Dyslexia/Reading & Learning Disabilities

“Does Spelling Matter?”

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

  •  (brief)  bref
  • (should) shood
  • (grown) gron
  • (success) susess
  •  (educate) edcccate
  •  (result) resolt
  • (kitchen) kicten  

Then  the child 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. Teaching spelling is tedious and boring to children.  We much prefer that they were creative.”

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 (compared with open-ended, as in “Write about your holiday.”)

For approximately 60% of the school population, this is not particularly relevant, as their skills develop along a natural trajectory.  Spelling and writing develop through a type of osmosis

For the rest, simply saying,  “They can use spell check” is not a substitute for the challenging work needed.  Indeed, it’s arduous, often not fun, but leaving children in the state they are in, as in the samples above, is hard to justify.

In later blog posts we will offer home-based tips to work on these skills.


Feel free to make comment below. 

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To Contact Dr. Richard Selznick for advice, consultation or other information, email: shutdownlearner1@gmail.com

Copyright, Richard Selznick, Ph.D.  2023, www.shutdownlearner.com.

Family Matters #Dyslexia Talk – (Link to the Talk)

I recently had the honor of presenting an overview of dyslexia, shut-down learner and executive functioning to Family Matters:  Parent Training and Information Center. 

Based in Illinois, they have great workshops and material on their site and I would encourage you to browse around the site at your leisure.

Here’s a link to the talk:

(Click Here) DYSLEXIA, SHUT-DOWN LEARNERS & EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONING TALK

Please feel free to share it with anyone who may be interested in the topic:

Please email me with any questions or comments that you may have regarding the talk.

 

 

ADHD? Perhaps.

Practically every week I hear an array of  concerns regarding distractibility and inattentiveness.

There’s always the question of, “Does my child have ADHD/ADD” lurking.

While talking to parents I try and  broaden the narrative,  reviewing other factors that may be contributing to why a child is not consistently paying attention.

Before presuming a child has a neurological disorder such as ADHD that is typically diagnosed in the doctor’s office by checking certain items on the Vanderbilt Scales, here are some factors to keep in mind:

  • Perhaps the work is too hard.  If it is, it will lead to inattention.
  • Perhaps the child is playing video games far too late in the evening and not getting enough sleep.  In addition, perhaps the child is addicted to video games leaving little in the tank for sustained mental effort (something that I am seeing much more).
  • Perhaps there’s been a lot of tension and fighting in the family that is unsettling to the child,  which will lead to distractibility.
  • Perhaps the teacher is not motivating, which can certainly produce a lot of off-task behavior.
  • Perhaps the child  has “W.B.D.” (i.e., “Worksheet Burnout Disorder” (a term I made up) and is being flooded by too many worksheets (or its on-line equivalent), leaving the child feeling disconnected and unmotivated.
  • Perhaps the child has significant reading problems, making it difficult to pay attention and comprehend.  (This is an extremely important consideration.)
  • Perhaps there is a lot of distraction in the environment (whether it be the  classroom or at home) and the atmosphere does not lend itself to paying attention.
  • Perhaps the child is struggling with anxiety and the excessive worrying looks like inattention.
  • Perhaps the child is feeling like they may have social issues as they go on TikTok and Instagram and sees friends doing stuff that they weren’t included in.
  • Maybe the child has been made fun of or ridiculed, but no one really knows of it other than the child.

Oh, yeah.  I almost forgot.

Perhaps the child has ADD/ADHD.


Feel free to make comment below.  To receive future blog posts, register your email: https://shutdownlearner.com.

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

Copyright, Richard Selznick, Ph.D.  2023, www.shutdownlearner.com.

Fillin’ the Cracks

Anxiety over your child’s school-based problems can start very early. A mom recently contacted me after reading The Shut-Down Learner.

“My son is drowning in school. Do you think he could be a shut-down learner?”

After asking a few more questions, I was struck by the fact that the child in question was only five and in kindergarten.

