Month: April 2021

Impact of Dyslexia

Not sure how many cases of reading disability (dyslexia)  I’ve seen over the years, but it’s safe to assume it’s a pretty big number.

You would think that assessing another child with significant dyslexia would be pretty, “ho hum” or humdrum, as in “been there done that,”   but it never is.

I am continually astounded that something most children acquire with little effort by third grade (i.e., basic reading, spelling and writing skills), can be so daunting and challenging for others, resulting in considerable anxiety, insecurity and anguish.

Take George, a 12 year old sixth grader recently evaluated.

Friendly, warm and engaging, George was open with me about the impact his learning problems have on him.

At the start of the testing, when I asked him to write three wishes, here was one of them:

“That I donuot  hav dklexa.”

While listening to George read within the assessment, I understood why such a thought was front and center.

Here’s a little sample of how he read a third grade level story:

The text read...“I saw the signal on the shore.”  George read that as, I saw a sign at the store.”

Later in the same story it said, “…the bridge where the map showed it would be.

George read that as, “...the bridge when the map swallowed it would be.”

There were no moments while reading where George stopped to consider that what he read made no sense.  George simply plowed on, making error after error.

George’s spelling and writing reflected these issues, as well:

  • reach / rech,
  • circle / cercul,
  • correct / crect,
  • dress / bres,
  • train / tran,
  • grown / gron

Rarely causing problems in the classroom,  Teachers loved him.  When parents asked the teachers about his reading, spelling and writing problems, they repeatedly heard what a lovely child he was and that, “really spelling doesn’t matter since there is spell check.”

Currently, George dreads the thought of  returning to in-person school and is continually anxious about possibly having to read something out-loud (not that it was much better on-line, as children would be called on to read, which George dreaded).

I wish I could tell you there were straight-forward, simple solutions, but there are no easy answers.  For the George’s of the world you need to be thinking on two major fronts – the academic and the emotional.

Each child’s situation is different.

There are reasons why learning disability has been called the “Hidden Handicap.”

Copyright, 2021
Questions or topics email Dr. Selznick.  Not in the South Jersey area? For a free 15 Minute Consultation, contact Dr. Selznick: email –

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Like Giving the Kid the Keys to the Car

It’s pretty safe to assume that most of you out there in parent-land would agree that giving a 10- year- old the keys to the car and letting him/her drive would not be too wise.

What about giving a 7 or 8 year old her own cell phone?

While it may not be as reckless as handing a child the keys to the car, isn’t there a presumed age when a child should have access to something that is normally reserved for a certain age and level of of maturity?

By definition, a 7 year old is lacking in judgment, not necessarily because of some type of disorder, but because they are seven.  Handling a cell phone responsibly is probably not something that one would be wagering.

To illustrate, let’s take young Maddie, a seven year old who has her own phone.

While her mother is at work, Maddie calls or texts repeatedly throughout the day.  When the mom sees Maddie calling or texting, concerned that there may be something legitimately wrong, she feels compelled to answer  her.

What’s “wrong” is that Maddie will call her mother to make demands though the day, with “I want this…I want that” type of requests.  If Maddie does not immediately get what she wants, she will call back screaming at her mother again, and again and again.

Why does she do this?  The answer is pretty simple. She wants pleasure.  Literally every call and text is a demand for one pleasure or another.

Putting brakes on her actions was never one of Maddie’s strong suits.  She’s a child and she lacks judgment.

Giving access to a cell phone and all that comes with it, like “Alexa,”  is simply too much too soon, not unlike giving a 10 year old the keys to the car.

While it is fully recognized that this position being advocated may be a generational point of view and perhaps the parents from a more modern generation see things differently, children are still children.

They are fundamentally pleasure seekers.

Takeaway Point

Before “turning over the keys,” ask yourself, does your child really need a cell phone?

Copyright, 2021
Questions or topics email Dr. Selznick.  Not in the South Jersey area? For a free 15 Minute Consultation, contact Dr. Selznick: email –


“Got My Kid On Medication”

Once parents have gotten the “diagnosis” of ADHD, typically medication is offered as the next step.   Parents will think the medication will do more than it can do in reality.

The goal of the medication is to help the child pay attention and focus better.

That’s it!

A 20% or so improvement in paying attention would be significant.

