Dr. Warren’s blogger articles on parent advice.

The Different Types of Dyslexia: Targeting Intervention

Although reading disorders were recognized back in the late 1800s, the term dyslexia didn’t become a recognized condition until the 1970’s-1980’s.  Since then, it has received an
enormous amount of research and professional based attention.  However, many educators and clinicians
are still mystified about how to best pinpoint the specific needs of each student
with dyslexia.  
The primary
underlying cause of this confusion is the fact that there are many cognitive
weaknesses or deficits that can trigger a diagnosis of dyslexia.  So much like a dart board, if service
providers continue to aim interventions at the wrong place, they may play a
frustrating game and they will certainly never hit the bull’s-eye.  As a result professionals have begun to
propose subtypes that categorize dyslexics based on common symptoms, so individuals with dyslexia can be understood and service providers can target
the needed areas of attention. 
What are the different types of
dyslexia?
The three most commonly defined subtypes of dyslexia are Dyseidetic Dyslexia
or Visual Dyslexia, Dysphonetic Dyslexia or Auditory Dyslexia and Dysphoneidetic or
Alexic Dyslexia. 
1) Dyseidetic
Dyslexia or Visual Dyslexia: 
is when a learner struggles with the
decoding and or spelling of words because he or she has great difficulty remembering
or revisualizing the word, particularly irregular sightwords (also known as
eidetic words).  These learners tend to have good auditory processing
skills as well as an understanding of phonics, but they struggle with visual processing, memory
synthesis and sequencing of words.  Word or letter reversals when reading, as well as writing and spelling difficulties are also common.
2) Dysphonetic
Dyslexia or Auditory Dyslexia: 
is when a learner struggles with the
decoding and or spelling of words because he or she has great difficulty
associating sounds with symbols (also known as phonemic awareness).  These learners tend to have good visual processing skills, but they
have deficits in auditory processing as well as linking a sound to a
visual cue.
3) Dysphoneidetic or Alexic Dyslexia: is when a
learner struggles with both visual and auditory processing deficits.  This subcategory is known as Mixed
Dyslexia or Dysphoneidetic Dyslexia 
What about the Other
Cognitive Struggles that Are Often Associated with Dyslexia?
Although the above designations are somewhat helpful, they do not
address all the areas that can be associated with dyslexia such as difficulties with handwriting, oral language, math, motor planning and
coordination, organization, orientation to time, focus and attention, spatial
perception, and eye movement control. As a result, Mattis French and Rapin proposed
a different breakdown based on a study they conducted of 113 children with
dyslexia. They proposed three very different classifications:
1) Syndrome I: Language Disorder 
These learners experience anomia, comprehension                deficits, and confusion with speech and sound discrimination.
2)  Syndrome II: Articulatory and Graphomotor Dyscoordination – These learners exhibit gross and
fine motor coordination deficits, as well as poor speech and graphomotor
coordination.
3) Syndrome III:
Visuospatial Perceptual Disorder 
– These learners have poor
visuospatial perception and difficulties encoding and retrieving visual stimuli.
But What About Those That Learn to Compensate for Their
Dyslexia?
Although dyslexia presents
significant challenges, many learn to compensate and become successful and
celebrated professionals.  Dr.
Fernette and Brock Eide coined yet another term, Stealth Dyslexia, to describe gifted dyslexics who learned to
compensate for reading difficulties with great analytical and problem-solving strengths.  However, these learners still experience significant difficulties with writing and spelling.  Because they are so smart, the difficulties these individuals experience are often characterized with inappropriate labels such as careless or lazy.  As a result,  many with stealth dyslexia can feel a sense of learned helplessness.

So, although these new ways of
breaking dyslexia down into subcategories is helpful, clearly they still need
to be refined.  I am dyslexic
myself and feel that none of the subcategories or designations captures my
profile.  Perhaps the solution lies
in allowing each individual diagnosis to list the specific areas of cognitive
deficits that impact learning so individual students can receive tailored interventions.
I would love to hear your thoughts on the topic.

