Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Dyslexia's Challenges Often Translate into STEM Strengths

Earlier this month, I had the privilege of once again returning to the gifted classroom. This is an annual experience for me in a program called College for Kids where classes for gifted students are conducted on the campus of our local community college, St. Louis Community College-Meramec Campus. For eleven years now, I have prepared for and instructed children (K-8) in foreign language classes as well as in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) or maker-space classes. Each year, it is always an intense 5 days for all where kids are challenged to be particularly creative and to summon their abilities to problem solve and think in critical and innovative ways as they learn new and stimulating content in a college setting.

For me, the week experienced with these unique learners involved the teaching of 2 Exploratory Spanish classes and 2 STEM classes where the students built mechanical robotic arms. As you may already know, STEM classes such as the latter mentioned here are currently in great demand by parents and students alike, and as a result, both of these classes were filled to capacity within a short time after registration opened.

These STEM or Mechanical Robotic Arm Build classes were particularly interesting, as they required each individual student to build such an arm from regular household materials provided to them (card board, paper clips, tape, binder clips, twine, fishing line and other common items.) To add to the challenge and problem-solving skills promoted by the project, only a limited set or predetermined number of each item was provided to each student builder (that could not be exceeded).

The student-created products from these two classes were most interesting. Some of the designs created could even be described as elegant. One student devised a way to connect wooden craft sticks with robber bands in such a way as to allow them to flex, successfully picking up a Styrofoam cup. Another young 7th grader was able to manipulate the five, agile fingers of his mechanical arm with craft sticks and fishing line, enabling it to also achieve the same goal. The projects were indeed exercises in creativity, out-of-the-box thinking, patience, fortitude, determination and more. The students actually learned life lessons in these classes, not just the how of building a mechanical robotic arm with a specific set of items.

What was even more interesting was the fact that when I mentioned my work outside the classroom involves serving students with dyslexia, both of the student designers above mentioned to me that they were challenged with this same learning disability, with one student adding that he also had ADHD. In fact, the number of gifted students with dyslexia in both STEM classes exceeded the current statistics for dyslexia with more than 1 in 5 of all students stating that they struggled with the symptoms of dyslexia.

So, why am I relating all of this to our blog readers this week? Well, it is becoming more and more apparent to educators and others that children and adults with dyslexia think differently from those not challenged with the language-based learning disability. Dyslexic individuals are often highly-creative thinkers, global learners and persons who think outside-the-box. Because of these assets, they are very frequently sought after as innovative problem-solvers and troubleshooters for challenges that leave the rest of us "in the dust" so to speak. Our world needs these unique individuals and their gifts---desperately.

If you are the parent or teacher of a child or teen with dyslexia, or you suspect as much, consider presenting new information or content with hands-on activities that promote creative thinking and innovative troubleshooting or problem-solving skills. Seek out STEM or STEAM (that is, with an added Art component) activities and resources that will bring out the BEST in the skills set of your dyslexic readers and learners. Then allow these children to excel at what they do best---solve problems and accomplish the learning goals you have set for them in innovative and unique ways. You'll be very glad you did.

STEM Resources for Dyslexic Readers & Learners

200+ STEM Links & Resources---ALL in 1 Place!
A Pinterest board with a HUGE collection of STEM and STEAM resources, many of which are FREE!

STEM Resource Finder
This STEM Resource Finder from The Concord Consortium features some of the best FREE, open-source educational activities, models and software tools available. You can search by keyword or filter by subject, grade level and type to find the right resources for your learning goals.

Project Lesson Plan: Build Your Own Robot Arm
This is the lesson plan described and utilized in the above article that helped students develop a robot arm using common materials. Students will explore design, construction, teamwork, and materials selection and use.

For information on customizable reading tools for dyslexia, ADHD and other challenges, please visit:
www.FocusandRead.com Tools for struggling readers of all ages!
www.BrennanInnovators.com Info & support for struggling readers

Image courtesy of:
Brennan Innovators, LLC at www.focusandread.com

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

BEST Dyslexia Resources (ALL in 1 Place!)

Last week, some ground-breaking legislation was signed by Governor Jay Nixon to significantly help improve the lives of students with dyslexia in the State of Missouri. On Wednesday, June 22, Governor Nixon put his signature to Senate Bill 638 and turned it into law at an Ozarks Area Community Action Corporation (OACAC) Head Start Center in Springfield, MO.

