Sunday, February 7, 2016

ADHD and Executive Function - Dr. Russell Barkley

There is more to ADHD than impulse control.

       Dr. Barkley does a great job of explaining the issues beyond impulse control that individuals with ADHD contend with on a regular basis.  These skills fall into a category called Executive Functions.  I hope that this video will help clarify some of the things you see happening at home.  I encourage you to view his other videos.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

What are the signs of dyscalculia?

 Dyscalculia is . . . .
             Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel of Mental Disorders (DSM-5)  defines dyscalculia as a “earning disability where individuals have problems with “number sense,  memorization of arithmetic facts, accurate or fluent calculation and accurate math reasoning.”
Francis, Wareham & Wood, 2013

             Department for Education and Skills (United Kingdom) states that  dyscalculia is “A condition that affects the ability to acquire arithmetical skills. Dyscalculic learners may have difficulty understanding simple number concepts, lack an intuitive grasp of numbers, and have problems learning number facts and procedures. Even if they produce a correct answer or use a correct method, they may do so mechanically and    without confidence.” (Butterworth, 2003) 

· Difficulty learning to count
· Difficulty counting from any number other than 1.
· Difficulty memorizing math facts
· Seem to always have to calculate the
       answer to basic facts.
· Difficulty making sense of math
· It takes longer to complete math
· Seem to “get lost” within the steps of a larger math problem like division.
 · Difficulty recalling the rules they have learned in order to complete calculations.

How is dyslexia diagnosed?
             Individuals with dyscalculia often  struggle along with math without anyone noticing their difficulties until they are unable to memorize their multiplication facts.  By this point, they are very far behind.  They are aware that their skills are below that of their peers.  Many may sit in class simply baffled by what is being taught.  Or, they may nearly understand it during math class, but by the time they get home to do their homework, they no longer  know what to do.

Is there a test for dyscalculia?
Currently, there is not a test for dyscalculia.  In fact, due to their average or  better intellect, they may even score well on a math assessment if given enough time.  It is not until the examiner looks closely at how the   student arrived at the correct answer that it is discovered that the student used a more basic operation like addition in order to solve a multiplication problem.  In London, Brian Butterworth is developing a system to screen for dyscalculia.  It is not yet used in the United States.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Reading Comprehension Building Block

Reading comprehension
             Reading comprehension is built upon other skills.  Students with difficulties in one or more of the foundation blocks, will likely also experience difficulty with reading comprehension.  The bottom row of block are closely linked to each other.  And of course is there is a delay at this level, there will be a delay at the other levels.  
              As these skills are mastered, fluency or ones reading rate is important as well.  If a student is spending their energies laboring of sounding out many of the words they reading in a paragraph, this makes it more difficult to remember what they read.
               Vocabulary is essential for understanding the content of what is read.  It has been interesting to watch students over the years as they complete their educational assessments.  Students with excellent vocabulary but poor word identification skills will often do well on reading comprehension questions.  They are using their vocabulary skills to make up for the words they cannot read.  While they may score well, they are still working harder than most.  Their dyslexia may go overlooked longer than usual since they are able to compensate for their poor word identification skills.

How to Improve Reading Comprehension

Letter Sounds  

              When you are reading with your child and their are laboring over many words in order to read the passage, you can be confident that their comprehension will be affected.  Apply your skills of deduction to see if you can determine which block is missing on the foundation.  Often, the breakdown happens as the words become longer and have more syllables.  If your child is still struggling of identifying letter sounds, it is important to back up and spend time on letter sounds until they are fluent.


                Once letter sounds are strong, then it is time to start working on learning about syllable types and rules.  This will help improve reading and spelling.  Your detective skills are important here as well.  Take notice of what part of the word your student is struggling to decode.  Sometimes, kids can read a word once the suffix is covered up.  Once you notice something like that, it tells you one of the skills you need to address.

Signs of dyslexia

Dyslexia is . . . .
“A specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin. It is
characterized by difficulties with
 accurate and/or fluent word
recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties
typically result from a deficit in the
phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the
 provision of effective classroom
instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading
comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.”
International Dyslexia

What does that mean?
Dyslexia is a language based
disability that affects ones language skills, particularly the ability to read, spell and write.  An individual with
dyslexia typically has lower skills in reading than in other academic areas.  The root of dyslexia is a
difficulty identifying and isolating
letter sounds within words.
This difficulty often leads to problems with other areas of reading. 

What causes dyslexia?
             While the exact cause is still unclear, brain imaging studies have revealed that there are differences in brain functions for dyslexic individuals.

How is dyslexia diagnosed?
             Some symptoms can be observed before a child enters school.  Once in school, the child is observed to determine if they are meeting their grade level expectations.  The school may choose to use more specific structured          instruction to improve reading progress.
Parents can pursue a comprehensive evaluation at any time in order to gain more specific information.  This can be done by the school or outside specialists.

Is dyslexia a vision problem?
Dyslexia occurs when the brain has   difficulty processing language.  Dyslexia is not resolved by providing glasses or tinted lenses.

What are the signs of dyslexia?
· Difficulty learning to speak
· Difficulty mastering rhymes
· Difficulty expressing self
· Mixing order of letters or numbers when writing
· Difficulty manipulating sounds in words
· Difficulty learning to read
· Reverse letter sequences  like “left” for “felt”
· Difficulty recalling the right word for  common vocabulary “it’s on the tip of my tongue”
· Difficulty reading quickly enough to  Comprehend 
Nazanin Dadfarin MA, BCET

Check out this website for more detailed information.