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Red Flags for Dyslexia

Dyslexia is the most common learning disability in the United States, impacting 20 percent of the country’s population. If a child is not diagnosed by the second grade, there is a significant chanceblog-dyslexia-main-landscape he or she will remain undiagnosed until they reach adulthood. By educating yourself on the red flags of this learning disability, you can avoid misconceptions as well as delayed identification of this disability. Early identification of any disorder correlates with improved outcome and prognosis.

Preschool-Aged Red Flags for Dyslexia:

Difficulties with phonemic awareness or the ability to identify and manipulate individual sounds in words are beginning signs that your child may have dyslexia. Examples of phonemic awareness skills are:

  • Segmenting syllables (e.g., “how many syllables do you hear in butterfly?”)
  • Rhyming (e.g., “which word rhymes with mat; star or hat”?)
  • Phoneme isolation (e.g., “in the word sun, is the /s/ at the beginning, middle or end of the word?”)
  • Sound deletion (e.g., “say cup without the /k/.”)

Other signs include:

  • Trouble reading single words
  • Trouble generating rhyming words or identifying which words don’t belong
  • Reversing letters and words (e.g., tab/bat)
  • Difficulty identifying sounds at the beginning or end of a word (e.g., “what word begins with /t/; toad or boat?”)

Elementary-Aged Red Flags for Dyslexia:

Once children enter elementary school, the expectations for reading and writing abilities increase significantly. Children not previously identified as being at-risk may begin to exhibit signs as school work becomes more challenging. These children often have average or above average IQ, but demonstrate below grade-level reading and writing abilities.

Red flags include:

  • Trouble sequencing (e.g., steps, alphabet, naming months)
  • Continued trouble with rhyming
  • Difficulty with word finding (e.g., relying on “stuff,” “things” or other generic words)
  • Difficulty with organization and studying
  • Trouble with story telling
  • Avoidance or dislike of reading

Should an individual demonstrate some of these signs, it is not necessarily indicative of dyslexia. Other reading or language disorders may play a factor. However, if these difficulties persist through childhood, it may negatively impact that child’s academic success.

Through early identification, children with dyslexia can begin treatment in phonics-based programs, such as Orton-Gillingham or Wilson. These programs are unique in that the relationships between sounds and letters are explicitly and systematically taught. With consistent treatment, children with dyslexia can learn to compensate for their disorder, as well as begin to enjoy reading and writing.

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee! If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates!

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Child getting tutored

What Makes A Good Tutor?

It is quite common for a child in elementary school and junior high school to have an academic tutor. Parents often ask us what we recommend for a tutor. What characteristics, what training is needed, etc. It is impossible to give a patented answer for these questions. The characteristics and qualities of the tutor really must be dependent upon the concerns presented by the child.

If a child presents with a learning disability such as dyslexia, it is vital that the tutor have specialized training in an intervention for that issue. Remedial support to keep the child ‘afloat’ in class simply will not cut it. If the tutor indicates that they utilize a specialized approach to tutoring, parents should always ask the individual if they are certified in that approach. The certification will at least provide the bare minimum standards that the individual received quality training.

If the child does not present a learning disability but is struggling with learning concepts and material in the classroom, it would be recommended that he or she work with a tutor that actually knows the curricula. The first place the parents should turn is the school. Many times teachers within the school provide outside tutoring or at least the school can provide a list of tutors that they would recommend.

If the main concern is a nightly battle between the parents and the child, I have made the recommendation of hiring a high school student to come and spend an hour or so a day with the child to help with homework. This way the stress of battling with your child is taken away.

Packed tutoring programs may be beneficial for retention of skill sets. These might prove best to be implemented over the summer.

Overall, the type of tutoring and amount of intervention needed truly depends on the child as well as what the concern and need for intervention is.








Develop Executive Functioning Skills This Summer

Does your pre-teen have difficulty staying on task? Does he become overwhelmed when presented with a long-term project? Does he have a hard time controlling his emotions and behaviors? Is it a constant struggle for him to clean up his room? If so, your child may have difficulty with executive functioning. Executive functioning skills are the executive functionsfundamental brain-based skills required to execute tasks: getting organized, planning, initiating work, staying on task, controlling impulses, and regulating emotions.  These skills provide the foundation that all children need to negotiate the academic, home, and social demands of childhood.

Summertime is a great break from busy schedules overrun by homework, projects, and extracurricular activities, but the decreased structure can cause a child with executive functioning difficulties to lose the skills they have gained during the school year. Research has shown that practice is crucial in the development of executive functioning skills; kids who practice executive skills are not only learning self-management, but also developing the connections in the brain that will support the development of executive skills in later adolescence and adulthood!  Read on for ways to keep your child’s executive functioning skills sharp over summer break.

Tips for developing executive functioning skills all summer:

  • Praise: If you know your child is particularly good at a certain skill (e.g. task initiation), communicate that to your child and encourage him to use it to complete summer tasks.  For example say, “I really like how you got started on your chores before lunch.” This will encourage the maintenance of the particular skill your child has mastered.
  • Calendars: Summer schedules can be vastly different from the rest of the year, so to prevent difficulties with handling the change in schedule, use a calendar.   Calendars are a great visual tool to help a child with time management, planning and prioritizing. It allows him to plan ahead and know what is expected and when.
  • Accountability: Whether your child is participating in sports, dance, or going to camp, have your child be responsible (or partially responsible, depending on age and capability) for his equipment or supplies.  This can help him to maintain his organizational and working memory skills.
  • Summer Cleaning: If your child has difficulty with task initiation and organization in his room, take the time over the summer to organize a different space together (garage, spare closet) so you can problem solve together how to start, what to do, and how to be efficient. This allows your child to practice this daunting task with some guidance from you.   He can then carry this skill over to improve his personal space. You may even find old bins or containers your child can use for his room!
  • Summertime Incentives: Rewards make the effort of learning a skill and the effort of performing a task worthwhile. In the summer, there are a lot of fun activities and more time to do them! Take advantage of this and use these fun activities (extra time on the computer, extra time at the pool, going to a friend’s house) as rewards for the tasks you want your child to complete.

Instead of allowing your child to forget the gains he made in executive functioning skills at school, use the summer to make gains and have fun!  For more help with executive functioning, click below to download your free executive functioning checklist.