By late next year, the new law will begin to benefit an estimated 1 in 5 Missouri school-aged children. The following is a listing of the important benefits of this new legislation:

1. By December 31, 2017, this act requires the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to develop guidelines for the appropriate screening of students for dyslexia and related disorders and to develop the necessary classroom support for such students.

2. Beginning in the 2018-19 school year, each public school, including charter schools, shall conduct dyslexia screenings and provide reasonable classroom support consistent with the guidelines developed by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

3. Additionally, practicing-teacher assistance programs shall include two hours of in-service training regarding dyslexia and related disorders provided by each school district for all practicing teachers. Such training shall count as two contact hours of professional development. (Section 167.950)

4. This act also creates the Legislative Task Force on Dyslexia. The Task Force will advise and make recommendations to the Governor, Joint Committee on Education, and relevant state agencies. The Task Force will consist of twenty members, as described in the act. Except for four legislative members and the Commissioner of Education, the members will be appointed by the President Pro Tempore of the Missouri Senate and the Speaker of the Missouri House of Representatives. This task force will make the recommendations for a statewide system for identification, intervention, and delivery of supports for students with dyslexia, as described in the act.

This is a tremendous step forward for public school students in Missouri, and we certainly look forward to the enactment of this legislation!

While we await the implementation of this all-important law for students of Missouri, we wanted to join the momentum here and provide our readers with some of the BEST resources to help students with dyslexia RIGHT NOW! Please find to follow here some of the most helpful websites, tools and other resources we know that can make a significant difference in the lives of students as well as adults with dyslexia---whether you are a Missouri citizen or not. To make the access to these resources more convenient for you, we have collected them into Pinterest boards. That way, you will have them at your fingertips whenever the need arises.

Happy Reading---EVERYONE!

BEST Websites and Resources for Dyslexia

700+ Dyslexia Resources & Support
A very large collection of websites, links and other resources to help the 1 in 5 individuals estimated to be challenged with dyslexia. Many resources in the list are FREE or low cost.

Dyslexia Tools
A collection of tools, fonts and other products to help students of all ages with dyslexia to enjoy more reading success.

Dyslexia Resources from UM DyslexiaHelp (University of Michigan)
The link, DyslexiaHelp.umich.edu, is a free website and curriculum about all things dyslexia -- straight from the leaders and best.

Dyslexia Apps
A grouping of apps for desktops, iPhones, Androids and other devices to help persons of all ages with dyslexia.

Homeschooling - Dyslexia by Marianne Sunderland, Homeschooling With Dyslexia
350+ excellent tips and resources for homeschoolers with dyslexic learners.

70+ Dyslexia Resources by Monica, Discover Their Gifts
A collection of tips & resources for parents & families of children w/ dyslexia.


Decoding Dyslexia MO
Announcement of the content of HB 638 and the important benefits of the new dyslexia legislation in the State of Missouri.

For information on customizable reading tools for dyslexia, ADHD and other challenges, please visit:
www.FocusandRead.com Tools for struggling readers of all ages!
www.BrennanInnovators.com Info & support for struggling readers

Image courtesy of:
Brennan Innovators, LLC at www.focusandread.com

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

GREAT Book Lists for Girls and Boys-2016

We at Brennan Innovators are frequently asked to recommend books for children of all ages. In particular, we receive many requests to provide book lists specifically for boys and/or for girls. When summer vacation time rolls around each year, these requests seem to multiply, but we are always ready (and pleased!) to accommodate the large number of parents, grandparents, teachers and other adults who contact us for these literacy resources.

Since the summer is young with lazy afternoons and family car trips planned for many in the weeks ahead, we thought there would be no better time than now to provide these same resources right here in our blog. That way, many more readers might stand to benefit. We hope you like and utilize the lists provided below here so that you and your family can enjoy a wonderful summer filled with reading selections to appeal, inspire, stimulate and encourage even more good reading after the summer ends!

Happy Reading---AND Happy Summer, everyone!

GREAT Book Lists for Girls

Book Club Reading Lists---from A Mighty Girl Book Clubs
A Mighty Girl’s recommended reading lists are divided into four age levels: 6 - 7, 8 - 10, 11 - 13, and 14 and up. All recommended books were selected for high literary value and thematic content that would provide compelling discussion material for book clubs.

Good Books for Girls
A growing collection of book lists and other literature for girls of all ages

Christian Book Lists (for Girls)---from Goodreads
Here is a collection of good books for girls in various age groups.

