Dyslexia/Reading & Learning Disabilities

“Relational Component of Tutoring – the ‘Secret Sauce’ of Success”

One of the “go to“ recommendations I often make following an assessment is for the child to see a tutor if it is at all possible.

When done well, tutoring provides many benefits.  One often overlooked is the  intangible – that is, the relational benefit.

Working on skills with instructional methods that are sensible and supported by research is certainly essential, but so is the relationship established between  the tutor and the student.

When it is formed well, this relationship provides a type of energy, a motivation to overcome ever-present hurdles, such as feelings of discouragement,  low-motivation and insecurity, among other emotions.

How do we define or explain this  “energy?”  I don’t think we can, but I can see it when I observe  kids of all ages who have formed a bond with their tutor.

That’s why it’s not simply a matter of whether the tutor is Wilson or Orton-Gillingham certified, but is someone the child admires and looks forward to seeing.

As an analogy, if you’ve ever played on any kind of a team, you know how important the “energy” is between you and the coach or trainer.

It’s the “secret  sauce” of success.


Copyright, Richard Selznick, Ph.D.  2022, www.shutdownlearner.com.

To Contact Dr. Richard Selznick for advice, consultation or other information, email rselznick615@gmail.com.

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“The Plight of Leora – A Play in Four Acts”

Leora a 10-year-old fourth grader has been struggling since kindergarten.

Every year the parents have raised their concerns with the teachers.  The answers are variations on a theme.

Act I:  In first grade it was, “She’s still young and it’s probably developmental.”

Act II:  In second grade, “She’s getting ‘Fundations’ (a reading program for young children)  in class and we’ll have the speech teacher see her ”  (Leave aside the point that she was only getting  Fundations twice weekly for about 20 minutes in a small group and Leora was fully articulate with no speech issues.)

Act III: Third grade, “ We see her as a little distractible and only a neurologist can evaluate ADHD and dyslexia, so we think you should see one.”  (Keeping in mind that neurologists do not evaluate learning problems like dyslexia.)

Act IV: In fourth grade, “We have her on a three-tiered system, where we will decide whether to have the child evaluated.  If she qualifies then she would get “push in” (as opposed to “pull out”) services.  (This would take a minimum of six months with the frequent result that the child does not qualify.)

To offer the parents something (they were quite desperate), I perform a screening with Leora that took about 45 minutes.

This is what I said to Leora’s parents:

“Leora can barely read at the second grade level.  She has significant issues with reading rate, accuracy and fluency.  She needs a lot of help.  Your instincts since kindergarten were right on the money.”

Rolling up their sleeves, the parents contacted a tutor who knew how to implement research supported reading (spelling and writing interventions) and got down to business.

Leora loved the tutor and formed a great bond with her and by all reports  is making nice progress.


Copyright, Richard Selznick, Ph.D.  2022, www.shutdownlearner.com.

To Contact Dr. Richard Selznick for advice, consultation or other information, email rselznick615@gmail.com.

To receive future blog posts, register your email: http://www.shutdownlearner.com.

 

“Shannon , Shannon, bo Bannon”

Anxiety  over a child’s development starts early.

Recently a mom said to me, “My son is drowning in school. Do you think he has a learning disability?”

What was particularly striking about this question was the fact that the child in question was only just five and in the first half of kindergarten.

What to do in the earliest stage of development?

The earliest stage to pay attention to related to school literally starts at birth and typically ends when the child leaves kindergarten.

What should you be thinking about as a parent of a child in this stage?

I will state it simply. – bombard the child with language.

Please don’t misinterpret that to mean to talk the kid to death, as you will start being tuned out pretty quickly with incessant eye-rolling. (Yes, eye-rolling starts early too.)

Reading bedtime stories to the toddler and preschooler, playing different games emphasizing rhymes are fun and  great for promoting parent/child bonding, while moving language along,  contributing to early reading development.

Back in the dark ages (the 1960’s) There was a song called “The Name Game,” which played with names and rhyming nonsense words to names  (“Shannon Shannon Fo Fannon, Banana Fannon Fo Fannon, Fee Fi Fo Fannon, Shannon.”)

Also from another era a seemingly forgotten author who was brilliant with language was Dr. Seuss.  Just listen to the rhymes and the rhythmic beats of, “The Cat in the Hat Comes Back,” or “One Fish Two Wish Red Fish Blue Fish,” as you read them to your child.   The rhymes and rhythm will be internalized for later use when more formal reading instruction takes place.

