Saturday, December 29, 2012

BEST Reading & Writing iPad Apps for ALL Learners

Some students relax and recreate with their families during the holiday season. Others, especially struggling readers, may choose to use some of their holiday time to re-read or review challenging content and prepare for the next semester’s classes. As 2012 begins to wind down, we wanted to provide our student readers with some apps to help review and prepare in the best ways possible.

The following articles and lists of reading and writing iPad apps should be most helpful for this type of review and class preparation---and, we hope, motivating at the same time as we begin a new year. Happy New Year 2013 to ALL of our readers, writers and learners here!

BEST Reading & Writing iPad Apps

20 iPad Apps to Teach Elementary Reading---With these 20 apps, children can learn how to write letters, improve phonics fluency, and even write their own books. Read on to find the very best iPad apps for developing young readers
From TeachThought’s blog

50 Popular iPad Apps for Struggling Readers & Writers---Here we highlight just a few of the amazing apps out there that can help students with reading disabilities improve their skills not only in reading, writing, and spelling, but they can also get a boost in confidence and learn to see school as a fun, engaging activity rather than a struggle.

32 iPad Apps for Better Writing---Some of the brightest of these tools can be found on the Apple iPad, and we’ve highlighted 32 of them here. Whether you’re looking for a place to scribble ideas, organize plot lines, or just find your zen before sitting down to write, these apps have got you covered. (Best for students from middle school through college and beyond)
by Terry Heick from TeachThought’s Blog

Cause and Effect (iPad App)---e Skills Learning Minimod's Cause and Effect helps students build mastery in the essential reading comprehension skill of Cause and Effect. Cause and Effect requires the student to read a passage. Some of the passages ask the student to determine the Cause, while other passages ask the student to determine the Effect. This app is carefully aligned with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

25 Essential Apps for Mobile Learning---Educational apps for high school through college

Other Helpful Resources

12 Characteristics of an iPad-Ready Classroom---Here are 4 distinct areas of instruction and instructional design that can help frame the concept of iPad integration: Curriculum, Instruction, Assessment, and Integration.

21 Reasons to Use Tablets in the 21st Century Classroom---Some educators are still skeptical. How can a piece of technology truly enhance the learning process, without causing distraction?

For more information: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info & support for struggling readers

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Saturday, December 22, 2012

Holiday Help for ADHD, LD & Single Parents

"'Tis the season to be jolly!" is the chant of just about everyone at this time of the year. However, if you are a single parent, your holidays may be not be so jolly. Aside from your own feelings about the season, such activities as arranging for your child to have “equal time” to individually visit both parents for the holiday celebrations can be a real challenge for many single parents. Trying to allow for your child to spend time with several sets of grandparents can add to your stress. Then there is the gift-giving part of the festivities can, which in and of itself can become a duel of “one-up-manship”, each parent vying for the affection of the child. Often, this gift-giving can also become an opportunity for some children to manipulate one or both parents.

However, if you are the single parent of a child with ADHD or a learning disability (LD), the holidays can become particularly daunting and stressful for you, your child and other members of the family. Issues with hyperactivity, excitability, impulsivity and various sensory issues can enter into the plans and discussions of how to best celebrate the holidays with your child. Then there may be other issues that cause problems with your child’s other parent. The list of issues here can sometimes get pretty long. All of this might very easily exacerbate your child’s symptoms of ADHD or LD, causing you and others even more stress.

That is why this week, we have decided to provide you with some resources to help get your child AND you through the holiday season with your sanity still intact while keeping your child happy well into the New Year. To follow here are just a few tips to remember as you make celebration plans for your child and you over the next two weeks. At the end of the article, you will find some resources to give you additional guidance.

We hope that these tips and resources will help contribute to a truly enjoyable holiday season for your child, you and the other members of your family. Happy Holidays to ALL of you, especially our single parents and their children with ADHD or LD!

Holiday Tips for Single Parents of Children with ADHD/LD

Make time for yourself during the holidays. Do at least one activity you love.
• Knit a sweater, play the piano, or go jogging---something therapeutic or soothing.
Take advantage of offers that others give you to sit for your children.
Ask for help when you need it.
Find creative ways to be with the kids in a fun way.
Don't sweat the small stuff.
Respect the other parent as well as each other's time schedules. Promise to “get along”.
• Limit the number of items that must go back and forth between houses.
• Plan to share and volunteer.
Give up guilt.
• If you will be alone make plans - a movie, dinner with friends, volunteer or a trip to somewhere you have never been.
Trust your child's strengths.

Source: List adapted from To Merry, Unmarried Holidays: Help for Single Parents of Children with LD and/or ADHD over the Holiday Season---From LD Online---Article by Kathleen Ross Kidder

ADHD/LD Holiday Resources for Single Parents

To Merry, Unmarried Holidays: Help for Single Parents of Children with LD and/or ADHD over the Holiday Season---Article by Kathleen Ross Kidder--- Give yourself and your child the gift of enjoying the holiday season.

Avoid Holiday Havoc: Help for ADHD Children---Article by Carol Brady, Ph.D.---from ADDitude Magazine
Six ways for parents to help their ADHD children enjoy holiday celebrations without behavior problems, family conflict, or ADD symptom flare-ups.

ADHD Holiday Survival Guide---FREE downloadable ADHD handout from ADDitude Magazine
10 organization, planning, and relaxation tips designed to make this holiday season more jolly for the whole family

Keeping the Peace at Family Gatherings---Article by Larry Silver, M.D.--- from ADDitude Magazine
Sometimes having a child with ADHD can make get-togethers stressful. Follow these strategies for peaceful celebrations

Ten tips for surviving Christmas with ADHD---Article by Chris Churchill---from's ADHD and Holidays

For more information: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info & support for struggling readers


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Need Behavioral Therapy Tips & Resources for ADHD?

Many of us here already know that when a child or adult is challenged with ADHD, issues with inattentiveness, hyperactivity, impulsivity or a combination of these are present. Very often, other developmental or behavioral problems may co-exist with the ADHD, such as depression or bipolar disorder. Many may also know that appropriately prescribed medications are recommended for a large number of affected individuals. However, a combination of medication and behavioral treatment can most often work best.

