Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Struggling Reader---Waiting for an Official Diagnosis

Whether you suspect your child has dyslexia or some other reading challenge, it is essential to obtain an official and appropriate diagnosis. However, sometimes there can be considerable “wait time” before an initial visit with a medical professional or other appropriate diagnostician.

Depending on the circumstances in your area (i.e. the number of individuals needing evaluation or the appropriate professionals available to the population), it can take some weeks before an appointment can be scheduled for testing, evaluation, and a proper diagnosis to be determined. What, if anything, can be done in the meantime to help a child or adult struggling with reading? There are some tips and strategies to consider that could be helpful.

Overlays, which are colored or clear transparent sheets placed over a page of printed text, can be beneficial to some challenged readers. Often, the white background on a page of text can be “visually stressing” or even “offensive” to many individuals with reading issues. Try a different colored sheet each week to learn if a specific color helps more than others in promoting focus, concentration, better comprehension, and retention.

Focusing tools can also help. These types of tools should block out surrounding text and promote the line(s) of text to be read at a particular time. They are usually inexpensive and non-invasive, which are added benefits to their use.

One such tool called the Reading Focus Card (U.S. Patent 7,565,759) actually blocks out more surrounding text than any other tool available at this writing. It is inexpensive, non-invasive, and created by an experienced teacher for her students. In addition, this solution for struggling readers is customizable for each individual and includes 3 different colored filters (like mini-overlays) from which to choose for changing the color of the white background of any page. The Reading Focus Card Combo Pack comes with all components for 2 tools (each a different length for different text line lengths. Visit to learn more or to order.

Other tips and strategies
for readers who struggle should also be considered. The following are just a few that could make a difference:

1. Underline or highlight important key words in a set of directions BEFORE beginning an activity, worksheet, or other assignment.

2. Fold a worksheet so that only a small amount of text, information, or problems is visible at one time.

3. Allow for standing while reading or even moving to optional work areas with less distraction.

4. Try “colored paper” for all printed materials including worksheets, outlines, notes, etc. Experiment with pastels as well as bright shades. One particular color may produce the best results for an individual.

For more information: For focusing tools that work! For info, resources, and support

Saturday, September 10, 2011

What to Do If You Suspect Dyslexia

Part 3---Two Options to Consider

Regardless of the age of an individual with dyslexia or other reading challenges, it is important to consider obtaining an official diagnosis.

In the case of children and teens, some school districts use a relatively new process called Response to Intervention (RTI) to identify children with learning disabilities. For students who do not go through this RTI process, an evaluation to formally diagnose dyslexia is needed. Such an evaluation traditionally has included intellectual and academic achievement testing, as well as an assessment of the critical underlying language skills that are closely linked to dyslexia. For children, this may be accomplished through one’s school district; however, the wait time could be significant depending on available services in each district.

Another option is to seek such an evaluation through private testing. A developmental optometrist is an excellent medical professional to conduct such an evaluation. The “upside” with this option is that wait time can be significantly less. In addition, such an evaluation is available for either children or adults. However, this option can be quite expensive and often is not covered under traditional healthcare insurance plans.

Resources for Dyslexia Teaching Strategies to help Children A supportive resource for parents, educators and others who want to know more about dyslexia. Signs and symptoms of dyslexia
Website for learning challenges offers a feature to change the background color of every page on the site. This changing of color can help with visual stress and some dyslexic symptoms. Tools for struggling readers of all ages Information on a possible link between Omega 3 fatty acids and dyslexia, AD/HD, dyspraxia, autism, and other challenges. Also, info on Dr. Alex Richardson (University of Oxford) and additional links to related articles. (professional articles here) Could a simple breath test identify children with dyslexia, attention deficit disorder and behavioral problems before they start school? (mainstream media article)

Next week's article (Part 4) will be entitled What to Do While Waiting for an Official Diagnosis?

For more information: For focusing tools that work! For ADHD info and support

Graphic courtesy of:

Saturday, September 3, 2011

What Causes Dyslexia?

Part 2---Could Nutrition Be a Factor?

The exact causes of dyslexia are still not completely clear. However, brain imagery studies have shown differences in the way the brain of a dyslexic person develops and functions. In addition, most individuals with dyslexia often have problems identifying the separate speech sounds within a word and/or learning how letters represent those sounds, a key factor in their reading difficulties.

Important: Dyslexia is neither due to a lack of intelligence nor to the lack of a desire to learn. With appropriate teaching methods and strategies, individuals challenged with dyslexia can learn successfully.

For some years, Dr. Alex Richardson of the University of Oxford has been doing research in how nutrition can affect behavior, learning, and mood. Her current research focuses on the role of Omega 3 fatty acids in relation to disorders such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, AD/HD, autism, depression and schizophrenia. Recent and ongoing work includes investigation into the effects of dietary supplementation with fatty acids in relation to features of these conditions. For more information about Dr. Richardson’s and her studies, please visit

For information about dyslexia, including dyslexia symptoms, please visit and

Next week's article (Part 3) will be entitled What to Do If You Suspect Dyslexia?

For more information: For focusing tools that work! For ADHD info and support