forward to hearing from you!!