When mentioning such medications, it is always recommended that parents of children with ADHD or adults affected with the condition discuss all options with the attending medical professional, deciding TOGETHER on the BEST option for a particular individual’s needs. At the same time, when talking about behavioral treatment or therapy, we can offer some points to consider as you begin to help develop the best treatment plan with your or your child’s health care professional.

We are including in our article this week a list of tips that will give you a good idea of what you might expect in the way of behavioral therapy. Some of these tips may work for some individuals. For others, a combination of the strategies may be required to achieve more successful results. Most likely, it will involve a process of trial and error, arriving at the best strategy or combination thereof.

Behavioral Therapy Tips and Strategies for ADHD

Something called “talk therapy” can be very helpful for both the child and family to understand and help manage some of the stressful feelings related to ADHD. (Please see Additional Behavioral Therapy Resources for ADHD below here for more information on talk therapy for children with ADHD).

A system of rewards and consequences can be an effective tool for parents to use in order to help guide their child's behavior. (Please see FREE Behavior Charts for Different Age Levels in the list of Additional Behavioral Therapy Resources for ADHD at the end of this article.) It will be very important for parents to learn how to handle disruptive behaviors-effectively.

Other tips to help a child or adult with ADHD include:

• It is important to communicate regularly with the child's teacher. For affected adults, it will be helpful and more productive to meet often with educational instructors or with supervisors in the workplace, clarifying expectations and defining one’s job responsibilities as well as progress made.

• Keeping a consistent and structured daily schedule, including regular times for homework, meals, and outdoor activities can make all the difference for someone with ADHD. Remember to make any changes needed in the daily schedule ahead of time---not at the last moment.

• Along those same lines, clear and consistent rules should always be provided (prior to an activity or event) for a child, teen or young adult with ADHD.

• In a child’s environment, limit or eliminate distractions such as pets, non-essential tech devices and television, etc. Even adjusting the lighting, temperature and type of seating can contribute to more focus and concentration for an individual.

• A varied diet, with plenty of fiber and basic nutrients can actually go a long way to promoting more focusing success.

• Allowing for enough sleep can be a very significant factor in achieving a good result.

• Parents will want to keep in mind that praise and reward go hand-in-hand with good behavior.

There are some alternative treatments for ADHD that have become popular, which include the use of herbs, supplements, and chiropractic treatments. Unfortunately, however, there is currently little or no solid evidence that these treatments are in any way effective. At the same time, there are often support groups that can help affected adults or parents of children with ADHD to connect with others who have similar problems.

Source: Adapted from PubMed Health site:

Additional Behavioral Therapy Resources for ADHD

General Overview of ADHD from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)---Causes - Symptoms - Tests - Treatment - Prognosis - Prevention – Resources for ADHD (FREE materials available here)

ADHD Behavior Therapy: Promoting Discipline & Focus in Kids
Article from ADDitude Magazine

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder---General information for ADD, ADHD & Childhood Hyperkinesis from PubMed Health

Talk Therapy for ADHD Children?---The differences between psychotherapy and behavioral therapy for children with attention deficit disorder.
by Nicole Sprinkle
Article from ADDitude Magazine

FREE Behavior Modification Charts for Teachers---Website providing numerous links to various types of printable behavior charts for classroom use

FREE Behavior Charts for Different Age Levels---Downloadable in PDF file format

ADHD Support Group Information

DailyStrength's Online (Forum) Support Group for Parents of Children with ADHD

CHADD Resources for Local ADHD Chapters (of Support)

For more information: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info & support for struggling readers

Saturday, December 8, 2012

"Do You Hear What I Hear?"--- Better Listening Skills with ADHD

It’s that time of year when everything is hustling and bustling---it's the holidays! Whether you are celebrating a Happy Hannukah, Kwanza or a Merry Christmas, this is a busy, busy season. If you, your child or your students are challenged with ADHD, then the season may be more chaotic than busy. In some cases, organizational skills may be lacking more than usual, focus and attention could be more significantly diminished, and the ability to listen well might be even more compromised with all the sounds of the season and the activities that accompany them.

So what is a parent, teacher or adult with ADHD to do during this busiest season of all when it comes to helping yourself or others properly attend to conversations, effectively listen to a discussion or absorb instructions for an activity? At other times of the year, these tasks may already be a struggle for those with attention deficiencies, but right now, those challenges can be intensified with the excitement and busy-ness of the holidays.

During the past week, one of our Facebook fans wrote to us and requested tips for listening and remembering facts in a conversation when one is challenged with ADHD symptoms. This same fan inspired us to write this blog article that we thought might help her and other readers during the busiest season of all. We have included some resources here to help ALL readers who experience these listening issues, especially for those children and adults with ADHD or Asperger’s.

Learn to LISTEN so that YOU can experience success---in the classroom, in relationships, on the job and in life! Happy Holidays and Happy Listening, everyone!

Listening Resources for ADHD

Not Paying Attention? Improve Listening Skills in ADHD Children at Home and School
Article from ADDitude Magazine

Advice for ADHD Wigglebottoms
Blog article from ADDitude Magazine
Book review of selection written by Howard Binkow for ADHD preschoolers, who don't have to sit still to enjoy some basic listening lessons.

Improving your Child's Poor Listening Skills
Learn the best ways to help your child improve poor listening skills, attention and memory with positive behavior supports.

Pay-Attention Tips for ADHD Adults
by Lynn Weiss, Ph.D---Article from ADDitude Magazine

Listen Up: 9 Ways to Help ADHD Kids Follow Directions
by Sandra Rief--- Article from ADDitude Magazine

10 Rules of Listening
by Linda Eve Diamond (excerpts from Linda's book, Rule #1: Stop Talking: A Guide to Listening (LP, 2007)

For more information: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info & support for struggling readers

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Saturday, December 1, 2012

ADHD? Discover Those Strengths & Build on Them!

If you are the parent of a child or teen with ADD, you may often fret over the challenges your child faces at school and at home with the family, concerned about the child's future. If you are an educator in a classroom having one or more students with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, you may find that you spend considerably more time thinking about how to address the negative behaviors associated with the ADHD than you do about how to teach these students. If you are an adult challenged with ADHD, you may find yourself spending a great deal of time thinking about your daily struggles and weaknesses. These are not unusual situations; however, there is a way to “turn the boat around” in thought and action for children or adults with some form of ADHD.