If you are looking for multisensory and mindful materials for dyslexia remediation, come check us out at www.dyslexiamaterials.com 

Cheers, Erica
Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to www.goodsensorylearning.com  www.dyslexiamaterials.com and  www.learningtolearn.biz 

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10 Easy Ways to Strengthen the Weaknesses Associated with Dyslexia

Dyslexia
is the new, hot topic in education around the globe, and it is
frequently featured in educational conferences, news articles, YouTube videos, and
even movies.  New estimates suggest
that as many as 1 in 10 children have this difficulty, making it the most common
type of learning disability.  Although dyslexia is common, many with this condition remain
undiagnosed.  Furthermore, many others who have received this diagnosis don’t
fully understand it and never receive the needed remediation.  So, how can
we help this underserved population? 
Here are some suggestions:
1. Because black text on a white
background can be visually uncomfortable for many with dyslexia,
provide them the option of using color overlays or nonprescription glasses with
color-tinted lenses.  You can make your own overlays by taking
transparent, colorful pocket folders or report covers and slicing them into
strips that can also be used as bookmarks.  You can get a selection
of tinted glasses that your students can use on sites like Amazon.com.  The most popular color seems to be yellow. 
2. Similarly, if changing the
color of the background is helpful for reading, it is likely that your learners
will also benefit from changing the background color when typing.  On a
Mac, using Word, this can be done by clicking on the Format drop down menu, and
then selecting background.  Here you can select another background
color.  Please note, this will not impact the background when printing
documents.  On a PC, this can be done by selecting the drop down menu, Page
Layout, then Page Color.
3. Play search games with letters and words that are challenging.  For example, if a
learner is having trouble discriminating between the letters “b” and “d,” give them
a magazine, newspaper or other print out and have them circle all the “bs.”  They don’t have to be able to read the text; they will just be
searching for the designated letter or word.  If you instruct a student to scan
one line at a time, you will also be strengthening his or her tracking skills.
4. Purchase a
book of jokes, or find some on the internet.  Go through each joke and
talk about what makes it funny.  Discuss double meanings, and make a list
of words that have multiple meanings.  Finally, encourage the learner to
make their own joke book.
5. If spelling
is a real problem, make a list of the student’s commonly misspelled words.  Use a
notebook and place one word on each page.  Have fun coming up with memory
strategies that will help the learner remember the correct spelling.  For
example, if a student is having difficulty with the word “together,” he or she may
notice that the word is made up of three simple words – to, get and her.  As
another example, one may notice that the word “what” has the word “hat” in
it.  The student might draw many hats in their notebook and then write down
the question, “What hat?”
6. Play fun, free internet games and videos that review basic phonics, such as Star Fall, BBCs Syllable Factory Game, Phonics Chant 2 and Magic E.
7. Make difficult letters, numbers and words with the learner out
of wet spaghetti, pebbles, raisins, pipe cleaners, a sand tray, shaving cream,
or clay.   You can also place challenging letters, numbers or words
on a ball or a balloon and play catch. 
Every time a participant catches the ball or balloon, he or she reads the first symbol or word seen.  Integrating a tactile and kinesthetic modality into lessons will make
them more enjoyable and memorable.
8. Use books on
tape or read aloud.  While listening, ask the learners to close their eyes so they can image the story in their head.  Many learners with
dyslexia never fully develop their capacity to envision or visualize a story,
because reading is so mentally overwhelming.  Helping these learners to
develop the ability to utilize their mind’s eye aids in reading
comprehension and memory.  Another option is to have the learner read
along, so they can begin to see and recognize whole words and phrases.  A great organization that offers books on tape
for struggling readers is Learning Ally. You can also purchase Franklin’s Anybook Anywhere so that books can be recorded at your convenience, yet played anytime – anywhere!
9. Have fun creating a
special reading area.  Make sure to come up with a fun name for this
place, such as “the book nook.”  Decorate it together.  You can
fill it with pillows, stuffed animals, blankets and other comforting
objects.  You can hang drapes around it, get a large bean bag, hide it
under a tall table, or build it around an indoor chair swing or hammock.  Have
books, highlighters, colored pencils and paper within reach.
10. Create a consistent
time every few days where the whole family  grabs a book and reads.  All
family members should congregate and read in a common room.  Make sure to
have munchies and other comforting objects at hand.  This is a time
to relax and enjoy the company of one another, so make this a cherished and
special time.

If you are interested in
purchasing some products that help students with dyslexia, consider downloading
a free sample of Dr. Warren’s Reversing ReversalsFollowing Directions, Making Inferences the Fun and Easy Way, or Reading Games.  These and more great publications are
available at www.dyslexiamaterials.com

Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to www.goodsensorylearning.com  www.dyslexiamaterials.com and  www.learningtolearn.biz 

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Sight Word Bracelet Project and Game

