Month: June 2017

Marinating…#Dyslexia #LD

About 50% of the kids in the early grades are pretty immune to whatever they get in school.  Whatever reading or learning method comes their way they handle it and make good progress in the key areas of development.

I call these the “Smooth Road Kids.”

Everybody’s happy on the smooth road.

The smooth road kids don’t need to be taught directly or explicitly.  They just pick it up, almost through osmosis.

It’s the kids on the other side of the road that we continually worry about for a whole variety of reasons.

For them, they need to have instruction broken down, step-by-step, explicitly laid out in a sensible sequence of skills.

In addition to the explicit, step-by-step instruction, what do you think these kids need above all?  It’s something that is not talked about enough.

They need patience…patience.    Let the kid marinate in the skills. Don’t rush the process or the kid.  Let the skills soak in and take hold.

If it takes the average kid a few repetitions, our kids of concern need many more repetitions over a longer period of time.  The skills need to be continually revisited even if it is believed that the skill has been acquired.

In spite of whatever fast-paced curriculum might be suggesting about the pace of things, we can’t hurry them along.

Takeaway  Point

“Marination is the process of soaking foods in a seasoned, often acidic, liquid before cooking.  It is commonly used to flavor foods and to tenderize tougher cuts of meat.    The process may last seconds or days.” (Wikipedia)

For a free 15 Minute Consultation, contact Dr. Selznick: email –

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Treatment Bewilderment

Too often parents feel bewildered by the array of options that are presented to them about their struggling child.

Getting clear on what you are targeting and why is essential.  Common sense needs to prevail.

Eight year old Jackie, a spunky third grader, struggled with reading, spelling and writing.  Today when she read a third grade level story out loud to me , the passage she was to  read stated, “I saw the signal on the shore…”  Jackie read it as, “I saw the seagull on the shore…”

When I reviewed what had been done with Jackie to date, her mom sounded bewildered.

“When Jackie was five she could barely write her name and her letter formation was very poor.  It was recommended that we see an OT (occupational therapist) who identified “sensory issues” and suggested we get Interactive Metronome Therapy. We did that for a while, but Jackie struggled in first grade.  Then we heard about a person who administered special colored lenses for reading and someone else who suggested a different type of vision treatment. After that, an audiologist found central auditory processing disorder and recommended that we go to her office for a year of computer treatment to address the “auditory” issues. Another therapist felt anxiety was the issue and  suggested we treat that. Then we saw a neurologist who wanted to put her on medication for ADHD.   I am bewildered.  Everyone’s saying something different about what she need – she’s so far behind in reading, spelling and writing – I just don’t know what to do.”

“Has anyone suggested that they teach Jackie to read,” I asked.

“Not really,” she said. “I keep getting all of these treatment recommendations, but very few have said anything that makes sense regarding reading. I am really feeling overwhelmed by all of this and don’t know what direction to go.”

It was clear that Jackie needed sensible reading remediation, yet all of the professionals in the mix were recommending side-treatments that were not going to address her reading issues.

If reading is the primary concern, then that should be the target of treatment/remediation.  If it is anxiety, then target that.

To hit a tennis ball better, you wouldn’t go for swimming lessons.

Professionals will see things from the window of their own specialty (e.g., auditory, visual, medical). The narrower the window, the narrower the recommendation.

Get clear on what needs remediating and why you are doing it before you commit a significant amount of time and money.

Takeaway Point

Be certain that there is a match between your areas of concern andthe program being recommended. Does the program pass the commonsense test?

If it does not, you may want to think twice before proceeding.



For a free 15 Minute Consultation, contact Dr. Selznick: email –

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Listen Up, Dads of ‘Fun Dad Nation’

Every generation creates its own parenting style based on many different factors and variables shaping our view of what it means to be a parent.