Takeaway Point

One can do a lot worse (in fact many do, with gluing their child’s attention to an iPad) than playing the “Name Game” over and over  or reading “The Cat in the Hat”  to your young toddler or preschooler.


Copyright, Richard Selznick, Ph.D.  2022, www.shutdownlearner.com.

To Contact Dr. Richard Selznick for advice, consultation or other information, email rselznick615@gmail.com.

To receive future blog posts, register your email: http://www.shutdownlearner.com.

“‘Spelling. That’s So Yesterday'”

Let’s say your 12-year-old sixth grader spells the following words:

  •  (brief)  bref
  •  (success) susess
  •  (educate) edcccate
  •  (result) resolt
  • (kitchen) kicten  

Then  writes the following story to a prompt:

          “Once a o pon a time there was a kid that was a million air and he whated to buy a house   he look at so many house and finally found a house. but it needed a lot of work So               the kid hierd lots of pepul to help him but after thay were all done the house went back  to it whent back to the way  it was.”

Or, perhaps you have an 8-year-old third grader who writes:

            “I hrd a son. It was funne. My dad was beyenfunne was he dats Wen he was in the cr  Wan we wr gown to the prck.”

(Translated as best I could  after the child tried to tell it to me –  “I heard a song.  It was funny.  My dad was being funny when he danced.  When he was in the car when we were going to the park.”)

When the parents raised the issue of their concerns about their child’s spelling and writing,  in each case the response was, “Well, spelling really doesn’t matter – they can use spell check.”

For those of you following this blog for a while, I am sure that you will predict that I respectfully disagree.

A study conducted  where classroom teacher practices were observed, revealed that less than 5% of the language arts instructional block time is devoted to spelling or direct instruction in writing.

For approximately 60% of the school population, this is not particularly relevant, as their skills develop along a natural trajectory.

For the rest, simply saying,  “They can use spell check” is not a substitute for the challenging work needed.


Copyright, Richard Selznick, Ph.D.  2022, www.shutdownlearner.com.

To Contact Dr. Richard Selznick for advice, consultation or other information, email rselznick615@gmail.com.

 

 

“The Tooth Ache Comes Back”

Beside the fact that I am having root canal done later today, I find myself having a throbbing toothache all too often.

Behind the toothache, let’s look at Joanna, an 8-year-old third grader.  Increasingly, frustrated by her school challenges, Joanna is prone to melting down when asked  to do certain tasks during the homework hour.

While different professionals are focusing on her lack of “emotional self-regulation,” there’s something overlooked contributing to these meltdowns.  Put simply, Joanna can’t spell or write and nothing is being done about it.   Nightly, Joanna is asked to write a paragraph with an open-ended theme (e.g., “Write about Halloween.”)

Doing everything she can to avoid it, the meltdowns are a frequent occurrence.

Here’s a sample of a paragraph Joanna wrote when I  asked to to describe her favorite game:

freas tag, me and my bruther play freas tag.  my Buther alas macs me play it.  like when my babea sitr is ovfr.  you run arand and someone taps you and you freas! my bruthr machs me play in siwde.  I like it becaus you can run arawnd and you get to tag peapol they they freas.

When asked to write something she likes, Joanna writes “I wish that I cud lrn mor about sins.”  (learn more about science)

or “I like doing sins and I like stutying spas.”  (spas = space)

Here are a few of the words I asked her to spell:

make/ mac     should/shud  arm/amr      dresss/jres

So back to my throbbing tooth.  Why is it throbbing?

The fact of the matter is Joanna is not on anyone’s radar screen in school other than recommending that the parents see a neurologist to address her emotional self-regulation.  Spelling?  Writing?  “Don’t worry about it,” the parents are told.  “Spell check works just fine.  So does text to speech.”

Takeaway Point

I’m off to my getting root canal addressed.


Copyright, Richard Selznick, Ph.D.  2022, www.shutdownlearner.com.

To Contact Dr. Richard Selznick for advice, consultation or other information, email rselznick615@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

 

Sibling Rising

Jacob is an endearing 8-year-old child, well-liked by teachers and other kids.  Playing a variety of sports, he is frequently seen as a team leader by coaches and peers.

There is one problem, though, eating at Jacob.   Even though he is now in third grade, he still can’t read, spell or write, causing him considerable embarrassment.  Worse than that, his younger first grade sister, Ava, is easily reading chapter books and you can bet she is letting him know.

