Help your child with learning difficulties.

Learning Difficulties (parents help)


“Parenting” (Photo credit: Carol VanHook)

During this one to one consultation I can help parents  develop a common and consistent approach to their children. This consultation focuses on providing parents with specific skills, introduces them to new resources and strategies to address their child’s learning problems.

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Phone  085 1445494 (Dublin)

Frustration Dyslexia

232323232%7Ffp53994)nu=;5;;)9;2)242)WSNRCG=353637(23;333nu0mrjWhy is dyslexia discouraging and frustrating?

Social and Emotional Problems Related to Dyslexia
By: Michael Ryan, M.D. and International Dyslexia Association (2004)

The frustration of children with dyslexia often centers on their inability to meet expectations. Their parents and teachers see a bright, enthusiastic child who is not learning to read and write. Time and again, dyslexics and their parents hear, “He’s such a bright child; if only he would try harder.” Ironically, no one knows exactly how hard the dyslexic is trying.
The pain of failing to meet other people’s expectations is surpassed only by dyslexics’ inability to achieve their goals. This is particularly true of those who develop perfectionistic expectations in order to deal with their anxiety. They grow up believing that it is “terrible” to make a mistake.
However, their learning disability, almost by definition means that these children will make many “careless” or “stupid” mistakes. This is extremely frustrating to them, as it makes them feel chronically inadequate.

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Why is my dyslexic child so angry at me?

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Social and Emotional Problems Related to Dyslexia
By: Michael Ryan, M.D. and International Dyslexia Association (2004)

Many of the emotional problems caused by dyslexia occur out of frustration with school or social situations. Social scientists have frequently observed that frustration produces anger. This can be clearly seen in many dyslexics.
The obvious target of the dyslexic’s anger would be schools and teachers. However, it is also common for the dyslexic to vent his anger on his parents. Mothers are particularly likely to feel the dyslexic’s wrath. Often, the child sits on his anger during school to the point of being extremely passive. However, once he is in the safe environment of home, these very powerful feelings erupt and are often directed toward the mother. Ironically, it is the child’s trust of the mother that allows him to vent his anger. However, this becomes very frustrating and confusing to the parent who is desperately trying to help their child.
As youngsters reach adolescence, society expects them to become independent. The tension between the expectation of independence and the child’s learned dependence causes great internal conflicts. The adolescent dyslexic uses his anger to break away from those people on which he feels so dependent.
Because of these factors, it may be difficult for parents to help their teenage dyslexic. Instead, peer tutoring or a concerned young adult may be better able to intervene and help the child.

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How Do You Know If Your Child Might Have a Learning Disability?

English: A child studying

English: A child studying (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How Do You Know If Your Child Might Have a Learning Disability?
By: Larry B. Silver, M.D. (2008)
Many of the questions I receive from parents describe their child’s learning problems and then ask if he or she might have a Learning Disability (LD). I receive similar questions about Attention-deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). These are two separate and very different problems. Students with ADHD might show hyperactive/fidgety behaviors, inattention/distractibility problems, and/or impulsivity. These behaviors, present for years, can be seen at school, at home, and with peers. Students with LD have a neurologically-based processing problem that interferes with the ability to master specific learning skills. Between 30 and 50 percent of children with LD will also have ADHD. The reverse is also true, between 30 and 50 percent of children with ADHD will also have LD. So, it is wise to look for both possibilities.
So, how would you know to suspect that your child or adolescent has a learning disability?
Students with LD have difficulty processing information in one or more of several areas of learning. They may have problems getting information into the brain (called an input problem). They may have difficulty with sound input (called an auditory perception or auditory processing disorder) or with visual input (called a visual perception disorder). This student may have difficulty integrating information once it is received in the brain. These problems may include the ability to sequence information, to infer meaning (abstract), or to organize information. Some may have problems with the storage and retrieval of information or memory. The memory problem might involve information still in the process of being learned (often called working memory or short-term memory) or material that has been learned but not retained (long-term memory).
Finally, students may have difficulty getting information out of the brain (called an output problem). This problem may impact the ability to send information to their muscles. For example, a student with this problem may have difficulty coordinating the muscles of the hand and have slow, tedious and awkward handwriting (called a grapho-motor problem). Additionally, this student may have difficulty getting thoughts onto paper (reflected by problems with spelling, grammar, punctuation, capitalization, or organization of the thoughts). Students also may have difficulty with language output, including problems organizing their thoughts, finding the right words, and expressing themselves.
There is no one definitive characteristic found in a child or adolescent with learning disabilities. The student may show characteristics of one or more of the areas described. In fact, it is very uncommon to have only one area of difficulty. Also, how a learning disability manifests in school is based on the student’s grade level and the demands for that grade level.
What are the clues of a learning disability?
In preschoolers, look for:

