Friday, January 31, 2014

Keep 'Em Reading with Super Bowl Learning Activities & Resources!

It's that time of year when "Football Frenzy" reaches its highest point. For some diehard football fans, the fast-approaching tribute to the two best teams in football can even eclipse other holiday celebrations like no other. It's time for the annual SUPER BOWL Game!

Why not harness some of that frenzy and use it as an excellent opportunity to entice a reluctant reader who loves football or a chance to provide reading and learning activities for your children as you prepare for a SUPER BOWL event at your home? No matter what the situation, you'll keep 'em reading all weekend long---AND longer!

We've gathered together a timely list of links to help you. The following resources will save you considerable time in locating just the right reading activities for your children or students. We're even publishing the article earlier than usual so that you can take better advantage of the resources it includes. We hope you'll find these resources helpful enough that you just might save the list for next year's big game, too!

Enjoy---AND may the BEST team win! Happy Reading, everyone!

Reading Resources for Football and the SUPER BOWL

Going to the Super Bowl (for Grade 3) from Reading A-Z
This informational text tells all about one of America's favorite championship games: the Super Bowl. The author explains how the famous football game began, how it got its name, and how it's changed through the years. Also included is a collection of game highlights, complete with a timeline of "Super Moments in Super Bowl History." Includes related vocabulary and a guided reading lesson plan.
http://www.readinga-z.com/book.php?id=1384

Top 12 Super Bowl Activities for the Classroom by Kim Haynes of TeachHUB.com
How can you take advantage of Super Bowl enthusiasm in the classroom or with your own children? These football-related activities are guaranteed to bring a winning attitude to your classroom or your home.
http://www.teachhub.com/super-bowl-activities-classroom

Super Bowl Activities from The Teachers Corner
These Super Bowl Activities will provide you with great resources that will help you bring the "Big Game" to life for children.
http://seasonal.theteacherscorner.net/super-bowl/

Superbowl & Football Theme / Unit - from Teaching Heart Teachers
Teaching Heart Teachers share some football ideas: Lessons, printables, links & more!
http://www.teachingheart.net/football.htm

For information on customizable reading tools for ADHD & other reading challenges:
www.FocusandRead.com Tools for struggling readers of all ages!
www.BrennanInnovators.com Info & support for struggling readers
314-892-3897

Image courtesy of:
1. Dreamstime.com at http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photography-american-football-field-nfl-eps-image16200012
2. Sweet Clip Art at http://sweetclipart.com/rugby-ball-or-american-football-217
3. Brennan Innovators, LLC at www.focusandread.com

Saturday, January 25, 2014

More Great Apps for Children with Down Syndrome

We continue to be excited about how technology is truly leveling the playing field for persons of all ages with additional needs. The unique features of e-tablets and e-readers in particular(i.e. iPad, the Kindle, etc.) and the advantages they provide can now enrich the lives of many individuals of all ages who experience physical and mental challenges on a daily basis. This could not be more significant than for children and adults with Down Syndrome.

In March of 2013, we published an article here in our blog entitled BEST Apps for Children with Down Syndrome. Since that time, nearly 10,000 readers have visited our blog site to access that particular article and its resources still posted there. We’re excited about this level of interest and thought it was about time that we provided a 2014 update for parents, teachers and others who care for and teach children challenged with Down Syndrome. Hope you discover at least one resource here to help you or someone you know!

More Great Apps for Children with Down Syndrome

Special Needs Apps: 10 Apps for Down Syndrome (for Apple & Android)---from Friendship Circle (FREE & various prices)
This one webpage provides a basket of app titles, descriptions and direct links for help with social, organizational and behavioral development as well as literacy skills and more. (For all ages)
http://www.friendshipcircle.org/apps/?s=down+syndrome

iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch Apps for (Special) Education---Published by Eric Sailers (FREE and various prices)
This is a list of iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch apps for education and special education. Each app in the list provided includes a one-sentence description by the author.
http://www.scribd.com/doc/24470331/iPhone-iPad-and-iPod-touch-Apps-for-Special-Education