Books for Girls---from Scholastic
These reads will help girls gain a better understanding of themselves and others. Scroll down the page of the following link to access lists of girls' books for specific age groups.

GREAT Book Lists for Boys

BEST BOOKS (for Boys)---from BoysRead.org
This website loves books that appeal to boys. Its mission is to transform boys into lifelong readers and lovers of books. (Many girls love the books listed here, too!)

Book Lists for Boys
20+ resources with book lists and related literature for boys of all ages

Book List for Boys (for Ages 4 to 11+)
You are encouraged to read some of the fantastic titles listed here with your child and/or add to your home library for them to pick up themselves. In doing so, you will expose your children to some well-written, wholesome books that will inspire them and stir their imaginations.

Books for Boys---from Scholastic
The books listed here will help boys gain a better understanding of themselves and others. Scroll down the page of the following link to access lists of boys' books for specific age groups.

For information on customizable reading tools to improve focus, tracking & attention for children of all ages, please visit:
www.FocusandRead.com Tools for struggling readers of all ages!
www.BrennanInnovators.com Info & support for struggling readers

Image courtesy of:
Brennan Innovators, LLC at www.focusandread.com

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

9 Resources to Address the Growing Need for Better Critical Thinking in All Readers

To say that there is significantly more media daily presented to the public than ever before would be an understatement. Since the year 2000, there has been an increase of 34 percent in the number of Americans who use the internet, resulting in a total of 84 percent of all Americans regularly logging on (as of 2015, the most recent year for data). Because of this widespread use of the worldwide web in recent years, reading the growing barrage of digital media can sometimes be overwhelming, particularly when attention, focus, comprehension and retention of that information is essential. Then, the prioritizing of that information for further evaluation can be especially daunting for challenged readers, as this step requires a higher level of mental effort, better known as critical thinking.

In addition, we all know how much access to instructional and troubleshooting information has now been transferred from personal interaction (i.e., via phone or in-person dialogue) and physical, printed text to the digital presentation of that same information. Now more than ever, an individual who needs instructions for assembly of a recently purchased product or directions for how to repair an issue with one's computer or other device, must digitally access those instructions via the internet, as a hard copy of the directions may no longer be provided with the product or the service. What's more, the instructions may only be visible for a limited period of time or only when visiting a particular web page.

Discerning which information is applicable or pertinent to a current question or issue is also most important. Skimming and scanning skills must be honed to make shorter work of the information actually needed or targeted. Key points must be read carefully and put into a sequence, especially when instructions are sought. (For visual learners, a physical listing of these key points on a piece of paper might even be advisable here.) Finally, the successful implementation or application of what has been read is hopefully then able to be achieved.

Increasingly here at Brennan Innovators, we are discovering that each of us in the office must be able to effectively research, navigate, and troubleshoot technological issues to a certain extent in order to enable all clients and customers to access our products and services without interruption or difficulty. This is required together wit all other duties and responsibilities.

In short, reading is required everywhere and in increasing amounts with the added component of discernment and evaluation. What we're talking about here is critical thinking and problem solving. For this reason, we are providing resources here to help challenged readers and others develop better critical-thinking and problem-solving skills. Included here are links to articles for general information as well as resources with games, activities and more for this purpose. We hope at least one of these listed links will help someone you know to improve those much needed skills in our digitally-daunting, media-driven world today.

Resources to Help Improve Critical-Thinking & Problem-Solving Skills

Critical Thinking and Problem Solving---by Partnership for 21st Century Learning
General information and resources (includes Bloom's Taxonomy, lesson plans, other resources for the classroom, etc.) to help promote, encourage and further develop skills that involve critical thinking and problem solving.

35+ Critical-Thinking & Problem-Solving Resources---by J. M. Brennan
A growing collection of direct links (via Pinterest) to many different kinds of resources (for all ages) that promote critical-thinking and problem-solving skills development. Links listed provide games, puzzles, activities and more for this purpose.

Developing Critical Thinking Skills in Children---from Bright Horizons, Family Solutions
Information and tips for teaching critical thinking & problem solving

How You Can Help Children Solve Problems---by Ellen Booth Church, Scholastic (for Pre-K to Gr. 2)
Children are natural problem solvers, and early childhood settings offer countless opportunities for children to grow in their problem-solving abilities. These important experiences help children learn to value different kinds of thinking, think logically and creatively, and take an active role in their world. The tips in this article will be helpful for parents and teachers of young children.