Learning all the sight words in the English language can be
a challenging task for beginning readers and finding fun and engaging
activities to help them master these phonetically unconventional words can be a
chore.  One of my students recently
came to a session with a charming bracelet that she had created with the use of
letter beads, and it ignited an idea for a fun classroom or home project and
game. 
Sight Word Bracelet Project:
·
Go to the craft store or Amazon.com to purchase
letter beads and twine or cord.  Personally,
I like to use cord that stretches, so that children can easily slip their
creations on and off their wrists.  I included
some links at the bottom of the post. 
·
Make a list of challenging sight words.
·
Have your student(s) select a challenging sight
word and have them place the letter beads onto the cord in a sequence so that
they spell the word.  You can limit
each bracelet to one sight word, or you can do two or more by placing spacers
between the words. 
Sight Words Read and Write Race Game: 
(for
three or more players)
·
Ask each player to wear his or her new sight word
bracelet.  Make sure each student
can read the sight word on his or her own bracelet. 
·
Give each player a piece of paper and a clip
board.
·
Tell the players that they have to read the
sight word or sight words off of each student’s wrist.  But, so nobody else can hear, they must
whisper the answer so only the person wearing the sight word can hear them.  If they get it correct, then they get
to write it down on their piece of paper. 
If they don’t get it right, the person wearing that word or words
whispers the word back in their ear. 
They can come back to that person and whisper their sight word again,
but not right away.  They have to
go and read at least two other sight words before they can go back and reread
the one that they missed.  If there
are not any more words for them to read, they must wait one minute before going
back and giving it another try.  The first person to correctly read and write
down all the sight words on everyone’s wrist, including their own, is the
winner.  If you don’t want a “winner,” after all the players finish the activity, ask for volunteers to read all the sight words on their paper.
If you are only working with one student, you can let them
create a sight word necklace with a series of ten or more difficult sight words
that are separated with spacers. 
Encourage them to wear it and see if they can read and spell all the sight words for their friends and family members. 

I hope you enjoy this activity!  I’d love to hear your thoughts!!

Cheers, Erica

 

Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to www.goodsensorylearning.com  www.dyslexiamaterials.com and  www.learningtolearn.biz 

Student Learning and Confidence can Skyrocket by Changing One Approach

Student Learning and
Confidence can Skyrocket by Changing One Approach

Many teachers fear the moment when a student will ask them a
question that they do not have the knowledge to answer.  This uncomfortable situation can cause
some teachers to change the subject, others will construct a roundabout
explanation, a few will make a guess and several may even discourage their
students from asking questions altogether. 

Students Learn to “Fake it”
When a teacher is unable to admit their lack of knowledge,
it sends a disagreeable message to the class. 
Students can usually tell when a teacher sidesteps a question and many
are dismayed when given faulty information or when questioning is discouraged.  They pick up on the insecure energy and
learn that it is shameful to admit that they, “don’t get it” and instead they
learn to “fake it” and give others the impression that they know the
information or understand what they are hearing when, in fact, they do not. 
However, there is another way to handle this situation that will benefit
both the teacher and the students.
Release your own Fear in the
Learning Process
Good
teachers must demonstrate a love for and confidence in the learning
process.  The first step to this
practice is to release any fear associated with the learning process.  A close second is to be comfortable
seeking assistance when gaps in knowledge arise.  Both these skills are best learned vicariously through
demonstrations.  Therefore,
educators must set an example for students to follow so they can feel safe and
comfortable asking questions. 
It’s Okay to Say, “I Don’t
know?”
So what’s the big deal about teachers admitting their lack
of knowledge when a student asks a difficult question?  Are they afraid that they will look unintelligent?  Do they fear that one of their students
could have the answer, but this would undermine their authority?  I, too, had this fear at one time and
over the years I have discovered that it is not only okay to say, “I don’t
know,” but, in fact, there are enormous benefits.
But How Can Your Lack of Knowledge
Help the Class? 
Showing students that you do not have the answer can be a
critical learning tool.  
·
It shows that you are a life long learner.
·
It shows that you appreciate questions that
expand    your knowledge.
·
It exemplifies that admitting your lack of
knowledge can start the process of finding the answer.
·
It provides an opportunity for you to share the
process of acquiring knowledge.
·
It encourages interactive learning and a
cooperative environment where students can feel safe sharing knowledge.
·
It teaches students to be curious.
·
It teaches students how to think critically.
·
It teaches students how to be inquisitive, confident
learners.
But How Can Teachers Integrate
this into Their Classrooms?
Teachers must release their own fears and tell students the
truth.  Personally, I like to word
it, “I’m not sure about that, let’s figure it out!”  After that, educators need to:
1) Always nurture confident queries.  Encourage students to ask questions.
2) Continually demonstrate how to find answers.  This can be done by asking those around
you (students and colleagues), searching the internet, consulting a book and so
forth.
3) Constantly cultivate an environment that celebrates and
supports exploration. Praise students for asking questions and
independently finding the answers. 
Create a question box for those that are shy, and let students volunteer
to answer the queries with their own knowledge or by volunteering to do the
research.
4) Repeatedly, show your students that teachers, too, are
comfortable admitting what we don’t know. 
Then find the answers or allow others to help you find the answers.  Always provide gratitude and positive
feedback to those that help.
If you have any other ideas or anecdotes I would love to
hear them!
Cheers, Erica
Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to www.goodsensorylearning.com  www.dyslexiamaterials.com and  www.learningtolearn.biz 