Desktop APP---Reading Focus Cards (Patent 8,360,779)
This DESKTOP app is the digital version of the low-tech, physical Reading Focus Cards tools (Patent 7,565,759), solutions for struggling readers. This app provides very practical support for children and adults with Down Syndrome, low vision, ADHD, dyslexia, stroke or brain injury issues, autism and other conditions that can affect reading success. This desktop application promotes more FOCUSED online reading of almost ALL digital media (webpages, PDF files, Word documents, Excel spreadsheets & more.) In addition, the app supports touch-screen technology (where applicable).
1. For Macs (desktops & notebooks):
Visit the Mac App Store and search for Reading Focus Cards or go directly to
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/read-and-focus/id920617853?mt=12
2. For Windows PCs (desktops & laptops):
Visit Gumroad at https://gumroad.com/l/ReadingFocusCards OR visit the Microsoft Windows Store and search for the app called Reading Focus Cards. (No URLs are ever provided for apps in the Windows Store.)

Special Words (Apple version updated for iOS 7 & Android version updated for Android 4.4)---from Special iApps
Teach your child to recognize early vocabulary written words, and encourage their speech development, on Apple iPad, iPhone and iPod touch and on Android tablets and phones. Supplied with 96 pictures and matching written and spoken words in 19 languages, based on the See and Learn Language and Reading resources from Down Syndrome Education International. Personalize with your own words, pictures and audio, and transfer these to and from the Special Stories app.
http://www.specialiapps.com/en_us/SpecialWords.html

APPS for Down Syndrome (Most are FREE.)---Gold Coast Down Syndrome Organization
Here is a list of websites that offers apps for iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch & Android phones.
http://www.goldcoastdownsyndrome.org/textpage.php?MenuID=111

See and Learn apps (Various prices)
See and Learn apps offer engaging activities designed to promote early development for children with Down syndrome on a variety of computer and tablet devices. These apps present similar activities to those included in the publisher’s printed kits and download editions for each step in the See and Learn programs.
Special Note: Coming Soon! NEW See and Learn apps will be launched in early 2014 for a variety of computer and tablet devices.
http://www.seeandlearn.org/en-us/apps/

For information on customizable reading tools for ADHD & other reading challenges:
www.FocusandRead.com Tools for struggling readers of all ages!
www.BrennanInnovators.com Info & support for struggling readers
314-892-3897

Image courtesy of: Phandroid.com: http://phandroid.com/2011/08/12/over-past-year-android-tablets-have-grabbed-20-of-ipads-global-market/ and
Brennan Innovators, LLC at www.focusandread.com

Saturday, January 18, 2014

New Legislation & Research-Based Tools to Help Struggling Readers

At the time of this writing, a growing number of states in the U.S. either have passed or have pending legislation for the appropriate identification and the timely treatment of dyslexia. Unfortunately however, many states, have yet to develop such laws and guidelines. To date, this state-by-state process has been very slow and time-consuming for those whose lives are affected by some form of dyslexia.

On January 10, 2014, however, Congressmen Bill Cassidy, M.D., the Co-Chair of the House Dyslexia Caucus, submitted a resolution (H.Res. 456, 113th Congress) calling for the U.S. House of Representatives to acknowledge the impact of dyslexia and urge schools and educational agencies to address its impact on students. Dr. Cassidy released the following statement:

Dyslexia affects millions of Americans, including many students. We know that many with dyslexia are among our brightest and most successful. If dyslexia is identified in elementary school and the appropriate resources are given to these children, America can produce more teachers, more scientists and more entrepreneurs. This resolution pushes schools and educational agencies to address this challenge and provide evidence-based solutions for dyslexic students.

Rep. Cassidy’s resolution represents a giant step forward for the many who care about dyslexia — parents, teachers, dyslexic children and adults. This Resolution has the potential to impact the country, not just one state. For this reason and others, the effects of this legislation would be historical---and so helpful to many. Science has brought understanding and clarity to dyslexia in recent years. This Resolution by Representative Cassidy now calls for educators and testing agencies to catch up and put this powerful knowledge to work so that the 15-20% of U.S. children with dyslexia, their families and our entire nation may benefit. Please contact your local congressperson to express your opinion on this issue. (See the Find Your Representative link to follow.)

