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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