Blog: School Struggles, Learning Disabilities & Other Kid Stuff

  • Monday, December 29, 2014

    Lauren is an 8 year old child in the first half of the third grade who I recently evaluated, just before the start of her school year.  My evaluation found Lauren to be a somewhat inefficient reader, although almost all of the scores obtained on her fell solidly in an average range. 

    In the conclusion of the report I said something like, “While a formal diagnosis of reading disability (dyslexia) was not offered at this time…” and hedged my bets a bit.  I did recommend Orton-based tutoring to help solidify her skills.

  • Friday, December 19, 2014

    There are essentially two types of reading problems:

    Type I: This type refers to the child who has trouble decoding words and reading fluently.  They are typically viewed as “dyslexic.”  Even though they are typically called "dyslexic," I like to call them "Type I Readers."

  • Thursday, December 4, 2014

    As some states around the country have implemented new laws on dyslexia, some people have come to me to talk about how, “They have finally discovered dyslexia and this new method -  Orton-Gillingham.”

    Well, not to burst any bubbles, but dyslexia has been around for a while, long before the laws were formed.

    Dr. Samuel Orton (co-creator of the Orton-Gillingham method) wrote an article titled “Word-blindness in school children,” for the Archives of Neurological Psychiatry.  That article appeared in 1925! 

  • Friday, November 21, 2014

    I often think there is needless complication in the field relative to the varieties of issues that children present. From the perspective of having seen tons of kids over the years, I typically see two essential types of reading problems. Each one requires a different treatment approach.  I call them Type I or Type II Readers.

    Type I Readers

  • Friday, November 14, 2014

    Parents will bring various samples of material that their child is completing in school. Usually it’s the range of dreadful worksheets that seem to be quite popular these days. From where I sit, these sheets do nothing other than dampen children’s enthusiasm for school, but that is a discussion for different day.

    More to the present concern, the other day the mother of Brandon, age 8, showed me how he had done on two different worksheets. On the first sheet Brandon was given an exercise where he had to identify the predicate in a given sentence.

  • Friday, November 7, 2014

    Recently I had the good fortune of being able to interview Susan Zimmermann, author of The Seven Keys to Comprehension: How to help your kids read it and get it!  for the internet radio show as part of The Coffee Klatch Network.

    Within the interview, we talked about the challenges with comprehension, with Susan highlighting some of the elements that research has shown contribute to successful comprehension.

    As she discusses in her wonderful book, she noted that successful readers do the following:

  • Friday, October 31, 2014

    Perhaps you are old enough to remember Lieutenant Columbo (played by Peter Falk) in the famed TV show from the 1970s.  I use Columbo as a model to help frustrated parents in terms of their style of communication.  I call it, “Going Columbo.”

    Here’s how “Going Columbo” works.

  • Friday, October 17, 2014

    Dyslexia – “We Hold These Truths To Be Self-Evident”

    I am not pretending here to be the Thomas Jefferson of learning disabilities, but to borrow a phrase from that famous document that he authored (you know the one), where it was said “We hold these truths to be self-evident,” here are a few truths of reading disability (dyslexia):

  • Thursday, October 9, 2014

    A dad came in this week to talk about his struggling 8 year old, Anna, who just started third grade.  Anna has reading fluency issues, with particular difficulty managing words that are “low frequency.”  Even in this early part of the school year Anna is welling up with tears feeling that she is dumb.  She is starting to break down each night during homework.

    A recent worksheet gives us a glimpse into why Anna feels the way she does:

  • Friday, September 26, 2014

    It’s an admirable goal that parents want to be kept informed of their child’s academic and behavioral progress.  In the “Way-Back Machine” before email (yes, that time did exist ), parents were periodically informed about how their child was doing in school by different means, such as notes being sent home to parents or other ways of communicating.  If there was big concern, parents were called in to discuss the matter. 

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