Creativity/Problem Solving/Critical Thinking Lesson Plans and Resources
The sites listed here provide lesson plans and resources for promoting problem solving, creativity, and critical thinking. Click on a topic from the site index to find what you need. Resources include math problems, puzzles, word games, brainteasers and mystery hunts.

Critical Thinking---from The Critical Thinking Company
A sizable list of links to articles is provided here to help teach critical thinking skills to all kinds of learners (including individuals with autism and other special needs)

Critical Thinking for Children with Developmental Disorders: A Strategy that Works---from Upbility
Drawing on the vast range of definitions and techniques available for teaching critical thinking skills, the 3-cycle strategy presented here and developed by Upbility can be easily and flexibly used to address the particular needs of pre-school and primary school children with developmental disorders.

All Kinds of Brain-Training Exercises---for You & Your Child!
Resources for improving brain function both with specific, physical exercises and with other brain-building activities.

Engaging Critical Thinking Skills with Learners of the Special Populations---by Stacie Deyglio
A FREE 10-page printable that describes the importance of teaching all students to pose good questions and to learn how to make meaning from complex ideas. Through Socratic dialogue, project-based learning, and other methods designed to engage all students deeply in the learning process, this teacher helps all learners to be engaged. The author is a dual-certified educator in 7-12 adolescent education within the specialty areas of biology and students with disabilities.

Americans’ Internet Access: 2000-2015---by Andrew Perrin and Maeve Duggan
As internet use nears saturation for some groups, a look at patterns of adoption

For information on customizable tools to improve focus and attention at work, school or at home, please visit:
www.FocusandRead.com Tools for struggling readers of all ages!
www.BrennanInnovators.com Info & support for struggling readers

Image courtesy of:
Brennan Innovators, LLC at www.focusandread.com

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

15 Helpful LD Transition Resources: From High School to Successful Employment

Part 2 & the last article in this series

In our last article, the first in this series, we presented information and resources for challenged high school students preparing for the transition to college. From study skills and test-prep resources to helpful apps and other links for high school students with LD (learning disabilities), the article entitled 25 Helpful LD Transition Resources: From High School to College provided much in the way of assistance for many teens and others considering secondary transition to college life.

This week's article is intended to help students with LD for whom employment after high school, whether full-time, part-time or a volunteer position, is a more appropriate option. It is important to remember that for a variety of reasons, the college experience is certainly not for everyone. Consider a teen's strengths as well as the challenges she may have. Keep in mind that the potential for her successful job placement will rely upon both of these considerations.

When considering and then looking for employment with your child, you need to think about what kind of job in which your child would be successful as well as the level of support he/she will need to secure and maintain a job.

There are five basic levels of employment support for individuals with learning and/or developmental disabilities:

1. Competitive Employment: A full-time or part-time job paid at market wages with no long-term support. The employer hires the individual based on his/her skillset and the needs of the business.

2. Supported Employment: A job in which the employee receives ongoing support that is funded through state developmental disabilities or vocational rehabilitation agencies. This job can be in an individual or group setting, depending on the support level needed. This type of position also meets the employer’s business needs and can still include “job carving,” where a job is created to meet the unique skillset of the individual.

3. Self-Employment: A job someone does on his own that provides an income.

4. Production Employment: A job in which employees with disabilities work at a site with other employees with disabilities and do defined tasks like collating, assembling, or packaging. This job setting provides a high level of supervision and job training.

5. Volunteer Employment: A job that someone does without pay, usually to benefit the community. Volunteer jobs can lead to paid employment by providing work experience, or they can be an end to themselves, providing the volunteer with community and purpose.

To further aid you or your teen in researching resources for employment after high school, you might consider those in the following list:

LD Transition Resources: BEFORE Successful Job Placement

Disability and Employment Community of Practice
The Disability and Employment Community of Practice is an online learning destination for public workforce system staff and partners, job seekers, community-based organizations, grantees, and the business sector, who provide services and programs to people with disabilities and/or other challenges to employment.
Resource Library link: https://disability.workforcegps.org/resources

Transition: School to Work
This webpage from LDonline provides answers to some frequently asked questions about transitioning from high school to job placement for teens with LD.

Employment Services---from Easter Seals Midwest
Visit this site for information and resources related to teen transition services, career exploration and discovery, pre-vocational training, job-placement services and more in the State of Missouri.

Get Your Child Ready for Work---from LDA (Learning Disabilities of America)
You can help your child become a satisfied and valuable employee by teaching him to develop the values and skills of a good worker, avoid the common pitfalls of youth with learning disabilities, and learn job-related skills at home. To learn more, read this article.