When I wrote the Shut-Down Learner I was largely envisioning a disconnected, shut-down adolescent.

However, as I gave more talks to the parents, so many of the concerns being raised involved young children.

To help explain things to parents I created a formula:

Early Cracks in the Foundation + Time + Lack of Understanding + Widening cracks + Family tensions increasing = Shut Down Learner

So, while the child of concern may only be in kindergarten there are cracks that can be identified.  Time goes by quickly and with a lack of understanding how to address them, they widen with family tensions arising around the school issues.

Takeaway Point

There’s no gain in waiting.  Do what you can to fill the cracks.


Feel free to make comment below.  To receive future blog posts, register your email: https://shutdownlearner.com.

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

Copyright, Richard Selznick, Ph.D.  2023, www.shutdownlearner.com.

 

“Boy, You’re in Hot Water”

Recently, 8-year-old Marty showed some signs of misbehavior when his mom exclaimed, “Boy, you’re in hot water now.”

Marty started having a meltdown, screaming and crying, “I don’t want to be in hot water!!!!!!!  I  It will hurt me!!!”

Seven-year-old Marissa became upset after her mom told her that her dad was not going to be home for dinner because he was, “tied up in traffic.”  “Why are they tying him up,” Marissa cried? “What did he do?  Who’s tying him up???”

When Walter started to get frustrated with his math assignment, his dad told him, “Oh, come on Walter, it’s a piece of cake.”  Walter looked at his father like he had lost his mind, saying his math work was a piece of cake.  What did he mean by that?

Georgette came home from school upset that children were making fun of her on the school bus.  “OK, Georgette, tell me about it.  I’m all ears.”  Horrified, Georgette started picturing her mother growing ears on her head, which then shut the conversation down.  Her mother was simply too weird to talk to her about anything.

Freely interspersed within our everyday language, we sprinkle different expressions and other figurative language such as similes and metaphors.  Such language can be quite lively and descriptive.

For many children, though, they don’t readily translate and they have no idea what’s being said leading to a form of communication breakdown.

What’s the solution? It’s not to stop using them.

One answer is that you make sure you are aware of your usage with such language. If your child’s eyes start to glaze over in confusion, then back up and ask, “Do you know what that means?”  If not, then clarify.

Takeaway Point

Make no assumptions about figurative language.  Many children will have no idea what different expressions, similes and metaphors mean.

Use the opportunity for enhancing your child’s language facility.

Don’t miss that boat!

Strike while the iron is hot!


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

Copyright, Richard Selznick, Ph.D.  2023, www.shutdownlearner.com.

(***Please note:  All blogs represent the opinion and perspective of Dr. Richard Selznick.  Comments and questions are welcomed, but are blocked by the hosting site.  Please email questions or comments: rselznick615@gmail.com)  

“Brief Tip:  Getting Clear on Remediation”

Most children referred for assessments are related to struggles with reading, spelling and writing.

Parents feel a sense of desperation and don’t know what direction to go.

Once the issues are identified, the remediation, unfortunately, can be a bit scattershot.  This is embodied in the statement a teacher recently told a mom, “Well, we do a bit of everything…a little comprehension, some decoding, and writing stories.  We’ll touch all bases.”

For the struggling children, I prefer a different mindset. Rather than a “touch-all-bases” approach approach, I go in a different direction.

To get clear on the remediation, start with the concept that there are are two fundamental types of reading problems:

  • Type I: The child has trouble with reading rate, accuracy and fluency.  The bulk of these are what largely fit the definition of dyslexia.
  • Type II: These are children who read fluently, but have difficulty understanding what they read.  Usually, they have trouble with inferences, interpretation of language and drawing conclusions.  Confusion reigns.

For either type, tutoring is a great way to go, but only if the tutor is clear on what the problem is and that they are committed to a laser-focused approach.

Scattershot may work for the children who are not in the Type I or Type II categories, but for the rest, it’s important to get clear.

Know what you are targeting.


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

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

Copyright, Richard Selznick, Ph.D.  2023, www.shutdownlearner.com.

