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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