From our friends at CUNY:
Do you have dyslexia?
Do you know someone who does?
Here’s a great chance to make things better for future students struggling with reading. We need your help!
We are looking for young adults with a diagnosis of dyslexia or a history of significant reading and spelling difficulties to participate in a speech research study. This is a CUNY-wide IRB-approved study.
Interested people should be:
After a brief telephone interview, we will schedule a time for you at your convenience. In this short study you’ll be shown some pictures, listen to stories and then answer questions about what you saw. There are additional computer activities. We are very interested in how people learn and what makes it easier and harder for people to remember things. You will actually be teaching us about how you learn best.
Location: Midtown Manhattan or Bronx, NY
• We will pay $15 for one hour of your time.
• If you qualify, we will pay $15/hr. for a second session of 2 ½ – 3 hrs.
Contact: Peggy, email@example.com or 212-817-8867
Your participation is completely confidential.
Brooklyn Letters presents Ruth Arberman MEd., the founder of the Sterling School. Ms. Arberman has twenty-seven years of experience as a reading specialist, and prior to founding the Sterling School, she ran the Reading Program at The State College of Optometry, (SUNY) Learning Disabilities Unit. Ms. Arberman received several accolades, such as the Jo-Ellen Gorden Memorial Award for Service to the Learning Disabled Community, awarded by The International Dyslexia Society, and the NYS award for Literacy Advocacy, bestowed by the Reading Association.
The small intimate supportive culture of the Sterling School, located in Brooklyn, helps support boys and girls with Dyslexia and ADD to learn how to read, write, and do math and science using the Orton-Gillingham method, in combination with a ‘one student/one tutor’ approach to education in a warm, friendly environment.
Ms. Arberman will discuss what you need to know about the Individualized Education Program (IEP). An Individualized Education Program (IEP) is a legal document that describes your child’s needs, goals and mandated supportive services. In this lecture, you will gain knowledge of how to navigate and use the IEP school meeting to advocate for your child. You will obtain the skills to become an “insider,” advocate, and equal partner in the IEP planning and implementation process. Specifically, you will learn what opportunities the new SESIS system provides in terms of your child’s schooling as well as the differences between your child’s diagnosis (e.g., expressive versus receptive language difficulties, dyslexia, difficulties with math or written expression) and the formal Department of Education (DOE) classification (and the ramifications of these differences).
When: Wednesday February 22nd, 6:45pm-8:30pm.
Lecture starts promptly at 7:00pm and a question and answer will follow from 7:45-8:30pm.
Where: Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture- 53 Prospect Park West.
By subway: 2 or 3 train to Grand Army Plaza, Q train to Seventh Avenue (and Flatbush Avenue), F train to Seventh Avenue (and Ninth Street)
Cost: $20 per person and no refund, unless event is canceled. Spots limited to 50 people.
To reserve a seat, please email Craig at firstname.lastname@example.org or Dr. Lindsay Whitman at email@example.com.
As our children reach school age, some of us come to learn just how challenging exceptionality – regardless of dis/ability – can be to negotiate, both for our children and ourselves. The overwhelming majority of primary and secondary, public and private schools in this country aim straight for the middle of the bell curve of intellectual and social development in both how and what they teach. The student “ideal” upon which most curricula are based is a child who progresses in predictable stages academically (“on grade level”), is well adjusted with peers and teachers, and pursues “age appropriate” interests and relationships. But what about the child who does not conform to these norms? How can we as parents help make sure that an educational system built for the “rule” does not leave our “exceptions” behind?
Most special education experts define “exceptional children” to be those kids whose performance deviates from the norm, either below or above, to such a degree that individualized special education and related services are necessary for them to benefit fully from education. The term is deliberately broad and inclusive: it includes children with learning, emotional, and physical disabilities as well as those whose intellectual gifts or special talents are so superior that they, too, need to have their curriculum and instruction modified in order that they may fulfill their potential. Further complicating this picture and raising the stakes even higher for parents, teachers, and schools, is that exceptional children may — and often do — possess two or more special abilities and/or disabilities.
In general a “special needs” student is one who has a physical, learning, and/or emotional disability that interferes with her education. What does this mean? A child who cannot walk due to a birth defect or injury but who has no cognitive impairment is a “special needs” student in so far as she needs a fully wheel-chair accessible school and, perhaps, a paraprofessional aid to assist her to get around. On the other hand, a child with autism will need specially trained teachers, a modified curriculum, and a variety of related services.