It is almost always easier to think about the “negative side” of a situation. It takes little energy and no productive thinking to “give in” mentally to “The Dark Side” when thinking about a situation, rarely if ever arriving at a good solution. This can certainly be true when we talk about ADHD. However, you might remember an old song with the lyrics:

“Accentuate the positive. Eee-lim-inate the negative. Latch on to the affirmative. Don’t mess with Mr. In-Between.”

Well, that’s certainly the advice we have to share with you here.

You might find it a little difficult to do, but consider your child, your students or yourself challenged with ADHD as persons with strengths in addition to the struggles associated with attention deficits. It is even a good idea to make a list of the strengths of each individual, and that may mean YOU. Yes, you DO have strengths. These may be special talents or gifts such as a great sense of humor, the ability to talk or interact well with others or special artistic skills. There are other talents less tangible but very valuable that are gifts as well: honesty and integrity, the ability to be a team player or to be compassionate and generous when others are hurting.

Whatever those gifts are, they are a person’s strengths. When that person is challenged with ADHD, acknowledge those strengths, gifts and talents and celebrate them. Then focus and build on them, diminishing the weaknesses associated with the ADHD. That is not to say that those symptoms are to be ignored or forgotten. No, it means that the emphasis of thinking is on what is positive.

Get involved with or provide activities that will capitalize on those strengths. Allow yourself or the person with ADHD to “shine” as a result of using those special gifts in a carefully chosen activity or exercise. You will find that your child, your students or you will experience increased self-esteem, which in turn will positively impact learning, achievement and daily life experiences. In other words, ACCENTuate the POSITIVE---with ADHD!

Positively GOOD Resources and Apps for ADHD (to Help Build on Strengths)

Resources for Supporting Students with ADHD---List of supportive links to access resources and support for adults challenged with ADHD as well as parents and teachers of children with ADHD

Adult ADHD: 50 Tips of Management---Tips for adults with ADHD that help instill hope and re-establish a positive attitude (includes insight and education as well as self-management strategies)
by Edward M. Hallowell, M.D. and John J. Ratey, M.D.

Parents of Children with ADHD---Some positive tips for parenting an ADD or ADHD child (includes a planner designed by a mother for her son with ADHD)

ADD/ADHD Resources for Teachers---From assessment accommodations and FAQs, these articles and resources will support and help teachers work with the special nature of students with ADD/ADHD.

Apps for Teens and Adults with ADHD---Supportive apps for improving organizational skills, weight loss and self-esteem among others are available via this link (FREE and low-cost apps)

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For more information: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info & support for struggling readers

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Saturday, November 24, 2012

Need Support Services for Dyslexia?

This past week before the Thanksgiving Holiday, we at Brennan Innovators received a call from our area’s Special School District. A representative from the district inquired as to area services for students with dyslexia, namely whom we recommend for dyslexia "testing", diagnosis and treatment.

We should not have been surprised to receive such an inquiry, but it continues to be a concern that this critical referral information is not readily available to every staff member in the district that is the primary provider of special needs services in our region. This further shows the growing need within our schools to appropriately address the reading struggles of ALL students, including those with vision-related challenges like dyslexia.

This one phone call was very telling and caused us to prepare our next blog article here about the much-needed information about support services for children (and adults) with dyslexia---wherever they may live.

Initial Support Services for Dyslexia

Website for the College of Optometrists in Vision Development---Basic information, research and resources to help with the understanding of vision-related reading/learning challenges

Locator Tool---Online tool to help locate the appropriate medical professional in your area for evaluation, diagnosis and treatment of vision-related reading/learning challenges
From the College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD)

Support Groups for Dyslexia

Dyslexia Support Groups
Access to various online support groups for dyslexia

DailyStrength Dyslexia Support Group
Online forum that supports persons challenged with dyslexia

Supportive Media for Dyslexia (Books, Apps and More)

Online Bookstore for Dyslexia---Books about dyslexia and related materials offered at a discount (Sponsored by the International Dyslexia Association)

FREE Dyslexia Newsletter---This bi-monthly World of Dyslexia Newsletter is received by over 40,000 people. It keeps readers up-to-date with the latest news and research in the field of dyslexia.

The Seven Causes of Reading Difficulty for Dyslexics---Most children and teens with dyslexia experience difficulties with reading. David Morgan’s article here outlines seven causes of reading difficulty.

Other Supportive Resources for Dyslexia

IDA Reading Literacy & Learning Conferences---Information about upcoming conferences

U.S. Branch Locations of the International Dyslexia Association--by State

British Global Partner Offices of the International Dyslexia Association (2)

Irish Global Partner Office of the International Dyslexia Association (1)

Australian Global Partner Office of the International Dyslexia Association (1)

Link to Other Global Partner Locations of the IDA

For more information: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info & support for struggling readers

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Saturday, November 17, 2012

Let’s Help Improve Your Working Memory!

Recently, we have been receiving some requests and inquiries as to resources and support for improving a child’s working memory. Working memory is one of the executive functions needed in both learning and in daily life. Sometimes, memory issues can develop or co-exist with other challenges, such as ADHD, dyslexia or autism spectrum disorders.

So to respond to these requests for information, we thought it would be a good idea to provide our readers this week with some tips, strategies, apps and other resources to assist parents and teachers in helping children (and adults, too!) improve their working memories.

Info, Tips & Strategies for Working Memory Improvement

What Is Working Memory and Why Does It Matter?---by Anne Stuart from NCLD
Working memory involves a short-term use of memory and attention. Learn more about working memory here.

Memory and Children with Learning Disabilities---by W.N. Bender from Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall &
Good explanations and brief definitions for terms used to discuss “working memory” (good overview).

How to Help a Child with Weak Working Memory---by Anne Stuart from NCLD
Does your child have a weakness with verbal (auditory) or visual-spatial working memory? Fortunately, there are many ways to help -- from teaching ways to compensate to lifestyle changes to brain-training techniques.

Don't Forget: Memory Tips for ADHD Students---by Matthew Cruger, Ph.D. from ADDitude Magazine
15 expert tips for boosting memory in students with ADHD or learning disabilities and improving academic performance.