(***Please note:  All blogs represent the opinion and perspective of Dr. Richard Selznick.  Comments and questions are welcomed, but are blocked by the hosting site.  Please email questions or comments: rselznick615@gmail.com)  

 

All Aboard the Curriculum Ship

Is your child falling off the Curriculum Ship?

The Curriculum Ship  leaves dock in early September and starts steering its course until mid to late June, when it arrives at port somewhere on the other side of the ocean.

Not slowing down even when some passengers are falling off the side of the boat, the ship must go full steam ahead.

Marianne, age 9, is barely treading water while she watches the ship leave her behind, having fallen off the ship in early October.

Upset by what is happening in school, Marianna’s mom said, “This week they are reading science stories about photosynthesis. Photosynthesis,” she exclaims, “she can’t read or pronounce the word!!!! She has no idea what’s going on.  Yesterday she got a worksheet packet all  marked wrong. Marianne was beside herself, feeling horrible. How  does a 9-year-old deal with all this failure?”

Looking at the worksheet packet, I could feel my blood pressure rising. Beside “photosynthesis,” there were many other words on the page that Marianne could not read on her own.  Yet, that was what she was being asked to do.

Clearly she was in over her head and quite frustrated.

I tell the mom the work is simply too hard and that it was analogous to asking someone to lift 50 pound weights when they could only lift ten.

“I know,” she responded.  “It took her two hours to complete the worksheets last night and she still got an F along with those frown faces at the top of the sheet.”

I tell her, “It’s the Curriculum Ship. The message is swim harder if you want to keep up with the ship.”

Children face rough waters when they are not in the green zone (See last week’s post:  Green-Yellow-Red Zone)

The Curriculum Ship doesn’t bother to consider which passengers have fallen over board and need to be rescued.

The ship must reach the other side.

That is its mission.

Takeaway Point

The Curriculum Ship is tough to deal with.  Advocate where you can by having an open relationship with the teacher.  Point out where your child is in over their head.  Ask to cut back on the “frowny faces,”  especially when good effort is shown, as in the case with Marianne.

(There’s a lot more that can be said about this, but it’s a start.)


(***Please note:  All blogs represent the opinion and perspective of Dr. Richard Selznick.  Comments and questions are welcomed, but are blocked by the hosting site.  Please email questions or comments: rselznick615@gmail.com)  

Copyright, Richard Selznick, Ph.D.  2023, 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: https://shutdownlearner.com.

 

Green-Yellow-Red Zone

Liana’s mom has seen a great deal of struggling in her 4th grade daughter.

After I evaluated Liana, the mom asked me, “Was this a problem that could have been averted?”

As I explained to her there are valid and reliable screening measures that can be given early on in kindergarten or first grade that take about 15 minutes. From such a screening, there are three general groups that can be identified.

These are:

  • Green Zone Kids: That is, those who are good to go. They represent about 60% of the population within that age range.
  • Yellow Zone Kids:  Those who show some signs of red flags, representing about 25% of the population.
  • Red Zone Kids:  Those who show significant to severe signs of difficulty, roughly 10 to 15% of the population.

For the children in the lower yellow into the red zone, just giving them the regular curriculum, such as reading stories, literature and other whole language type of activities Is not sufficient.

These children require much more “bottom- up” activities using sensible, structured methods to try and build their base of skills.

My experience is that  often this is not a model that is typically followed.

If that is the case, if you  have concerns early, then I encourage you to go out on your own and have someone within your community (e.g., a reading specialist or a psychologist) to do such a screening to determine what zone your child is in within the early grades.

For the yellow and red zone children, don’t wait. Get good tutoring.

That is the only way to try and avert a child from being in a situation like Liana’s.


(***Please note:  All blogs represent the opinion and perspective of Dr. Richard Selznick.  Comments and questions are welcomed, but are blocked by the hosting site.  Please email questions or comments: rselznick615@gmail.com)  

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: https://shutdownlearner.com.