This is the U.S. federal government website for information on disability programs and services nationwide. The site connects people with disabilities, their families and caregivers to helpful resources on topics such as how to apply for disability benefits, find a job, get health care or pay for accessible housing. You can also find organizations in your community to help you get the support you need.

Employment and Other Options---from AutismSpeaks
What will the day look like when high school ends? There are several different options for individuals with autism when it comes to what they will do when they leave the education system. Some individuals may want a structured vocational or day program, others may choose to focus on community experiences or some type of employment. These options may include sheltered employment, supported employment, or competitive employment. Other young adults with autism may want to attend college or another type of post-secondary education institution before they enter the world of employment. The downloadable PDF here will provide assistance and information needed.
Link to FREE 12-page PDF printable: https://www.autismspeaks.org/sites/default/files/documents/transition/employment.pdf

Five Misconceptions about Job Advancement---from LDA
The basics of job advancement are similar for all people, but people with learning disabilities must particularly ensure that they assess their strengths, develop credibility, and take advantage of available leadership opportunities. The five misconceptions about job advancement can impede the process of getting promotions and advancing in careers for many people with learning disabilities. Learn more about these misconceptions in order to be more successful in landing a good job.

LD Transition Resources: AFTER Successful Job Placement

On the Job---from LDA
You’ve met the requirements! Now you have a job. When that happens, the focus of your life will change. You are no longer faced with the problems of finding a job. Now you are faced with the questions 1) how can I advance in my chosen career and 2) how can I prevent or minimize problems in the workplace which might cost me the job I worked so hard to get? These are issues for every person in the workforce and every individual with disabilities, but they are particularly challenging for an individual with attention deficit disorder or a specific learning disability. This article will provide some assistance with these issues.

Job Coaching and Supported Employment---from The Viscardi Center
This website and its organization, a 501(c)(3)non-profit located in Albertson, NY, provide information about a lifespan of programs and services that educate, employ and empower children and adults with disabilities.

Self-Advocacy in the Workplace: Requesting Job Accommodations---from LDA
Self-advocacy is knowing what you want, what you do well, and what you have difficulty doing. It includes knowing your legal rights, your needs, and telling that information to the appropriate person. Effective self-advocacy empowers people and gives them access to reasonable accommodations and strategies. In this article, learn some helpful tips for becoming an effective self-advocate in the workplace.

Other Related Resources

Find a Service for Autism (and other LD)---from AutismSpeaks
Select your state and all the listings for autism services (or other LD challenges)in that state will appear. Once you click on a category, you will be asked to enter a zip code in the state you picked. After you enter your zip code and hit the enter key, a map of all the listings of that category in the state will appear. Search for transition services, job coaching and more.

The Journey to Life After High School---from AbilityPath.org
A Road Map for Parents of Children with Special Needs---A FREE printable PDF document (81 pages) with helpful information and resources for both college AND employment after high school for students with special needs.

Top 10 Skills Autistic Teens Need For Independent Living
As parents of children with autism and other special needs, we tend to be overwhelmed by all that we need to teach them. This article will help focus on the most important skills to address.

When College Isn’t in the Cards---from The New York Times
This is an excellent article that provides a helpful explanation of reasons why college may not be the best path for many high school students (typical or LD).

Inexpensive Low-tech & Digital Reading Tools to Help Persons with LD on the Job
Research-based and sensory-appealing tools for MORE focus and BETTER reading comprehension/retention. The physical and digital tools provided via this site are customizable and teacher-designed yet inexpensive.

Please READ our companion article to this post entitled 25 Helpful LD Transition Resources: From High School to College.

For information on customizable tools to improve focus and attention at work, school or at home, please visit:
www.FocusandRead.com Tools for struggling readers of all ages!
www.BrennanInnovators.com Info & support for struggling readers

Image courtesy of:
Brennan Innovators, LLC at www.focusandread.com

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

25 Helpful LD Transition Resources: From High School to College

Part 1 of a two-part series

Many of our readers may be aware that it can be more than a little challenging to access the resources needed and the support required to significantly help students with LD (learning disabilities). As a student with special needs progresses through the educational system, more than a few parents discover that they must wear many hats. At times, these parents are compelled to both research and navigate various channels to locate much-needed LD resources and then advocate for their children so that they can actually access those resources. Sometimes after wearing the hats of researchers and legal professionals among others, these parents must also become persistent "warriors" who battle with school districts and their officials to provide their children with the resources deserved.