Latest Working Memory Articles
Access page to ADHD Treatment: The Digital Approach and other related articles

The Memory Toolbox: 75 Tips and Resources to Go from Amnesic to Elephantic---by Daniel Strauss
Comprehensive article offering very practical and do-able strategies to improve memory. Also includes information about learning styles and their relationship to memory improvement. (Presented in bullet format for easy reading AND remembering!)

Apps & Games to Help with Working Memory

Crazy Copy Games HD Free Lite - for iPad---by Hien Ton
This app uses working memory by having children repeat combinations of colors.

Build Your Personalized Brain Training Program (Memory)---by Luminosity
For ALL ages--- Help with recalling the location of objects, learning new subjects quickly and accurately, keeping track of several ideas at the same time, and remembering names after the first introduction

Featured Video Games for Working Memory (Yes, video games--really!)---from Learning Works for Kids
Descriptions, reviews, ratings and more about how the following video games can help improve working memory:

• Okamiden
Recommended Age: 10+
Skills Used: Flexibility, Focus, Working Memory, Reading

• Paladog
Recommended Age: 6+
Skills Used: Focus, Working Memory, Mathematics, Reading

• Tap Tap Revenge Tour
Recommended Age: 7+
Skills Used: Focus, Working Memory

• Mario Party 9
Recommended Age: 8+
Skills Used: Flexibility, Focus, Working Memory

GOAL: Let’s “work” to improve our working memories this week!

For more information: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info & support for struggling readers

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Saturday, November 10, 2012

BEST Tools for Dyslexia

There is no doubt that our blog visitors are always looking for resources and tools for dyslexia. These are the number one, sought-after items according to our blog analytics' reports. This continues to be the case week after week.

Many of these visitors are teachers who seek practical and usable information about dyslexia not provided by their school districts and professional organizations. Others are parents who desperately want to help their children succeed in school, despite the struggles with reading those children face daily in their classrooms. Still others are adults who have been challenged with reading issues most of their lives and continue to search for tools and strategies to improve focus, concentration, comprehension and retention.

Because of this continuous demand and the increasing number of phone requests we consistently receive, we have gathered again a new list of tools (both low- and high-tech) to manage the symptoms and effects of dyslexia, allowing challenged readers to focus and read with more success. Additional resources for dyslexia are listed immediately to follow. These tools, resources and information are from both Yale University and the University of Michigan.

Low-Tech & High-Tech Tools for Dyslexia

Technology for Dyslexia
Review of several tech devices specifically helpful to persons with dyslexia
From Yale University

Software and Assistive Technology
Description and information about various technologies to help accommodate for challenges and increase self-confidence at home, in the classroom, or on the job
From the University of Michigan’s University Center for the Development of Language & Literacy

Assistive Technology at School (Info about Low- and High-Tech Assistive Technology)
A Charter School's Journey into Assistive Technology ---article by Joshua Jenkins
From Yale University

The Reading Focus Card to Help Students with Dyslexia & ADD/ADHD (Low-Tech Tool to Help with Dyslexia)
Review from University of Michigan’s University Center for the University Center for the Development of Language & Literacy

Apps for Dyslexia and Learning Disabilities-(Collection of both Android and Apple-compatible apps)
List compiled by the University of Michigan’s University Center for the Development of Language & Literacy

Other Resources for Dyslexia

Tips from Dyslexic Students for Dyslexic Students
by Nancy Hall
From Yale University

Book Scanning Services
As dyslexics struggle with reading, pouring over pages of small, tightly-printed text may not be the best option. Luckily, book scanning has become a viable option for transferring printed text into PDFs and e-Book formats to help dyslexics read.

Learn About It—What is Dyslexia and Debunking the Myths—Quiz

Press Release - Patented ADHD Reading Tools Can Help ALL Kinds of Readers

Happy reading, everyone!

For more information: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info & support for struggling readers

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Saturday, November 3, 2012

Helpful Apps & Resources for Convergence Insufficiency

What is Convergence Insufficiency?

Convergence Insufficiency is a common vision problem that can make reading or staying on-task quite difficult for school-aged children. The condition is caused by poor eye coordination (eye teaming), which prevents the eyes from working together, especially when viewing small images or trying to read fine print. Convergence insufficiency can also cause problems such as eyestrain, fatigue (or visual stress), headaches, and sometimes blurred or even double vision when reading. One or more of these conditions can then often result in poor focus and attention as well as poor reading comprehension and retention.

In many cases, the condition is often not diagnosed. Routine school vision screening cannot check for convergence insufficiency, and it is frequently missed in regular (non-comprehensive) eye exams. In fact, many children with convergence insufficiency are often misdiagnosed with a learning disability, dyslexia or ADD/ADHD.

Vision therapy sessions administered by a medical professional such as a developmental optometrist are sometimes part of the solution for convergence insufficiency. In addition, eye exercises conducted at home may be involved in the treatment as well.

Special Note: If for some reason it is not possible to access services as described above here (because of one's location or type of health insurance plan coverage), consider the use of colored overlays or other non-invasive and customizable tools such as the Reading Focus Cards (U.S. Patent 7,565,759) to assist with the symptoms of convergence insufficiency or other issues experienced by some struggling readers.

Important: Please remember that only a comprehensive eye examination can evaluate for vision-related reading and learning problems.

We thought our readers might be interested in accessing a few apps that might help with convergence insufficiency. This week, these apps and resources are here for you!

Apps for Convergence Insufficiency

1. Top 5 Smartphone Apps for Your Eyes---2 are FREE (mostly Apple-compatible)
Compiled by La Jolla Lasik Institute

2. More Apps for Convergence Insufficiency (for iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch)
From One Place for Special Needs (may need to register on the site to access)

3. Reading Focus Cards Desktop App (Patent 8,360,779) (for Macs & Windows PCs)
From Brennan Innovators, LLC
This DESKTOP app for Windows PCs and Macs provides practical READING SUPPORT for children and adults with ADHD, dyslexia, autism and other conditions that can affect reading success. It improves FOCUS, FLUENCY and VISUAL COMFORT for better CONCENTRATION and RETENTION when reading digital media (webpages, PDF files, Word docs, Excel spreadsheets & more.) The app's innovative technology allows it to float on top AND stay on top of nearly any underlying application. It can be moved over text on a computer screen by the fingers, mouse or arrow keys as needed. In addition, the Reading Focus Card app supports touch-screen technology (where applicable). (This desktop app is the digital version of the physical Reading Focus Cards (Patent 7,565,759), solutions for struggling readers.)
a. For Macs (desktops & notebooks):
Visit the Mac App Store at or search for the app called Reading Focus Cards.
b. For Windows PCs (desktops & laptops):
Visit Gumroad at OR visit the Microsoft Windows Store and search for the app called Reading Focus Cards. (No URLs are provided for apps in the Windows Store.)