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108 Online Games that Offer Cognitive or Educational Benefits

Over the years, I have scoured the internet for great, online games.  I am a learning specialist, and if I
can get my students involved in activities that benefit cognition and
learning, then they can expand their potential and also find joy in the
process.   I have each of the
games described and linked on the website for my private practice.  In addition, the games are categorized under
the following headings, so that it is easy to find the needed resources:  cognitive, general
education, writing and language, social studies, science, spelling, reading, digital
story telling, math, grammar, typing, social skills, and sequencing.
So, I wanted to share this link with other teachers and
families.  CLICK HERE  
I hope you find it useful.  I would love to hear your thoughts!  Also, if you have any other sites that
you like, let me know and I will be happy to place them on the page. 
Cheers, Erica

Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to www.goodsensorylearning.com  www.dyslexiamaterials.com and  www.learningtolearn.biz 

Helping Students to Record and Turn in Assignments

Recording assignments and turning in the finished product may
seem like a “no brainer” for many teachers, but did you know that executive
functioning, a key cognitive component in planning and organizing, is not fully
developed until many reach their early 20s?  What’s more, many young students are not allowed to use
modern technologies, such as smart phones and Ipads while at school to help
them with this process.  Furthermore,
many students are overwhelmed by the countless distractions in a busy classroom
and miss what appear to be clear directives.  So, what can we do to help students remember to record as
well as turn in assignments? 
Create a Structured,
Reliable Classroom Routine
:
   1)  
Plan assignments for the whole week.  This will save a lot of time and
trouble for everyone.
   2)  
Post assignments and reminders at the beginning
of class in a location that is easy to see. 
   3)  
Review new assignments as well as those that are
due, verbally, once everyone is settled down.
   4)  
Make sure that all the students record
assignments and check agendas for accuracy. 
   5)  
Print assignments out onto labels that students
can place into their assignment pads. 
This is great for students that have graphomotor weaknesses.
   6)  
Make a document or take a picture of written
assignments and email it to the students and students’ parents with a simple
email list.  
   7)  
When students hand in their assignments, give
them a sticker of a hand to place into their assignment pad.  This way they will know that they turned
it in. 
   8)  
To make sure everyone turned in their
assignments say, “Raise your hand if you turned in your assignment.”  Be specific about which assignment and
hold up a sample for all the students to see.
Offer a Consistent
and Planned Approach
for Missed Class Work and Assignments:
   1)  
Post assignments on the internet.  However, do not use this approach
unless the site is reliable and you can always post the assignments before the
end of the school day.
   2)  
Require that each of your students share their
contact information with at least 5 other students (Study Buddies).  This way students can contact one
another as needed. 
   3)  
Suggest a plan for how and when students can
make up the work.
   4)  
Email assignments to students and their parents.
   5)  
Allow students to email you finished assignments
when they are not able to attend class. 
   6)  
Communicate all missed work with students,
parents and any service providers.
If
you are looking for structured ways to help your students with planning,
organizing and time management, consider purchasing Planning, Time Management
and Organization for Success.  It
offers over 100 pages of graphic organizers and handouts that can help your
students with reading, writing, test prep, planning for long term assignments,
memory, active learning, motivation and more.  Click here or on the image to learn more.
Cheers,
Erica
Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to www.goodsensorylearning.com  www.dyslexiamaterials.com and  www.learningtolearn.biz 

Sight Word Jewelry

As the saying goes, “Out of sight out of mind.”  Well, now tricky sight words can remain “in sight” and tailored to each individual student’s needs.

Kids love to make and wear their own jewelry.  So, here is a fun project that your students will be sure to enjoy that will also help them to master difficult sight words.    Links can be added or subtracted as they come across new, challenging words and master others.

Here is the process:

Materials:  

  • contact paper
  • permanent markers
  • paper clips
Step one: Cut the contact paper into small strips.
Step two: Write the difficult sight words onto the contact paper.
Step three: Peal of the backing and wrap the contact paper around one of the paper clips.
Step four: Link another paper clip onto the first and then wrap your next sight word onto the new link.
Step five: Continue the process until it is long enough for a bracelet or necklace. 
I hope you enjoy this project.
I would love to hear your thoughts!!
Cheers, Erica

Academic Support for Students with Learning Disabilities: Affordable Options

Just today, I wrote a post on my community blog that addresses the question, How Can I Afford Academic Support for My Child with Learning Disabilities?  Click on the title above or on the image, so you too can benefit from the information.  I would love to hear your thoughts!!