Communication delays, such as slow language development or difficulty with speech. Problems understanding what is being said or problems communicating thoughts.
Poor coordination and uneven motor development, such as delays in learning to sit, walk, color, and using scissors. Later watch for problems forming letters and numbers.
Problems with memory and routine; for example, not remembering specifics of daily activities and not understanding instructions. Possibly, problems remembering multiple instructions.
Delays in socialization including playing and relating interactively with other children.
In elementary school, look for:

Problems learning phonemes (individual units of sound) and graphemes (letters, numbers). Problems learning how to blend sounds and letters to sound out words. Problems remembering familiar words by sight. Later, difficulty with reading comprehension.
Problems forming letters and numbers. Later, problems with basic spelling and grammar.
Difficulties learning math skills and doing math calculations.
Difficulty with remembering facts.
Difficulty organizing materials (notebook, binder, papers), information, and/or concepts.
Not understanding oral instructions and an inability to express oneself verbally. Some types of LD are not apparent until middle school or high school. With increased responsibilities and more complex work, new areas of weakness may become apparent.
Losing or forgetting materials, or doing work and forgetting to turn it into the teacher.
An inability to plan out the steps and time lines for completing projects, especially long-term projects.
Difficulty organizing thoughts for written reports or public speaking.
If you see these clues and believe your pre-school or elementary-school aged son or daughter might have LD, contact the principal of your child’s public school and request a meeting to discuss having your child evaluated for learning disabilities. If your child is in a private school, you are entitled to an evaluation at the public school your child would have attended.
The diagnostic process is called a “psycho-educational” evaluation. Today, schools use a “response to intervention” model in which students are exposed to scientific, research-based instruction and their responses are monitored. If they do not respond, they are considered for special education. More information on response to intervention is available in the article Response to Intervention (RTI): A Primer for Parents.
Under education law, public schools must provide this evaluation if requested to do so and when problems are apparent. This is true if the child is in private school as well. As a taxpayer you can go to your public school to request such an assessment. There are three parts to this evaluation:
An assessment of potential, usually done through an IQ test.
A battery of achievement tests to assess skills in reading, writing, and math.
A battery of tests to assess processing skills. These tests examine possible problems with input, integration, and output of information.
The results of these tests should clarify if the student has a learning disability. Identifying processing problems may not qualify the student for services. Most school systems use what is called a “discrepancy formula” to decide if an individual is eligible for services. That is, there must be a specific degree of difference between the student potential (IQ) and performance. Your son or daughter might have significant processing problems but not be far enough behind to qualify for services. This is the reason that many schools will not identify a child with LD until third grade or later. For more information on obtaining an evaluation for learning disabilities, please read What Do You Do If You Suspect Your Child Has a Learning Disability.
For more information, contact the Learning Disabilities Association of America.
The author Dr. Larry Silver answers questions from readers in Ask Dr. Silver
Silver, L. (2008). How Do You Know If Your Child Might Have a Learning Disability?

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What is Dyslexia ?

A vectorized version of Rainbow-diagram-ROYGBI...