4. Overlays! (App for OS X 10.8 or later---Price: $6.99)
Created by Abbie Gonzalez
Use to help with reading or sometimes to help following large tables and lists of data. Battle the wall of text, eyestrain and distractions with this on screen overlay to help you keep your place!
- Keep your place in huge walls of text, tables and lists.
- Pick the color, height and transparency that helps you read better.
- Use a lightly colored overlay or a completely solid line to help you keep focused. Pick what works for you!
- Easily access preferences from the menu bar icon.
- Works in full screen applications, and even over virtual machines.!/id868499627?mt=12

Resources for Additional Information:

1. Information AND additional resources on convergence from the College of Optometrists in Vision Development

2. Information, Symptoms and References for Convergence Insufficiency from the Mayo Clinic

3. Information and Numerous Resources on Convergence from One Place for Special Needs---Vision therapy exercises a child might do in an office setting (Video) and other related information (may need to register on the site to access)

4. Information on Research and Treatment for Convergence Insufficiency

Happy reading, everyone!

For more information: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info & support for struggling readers

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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Brain-Building Apps to Get Kids Thinking!

Trick-or-treaters may have already come knocking at our doors! Did YOU have your treats ready for the big and little goblins who came a-calling?

We were certainly ready with our "treats" this week---and no tricks were required! We wanted to offer our readers some "goodies” in keeping with the holiday of All Hallows’ Eve. At the same time, they happen to be "healthy treats", too. The brain-building apps to follow here will be "treats" to sharpen the brains in the “skulls” of your kids, your students, and YOU while having fun at the same time. They'll provide a WIN-WIN opportunity for all of you---especially for struggling readers and learners!

Hope you had a Happy and SAFE Halloween, dear readers!

Brain-Building "Treats" for All Age Groups

12 FREE Brain-Building Apps for Kids --- (Android & Apple) Here's a list of mobile apps that are great for keeping young (and old) minds at work!

Kids Shape Puzzle --- (Android) From tots to teens, these are your go-to brain-building apps. Take this portable puzzle anywhere – and never lose the pieces. Kids Shape Puzzle entertains
Price: $2.99---From intellijoy
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Kakooma Addition Pro --- (Apple) Do you love the challenge of a great puzzle? Kakooma® is the quick-thinking, brain-building app that is getting kids and adults of all ages hooked on numbers. So what are you waiting for? It's time to Kakooma!
Price: $.99---From Creative Smarts, Inc.

BEST Critical Thinking Apps = GREAT “Brain” Workouts --- (Apple) These apps focus on increasing critical thinking, problem solving and brain-building skills (all age levels).
FREE and various prices in lists provided

Special "Treat"!

Halloween Matching Game - Ghost, Witch, Skeleton, Pumpkin, Bat --- Exercise your memory skills by matching each picture with it's spooky look alike pair while celebrating Halloween with this fun Halloween Matching Game!
by Jeremy Larsen

Happy brain building, goblins!

For more information: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info & support for struggling readers

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Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Struggling Student at Conference Time

Can it be that the first grading period has arrived already? Yes, and with it come the annual or semi-annual, parent-teacher conferences. This realization usually causes one of two parental reactions ---“I can’t wait to see how Evan is doing!” or “I’m worried about what Ms. Jackson is going to tell us about our Emma.”

From a teacher’s standpoint, this first conference with parents can also be a stressful event. At conferences, educators often meet students’ parents for the very first time. These conferences usually occur right after the hard work of term test taking for students followed by the time required to prepare report cards with individual performance comments. All the while, these teachers continue to plan lessons, correct papers for the second term already begun, and reply to emails and phone calls from parents and colleagues. It can be a very overwhelming time of the year!

If the scheduled conference is for the benefit of a struggling student, the level of concern on the part of the parents may be even greater, and the teacher may need to prepare even more carefully in order to best help the student. Parents can do much to help make the first conference a very positive experience for all involved, particularly for their child:

First and foremost, show respect for the educational professional seated before you. She likely spends more hours per week with your child than you do during the school year. She knows your child and will provide valuable information to enable the child to enjoy more learning success.

Secondly, when constructive criticism about your child is offered, listen and remember what is said. If needed, jot down a few notes regarding the suggested areas of needed improvement.

• Normally, the teacher will make suggestions or offer resources to help with those improvements. Continue the note-taking. However, if none are offered, “gently” request her recommendations, tools and strategies or other resources you might consider to help your child develop more skill in a specific area.

• Finally, remember to be appreciative. Make it known to this teacher that you are grateful for the time and efforts she gives to help your child read and learn. Teachers are human beings in the work of service, hard work that very often is not always appreciated by those who are served. Be grateful for their dedication and commitment.

For educators, you most likely have a preferred format for conducting conferences. No matter which conference “template” you use, there are a few good ideas you might want to keep in mind:

• Try to describe student weaknesses in constructive ways---with some degree of gentleness. Of course, never compare one student with another.

• For every shortcoming or struggle a student may be experiencing, be kind enough to provide a possible strategy to help bring about improvement.

• Always remember to share at least one positive comment about each child. Every child has at least one talent, gift or characteristic that makes him or her special. Share these good comments with parents.

• Finally, offer encouragement to parents who may be struggling to guide their challenged children.

Once again, we have taken the time to gather some resources here to help both parents and teachers at this special “conference time” of year. We hope you will find them beneficial as you work together to help a child improve and experience more learning success!