With the potential for passing such a resolution with national implications, there would arise an even greater need for more assistive technology---both low-tech AND high tech solutions for helping students with dyslexia and other reading challenges. However, these solutions will be required to provide evidence of appropriate research and proof of the technologies' successful use in the field. In other words, they will need to be research-based tools, strategies and methods.

On a related matter, the most current statistics from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, November 2013) indicate that approximately 11% of children 4-17 years of age (6.4 million) have been diagnosed with ADHD as of 2011. In addition, the percentage of children with an ADHD diagnosis continues to increase, from 7.8% in 2003 to 9.5% in 2007 and to 11.0% in 2011. All too often, children challenged with the symptoms of ADHD (attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder) experience focus, tracking, comprehension and retention problems when reading. For them as well, the need for appropriate, research-based tools and strategies is growing.

One such group of these research-based tools is called the Reading Focus Cards (Patent 7,565,859). With 2 independent studies of the tools completed, they have been shown to not only improve focus and tracking for students but also measurably improve some students' reading rates, a surprising outcome of the formal and more recent focus study conducted in a Central Missouri high school. In addition, the Reading Focus Cards have shown that they help many readers with ADHD, dyslexia and other issues that impact reading success (Apserger's, autism, stroke/TBI recovery, low vision, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's).

For more detailed information about the 2 independent focus studies of the evidence-based Reading Focus Cards, visit http://www.focusandread.com/page/481317852.

For actual, unsolicited testimonials for the Reading Focus Cards, please visit http://www.focusandread.com/rfc-testimonials.

Sources & Resources

Urge Your Congressional Rep. to Support House Resolution on Dyslexia, #456. Contact Your Representative Now! by Sally Shaywitz, MD & Bennett Shaywitz, MD of The Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity
http://dyslexia.yale.edu/CassidyHResJan2014.html

Cassidy Calls For Schools To Help Dyslexic Students---Jan 10, 2014---Press Release (Link to a copy of the Resolution is included here.)
http://cassidy.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/cassidy-calls-for-schools-to-help-dyslexic-students

Find Your Representative (in the U.S. House of Representatives)
http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

Dyslexia Laws in the USA by Martha Youman & Nancy Mather
http://www.academia.edu/3075019/Dyslexia_Laws_in_the_USA

The International Dyslexia Association
http://www.interdys.org/

Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)---Data & Statistics (in the U.S.)
http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/data.html

For information on customizable reading tools for ADHD & other reading challenges:
www.FocusandRead.com Tools for struggling readers of all ages!
www.BrennanInnovators.com Info & support for struggling readers
314-892-3897

Image courtesy of:
Devereaux Cannon and Dave Martucci: http://www.crwflags.com/fotw/flags/us-16.html and
Brennan Innovators, LLC at www.focusandread.com

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Effective Adult ADHD Strategies & Resources for the New Year

The last in a series of 3 articles (for teachers, parents & adults)

Very often, articles about ADHD offer information and resources for parents and teachers who wish to help children and teens manage the symptoms of the condition. However, not as much information is provided for adults challenged with ADHD.

The above is just one reason why we have dedicated this last article in our series to those adults who struggle daily with focusing, time management, planning, organizational issues and other symptoms frequently experienced with attention deficit (hyperactivity) disorder, better known as ADHD (whether it is with or without the hyperactivity component).

Although we have presented previous articles here to help adults with ADHD, this article offers newer input for 2014. We hope that the strategies and resources provided here will be helpful to you or another adult diagnosed with the challenges of ADHD.
(Important: Do seek out an appropriate medical professional for a proper and reliable diagnosis if you have not already done so.)

Happy Reading---AND a Happier/Healthier New Year 2014!