With ADHD there are  common deficits that cluster together including:

  • Poor problem solving.
  • Low frustration tolerance.
  • Weakness “reading” cause and effect (in actual reading and in social interactions)
  • Weak reading comprehension.
  • Poor reading accuracy and fluency.
  • Pervasive writing deficits.
  • Social misjudgment.
  • Low motivation.
  • Difficulty getting started on tasks.
  • Overcoming sense of boredom.
  • Poor time management.

While medication can improve focusing, it has little impact on these variables of concern.

However, there is much that can be done with these deficits.  For example, by putting the phrase, “The skill of…” before a deficit of concern,   helps you realize that the skill can be targeted and improved.

If you say your child lacks, “The skill of frustration tolerance,” then you can start thinking about how to teach and practice this skill.

Takeaway Point

Even if the medication is working, don’t be lulled into thinking that the skill areas are improving.

The skills need to be taught and practiced in order to be internalized over time.


Copyright, 2021
Questions or topics email Dr. Selznick.  Not in the South Jersey area? For a free 15 Minute Consultation, contact Dr. Selznick: email –

Just Not Smart Enough

When children are assessed for special education typically they are given a test called the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children – V (WISC –V).

Within the WISC-V there are seven subtests that comprise an overall score called the Full Scale Intelligence Quotient (FSIQ).  The subtests tap different skill domains, such as verbal and spatial functioning, active working memory and processing speed.

Most of the time children with learning issues display a wide range of variability on these domains, often being well above average on one or two tasks, while well below average on others.

In order for children to be classified (that is receive an IEP), there needs to be a very significant discrepancy between the FSIQ and a composite score in an academic domain.

Some states have set a 22 point discrepancy in order to receive any help.

This 22 points standard is very tough to obtain.

Let’s take scenario #1 with 8 year old Brody, a child who is struggling in reading and spelling.  Upon being tested his FSIQ came up above average   (FSIQ = 110, 70th %ile),  while reading came in well below average (Reading Composite = 82, 12th %ile).

With this 28 point discrepancy, Brody was offered direct services to remediate his reading.  Everyone smiled around the table, shaking hands when his IEP was written and signed.

In scenario #2,  Ava, also age 8 and struggling with reading, had a broad range of variability in her intelligence test profile.  With verbal intelligence  above average,  other areas were below.  Putting the scores  together to derive an overall score, she came up in the lower portion of the average range (FSIQ = 93, 27th %ile).

Even though Ava’s functioning in reading was at the exact same level as Brody’s (Reading Composite = 82, 12th %ile), Ava’s parents were told her 11 point discrepancy made her ineligible to receive any services.

There was nothing that would be done for her.

Case closed.

You can imagine how the mood was around the table.

There was no smiling or shaking of hands.

Copyright, 2021
Questions or topics email Dr. Selznick.  Not in the South Jersey area? For a free 15 Minute Consultation, contact Dr. Selznick: email –


Screen Addictions Part II: Young Jake Sets Us Straight

Following up on last week’s discussion of “screen addictions, I had an informative conversation with young Jake, a recently turned 9 year old.

Schooling me on how screen usage goes in his house, Jake offered me a few pointers.

“My mom sets a strict limit,” Jake said.  “There’s no more than two hours a day.  That’s it.”

“Wow,” I responded.  “And you are  ok with that?”

“At first I was upset,” Jake said. “I thought it was unfair.  None of my friends had time limits set on their game systems, but my mom explained it to me.”

“What did she say to you,” I asked this wise little man.

“She said that lots of kids get addicted to these game systems and they don’t want to do anything else but play games like Fortnite or go on TikTok and YouTube.  She said she wasn’t going to let that happen to me and that I had to find other stuff to do.”

“How did that work out?”

“For about a week I cried a lot and tried to get her to stop, but she ignored me and after a while I started doing other stuff – you know like shooting baskets outside, riding my bike, building things – stuff like that.  I even read a book – a science fiction one that was really cool.”

I was so stunned that at this point in the conversation that Jake had to almost pick me up off the floor.

Gaining my composure, I asked, “So, this is what you think other moms should do?”

“Yep, my friends are a bunch of idiots who do nothing else.  I will be killing them in basketball if they ever come out from the basement.”

There you have it, parents.  Jake is giving us the answer pretty straightforwardly.

It may be a rough ride for a while, but Jake is telling us that you need to buck up, steel your nerve and set the limits.

There will be a lot of wailing, moaning and teeth gnashing as your child goes through withdrawal, but as the saying goes, “This too shall pass.”

Copyright, 2021
Questions or topics email Dr. Selznick.  Not in the South Jersey area? For a free 15 Minute Consultation, contact Dr. Selznick: email –


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