Resources for Parents

FREE IEP e-book---To help parents plan for a child's IEP meeting! (from the NCLD---National Center for Learning Disabilities)

What Is a 504 Plan? (Video)---Excellent 5 min. video that clearly explains a 504 plan (from the NCLD)

40 Winning Accommodations---New, FREE ADHD Printable! (from ADDitude Magazine)
Increase the odds of your ADHD child succeeding in school with ADDitude's FREE printable, 40 Winning Accommodations.

10 Top Tips for Dyslexia---Tips parents can use to help their children challenged with dyslexia to enjoy more learning success in school

The Top 50 Apps for Kids (2012)---In education, music, art and more

Resources for Teachers

Parent–Teacher Conference Tip Sheets---both English & Spanish (from Harvard Family Research Project)

Parent-Teacher Conference Resources---These resources will help maximize the benefits of parent-teacher collaborations to serve each child's educational needs. (from

Family Involvement Publications & Resources---Articles and other resources to help with conferences (from Harvard Family Research Project)

The Best Resources on Parent/Teacher Conferences---Some of the most useful materials to help with parent-teacher conferences (from

Happy learning, everyone!

For more information: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info & support for struggling readers

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Saturday, October 13, 2012

New Dyslexia Resources--Fall 2012

At the literacy and vision conferences attended during the past two weeks, we were asked many questions about dyslexia. In fact, we received more questions from teachers, tutors and parents about dyslexia than about any other topic at both events.

Current statistics show that nearly 15% to 20% of school-aged children in the U.S. may be affected by some form of dyslexia. Yet only 5% are recognized (often because the dyslexia is severe) and receive assistance.

Approximately 60% of individuals diagnosed with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) also have dyslexia. However, their learning and language differences are often unrecognized because only the behavioral aspects of ADHD are addressed. Without the proper diagnosis and help, many of these individuals with dyslexia and ADHD are only functionally literate, and are part of the 44 million adults with only the lowest level of literacy. This limits their ability to find jobs and function independently in their communities. (Source: The Dyslexia Research Institute)

With this data, it is easy to see why we received so many recent inquiries relating to this particular reading challenge. We felt it was just the right time to offer some updated information and a few more resources for these teachers and parents as well as for our regular blog readers here.

Animation Video---To Help Explain Dyslexia
From BrainPOP

7 Activities Affected by Dyslexia (Blog article)
From ChromaGen Vision’s blog

The Upside of Dyslexia (Opinion Article)
By Annie Murphy Hall---Published: February 4, 2012

Signs of Dyslexia Start Before Reading, Study Finds (from ABC News--& VIDEOS)
By Mikaela Conley (@mikaelaconley)---Published: April 5, 2012

Online Dyslexia Testing
From Lexercise---Company in Raleigh, NC, offers services to help children with reading, writing and spelling disorders such as dyslexia and dysgraphia.
Disclaimer: This is a FREE dyslexia test to see if your child is having trouble reading and processing words. This online test determines if your child needs a full evaluation in order for the best individualized treatment plan to be developed. This online test is NOT a replacement for such an evaluation.

10 Top Tips for Helping Your Child with Dyslexia
From Teach Our Kids

Spell Trekking in Schools: the New App for Literacy Tuition---New, multi-sensory iPad literacy app
Blog article about the app:
Access to app: FREE download at

Dyslexia Research Institute Information and resources about dyslexia

Happy reading, everyone!

For more information: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info & support for struggling readers

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Sunday, October 7, 2012

GREAT Apps to Help Teach Reading

This past weekend, our associates of Brennan Innovators attended a second educational conference in as many weeks. This time, the conference was located in our own city of St. Louis on the beautiful campus of Harris Stowe State University.

The International Reading Association-St. Louis Suburban Council held its annual Literacy-for-All Conference for college professors, teachers, reading specialists, parents, and others interested in promoting literacy in our schools and homes. The conference theme was "Literacy for the Future". It was a very good conference.

I had the great pleasure of presenting a workshop entitled "Strategies, Tools and More for Struggling Readers" at Saturday’s event. Not surprisingly, the number of workshop attendees was significant with every chair taken in the conference room. It was apparent that teachers and other literacy advocates most definitely want to know more about how they can help challenged readers experience more reading success. Attendees were also interested in apps that could help teach children how to read.

So today, we are dedicating this blog article to just those kinds of apps. Most of the links to follow here will each enable our readers to access an entire list of apps to help teach reading and related skills. The last URL, however, will connect to a single app for use with pre-school aged children.

10 iPad Apps for Teaching Kids to Read
From HowStuffWorks---Blog article by Sarah Winkler

Top Ten Reading Apps for Children
From The Reading Corner---Blog article by Christine @ Reading Horizons

6 Great Learn-to-Read Apps for Kids
From Common Sense Media and iVillage

Best Android Apps for Learning to Read 1
by JennyMurphy

Kids Learn to Read (for Preschool)—(Android app)
From intellijoy—Price $3.99
Kids Learn to Read is a delightful game that invites preschool-aged children to practice blending sounds together to read and spell simple words, such as "dog", "sun", and "big".

50 Useful Apps For Students With Reading Disabilities--(for Apple iPads)
Studies tell us that about half of kids with AD/HD also have problems with reading, and writing and spelling problems are common, too. Here's a long list of apps designed to help.

Happy reading, everyone!

For more information: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info & support for struggling readers

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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Just How Much Does Vision Impact Reading & Learning?

Subtitle: Is it REALLY ADHD?

This past weekend, we attended an outstanding educational conference in Springfield, MO. The organization, Learning Insights, sponsored and hosted the event called Vision’s Impact on Learning. Learning Insights is a 501(c)3, not-for-profit organization that was established to help students develop vision skills with its unique program called the Vision Intervention Program (VIP). Many children have vision issues such as tracking difficulty, inability to efficiently move from target to target, eyes not "working as a team", poor visual perspective skills etc. Learning Insights trains school personnel to identify these children and then tutor them at school to reduce or eliminate these problems.

Attending the conference were many educators, school administrators, developmental optometrists, occupational therapists, VIP trainers, testers, tutors and others interested and wanting to learn more about the unique relationship between a child’s vision and the ability to read and learn successfully.

During the conference, Learning Insights, associates of their VIP program and other eye-care professionals provided attendees with much important information. The following statistics about vision’s impact on learning are only a small sample of some of the important information imparted at the event :

“Forty-one percent (41%) of K-3 students CANNOT:
---Tell the difference between the letters “M” and “N.”
---Change their focus from desk to chalkboard.
---Track the sentences in their textbooks.”