The federal law known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), first enacted by Congress as the Education for All Handicapped Children Act in 1975 (and most recently reauthorized in 2004), mandates that all schools receiving public funding must provide all children with disabilities, from age three through 21, “free appropriate public education” in the “least restrictive environment” with the necessary related services (e.g., speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, counseling, etc.) to allow them to benefit from an education.
Like all individual rights and services guaranteed under federal law, however, it not enough to ask for help. Your child must first be evaluated and certified for an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) if your child is under age three.
Although the IDEA mandates and helps fund educational and related services for children with disabilities, it is up to the states and their local school systems to see that special education is delivered. As there is considerable variation from state-to-state, it is important to consult your state’s Department of Education and your local school district for the specific procedures and regulations that pertain to your child’s school. In New York State it is the Department of Education’s Office of Special Education that oversees the implementation of federal and State laws and policy for students with disabilities. In New York City, the Department of Education’s Office Division of Students with Disabilities and English Language Learners is charged with keeping schools and families of students with disabilities informed and supported concerning current special education policy and procedures.
The federal government, via IDEA and other legislation, has established and funds a nationwide network of Parent Training and Information Centers whose mandate is to help families of children of all ages (birth through age 26) with all disabilities – physical, cognitive, behavioral, social, and emotional – to, among other services:
• Understand their rights and responsibilities under the IDEA;
• Obtain appropriate services for their children; and
• Resolve disagreements and understand the benefits of alternative methods of dispute resolution.
Advocates for Children, Resources for Children with Special Needs, and Sinergia/Metropolitan Parent Center are the federally designated parent centers serving New York City.
Regardless of regulatory differences among states, I encourage both “newbie” and veteran parents of children with disabilities alike to keep current on the fundamentals of the special education evaluation and certification process. To more fully acquaint yourself with special education policy and procedures in New York City I recommend Advocates for Children’s Short Guide to Special Education and other publications. To know the following core operating principals will get first-timers pointed in the right direction, and save the rest of us more than a little heartache and frustration.
• You have a right to get your child tested and evaluated — at the public’s expense — for special education and related services even if his teacher or school’s principal does not feel it is necessary.
• If you feel that your child’s school lacks the resources or expertise to conduct a thorough evaluation, you have the right to request that it be either conducted at the school-district level or in the private sector, if the school district also lacks appropriate expertise, at public expense.
• Once the initial evaluation has been completed, you must be invited in writing to attend a conference concerning the school or district-based assessment team’s conclusions and recommendations. Attend this meeting! Bring someone you trust to this meeting. This person need not be an educator or lawyer, just someone who whom you believe has the knowledge and skills to help you advocate for your child.
• If your child’s school or school district does not have the resources to provide IEP/IFSP-mandated related services within the school (e.g., occupational therapy, physical therapy, etc.), by law these services must still be provided at public expense by a private provider.
Put all your requests for testing and evaluation for special education and/or related services in writing to the appropriate school and/or district special education administrator. By sending a letter (via certified mail is best) you will not only be able to track accurately your efforts on behalf of your child but will put her school district “on notice.” The school district must respond to you within a very limited timeframe (usually 60 days for an initial request and 30 days once your child has already been certified for an IEP).
Once your child has been certified for special education services, by law there must be an annual review of her IEP/IFSP mandated program placement, educational goals and related services. Again you must be invited to the annual review conference in writing. Again, you may bring an advocate with you. Before attending this conference, review all report cards and other written communications sent home by the teacher and other service providers. The more current you keep with your child’s progress at school, the better you can advocate at the annual conference and throughout the year with her teacher and related service providers.
Having undergone the initial special education evaluation and certification process with my own son who has dyslexia and associated learning disabilities more than six years ago, I wish I could say that once you’ve gotten to the first annual review you can sit back, breathe a big sigh of relief, and return to family life as usual. Alas, by this point, you have successfully navigated only the tip of the iceberg! The good news is you have gained the fundamentals to explore what lies below the surface and chart your child’s educational course in the years ahead. And, of course, you’ve become an important ally and resource for other parents just setting sail.
Whatever their specific needs, our exceptional children need exceptionally committed parents and other adults in their lives to help them reach their educational and social potential. Needless to say, ours is a long and winding road, often very difficult to navigate alone, especially so when we may have more than one job to juggle as well as other kids and needy family members to care for. The following are my seven basic “rules of thumb” for effective parent advocacy – which has kept this special ed mama centered and sane for many years!
