Month: September 2011

Your Special Education Binder

For those of you involved in any level of special education negotiations for your child, whether it be for a 504 Plan or an IEP, the likelihood is you are accumulating quite a paper trail. Accumulating (probably in a folder), are all the IEP’s, standardized test reports, medical evaluations, school email correspondences, etc., that have taken a dent out of the rain forest.

If you are falling on the disorganized side of the continuum, one of the most effective things you can do for yourself is to help bring a semblance of structure to the material that has accumulated. Do yourself a favor. Go to your local office supply store or even an online one like TabShop and purchase one of those very large three ringed binders, along with a packet of easy to design dividers.
Then do the following:
1. Relax. Take a deep breath as you start to go through all of the papers. Perhaps, pour yourself a glass of wine (ok, green tea if you prefer).
  1. Pull out all of the reports and papers that you have accumulated and sort them into categories, i.e., IEP’s, previous reports, standardized test results, report cards, email correspondence, or any other such category that seems to emerge.
  1. Put the papers in chronological order with the oldest material on the bottom to the newest on top.
  1. Put all of these into your new special education binder in the appropriate sections..
Much of dealing with special education is a process of negotiation. The more organized you are, the better you will advocate and negotiate. Additionally, outside professionals will be able to more easily see what’s been done with the child and what may be an appropriate next step. The binder becomes your child’s collected story in chronological order. Also, investing in a binder that can resolve all your binding solutions through automation and flexibility might prove to be a prudent option in the future times.
Now, that was easy!
If only I can organize my own life!

Being Trained By Your College Kid: Learning the Rules

My kid in college is teaching me how to behave. I keep messing up the rules, even though I am trying to be dutiful and behave appropriately.

So I asked him to write a rules manual so I could keep it with me and consult it often.

While he hasnt written the rules manual yet, so far here are the ones that I know that I know I must follow:

  1. Only text me (the college student) once every other day at the most. Any more than that is a serious infraction of the rules. (Didnt you tell me you used to phone home from college one time per week from a pay phone????? So, whats with all this texting?)
  2. Never, ever leave actual verbal messages on voicemail (unless you are being held hostage by kidnappers, and even then really think twice about leaving a message.) Why would I want to listen to a long droning message? It shows up on the cell phone that you called. If I listen to the message, and then call you back, Im hearing the same thing twice! Once is painful enough. You know what some companies have introduced is ringless voicemail, where a pre-recorded audio message is placed in a voicemail inbox without the associated telephone ringing first and you can listen to it when it is convenient.
  3. If, heaven forbid, you friend me on Facebook (and I deign to accept you), never, ever comment on my page. That is a serious rules violation. Better you never go on the page at all.
  4. Buy duct tape. Keep the roll of it in your pocket at all times. Be ready to place the tape over your mouth in the middle of the conversation as soon as I ask you to do so.
  5. If you need to call on the weekend (and really why would you when we probably already spoke the day before), never, ever, call me before 1:30 p.m.. If I sound groggy, dont ask questions; get ready with your duct tape.
  6. Make sure to transfer money into my account to keep me in the black. I mean, Thursday night is always an expensive night. – Parents needn’t fret when it comes to their children’s financial situation as they can help them secure student loans online by checking out SoFi. This company offers students and their parents low-rate loans with flexible repayment plans, meaning that there will be fewer money woes once they are graduated and in the world of work.

Follow these rules closely and you will only be minimally irritating. Break any one of them and you move immediately into the maximally annoying category and will need to be dealt with accordingly.

I am dutifully studying and trying to obey.

Writing With LD & ADHD: Countering the Perfect Storm

In a recent post,  we discussed the perfect storm of ADHD/LD and writing.  I noted that at the heart of ADHD and LD issues are deficits in active working memory.

Open-ended writing can be dreadfully difficult to school-struggling children because of these issues with active working memory. They find the task  of writing to be overwhelming on all levels. Typically, schools will recommend occupational therapy to address the issue.   While OT is a valid approach to start with, it really addresses the lowest level of the process—the fine-motor/motor-planning aspects of writing.

Highly structured methods that target the mastery of one skill at a time would be recommended.  With structured approaches you start at the smallest possible sentence level, such as two-word sentences. Children are trained to see that every sentence has at least a triangle  (noun) and a  square (verb).

Dogs run

Kids would practice mastering two-word sentences such as this. When they have this skill down, they would move on to other skills, adding other elements to the sentence, such as an article (circle) and adjective (diamond):

The 	         lively	          dogs 		run.

These visual anchors help children who are not intuitive with their writing. This level of sentence would be practiced in many different ways and with some variation. From there, more complex sentences would be introduced.

Once sentences are mastered, then the child is to work on the concept of a paragraph, with a topic sentence and four or five supporting sentences.

This is a highly sequential, skill-mastery approach to writing development. Such an approach is contrary to the more popular “open-ended” approaches that are the  norm in  many classrooms. It may not be quite as glitzy or as much fun, but it is an approach that  the struggling school population can understand.

Practicing such simple sentences as “Dogs run” or “People walk,” and building on them in a scaffold-like approach, gives struggling children with  ADHD, LD  or dyslexia a greater sense of  confidence and skill mastery.


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