“Undiagnosed and untreated vision-related problems significantly contribute to reading difficulties and special education classifications. Early vision interventions could help 70% of these students avoid a disability diagnosis.”

Comprehensive vision testing is critical to evaluating children (and adults) for vision-related reading and learning challenges. A developmental optometrist can provide this type of testing. A VIP vision screener can also assist with this. A “regular” vision test is not a complete evaluation if one wishes to fully test, diagnose and provide the most appropriate therapies or other services for vision-related reading/learning issues.

Many young, struggling students with 20/20 vision test results are mistakenly thought to have no reading/learning difficulties caused by vision issues. Unfortunately, many of these children are later inappropriately given prescription medications to help with focus, attention, tracking, or other issues and behaviors. Sadly, these children often may take the prescribed “focusing” medications for years, with none of us knowing yet what the residual effects will be for such regimens.

So in summary, it is all about a comprehensive eye exam for children struggling in school with reading and learning. It is the first good step in meeting the needs of challenged learners---before the consideration of medications or anything else. We would like to thank Mr. Michael N. Flynn, the Executive Director of Learning Insights and the VIP program for all the work he and his associates continue to do to help educators, parents and others receive this critical information about vision’s impact on learning. Our children are certainly depending on it.

We would also like to provide our readers here with some excellent resources to learn more about vision and its relationship to reading and learning. Please see our list to follow so that you might more appropriately help a struggling reader or learner you know:

1. The College of Optometrists in Vision Development---A professional organization which grants board certification in vision therapy to optometrists.

2. Is it really ADD/ADHD? Or does your child have an undetected vision problem?

3. Easy-to-understand information on crossed-eyes, lazy eye, strabismus, developmental delays, vision therapy, eye muscle surgery, dyslexia, vision impairments, and much more.

4. This FREE directory provides immediate referrals to board certified providers of vision therapy. Find an eye doctor in your state or another.

5. This article is written by an eye doctor and explains how and why convergence insufficiency causes problems with reading and learning (with illustrations).

6. Website for the not-for-profit Learning Insights organization and the VIP program. (SPECIAL NOTE: PowerPoint presentations from the recent late September 2012 conference, Vision’s Impact on Learning, are scheduled to be posted on the website sometime in October 2012).

For more information: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info & support for struggling readers

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Saturday, September 22, 2012

Simple Homework Tips for ADHD

Some parents have reported improvement in the management of their children's ADHD with specifically modified diets and/or the addition of nutritional supplements. Other parents have somewhat reluctantly decided on medications recommended by their children's pediatricians to help with focus and attention in school. However, there is a strong possibility that vitamins B12 or B6 and even prescribed medications may not be able to do EVERYTHING to help your child with ADHD.

We often like to mention that it is always a good idea to begin managing attention issues with simple strategies, tips and tools to help your child achieve and maintain more focus and follow-through, especially when a he is challenged with ADHD. Special strategies can be particularly important when the topic of homework is presented. Parents often ask us, "What tips do you recommend for the 'homework wars' we face on many weeknights?" or "Do you have a good list of ideas to help my child complete all his needed assignments?"

To help answer these questions, we are listing here some good but simple strategies and tips to help your child challenged with ADHD---and you!

Helpful Homework Strategies and Organizational Tips for ADHD

1. First of all, a daily homework or assignment notebook is key. Make certain that your child has one from the first day of a new term. Some schools provide this automatically as part of the curriculum materials for their students. If this is not the practice at your child's school, it will be a very good investment to purchase one for him.

2. “Gently” request of your child’s teacher that she "sign off" in his assignment notebook at the end of each day (like a double check that all needed work is listed and materials are in the backpack). This is considered an “accommodation” for children with attention challenges and/or organizational issues. If your child is currently enrolled in a departmental program, each teacher may need to be asked for this accommodation after each class.

Many schools will provide this described accommodation if kindly requested. There are some school districts, however, that will require an IEP to be in place before this accommodation to be provided. In still other districts, online access to homework assignments is available to parents. Yet, even this technology cannot ensure that your child will have brought home the needed books and other materials for the work to be completed.

3. Prepare a dedicated place for your child to study each evening (without the presence of “entertainment” tech devices). Yes, a computer may be necessary for homework, but provide appropriate rules for its use---ahead of time. Make sure that all supplies and materials are at-hand to prevent excessive “wandering” and other distractions.

4. Use Post-It notes at eye level in the study space (or elsewhere for other chores/jobs). They can serve as very good, VISUAL reminders of tasks still needing attention and follow-through. You might even suggest a different color note for each subject or other description. It can be somewhat “satisfying” for your child to take down and tear up a sticky note for a homework assignment or job well done.

5. Allow your child to have a few breaks and some physical movement before, during and after homework sessions. A brief walk outside for just 5 minutes or so can be all that is needed to re-focus and study even more effectively upon return.

6. Have all items needed for school prepared and ready the EVENING BEFORE a school day:
a. Set the breakfast table each weeknight for the next school day. Even place the cereal boxes (unsweetened, of course) within reach there.
b. Ask your child to put all assignments and supplies inside his back-pack and then you can CHECK to see that all is packed away as needed. The back-pack should then be placed near the exit door.
c. Choose and lay out (or hang up) all school clothing within reach in your child’s room.

7. Remember to INVOLVE your child in each of the above preparations, teaching him to think ahead, helping him develop good organizational skills and enabling him to see that good habits like these can result in much more academic success for him---and PEACE at home!

8. To see a FREE printable list of MORE strategies for both home AND the classroom, please visit

We hope that you will try the strategies described here with your child. They could make a real difference in your child's academic success this school year.

For more information: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info & support for struggling readers

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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Android Apps for ADHD

It’s no secret that dyslexia apps are the most sought-after resource on our blog here. However, in second place, it’s all about apps for ADHD. Although Apple is definitely dominant in the U.S. with its iPad and iPhone apps, the Android market is growing elsewhere on a global scale---and quickly!

With this expanding Android market and the most recent statistics from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) currently showing nearly 8% of U.S. children with a diagnosis of some type of attention deficit disorder, we felt compelled to provide our readers with a collection of Android app resources for AD/HD.