ADHD Strategies for Adults

Consider at least 1 of the following strategies to implement as you begin the new year. Add an additional strategy as you master that first one. Within the month (if you are consistent), you should see a significant improvement in your daily life at home, at work and with personal relationships.

1. Eat a healthy diet. Keep some balance in your diet. Daily incorporating a significant amount of fresh fruits and vegetables along with appropriate amounts of lean protein can do much to contribute to this balance. Avoiding processed foods and those with "additives" (preservatives, etc.) can be very helpful in improving your overall health and management of ADHD symptoms. Limiting your in-take of alcohol beverages and sugary soft drinks will also be of benefit both in for the long and short term.

2. Exercise can be very helpful in managing the symptoms of ADHD. A greater feeling of well-being will be the result of time spent doing your favorite physical activity. Experiment with different kinds of options. Walking is a very good activity with which to begin here. It can be relaxing and meditative while offering benefits to keep you in shape and healthy with far less possibility of injury than any other exercise options.

3. Surround yourself with people who will hold you accountable, keep you focused, and offer encouragement and support. Positive reinforcement and modeling experienced in the presence of these kinds of individuals can make a big difference in your attitude and outlook.

4. Create written or virtual (using a PC, smartphone or similar device) to-do lists with deadlines. As a task is completed or addressed, cross it off or mark it "finished" and move onto the next item on the list.

5. Incorporate into your day and work periods some time spent moving, chewing (yes, chewing as with gum), listening to music, and other activities to help the brain focus and work smarter. Many persons with ADHD can actually work better with multiple but appropriate stimuli present in their environments.

6. Create a system you can stick with to help reduce clutter so you can find things when you need them.

7. Prior to beginning an activity or task, set aside a specific amount of time to accomplish that task---and stick to it. Avoid answering the phone, turning on the TV or other non-essential activity that will interfere with your dedicated time period. If this is particularly problematic for you, consider learning a few organizational skills and time-management strategies with the help of a personal ADHD coach.

8. Medication is an important step in treating adult ADHD but not the only one; the condition requires a holistic or whole-life approach. Medication is a first step, but education, coaching and the right therapy enable adults with ADHD to significantly improve their daily lives.

Additional ADHD Resources & Apps for Adults

Time Management: Best Apps for ADHD Adults---from ADDitude Magazine
Need help staying on task and crossing items off of your to-do list, ADHD adults? These 10 apps-reviewed by ADHDers-will help you get it done!
http://www.additudemag.com/slideshow/73/slide-1.html?utm_source=eletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=May

Diagnosis of ADHD in Adults from the National Resource Center on AD/HD---This article offers much information regarding the common symptoms of ADHD in adults, how professionals evaluate adults for possible ADHD, what to expect when consulting a professional for an ADHD evaluation and more.
http://www.help4adhd.org/en/treatment/guides/WWK9

Smartphones to Help ADD/ADHD Adults Get Organized from ADDitude Magazine
Which smartphones, apps, and cell phones are best for ADD/ADHD adults? ADDitude readers sound off on which ADHD products help them stay organized at work and at home.
http://www.additudemag.com/adhd/article/8898.html

To-Dos You Can Use: Great Task Manager Apps from ADDitude Magazine
Get more done with the help of your smartphone and these 3 smart apps.
http://www.additudemag.com/adhd/article/10252.html

ADHD Grows Up---How is ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder) different in adults than in children? That's the focus of this audio presentation at the UC Davis MIND Institute. Drs. Julie Schweitzer and Faye Dixon talk about the differences and new research that may help people understand better that ADHD is a real, neurobiological condition, and not a character flaw.
http://www.capradio.org/news/insight/2013/11/19/insight-111913/

Creating Change With ADHD in 2014---Ways to Start Addressing Adult ADHD
http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-distracted-couple/201312/creating-change-adhd-in-2014-0

Breaking News About Adult ADHD! by Dana Rayburn, Adult AD/HD Coach
This article, among others from this blog, offer practical support for adults with ADHD from Ms. Rayburn.
http://www.danarayburn.com/addsuccessblog/

Sleep Strategies for Adults with ADHD by Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.
Sleep disturbances are common among adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This article offers some tips to help.
http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2014/01/11/sleep-strategies-for-adults-with-adhd/

Tame Time: The Best Planners for ADHD Adults by Sandy Maynard (via ADDitude Magazine)
Coach Sandy and her clients team up to create planners that help every adult with ADHD get organized.