• Trust that you know your child best. Never accept on face value that you don’t have the expertise or experience to find out and do what is best for your exceptional child.
• Seek the counsel of other parents who have been down the same road before you.
• Don’t fear labels: “special needs” and “gifted and talented” are just short hand for paths to getting what your child needs.
• Emphasize collaboration over confrontation with your child’s teachers, related service providers, and school administrators.
• Know your rights under the law.
• Not every one of your child’s needs can be addressed all the time — not at school, and not at home. Pick your battles well and always assess the personal, family, and public resources at your disposal at any given time.
• Talk often with your child! Be honest and straightforward about what you are doing on her behalf and listen to her own desires, fears, and hopes.
Remember that it is hard-wired into us as parents to consider our children exceptional – unique, one-of-a-kind, irreplaceable – regardless of dis/ability. This way of thinking is a cornerstone of our humanity. It is also what makes us our children’s first and most important teachers and advocates.
As a Special Education Parent Advocate, Patricia Connelly counsels, assists, coaches, and advocates on behalf of families of children with disabilities, as they navigate the often muddy and choppy waters of the special education “system”—regardless of educational setting or disability classification—from initial evaluation and certification for services to subsequent annual and triennial IEP (Individualized Education Program) conferences and through every critical period of transition. Patricia’s practice provides “soup to nuts” services, including consultations via telephone and in-person; review of IEP and relevant evaluations and other documents; attendance and support at school and program-related meetings; research needed to support the child’s needs; correspondence with schools, district, city/state agencies and others as needed; as well as preparation for and attendance at mediation and/or due process hearings. Patricia can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tags: all handicapped children act, Brooklyn, Brooklyn Letters, CPSE, CSE, department of education, disability, dyslexia, IEP, IFSP, individualized education program, individualized family service plan, individuals with disabilities act, Manhattan, New York, New York City, NYC, Patricia Connelly, resources for children with special needs, RSA, special education, special education parent advocate, special needs
I field many questions from parents who are concerned with their child’s ability to read. Indeed, there are many confusing pieces of information on the internet that have the potential to mislead parents or teachers in understanding the reasons why one should (or should not) be concerned with a child or adolescent’s reading skill development. Other parents ask me to describe the ways that a neuropsychological or psychoeducational evaluation may help their child if indeed a reading difficulty is identified. This piece is intended to define dyslexia and discuss the process and value of a comprehensive evaluation process.
Dyslexia is another term for Reading Disorder, which is the technical term for reading difficulties used in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual-IV-TR (“DSM”: the manual used by psychologists and social workers which lists and describes all possible diagnoses). In order to meet DSM-IV-TR criteria for reading disorder/dyslexia, a child’s reading skills must be substantially below what would be expected given her/his age, intelligence level, and education (as noted below, this objective “discrepancy” is NOT the only nor the most important criterion to consider). In addition, the child’s reading difficulty must interfere to a noticeable degree with both his/her academic performance and any general life skills that require reading proficiency. Finally, if the child has a sensory problem (e.g., vision difficulty), his/her reading difficulties must be over and above what would be expected based on the sensory difficulty alone.
There are two types of dyslexia: developmental dyslexia (e.g., an individual is born with difficulties) and acquired dyslexia (e.g., an individual ‘acquires’ reading difficulties secondary to a sudden occurrence such as a neurological injury). Developmental dyslexia is common among individuals with first-degree relatives with learning disorders. Thus, although dyslexia appears to be highly heritable, a child’s environment (e.g., how much the child’s parents encourage or model reading behaviors, how many books or reading materials are in the home) also seems to play an important role in the development of different types of reading profiles (Haiyou-Thomas, 2008).
Recent research shows that there are clear functional differences in the “brain systems” of children and young adults diagnosed with developmental dyslexia (Richlan, Kronbichler, & Wimmer, 2011). Research has also demonstrated that the functionality of disrupted “brain systems” has the potential to change upon exposure to high quality reading remediation (Shaywitz, Lyon, & Shaywitz, 2006). In other words, research suggests that with proper and timely reading intervention, the brains of children with dyslexia can change to function more similarly to the brains of children without dyslexia. This suggests that it is very important to identify early vulnerabilities to reading difficulties in children so that high quality programming may be initiated as soon as possible. In general, a younger child’s brain is more “plastic” or malleable than an older child’s brain, and thus, there is greater potential for more efficient change in younger children. (Identification of reading vulnerabilities before age six or seven is ideal.)