Once again, let us know if you have tried some of the apps listed here, and please don’t hesitate to tell us of other great ADHD Android apps you’ve discovered. If your reviews are “glowing”, we’ll be glad to add those app titles to our list!

FREE Android Apps for ADHD

AndroidZoom: Apps Discoverer
From Androidzoom (FREE)---Discovering good apps is no longer a chore! Awesome ADHD apps can now be at your fingertips!

From Rafael Bassan (FREE)---Take this Attention Deficit Disorder test if you suspect problems with you or your child's hyperactivity or distractibility.

From GoogleKeywordsVideos (FREE) Help and support for parents of children with ADHD

ToDo List TaskDash ADHD
From kreativsinn (FREE)---The smoother way organize your daily tasks and calendar schedule---TaskDash will assign a time slot for each task according to its impact. It is so easy to be organized and productive with this to-do manager!

Voice Flashlight Free
From ADhD Studios (FREE)---Introducing the world's first and only voice controlled flashlight! A lightweight & no-nonsense flashlight / strobe light / siri light

Count! The Tally Counter
From ADhD Studios (FREE)--- The tally counter you can count on!
Count laps, reps, inventory, cars, people, angry birds, shots of vodka or even nickels from your piggy bank!

Alarm Clock Plus
From Binary Tactics, LLC. (FREE but with ads)--- This is the most fully-featured & stable Android alarm clock app available---FREE and with no limitations!

Other Android Apps for ADHD
(Prices listed are those at the time of this article's publication.)

The Best Android Apps for Forgetful People
From prices)---A list of apps to help with remembering tasks, dates, etc.

Coping with ADHD
From KoolAppz (Price: $1.37)---Helpful app for dealing with a loved one who has ADHD

ADHD Alarm Clock
From Cognitive Psychiatry PLLC (Price: $1.99)--- App is designed to help those with Adult ADHD get to work, school, or their first appointment on time every day. The app prompts the user to enter their morning routine and an estimate of time for each part of a routine, such as shower, etc.

ADHD Timer
From Niels Christian Bach (Price: $1.05)--- This app visualizes that time is moving. It is easy to see elapsed time and the time remaining. The exact time is not shown---only relative time. Works particularly well if you have ADHD. Kids with ADHD love this app and parents will love not having so many conflicts. App is easy to use. Just provide the minutes for the task and press start.

Blog site: AndroidZoom Discovering the Best Android Apps

For more information: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info & support for struggling readers

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Saturday, September 8, 2012

Android Apps for Special Needs

We want Help for Struggling Readers to be your go-to blog when you need reading or learning resources, strategies, apps and other help for all kinds of learners, especially those who struggle to read and learn.

That is why this week, we’ve decided to provide you with a short list of 3 collections that contain great Android apps for special needs---all kinds of special needs! You’ll find some apps that are FREE and others that are available at various price points.

Choose the apps that will meet your needs and those of your child or your students. You just might want to bookmark this page so that you can refer to it again and again as needed. Help yourself to some awesome special needs apps for your Android devices---a combined total of 78 apps in all!

Android Special Needs Apps

14 Special Needs Android Apps on Google Play-from Friendship Circle Blog*2_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1

37 Special Needs Apps for Android Devices-compiled by Melanie Vitovsky (Twinkie Babies website)---Titles, prices & links to excellent special needs apps for Android devices---Many of the apps are for children on the autism spectrum, but other special needs apps are also available here.

Android Apps for Our Kids—from the Teaching Learners with Multiple Special Needs blog---Here is a list of 27 Apps for Android devices, visual supports and other resources (especially for children with multiple special needs). Also provides a second short list of app collections at the end of this list.

For more information: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info & support for struggling readers

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Saturday, September 1, 2012

ADHD Tools & Resources for This School Year!

It’s Labor Day Weekend, and at its end, students will begin a new school year, if they have not already done so. With this new year, there will be new issues for the families of children and teens challenged with AD/HD.

We already know that the rate or prevalence of AD/HD is increasing. We also know there is technology to help the children and adults affected. However, what about the availability of reliable information, resources and other tools to help manage this condition? Also, how does one know which information is really current, credible and potentially beneficial to those who greatly need it?

Once again, we are here to help. We have assembled the best and most up-to-date information to assist parents, teachers, and other adults needing this critical information that can make a real difference in the life someone challenged with AD/HD.

We hope you find these tools, resources and supportive organizations to be beneficial for a child, student or adult you know with an attention deficit disorder.

ADHD Tools to Help with Daily Life

FREE Graphic Organizer Templates-Use this collection of visual organizers to structure writing projects, to help in problem solving, decision making, studying, planning research and brainstorming. Select a specific graphic organizer from the list to suit the needs of a particular task, job, or other project.

TeachTimer-Time-Management Tool

The MotivAider-An ingeniously simple electronic device that enables people of all ages to stay focused and change behavior and habits quickly, easily and privately. (A 30-second flash video is available at link to follow here.)

The “Invisible Clock”-Reminder device for setting up to 12 reminders per day. Choose silent vibrate or different beeps.

TIME SENSE EXERCISE©-A simple pen and paper tool that can help individuals use time more effectively.

Reading Focus Cards (Patent 7,565,759)-Customizable and sensory-appealing solutions for struggling readers of all ages. Especially helpful for children and adults with ADHD, dyslexia, autism, as well as low vision, stroke recovery and TBI issues.

ADHD Resources for Help & Support

CHADD-The leading, non-profit national organization serving people affected by AD/HD

National Resource Center for AD/HD (A Program of CHADD)-The nation's clearinghouse for science-based information about all aspects of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)-Information such as symptoms, causes, methods of diagnosis, etc. provided on this site. A FREE copy of a detailed booklet describing ADHD symptoms, causes, and treatments, with information on getting help and coping) is provided through this link (FREE download OR hardcopy available.)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)-This official site offers resources, statistics, and other information about AD/HD. with many articles, information, and resources (printables and downloadables, too) realted to AD/HD (official site for ADDitude Magazine)

The ADDitude Directory-A complete resource for living with AD/HD & learning disabilities
(provided by ADDitude Magazine)

For more information: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info & support for struggling readers

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