Back in the early 1960’s probably the predominant style of dad was depicted well in the AMC TV show, “Madmen” and its main character, Don Draper. Even if you never saw the show, you will quickly get the idea. Don was detached and pretty indifferent to his kids and there was a sneering, dismissive quality to the way he interacted with his children. My guess is Don viewed his children as annoying gnats that were just around to bother him. There was none of that “quality time” we have come to appreciate as part of the parent landscape.

Frankly, the mom, Betty, wasn’t much better. Nurturing would not be seen as one of her top qualities.

Fast forward a few generations and what do we have – “Fun Dad Nation!”

Take all of Don Draper’s qualities and the opposite are embodied in the dads of Fun Dad Nation.

These dads are a blast. They are usually involved with all sports, they even like playing video games, and doing goofy stuff at the dinner table – what a package! These dads, might be more hands-on and invested in their kids, from potentially taking an interest in how their kid’s rooms are decorated, so what paint or cool wallpapers could be used for example, or maybe even helping choose out what their kids play with and their clothes. They also may play an active role in supporting their chimldren to be more active by taking an interest in their favorite sports are truly beneficial to a child’s development and determination.

Some dads may become so invested in their child’s sporting achievements, that they decide to visit a site like Imprint to give their child their very own customized sporting attire, so they can advance even further in their chosen field. You may just have to make sure that they don’t put anything too embarrassing on them though! These fun dads will often get involved in sports too. For example, one of my friends always plays sports with his son. His son loves playing paintball, so he purchased his own paintball vest so they could both play together. By doing so, he has proved himself as a fun dad and has strengthened the bond between him and his son.

Here’s one bit of caution to the dads of Fun Dad Nation. The hierarchy in the family matters. Parents need to be parents. They need to make sure that all the most important family matters are taken care of, such as making sure you keep your will up to date, in case something unexpected were to happen to you. Acting like a parent when it is needed is very important. They need to be clear in their leadership. All fun coupled with lots of ambivalence or ambiguity of message does not play well with kids.

I will use a reflection from my own childhood to illustrate with a simple example.

I picture myself sitting in a small family room, watching sports with my dad. When a couple of my dad’s friends come in to join him, without blinking, my dad immediately commands, “Get up, Richard, and let Uncle Frank sit down.”

There is no way that Uncle Frank would be relegated to the cheap seats while some punk kid sat in one of the “grown up seats.” There was plenty of space on the floor, to place my child’s behind, thank you very much.

I knew my place. I scampered to the floor very quickly on getting the command.

There was order in the universe.

It’s my sense that the dads of Fun Dad Nation have a tougher time with that concept. If their equivalent to me (their own punk kid) was sitting in a grown up chair, well the adults coming in would have to find a place until the time that the child decided he would relegate his spot and give it over.

In other words, it was child-decided, not parent-decided.

It’s my impression that from the dads of Fun Dad Nation you are less likely to hear clear commands coming from them. Such commands are passé, an outmoded style of being a dad from a long forgotten era.

Telling your kid to get out of chair for another adult is so yesterday

The problem is children still need clear direction from someone (preferably a parent) with clarity (and a backbone). I don’t care what decade we’re talking about, wishy-washy parenting never plays well with kids.

So, dads of Fun Dad Nation, listen up, while you sit back in your reclining chair this Father’s Day and your kid is sitting next to you, certainly enjoy the moment. However, if the equivalent to “Uncle Frank” comes in the room, remind your kid that the floor is a great place for him to find himself.

Don’t worry about your kid’s comfort or feelings at the moment.

Restore order in the universe.

Takeaway Point

Don’t go “Don Draper” on your kids, but don’t go “Gumby” either.

For a free 15 Minute Consultation, contact Dr. Selznick: email –

To receive free Dyslexia Infographics and updates, go to:

‘Meat & Potatoes’


                      Meat & Potatoes: adjective (Informal)-  fundamental; down-to-earth; basic (

This week I said to a mom, “We don’t use any fancy methods with our kids – it’s all very ‘meat and potatoes’.”

