Month: December 2018

#Dyslexia Book Baby Born

It was a momentous week for me.  My fourth book, “What To Do About Dyslexia: 25 Essential  Concepts for Parents arrived.

Often, people writing about topics such as dyslexia are writing about their personal struggles that they have grappled with to overcome the challenges.

I may have a bunch of other things (probably too numerous to mention – just ask my wife), but I know I don’t have dyslexia.

So, how did I get here on this dyslexia train?

I think back to a boy I first met when I was a very young, newly minted special education teacher.  This boy named Frankie was sitting in a regular third grade class.  When I gave him a basic list of words to read to me like of, him, and, for, stop, bird, look, he gave me a bewildered shrug and was unable to read any of them.

Even though I’ve evaluated thousands of kids many of whom have dyslexia, I continue to have my mind boggled when I see the level of challenge faced by these people, keeping in mind that reading is a process mastered by most seven year olds.

I have a Hall of Fame of Dyslexics that I have met along the way. These are bright, articulate kids (and adults) who have struggled severely all of their lives with the fundamental skills of reading, spelling and writing.

Frankie was the first to be given the honor of being nominated for my Hall of Fame.  Others like Danny, Donny, Josh, Rachel, Samantha, Danielle, Scott and Michael are in the Hall with Frankie.

One common theme, beside that they faced enormous hurdles to overcome, is that they all found their way.  They faced their challenges, worked hard to overcome them and became successful, engaged adults

School represents a type of storm for the dyslexic, something that they must weather, get through and survive.  To weather the storm they will need different types of support along the way.  Perhaps they will have an engaging Orton-style tutor who will tirelessly target the skills (often over a number of years for those with more severe deficits).  Or maybe, they will have a psychologist or therapist who helps them not become overly discouraged and shut-down.  Or maybe they have parents who strike the right balance between support and limit setting.

All I can tell you is I am very happy that my newest book baby has been birthed.  While I have never given never had the experience of childbirth, from what I have heard getting a book published has many similar parallels and is a painful, but ultimately gratifying process.

To all of you, especially the dyslexics, shut-down learners and parents along the way who have contributed directly (and indirectly) to this baby being born, I thank you.

You’re all in the book (even if you didn’t get nominated for the Hall).

To purchase a signed copy of  “What To Do About Dyslexia: 25 Essential Concepts” & to receive blog updates go, to

Copyright, 2018
Questions or topics email Dr. Selznick.  Not in the South Jersey area? For a free 15 Minute Consultation, contact Dr. Selznick: email –

Practicing an Academy

It may not be the best time of the year to start one, but right after the New Year, how about you try an “Academy” with your child.

Some time ago I went to a training given by the psychologist Ray Levy who talked about the use of “Academies” to address challenging behaviors.

Linked to specific skills that need to be practiced and internalized, “Academies” help to give you a specific focus with your child.  The Academies can be academic or non-academic.  For example, you might want to practice a, “Waiting On Line Academy,” if your child is one of those types who pushes and runs around when he is supposed to be patiently waiting on line.  (I know my wife wants me to practice a “Making the Bed Academy.”)

Here’s an example of an Academy that can be practiced that bothers me a lot with kids – knowing their address.  I’ve talked about it before (What’s My Address? ), but most of the kids I work with (I would say nearly 95%) do not know their address in its entirety (yes, including the zip code, as quaint as that concept may be).

In fact, when asked to write their address, a typical reaction is a look of confusion – as many don’t know what the word “address” means and they don’t know how to get started.  I usually need to back-pedal a little and say something like, “You know – it’s where you live.”

That back pedaling doesn’t help that much in terms of their coming up with the address.   They may get some part of the address, like a number and a street name, but town and state, forget about it.

I know.  I know.  I can hear the parental chorus of, “But, he’s dyslexic.  He can’t possibly write it.”  Or, “My ADHD child will never sit long enough to learn something as boring as an address.”

I have worked with thousands of “dyslexics” and those diagnosed with ADHD and I am here to bring you the good news – yes, they can learn their address if you think it is of value for them to learn it.  It may take a bit longer than the child who does not have dyslexia or “ADHD,” but they will be able to learn it.

If you think your child should know his/her address (I certainly do) steel your nerve, roll up you sleeves and start a Learn Your Address Writing Academy. Understand that the Academy will cut into their Fortnight playing on XBox, but so be it.

Here’s a sample of what you can say to your child to get the Academy started:

“Listen, George.  We need to talk.  (Sit child down in a quiet area of the house.)  It’s come to my attention that you don’t know where you live. You don’t know your address.  I know you’re dying to play Fortnight and get on your Xbox, but this week as part of the homework period time we are going to have what I call an Address Writing Academy.  That is you are going to practice writing your address and be able to write it without my helping you.   It might take us a while for you to learn it, but that’s ok.”