Is It Adult ADHD? from ADDitude Magazine---Do you think you have adult ADHD?
Take this ADHD Screening Test to learn more. FREE printable ADHD handout available via this link.
http://www.additudemag.com/resources/free-downloads/10167.html/is-it-adult-adhd

Life-Management Skills for Adult ADHD by Alyson McNutt English---It can be difficult for adults with ADHD to juggle family, work, relationships, and daily responsibilities. Here are some ways to manage.
http://www.everydayhealth.com/adhd/adult-adhd/adult-adhd-life-managment.aspx

For information on customizable reading tools for ADHD & other reading challenges:
www.FocusandRead.com Tools for struggling readers of all ages!
www.BrennanInnovators.com Info & support for struggling readers
314-892-3897

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

Saturday, January 4, 2014

A New Year Brings Helpful ADHD Strategies for Parents

The 2nd in a series of three articles (for teachers, parents & adults)

The New Year 2014 is but a few days old, and everywhere one can see ads and commercials for the latest diet supplements, the most effective weight loss programs and assistance from the most famous exercise gurus. It's natural and predictable that each new year brings with it many ways for self-improvement. Hopefully, if you have decided to improve your quality of life in one or more ways, you will also resolve to stay the course and reach your goal(s)in 2014. We especially hope that if ADHD is in some way apart of your life or someone you care about, you are making plans to help facilitate improvement and better management of the ADHD symptoms.

Last week, we began this series of three articles to offer teachers some practical strategies to help their students challenged with the issues often associated with ADHD. We thought it best to present these resources during the holiday break so that teachers might have a better opportunity to read and make plans to implement some of the strategies in the article (With a New Year, New ADHD Strategies for Teachers http://helpforstrugglingreaders.blogspot.com/2013/12/with-new-year-new-adhd-strategies-for.html). If you are an educator, we hope you will find the strategies presented in the article to be helpful in your classroom.

This week, however, the article here is written with parents in mind. Parents want to help their children enjoy more success in the classroom, in relationships with friends and at home with the family. Even though these parents want to help, they may not always know the best ways to do so. We wanted to provide a few, practical strategies that might give them a good place to start, especially as we begin the New Year. We hope that improvement in your child will soon be evident when these ideas and tips are implemented.

Please remember that it will be important to be consistent, compassionate and observant as you work with your child who is challenged with attention and focus issues. Have frequent "talks" with your child and ask for his or her input regarding the new strategies. These discussions will be even more helpful and productive with older children in the middle and high school years. You might even discover that more benefits than expected will result from using some of the strategies presented here. It just could enrich your parent-child relationship at the same time. What a WIN-WIN that would be for the New Year, right?

Happy New Year AND Happy Reading, parents!

ADHD Strategies for Parents

1. Be informed about ADHD and how it affects your child: Read and learn as much as you can about ADHD (which affects between 1.6 and 2 million adults and children in the U.S.) so that you can be an effective advocate for your child. There are many good books on the subject, including Answers to Distraction by Edward Hallowell, M.D. and John Ratey, M.D. Also, a quarterly publication to consider with excellent and some of the most current information about ADHD is ADDitude Magazine, published by New Hope Media.

2. Be upfront about your child's ADHD: It will be helpful to your child if you can accept the fact that he or she has these attention and focus issues. How well you accept and handle this will impact your child's self-esteem and ability to manage the ADHD symptoms in order to experience success in the classroom and elsewhere. Talk to your child's teachers, coaches, camp counselors, babysitters, etc. about the fact that your child has ADHD. This will help them to better understand your child and work more effectively with him or her---and you.