“wuns a pon a time their was a boy…”

 wuns a pon a time their was a boy wgo had no frends so he was always alon But than on day evry thing change His mom gave him a voilinto play it sounded horabel so he said I am never playing this again so one Day he went to in the stor and heard the guy play the vialin it sounded awsome so he said to his mom thats how I want to play well then you need to pratis his mom said and then he did and he was so good at it.

 Completed  by James, a 10-year-old boy, this writing sample was written after he was asked to write  a story to a picture of a boy looking at a violin.  (The story is is written as he wrote it minus the chaotic handwriting.)

Writing can be a window or an x-ray revealing a person’s feelings, as well as showing their basic understanding of written language.

The more I got to know James, who was diagnosed with a severe reading disability, the more this story became a true window on two levels.

Metaphorically speaking, James looks around his classroom and sees others playing the violin fine, while he cannot.  Acutely aware of the fact that he is not measuring up, in spite of hearing his parents tell him repeatedly that he is “so smart and so amazing,”  James feels pretty discouraged, as expressed in his story (although there is a spark of optimism at the end).

Besides being academically discouraged, James also feels outside relative to the social dynamics in his classroom. James thinks the other kids snicker at him behind his back (sometimes not behind) and James tries too hard to make friends, which often backfires, making things worse.

So, what does James need?

James needs two things that he is not getting.

First, he needs a sense of personal connection  Perhaps James can form a good working relationship with a therapist who can be encouraging, while helping him recharge his battery.

As part of the counseling, James’ parents can be guided to find a way to talk with him more effectively, as they are becoming overly testy with him, which only leads to sparks flying around the household during the nightly homework battles.

James also needs good tutoring  using structured, systematic direct instruction, focusing on his writing, starting with writing a simple sentence.

Tutoring can have magical effects, as noted in an earlier blog, “Relationship  the Secret Sauce of Success.” (“Relationship – The Secret Sauce of Success”


(***Please note:  All blogs represent the opinion and perspective of Dr. Richard Selznick.  Comments and questions are welcomed, but are blocked by the hosting site.  Please email questions or comments: rselznick615@gmail.com)  

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: https://shutdownlearner.com.

 

Blog #1 from 2009

Started in 2009 upon the release of my first book, The Shut-Down Learner, there have been nearly 600 blog posts completed on a weekly basis over those years..

I thought it would be fun to look back on some of the earliest ones (slightly edited), to see what I was saying and to see if they still hold up.

So, in that spirit, here is Blog #1 from April, 2009.

———————————————————————-

“Anxiety over your child’s school-based problems can start very early. A mom recently contacted me after reading “The Shut-Down Learner.

“My son is drowning in school. Do you think he could be a shut-down learner,” she asked.

After asking a few more questions, I was struck by the fact that the child in question was only in kindergarten.

When I wrote The Shut-Down Learner I was envisioning a disconnected, shut-down teenager. However, as I gave more talks to parents, so many of the concerns being raised concerned young children. This led me to understand that so much of the concept of a shutting down adolescent begins very early and made me think about how this can be prevented from happening as early as possible.

A formula I used frequently in talks to parents helps to explain the shutting down process  over time.

Here’s the formula:

Cracks in the Foundation + Time + Lack of Understanding + Widening cracks + Increased  Family Tensions (around the school issues)  = Shut-Down Learner

So, if you are the mom of a kindergarten or first grade child who is starting to  shut-down, there likely are cracks in the foundation. The next step is to know what those cracks are and how to identify and address them.

As we progress with future blogs, I will break down this formula for you in depth so that you will understand each of the parts and what you may be able to do as the child’s parent.”

Takeaway Point

OK, some 14 years later, I still agree!!!

More to come.


(***Please note:  All blogs represent the opinion and perspective of Dr. Richard Selznick.  Comments and questions are welcomed, but are blocked by the hosting site.  Please email questions or comments: rselznick615@gmail.com)  

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: https://shutdownlearner.com.

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