Later, when these same students with LD approach the ages of 17 or 18 and prepare to "make the leap" from high school to college or even a vocational school, the challenges become even more daunting for them and their parents. The resources available for assisting challenged students with this transitioning (as it is often called) at this level are too often limited. In addition with the current decreases in funding for these needs, those programs or resources that do exist are falling in number and/or experiencing a lower level of funding. This is particularly noteworthy when approximately 11.1% of all U.S. college undergraduates enrolled, had a disability in the 2011-2012 school year.

At a time when the number of individuals with diagnoses of ADHD, dyslexia and autism is markedly on the rise, it is a real concern for parents (as well as society) that needed resources are increasingly more difficult to locate and access for these students with additional needs. For this reason, we wanted to provide a list of LD Transition Resources for our readers, a list intended particularly for students making the transition from high school to college or a vocational school. This list is a general one that includes special needs study resources, names if colleges that accommodate students with additional needs, helpful apps for LD students at this educational level and more. We hope you will discover at least a few resources here to help a teen with learning challenges more easily make the leap from high school to to college.

Study Skills & Test-Prep Resources for Older Students w/ LD

1. Study Skills for Students
Proven tips and techniques for studying smarter... not harder. This article also includes an extensive list of links to General Study Skills Guides, Text-Taking Guides, Study Skills Resources by Subject and more!

2. Organization and Study Tips and Ideas to Prepare for College
This web page provides ideas and information pertaining to organizational ideas and study tips that can be used in a college environment. Each individual students learns, processes, and retains information differently. As a result, it is recommended that students adapt the organizational and study ideas on this page to fit their own needs and strengths.

3. Helpful Focusing Tools for Books, Technology & More!
To study effectively---whether offline or online, it does matter which tools and strategies you use consistently.

4. 10 Helpful Steps for Test-Taking Success
Whether it's a unit test, mid-term or final exam that's looming, you'll experience much more success if you plan for it. Here are ten of the most helpful steps to improve your test-taking success (presented in a bulleted format for your convenience and ease of use).

5. Test-Taking Tips for Students with Dyslexia & Other Reading Challenges
Now is the time to prepare WELL for tests. Here are a few tips to share that could make your next testing session much more successful (AND even less stressful!), especially if you are a student with dyslexia or other reading challenge. We hope you will read and review these tips, making plans to follow through on their use.

6. How to Get Your Student Accommodations on College Entry Exams (for High School Students w/ Dyslexia)
by Marianne Sunderland, author of Abundant Life blog
This is one article in a 10-article series entitled Preparing Your Student with Dyslexia for College Success. Includes information about how to get accommodations on ACT and SAT tests for students with this LD.

Colleges & Vocational Schools for Students w/ LD

1. The 18 Best Colleges for Students with Learning Disabilities
by Francesca Fulciniti, PrepScholar

2. Colleges with Structured, Fee-For-Service Learning Disability or ADD Support Programs
A state-by-state list of colleges that provide fee-for-service programs for LD and ADHD. Special note: Remember to check admissions procedures for each college. In most cases, you must get admitted to the college through regular channels before you can apply to the special program.

3. 10 Impressive Special College Programs for Students with Autism

4. 15 College Programs for Kids With Learning and Attention Issues

5. Overview of College Resources for Students with Disabilities
Prospective college students with disabilities will find that many campuses are equipped with offices and services that address accessibility, accommodation, and assistive technology for a diverse range of needs. Student services offices and disability coordinators at many colleges work to make campuses inclusive environments through specialized advocacy, support & academic services.

6. Online and Local Vocational Schools Locator Tool
This online tool can help you locate trade schools and vocational programs. Please contact those considered for special needs or LD accommodations and provisions. An online degree may also be an option for you. Online learning may be great for people who have busy lives. Many online students have children, demanding jobs, or both. If this sounds like you, it's possible that studying at an online trade school or vocational school may be right for you.

Apps & Other Assistive Technologies for Students w/ LD

1. iPad Apps for Students & Adults with Learning Disabilities, ADHD & Autism Spectrum Disorders
This PDF file provides a list of all kinds of iPad apps to help older students and adults with LD. The list includes timer apps, life-skills apps, file-sharing apps, handwriting apps, math apps and more for use both in and outside the classroom (prices and direct links also included).