“Here’s the good news.  If you practice writing your address without all of the complaining and crying that you often do around homework, then you can have free play and go off and play your video games.  But the bad news is, if you don’t give it an honest try and just whine, cry and complain, then you just haven’t earned screen time tonight. It’s your choice.”

I would predict that if you say this to your child calmly and directly, that by the end of the week, he will have mastered the skill of learning to write his address.

After he’s mastered writing his address you can go move on to a, “Putting Your Clothes Away Academy,” or a “Bed Making Academy.”

Takeaway Point

“Academies” are great vehicles for learning specific skills. Link them with a positive such as earned screen time as well as a consequence – e.g., loss of screen time – it’s all in the attitude.

Copyright, 2018
Not in the South Jersey area? For a free 15 Minute Consultation, contact Dr. Selznick: email –
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Questions or topics that you want covered in future blogs, send email to:

Part II: Ryan & His “Quasi-ADHD

Last week we talked about Ryan and his “Quasi-ADHD,” inspired by a by 7th grader I had recently met who had been previously diagnosed with ADHD (see Ryan & His Quasi ADD).

Ryan was “diagnosed” following an interview with his mom and the completion of a checklist endorsing many of the typical ADHD/ADD items, such as “overly distractible,” “inattentive,” and “restless.”

That’s all it took to get diagnosed.

Recently, Ryan was taking to not handing in his work and his mother was pushing the school to extend deadlines through a 504 Plan, under the premise that his “disability” precluded him from being able to hand in his work on time.

My sense was that the mom was overreaching with what she wanted the 504 to accomplish.

As I explained to her, “504 Plans are intended to provide kids (and adults) with a disability a more level playing field.”    “The accommodations are supposed to be reasonable and pretty easy to implement,” I continued.

I knew it was a bit risky, but I asked the mom, “What if Ryan’s just blowing off his work and not handing it in because he’s choosing not to?  Do you really think that should be accommodated?”

The mom wasn’t thrilled with that question posed to her, but she decided to try and deal with Ryan without getting a homework accommodation.

Assuming the school work assigned was reasonably within the Ryan’s capability level, what could the mom do aside from her strategy of having the school accommodate Ryan?

As a parent you largely have two directions to go with the ADHD or “quasi-ADHD” style child.

You can either try to go the more positively toned direction or you can go with more negative consequences that compromise the child’s lifestyle (i.e., gaming systems, iPads, phones, etc.).  Perhaps a combination of the two is possible.

Most parents gravitate to the positive approach thinking that the child will happily work for tokens, stickers or some other tangible reinforcer.  It seems whole lot more pleasant going this way and they are often a bit squeamish with the second approach.

If you are trying to go down the positive road, I have one piece of advice for you.  Don’t get overly syrupy and lay it on too thick.  Watch overusing statements like, “Buddy, you’re so amazing!!!”  (No he’s not – he’s just finishing his homework.)  or “I’m so incredibly proud of you,” said in effusively gushy tones.

Kids readily see through those type of statements and start to tune them out.  They know that they’re not as amazing as you are making them out.

Of course you can make the positive road a bit more tangible. Try and not get too complicated.  I like getting an old-school wall calendar.  You can inform your child – “When you get started on your work and finish it in a reasonable time, you will get a green check on the calendar.”

I’m ok with accumulated checks leading to things like letting the child stay up an hour later on a Friday night or some other earned privilege, but again, you don’t want to overdo it. Parents should be close by for some assistance, but not too much.

With the compromising lifestyle approach, parents realize that kids take all kinds of things for granted.

With this approach, the child has to face his poor choices.  A statement, said calmly without a lot of heat behind it such as the following tends to work wonders, “Gee, Ryan, I’m really sorry, but since you chose not to do your work, it’s going to be a really boring night around here tonight.  All screens are off limits.  Maybe you will earn them back tomorrow.”

With this latter approach, the reality is the child needs to know that his lifestyle (except for food and shelter) are largely treats, extras that need to be earned.  Completing homework should be a part of the deal.

Takeaway Point

Managing quasi-ADHD or even full-blown legitimate ADHD kids can be quite challenging.  Take a look at the message you are sending to your kid.  There’s always room to tighten things up and put responsibility where it belongs.

Copyright, 2018
Not in the South Jersey area? For a free 15 Minute Consultation, contact Dr. Selznick: email –
To receive free newsletter and updates, go to:

Questions or topics that you want covered in future blogs, send email to:


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