3. Don't overestimate the "power" of medications: At the same time, be aware of any medications prescribed by your child's medical professional, staying abreast of changes in medications should they become necessary. Understand that medication is a partial solution for ADHD. Behavioral modification with the right blend of strategies for your child will be a key component in effectively helping your daughter or son with the challenges and symptoms of ADHD.

4. Learn methods of effective discipline: One of the best behavioral modification systems is 1-2-3 Magic. The concept was developed by Thomas Phelan, Ph.D., who wrote: 1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12. This precise and effective tool also works for kids who don't have ADHD. Again, being consistent yet compassionate will aid in the effectiveness of your approach and use of the appropriate strategies.

5. Work with your child's teacher(s): Establish a good, working and respectful relationship with your child's teacher(s). If your child is misbehaving at school, work with his teacher(s) to develop an effective discipline system like 1-2-3 Magic (many teachers already use this system). If your child is having trouble staying focused on his studies, work with the teacher(s) to develop a reward system that can bring about the needed results.

6. Help provide structure at home for your child: Work together to provide a set time for study and homework to be completed each day at home. Arrange for a dedicated space in your home for that study---away from the TV or other stimulating distractions. At the same time, soft, instrumental background music may help some children or teens experience more focus when studying. Frequent study breaks and short periods of exercise or movement may also contribute to more successful reading and study. You may need to experiment with a little trial and error to see what will work best for your child.

7. Create an effective rewards system at home: Develop a list of specific tasks that your child will need to complete each day (homework, gathering the recyclables, etc.) Then decide upon the appropriate reward. If your child is very young, consider filling a jar with small prizes such as colored pencils, stickers or the like. Allow your child to select one prize each day if he accomplishes all of the tasks on his list. If he accomplishes only three of the four tasks, for example, tell him he did a good job but that he must complete all four tasks to get the reward. If your child is older, consider other rewards (a trip to the zoo or to a movie on Saturday). Behavior modification charts may be very helpful to use for each day or throughout each week. To access a variety of FREE, printable charts of this type for various age levels, visit http://www.freeprintablebehaviorcharts.com/unlocking_the_secrets_to_good_behavior.htm.

8. Seek out good, professional help: Consider working with a child psychologist to learn parenting skills that can be particularly helpful for children with ADHD. If your child is developing negative ways of interacting with family members, consider family counseling to try and turn things around. Everyone's self-esteem will certainly benefit.

9. Do connect with other parents: Many communities have created organizations to help support parents of children with ADHD (known as CHADD [Chapter of Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder]). These groups can be enormously helpful. Not only will you feel supported, but you will be able to pick up effective tips and strategies that have worked for other parents. Ask your child's medical professional if there's a CHADD chapter in your community.

10. Remember to take good care of yourself: The challenges of ADHD can be taxing amnd at tome even a bit overwhelming. Look for positive outlets to keep your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual life in balance. Regular exercise is one great outlet.

11. Think positively: With proper information, education, structure, coaching (and medication in some situations), the prognosis for kids with ADHD is good. It's also important to realize that kids with ADHD often exhibit these prominent, positive traits: creativity, warm-heartedness, a trusting and/or forgiving attitude, the ability to take risks (a double-edged sword, to be sure), flexibility, tenacity and determination. Help your child channel these gifts in the best possible directions. And don't forget to "catch" your child doing something good and offer genuine praise at the same time. You'll both enjoy the experience.

Sources

12 Strategies to Help Parents of Kids with ADHD by Donna Engelgau---from Discovery Fit & Health
http://health.howstuffworks.com/mental-health/adhd/twelve-strategies-to-help-parents-of-kids-with-adhd1.htm

12 Parenting Strategies That Work for ADD Kids by Deborah Carpenter---from ADDitude Magazine
http://www.additudemag.com/adhd/article/985.html

For information on customizable reading tools for ADHD & other reading challenges:
www.FocusandRead.com Tools for struggling readers of all ages!
www.BrennanInnovators.com Info & support for struggling readers
314-892-3897

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