2. Low-tech & High-tech Reading Tools to Help Students & Adults with LD
Research-based and sensory-appealing tools for MORE focus and BETTER reading comprehension/retention. The physical and digital tools provided via this site are customizable and teacher-designed yet inexpensive.

3. BEST ADHD Apps for Better Focus
List of PC, Mac, iPhone & Android apps (with links) that help promote more focus & attention for students with these challenges.

4. Reading & Spelling Programs for Students with Dyslexia
from DyslexiaHelp at the University of Michigan
The following is a list of some programs that have been developed for struggling readers and writers. Some were created specifically for dyslexia, like Orton-Gillingham.

5. Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access (CATEA)
CATEA is an established interdisciplinary research and design center devoted to applications of technology to alleviate problems of human need, providing service, research and education under the auspices of a world-class academic institution. Multiple Web resources, teleconferencing and new media production allow Center staff to provide technical assistance and information dissemination across the globe.

6. Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA)
RESNA is an interdisciplinary association of people with a common interest in technology and disability. Their purpose is to improve the potential of people with disabilities to achieve their goals through the use of technology. They serve that purpose by promoting research, development, education, advocacy and provision of technology; and by supporting the people engaged in these activities.

7. Abledata
ABLEDATA provides objective information about assistive technology products and rehabilitation equipment available from domestic and international sources. Although ABLEDATA does not sell any products, they can help you locate the companies that do.

Other Secondary Transition Resources for Students w/ LD

1. Advice for the College Student (w/Dyslexia)
This article provides a good overview of "the system" and what students w/ dyslexia and other reading/learning challenges can expect with a secondary transition.
by Judy York, Director,Resource Office on Disabilities, Yale University

2. LD Transitions: High School to College
Pinterest board with a variety of resources for secondary transitioning with LD (ADHD, dyslexia, autism and other challenges)

3. Helpful Links from the LDadvisory.com's Blog
by Elizabeth C. Hamblet, LDT-C, M.S. Ed., M.A.T.
A collection of various links to help LD students successfully navigate the transition from high school to college.

4. Secondary Transition Resources for Students with Learning Disabilities
by Joan Azarva, Ms.ED, Conquer College with LD
Here are 60+ articles with resources to help high school students who transition to college, finding themselves facing a whole new set of challenges. Unfamiliar with the college system, they are prone to making poor judgments. Because college proceeds so rapidly (a typical semester is fifteen weeks), a few poor decisions can produce dire consequences. This significant collection of articles by a well-known college transition counselor and author should help students with LD make better decisions that result in a much more successful college experience.

5. Vocational and Trade Financial Aid Options

6. Online Colleges Scholarships and Financial Aid

Next week's article: LD Transition Resources: From High School to Employment---Part 2

For more information on customizable reading tools to improve focus and attention, please visit:
www.FocusandRead.com Tools for struggling readers of all ages!
www.BrennanInnovators.com Info & support for struggling readers

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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

LD + Gifted = Twice Exceptional: What Should We Do?

The term twice exceptional, sometimes abbreviated as 2e, was coined by Professor James J. Gallagher of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and refers to students who are both gifted and have disabilities (e.g., auditory processing weaknesses, sensorimotor integration issues, visual perceptual difficulties, spatial disorientation, dyslexia and/or attention deficits). Such students need remediation for their learning deficits and enhancement for their strengths to achieve optimal results.
(Source: Segen's Medical Dictionary)

Dr. James John Gallagher, esteemed author and Kenan Professor of Education (Emeritus) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Carrboro, North Carolina), has spent a lifetime (40 years) advocating and supporting 2e students. Dr. Gallagher states:

"...Failure to help the gifted child reach his potential is a societal tragedy, the extent of which is difficult to measure but what is surely great. How can we measure the sonata unwritten, the curative drug undiscovered, the absence of political insight? They are the difference between what we are and what we could be as a society."
(Source: Dr. James J. Gallagher, author of Teaching the Gifted Child)

Twice-exceptional children are intellectually gifted children challenged with special needs (such as ADHD, LD, autism, etc.) These children have a difficult time in our education system because their giftedness can actually mask their special needs. In other words, their special needs hide their giftedness. Because of this, they are very often labeled as lazy, unmotivated, not engaged and/or not trying. Many people, including even some educators, do not realize that a child can be both gifted and learning disabled at the same time. Linda Silverman, Ph.D., director of the Gifted Development Center (GDC) in Westminster, Colorado, has found that fully 1/6 of the gifted children tested at the GDC have a learning difference of some type.