While the evening ritual of Jacob’s mom practicing his reading fluency takes place, Ava sits close by with a pretty challenging book that Jacob would be unable to read.  Subtly (or not so subtly) Ava shows off in a, “Ha Ha, look what I can do” manner, which totally galls Jacob.

Put simply, Jacob has to fight the urge to not punch Ava out (and sometimes that doesn’t work out so well).

Jacob’s mom does her best with statements like, “Now Jake, no need to get upset.  We’re all good at different things.  Just look at how you did in baseball last week.” This falls on deaf ears and the mom’s well-intended words don’t make the slightest dent with him.

Takeaway Point

I wish I had a straight-forward solution for you, but as far as I can tell much of this taking place is baked in the sibling cake. There is the constant jockeying for positioning that goes on and this is just one more example in the mix.

The best advice I would have would be to try and reduce the opportunity for embarrassment, by separating the siblings during the times of  homework and reading practice.

Beyond that, put your feet up and forget about it.


Copyright, Richard Selznick, Ph.D.  2022, www.shutdownlearner.com.

To Contact Dr. Richard Selznick for advice, consultation or other information, email rselznick615@gmail.com.

 

“World of Dyslexia – Part II”

Lowering Your “Frustration Quotient”

Before getting into this week’s blog, there are two corrections to make from the previous week’s post:

  1. It was pointed out to me that the correct website for the International Dyslexia Association is www.dyslexiaida.org, not the one originally posted.
  2. A sincere apology to Cheri Rae author of,  “DyslexiaLand: A Field Guide for Parents of Children With Dyslexia ” for the use of the term “DyslexiaLand.”  Unbeknownst to me, Cherie had written the book and created the term “DyslexiaLand.”   Please be sure and visit her website:  www.dyslexialand.com and also get  hold of her book.  I know I am looking forward to reading it.  I am happy to report that Cheri and I have become fast professional friends and look forward to getting to know each other better.

Well, the good news is that a couple of people are reading the blog!!!!


So, let’s roll up our sleeves for the 2022-2023 school year. We’re striving to keep your “FQ” (“Frustration Quotient”) below a five (on a scale of 1-10).

The New  School Year

Getting Your Head in the Game

In this world of dyslexia , it’s not easy to get your head in the game, as there are many rabbit holes that you can go down that can be overwhelming and confusing.

A few pointers:

  • What do I do with all this paper?  Rather than stuffing IEPs (if your child has one), previous reports and all of the other papers, in folders, get an old-school three-ringed binder and set up five sections:  School Correspondence, School Evaluations, Outside Evaluations, IEP/504 Plans (assuming there are ones established) and Miscellaneous. In each section put the papers in chronological order.
  • Decoding the Code:  When it comes to special education, each state’s code is different.  Understand your state’s definition of the categories for classification, especially for learning disabilities.  For example, New Jersey uses a statistical model of a discrepancy between IQ and achievement to determine a learning disability.  This can be frustrating to parents, as many children whose IQ is not high enough are denied services.  If you can’t decode the code, seek a professional consultant who can help interpret it for you.  (Feel free to email me.)
  • Clarify the Confusion:  I hear parents say, “My child gets ‘push-in’ or ‘pull-out’ instruction.  Seriously, what does that mean?  I am less concerned about where the child is getting what they get, but what it is they are actually receiving when they get pushed in or pulled out.  For example, a good question to ask is, “I know my child is getting push-in instruction, but what are they doing?  What methods are being used?”

  •  Don’t overuse the “D-Word”: Since it seems that almost no one really knows what dyslexia is and confusion runs rampant with this word, overusing it creates misunderstanding and resistance.  (“Wow, what’s that like to be reading upside-down and backward?  That must hurt your child’s head.”)  Safer to stay with the facts – “My child struggles with reading rate, accuracy and fluency.”

  • Get out of the Trunk: Too many parents have put themselves in the backseat of the car or worse, they’re in the trunk. GET YOURSELF IN THE DRIVER’S SEAT!  Let common sense prevail.  If your “mom gut” (sorry dads) is telling you your child is struggling seek help from a competent tutor as soon as possible.  There is no gain in waiting.  You don’t need the “D-Word” diagnosis to get help.

Even though there are many other points that can be made, these points should help you get started.  Watch for future posts to add to your growing list.

Copyright:  Shut-Down Learner

To Contact Dr. Richard Selznick for advice, consultation or other information, email rselznick615@gmail.com.

 

 

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