Month: February 2013

Walk for Familial Dysautonomia

I wanted to pass this along from my dear friend, Lloyd Stone:

In less than 2 weeks, On Sunday, March 10th, our family will be participating in the Walk for Familial Dysautonomia) in support of our amazing nephew/cousin Gregory Brandt.  

FD is a Jewish-Ashkenazi disease; 1 in 27 Ashkenazi Jews are carriers. People with FD do not have proper control of their autonomic nervous system and are unable to control functions — such as breathing, digesting, crying, and swallowing — that the average person takes for granted.

The Familial Dysautonomia Foundation is one very close to my heart as it helps to raise awareness and funds for research of this incurable disease.

I humbly request a bit of your financial support as I will be walking to help raise awareness and funds for research of this incurable disease.

FD is rare but we are hoping that the money we raise at this walk can go a long way in helping those who struggle with the disease. By contributing to research that helps FD, patients obtain improved medical care and increased life expectancy. 

If you would like to support my efforts for this great cause, please visit:

Thank you very much for your support.

Mr. LLoyd Stone

(To learn more about FD, visit:


On Zombie Pigs, Aliens & ADHD Boys

There are competing agendas out there within the professional realms that I operate.

On one hand there are the parents and the schools trying to get a segment of the population (ADHD boys) to get on track and be connected to the mandated curriculum.  Within that realm there is anxiety aplenty.  Parents get messages like, “Your child, Max, is not paying attention enough.”  “Jake’s overly distractible and not taking responsibility for his own learning.”  “Ethan isn’t serious enough about managing his homework.”

These are classic statements heard by the group of parents who are understandably anxious about what is happening in school and at home with their child.  Having consulted with an array of specialists to bring about changes to get their child more organized, focused and on track, they feel overwhelmed and bewildered.

Competing with the parent/teacher agendas are the boys of concern.  This week I had a parade of them, ranging from 6 to 9 years of age.  You could see what was happening pretty quickly.  Things like, worksheets, reading and writing are not on their agenda.  More importantly and front and center are “Zombie Pigs” and “Rock People.”

I know this because when young Max, age 7, was asked to draw a picture for me he launched into an elaborate discussion of the interaction of the “Zombie Pigs” who were battling it out with the “Rock People” who were throwing boulders down from the cliff to ward off the attacking Zombie Pigs.  The excited discussion and drawing went on for about 25 minutes.  I have to admit.  I was thoroughly charmed and entertained by Max’s elaborate explanation of his drawing.

Following Max was  young Ethan.   When I asked Ethan to draw a picture of  a house a tree and a person, he quickly answered  in excited tones, “Can I draw aliens in the picture?”  “Sure,” I said.  “Have fun…go to town.”  Off Ethan went down alien trail.  Aliens were coming in on the house, the tree and the person from every direction.

So, there you have it – the competing agenda of Zombie Pigs and Aliens, as opposed to getting your work done and paying attention.

It’s a dance that plays out day in and day out.

Takeaway Point

It’s going to take a long time for your boy to not be overly preoccupied by Zombie Pigs and aliens.  This sort of thing has a lot more pull than the state curriculum.  Might as well put your feet up and enjoy the ride.

The Trouble With “Comprehension”

“Comprehension” is a word that is tossed around freely in educational and psychological circles.

         “If James paid attention more, he would comprehend better.”

 “It doesn’t matter if Eve doesn’t read all the words accurately, as long as   she is comprehending.”

“We are working on Jack’s higher order comprehension skills.”  (Jack is six.)

The fact of the matter is “comprehension,” the ability to understand and respond to text and spoken language, is affected by a myriad of factors. 

Let’s look at a few:

An Impulsive Style:  George is an “act-first think-later” type of 7 year old.  When given reading comprehension worksheets, George takes great satisfaction in being the first one done.  The fact that the child next to him is getting many more right than George, doesn’t register with him.  Hey, he beat that kid.  There’s good satisfaction in being the first one done, thinks George to himself as his teacher frowns at him.

Weak Word Awareness:  Marnie, age 9, has trouble with shades of meaning.  For example, she explains a “castle” as a “kind of house.”  When asked comprehension questions, she answers them with a literalness that shows she has trouble understanding.

A Weak “Hmmm, let me think about it,” Internal Voice:  Max, age 9, is great with factual questions, but when it comes to answering questions (not just with reading) requiring considering (thinking) before answering (e.g., most “Why” questions), he has trouble with these questions.  In other words, he has trouble with questions that require him to say, “hmmm, let me think about it.”  These usually occur when he has to infer or “read between the lines."

Decoding Problems & Strained Reading.  If reading is a laborious task and the reading is strained, than the mental effort for comprehension is greatly reduced.  Beth, age 8 can’t read large words accurately.  The problem is her teacher doesn’t know this since she believes that children should only read silently.  While Beth reads to herself she just skips the tough words and her comprehension suffers.

Weak Fund of Knowledge.  Background knowledge and word awareness are two extremely important sub-ingredients that aid comprehension.  Reading is an interactive process taking place between your brain and the ideas on the page.  The process is not one-directional as some people assume (page to brain).  Caleb, age 10, knows nothing about the Revolutionary War, so when he is asked to read a story about the war, he has trouble understanding and retaining the concepts.

Test/Text Format.  Too often I hear that the child has a “comprehension problem” when it is clear the child had trouble with the format of the text.  David, age 12, a boy I recently met had no trouble whatsoever understanding what he read, however he had lots of trouble answering questions on a worksheet that required writing full sentences to show his comprehension. Writing is not the only way to show “comprehension.”


Take Away Point:

Comprehension issues are complex.  These six points are just a few.  There are many more. You need to try and narrow down what is producing the “comprehension difficulty,” before assuming the child has trouble with comprehension.


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