The challenges that face gifted children in a society currently looking for ways to cut educational spending are significant. However, when one adds the element of LD to some in this gifted population, funding that does exist is rarely adequate. Resources may be available, but not in the quantity or quality required to properly meet the needs of the many twice-exceptional students in our school districts today.

The most daunting challenge for twice-exceptional students has been best described by Marty Haugen, Ph.D. of The University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Haugen tells us:

"The greatest challenge in serving students who are twice exceptional are the perceptions of most educators that giftedness and special needs are distinct, separate conditions."
(Source: Marty Haugen, Ph.D., Twice Exceptional Learners, from the 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter: http://www.fcps.edu/is/aap/pdfs/presentations/TwiceExceptionalLearners.pdf)

For these reasons and others, we have decided to provide in this article a number of twice-exceptional resources for parents, educators and other professionals who help, advocate and support this specific 2e student population. The resource links to follow here are intended to serve as a reference list for the future use of these individuals. Should our readers know of other such resources, please let us know, and we will add them to the list upon review.

Resources for Twice-Exceptional Children & Teens

Wright's Law for Twice Exceptional Children (2e)
Articles, resources and book titles to help parents and teachers advocate for twice-exceptional children and teens

2e (Twice Exceptional) Books---by Hoagie's Gifted website
Book titles and direct links to resources for 2e students, their parents and teachers

2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter
FREE newsletter to which parents, teachers and other professionals can subscribe for information about helping 2e children reach their full potential. It is the only publication on giftedness plus learning challenges aimed at parents, teachers and others who work with 2e children. Subscribers to the 2e Newsletter receive: E2e, a free email briefing that comes twice each month and is loaded with pointers to articles and resources for the 2e community. A subscription also allows for access to the 2e Newsletter's archives. The 2e Newsletter has been published since 2003 and has covered a wide range of topics during that time, all available FREE to subscribers. Discounts for other related materials are also available via this same subscription.

2e Resources---by the 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter
Direct links to books, schools, programs and other service providers for 2e children and teens.

New! Fact Sheet on the Twice Exceptional Student from the International Dyslexia Assocation (IDA).
It can be a greater struggle to show that a student is eligible for services for treating dyslexia than for giftedness. A other times, proving eligibility for services for the giftedness is the challenge. (Feb 2013). A FREE downloadable PDF is available via this same link.

Uniquely Gifted
This website provides excellent information and resources. The site was developed by Meredith Warshaw, special needs educational advisor. This site is named after the book Uniquely Gifted: Identifying and Meeting the Needs of the Twice-Exceptional Student, edited by Kiesa Kay.

Gifted? Special Needs? Both? --- How to Help Your Child
This article provides practical resources and direct links to help parents, teachers and other professional who work with and support 2e students.

BEST Dyslexia Tools, Resources & Support for Parents & Teachers-2016
It is estimated that 1 in 5 school-age children is challenged with some form of dyslexia. This learning disability appears to be more prevalent in the gifted population. Resources via this link will assist parents, teachers and others to help children and teens with dyslexia and other reading challenges.

One-Stop APP Lists for Dyslexia & Other Reading/Writing Challenges
This article will provide challenged readers with lists of helpful apps (for desktops, Androids, iPads, etc.). Return again and again to this blog page to more easily access these apps that could make a significant difference for many struggling readers in all age groups.

Twice Exceptional Learners from the 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter
A 23-page paper (downloadable PDF) that explains who are they who are 2e, how are they identified, their challenges and more related information.

Gifted Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
by Maureen Neihart, LD online
Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder(ADHD) is the most common behavioral disorder of childhood, and is marked by a constellation of symptoms including immature levels of impulsivity, inattention, and hyperactivity. The National Institutes of Health declared ADHD a "severe public health problem" in its consensus conference on ADHD in 1998. This article provides good information about the combination of giftedness AND attention challenges of ADHD.

Advocating for Your Gifted Child with Autism---from Duke TIP
Information about how parents (and teachers) can advocate and support chidlren who are gifted and challenged with autism at the same time.

Gifted Resources---from Duke University
Though not specific to 2e students, this website provides information about states' gifted programs, associations, webinars and more for parents, teachers and other professionals.

For information on customizable low-tech & digital reading tools for challenged readers & learners, please visit:
www.FocusandRead.com Tools for struggling readers of all ages!
www.BrennanInnovators.com Info and support for struggling readers

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