A vectorized version of Rainbow-diagram-ROYGBIV.PNG Rainbow diagram showing the conventional arrangement of colours: Red Orange Yellow Green Blue and Violet. The colours shown do not necessarily correspond to actual wavelengths. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Teachers often tell me that their dyslexic students have memory
problems. In my research I have found that teaching children a variety of
memory strategies is useful because they will be able to try them out
individually or in combination and note for themselves the effect.

I train teachers in Special Education and as part of the training include in the Methods Course – The History of Memory Strategies.
What I have found is that people don’t know about the origins of the strategies, are not aware that many exist, and don’t know how to teach them effectively.
There are seven basic memory strategies that I have found useful for students with special needs including dyslexia. The strategies are as follows:

1. The Metacognitive Strategy – When learning a list of words for example, asking yourself and then noting down how you remembered the words.

2. The First Letter Strategy – Using the first letter of each word to try to
make a real or nonsense word.

Example of making a real word – The names of the Great Lakes in the United States are: Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior
The first letter of each of the lakes makes the word HOMES

Example of making a nonsense word – The names of each of the colors of the rainbow follow:

red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet

The first letter of each of the colors makes the nonsense word ROYGBIV

3. The Story Strategy – Write a real or nonsense story that incorporates all the words you want to remember.

Example of a nonsense story – The following is a nonsense story to remember this list of words (emu, dog, eel, tiger, cat, toad, owl, rat, snake).

Australian Farmer

The Australian farmer had seen an emu, owl, rat, toad and snake outside. He had a dog, cat and eel in his house. However, he had to visit a zoo to see a tiger.

Example of a real story – The following is a short poem that includes all the months in a year:

Thirty days hath September
April, June and November,
All the rest have thirty-one
Excepting February alone

4. The Grouping Strategy – Grouping words together that belong to the same category.

Example of using the grouping strategy –

Make a list of all things that belong to the same family e.g. animals

dog, tiger, cat, horse, lion, zebra, wolf

Make a list from a larger list of all things in one group e.g.


5. The Imagery Strategy – Making a list of all things in a list by picturing them together or separately.

Example of using the imagery strategy –

Make a list of all things in one group, which are the same color by
picturing several animals all brown in the same picture e.g.

a brown horse, a brown wolf, a brown cat, a brown lion, a brown snake, a
brown dog, a brown cat

Or make a nonsense picture to help you remember e.g. a brown dog with a brown snake twisted around its neck looking like a scarf.
6. The Location Strategy – This is the ability to remember locations and assign faces to each.

Example of using the location strategy

Think of your school and conduct a mental walk from the principal’s office
to your classroom. Pay particular attention to the rooms you are passing
noting the details, noticing any imperfections, like desks not lined up:
anything that makes your mental images more vivid. Make sure you can move easily from one room to another.

Along your route create a list of the most outstanding feature of each room.
These will be the images you remember as you go from one room to another until you reach your final destination, the principal’s office.
7. The Pegword Strategy – First learn a rhymed pegword list and then learn to associate each of these words with the members of the list to be learned.

Example of using the pegword strategy

This is a strategy to remember sequences of ten unrelated items in the
appropriate order. You first have to remember ten key words, which follow:

one = bun two = shoe three = tree four = door five = hive six = sticks
seven = heaven eight = gate nine = wine ten = hen

After learning these you have to memorize ten unrelated items:

battleship, pig, chair, sheep, castle, rug, grass, beach, milkmaid,

Take the first pegword (bun rhyming with one) and form an image of a bun interacting in some way with a battleship; you might imagine a battleship sailing into an enormous floating bun.
Children all have to take tests and remember facts throughout their school years. Learning how to apply effective memory strategies can ease this burden.
These strategies will become the tools and techniques used to
understand and learn new material or skills. It should also be emphasized to pupils and their teachers that these strategies have to be practiced and applied to the subject area being taught, in some cases repeatedly in order to achieve success.

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