Cheers, Erica

10 Strategies that Transform Passive Learners into Active Learners

Students’
forearms prop heavy heads and eye lids become fatigued and weighty. Information fills the room, but
the restless audience remains impervious as attention is stolen by fleeting thoughts
and boredom.  If this is a common
scene at your school, most likely the learning environment is passive.  Although a passive learning environment
can accommodate large numbers of students, it is often an ineffective scholastic
milieu.  In contrast, an active
learning environment should have the opposite effect on students.  This way of teaching encourages
creativity, self directed learning, mindfulness, interaction, discussion and
multisensory ways of processing. 

So what can I do to nurture active learning?
1)  
Help your students understand the difference
between active and passive learning.
2)  
Encourage your students to complete the free
Passive vs. Active Learning Profile offered free here.
3)  
Let your students brainstorm things they can do
to become active learners. 
4)  
Allow your students to brainstorm things you can
do to help them become active learners.
5)  
Integrate active learning activities into the
classroom such as acting, small group work and hands on activities.
6)  
Incorporate fun learning stations in the
classroom, so that the students can move around and process with other peers in
smaller groups.
7)  
Encourage students to preview new topics by
watching YouTube clips or doing internet searches so that they come to class
with some prior knowledge.
8)  
Give students assignment options so that they
can make a choice on how they would like to demonstrate their mastery of the
content.  Make sure the different
options tap into different learning modalities. 
9)  
Consider the 12 ways of learning and teach in a multisensory fashion.
10)  Break the class into groups where they take
opposing positions on a topic. 
Allow one student from each group to facilitate the discussion.  The teacher can act as the judge and
can dole out points for good arguments, creative content and clever
presentations. 
If you found this blog and activity to be helpful, this is
just one of the many resources available in the publication, Planning, Time Management and Organization for Success: Quick and Easy Approaches to Mastering Executive Functioning Skills for Students

Cheers,  Erica
Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to www.goodsensorylearning.com  www.dyslexiamaterials.com and  www.learningtolearn.biz 

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The Difference between a Tutor, Learning Specialist and an Educational Therapist: Choosing Your Best Option

Is your child struggling in school?  Are you considering outside help, but
you just don’t know where to start?  Finding the right individual to work with your child is often
a difficult task.  What’s more,
it’s challenging to determine the type of professional that is required.  To help you with the process, here is a
breakdown of the responsibilities and expertise you should expect from these
three professions. 
Tutor:
A tutor is a private instructor that has an expertise in a specific school subject.  They teach or re-teach classroom concepts, and they may or may not have
formal experience or training in education.  Many offer assistance with homework, and some can offer
advice with time management or study skills. 
Learning Specialist:
A learning specialist is a private instructor for students,
parents, and teachers.  They focus
on metacognitive as well as compensatory learning strategies.  Many also offer instruction, training and
remediation in specific academic areas such as reading, writing or math.  A learning specialist should have
advanced training and degrees in education and significant coursework, if not
degrees in special education, psychology, school psychology, educational
psychology, and neuropsychology.  Specific understanding of learning disorders, psycho-educational
evaluations, and intervention strategies is paramount.  An expertise in multisensory learning, alternative
learning and teaching strategies, self advocacy techniques, and schooling
accommodations is a must too.  In
addition, they should be versed in assistive technology, software tools,
educational websites and apps. 
Educational Therapist
An educational therapist is a private instructor for
students and other individuals that wish to improve their mental
functioning.  They too offer
metacognitive and compensatory learning strategies but also include cognitive
remedial training.  This involves
strengthening specific areas of cognition that are weak, such as auditory
discrimination or visual memory.  Moreover,
the educational therapist should be versed in strategies that address social
and emotional aspects that impact learning.  Many also have an expertise in working with students who struggle with executive functioning as well as attentional difficulties.  Like the learning specialist,
educational therapists have degrees in education and significant
coursework, if not a degree, in special education, psychology, school psychology,
educational psychology, and neuropsychology.  Specific training in learning disorders, psycho-educational
evaluations, and interventions strategies is vital.

What’s most important is that you speak with each professional to learn more about their approach and educational training.  If you have any questions, I would love to here your thoughts!

If you are interested in purchasing learning specialist / educational therapist materials, go to: www.goodsensorylearning.com

Cheers,

Erica
Dr. Erica Warren, Learning Specialist and Educational Therapist