In this day and age there are all kinds of treatments and approaches to address children who are struggling, usually in the areas of reading, spelling and writing.  Many of the programs are computer based or conducted on iPads.  Minimal involvement or interaction with a teacher or tutor is required..

With these approaches, the kid logs on to a train the brain style program and each session picks up wherever the previous lesson ended.  As he progresses, the child racks up various points with the computer voice calling out “great job” or “You’re number one,” at least 50 times in the session just in case the child had forgotten how great he was.

In the other, “meat and potatoes” approach,   the teacher works with the child on fundamental skills in a more individualized format tailored to meet the child’s needs.  Knowing where the where the child is in his/her level of development, she targets those fundamental skills that are lacking or weak utilizing sensible approaches  that have been shown in research and through experience to work well in developing these skills.

Two essential ingredients in this approach are patience and encouragement.  The child can’t be rushed along.  The skills take time to consolidate and be internalized.  For children with learning disabilities they typically need much more repetition than is usually expected for the skills to take hold and become a part of the child’s automatic repertoire.

The “Meat and Potatoes” approaches target decoding  and reading fluency skills in the early stages of development and then shift into more complex reading activities that include targeting inferences, drawing conclusions and vocabulary.

There is also a layering or scaffolding in these approaches.  One skill is layered on top of another.  Kids who are struggling need this step-by–step mastery much more than the kids who have an easier ride.

Each step builds a little confidence, a little sense of mastery.

Takeaway Point

Pass the gravy.

The meat and potatoes are looking pretty good.

Struggling, but Not Eligibile

There are two broad categories of children – those that struggle with the acquisition of their fundamental skills (i.e., reading, spelling, writing and mathematics) and those who do not.

From where I sit, one of the things that we are not facing sufficiently is how to address the needs of the children who are struggling, yet who are not seen as “eligible” for special education.

In other words, they are not classifiable based on special education standards.

For example, a child I consulted with recently was denied services because there was not a “22.5 point discrepancy” between her IQ score and her overall score in reading.  (There was a 19 point discrepancy between those numbers.)  The 22.5 difference was the required discrepancy that would allow her to be viewed as “eligible.”

I see  many kids whose cognitive testing yields IQs in the 80 or low 90 range, which is approximately the 10th to the 25th percentiles.  To have a reading score so far below those scores in order to be deemed as eligible is extremely rare.

Take young Olivia, a fourth grade child who is desperately in need of remedial attention.  Olivia is in the 10th percentile of word reading and decoding and the 12%ile of reading comprehension.  Sounds pretty bad, doesn’t it? The fact is, Olivia is drowning.

However, with an overall IQ of 83 Oilvia is being viewed as working up to her potential and, thus not eligible for services.  The fact that Olivia scored solidly average in one domain of intelligence had no impact on the decision, as the special education team felt their hands were tied relative to the code that the school was required to follow.

I am not criticizing special education teams, mind you.  They have requirements and a model to follow, but struggling is struggling regardless of what label you put on it.

I’m not a school administrator, but it strikes me that for children on the left side of the bell shaped curve in key skill areas, they need some type of remedial support even if they are not technically “eligible.”

In the way back machine of education, teachers used to have different groups in their class – you know the robins were one group, the cardinals and the bluebirds were others.  One of the groups was the high readers, one the middle, while the other bird group, let’s say, the bluebirds, was the slower readers.

While everybody knew the group that comprised the remedial kids, at least they were getting something of what they needed every day.  I think this practice was phased out of education because it was viewed as unfairly stigmatizing kids in the “bluebird” or the lower group.

I’m not saying that we go back to bird grouping, by the way, but we are not addressing the needs of the kids like Olivia.

Takeaway Point

School s need to face the fact that struggling is struggling.  If I am drowning I need a life preserver and someone needs to teach me how to swim whether I fit the model of special education or not.


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