If I am concerned about my child, what kind of evaluation should a neuropsychologist do to evaluate whether or not my child meets the criteria for dyslexia?
When a child is referred for a neuropsychological or psychoeducational evaluation, there are often additional concerns (e.g., attention/concentration, mathematics skills, handwriting, impulsivity/behavior, mood, social skills) cited in addition to reading. For this reason, an evaluation should always be always tailored to the individual child. However, there are three parts of any evaluation in whom a reading disorder/dyslexia is diagnosed that are indispensable.
1. Standard scores on decoding and/or reading comprehension tests must be substantially lower than other children who are at her/his age and/or education level in order to diagnose dyslexia. It is important that children being compared have been exposed to the same level of education (e.g., if a child was very sick for a period of years and missed a substantial amount of school, it may not be entirely appropriate to directly compare her/him to his same-aged peer group).
2. In order to diagnose dyslexia, there must be substantial evidence (via history, clinical observation, and patterns of scores on a wide variety of tests) that establishes the extent to which the reading difficulty may be considered unexpected for this child (e.g., the child is very verbal, has a good vocabulary, and demonstrates otherwise strong academic or thinking or language skills).
3. Although recent research indicates that there may be different subtypes of dyslexia which include or do not include phonologic weakness (O’Brien, Wolf, & Lovett, 2011), the traditional understanding of dyslexia includes this clinical feature (e.g., clear and consistent difficulty linking sounds to letters). Thus, a thorough evaluation of dyslexia must thoroughly investigate the presence/absence of this quality in a child’s reading skill set via standardized tests of decoding. Other aspects of a child’s developing reading skills such as oral reading fluency, spelling skills, and reading comprehension are also central to an evaluation of dyslexia.
It is common for schools to rely heavily on the essence of criteria one or a “discrepancy model” (i.e., a 15-standard score point gap between a child’s intelligence level and reading level) to identify reading difficulties in children. This is concerning not only because there are important variations among testing materials between schools, but also because this approach does not necessarily capture the presence or absence of the “phonologic” component of dyslexia. Elimination of this component of an evaluation compromises accurate identification of children with these difficulties and the provision of a clear description of specific learning needs (e.g., type of intervention program, intensity of intervention format), leading to the possibility that a child will be matched with a reading program does not address his/her needs. Pairing a child with the wrong type of services may lead to what seems to be a lack of success when the true reason for difficulty is that his/her needs are not being appropriately supported.
So, in summary, why is a truly comprehensive neuropsychological/psychoeducational evaluation process important if I am concerned about my child?
As noted above, it is very important to identify a reading difficulty as early as possible in a child; the earlier a child is provided with the proper type of supportive services, the higher the chances of rapid progress with remediation. In addition, there are many classroom/school accommodations that can and should be provided to children with reading difficulties that will support them academically and hopefully reduce undue anxiety or stress. Examples of accommodations for children with dyslexia may include (depending on the child, of course) extended time for classwork and standardized tests, a quiet space to complete work, the provision of audiobooks or note taking services, and the use of visually-based learning aides. In sum, a neuropsychological evaluation will not only identify the needs of your child on a very comprehensive (and thereby likely more accurate) level, but also provide a thorough and practical list of the direct (e.g., classroom) or equally important indirect (e.g., therapeutic support to bolster self esteem or reduce anxiety) recommended services to best support him or her through their learning process.
If you have concerns about your child or questions about whether a neuropsychological or psychoeducational evaluation may be indicated for a child, do not hesitate to contact me at 347-560-1399 for a free 30 minute consultation session. Feel free to also e-mail me at email@example.com.
Hayiou-Thomas, M.E. (2008). Genetic and environmental influences on early speech, language, and literacy development. Journal of Communication Disorders, 41(5), 397-408.
O’Brien, B., Wolf, M., & Lovett, M. (2011). A Taxometric Investigation of Dyslexia Subtypes. Dyslexia, 18 (1), 16-39.
Richlan, F., Kronbichler, M., & Wimmer, H. (2011). Meta-analyzing brain dysfunctions of children with dyslexia. Neuroimage, 56 (3), 1735-1742.
Shaywitz, B.A., Lyon, G.R., & Shaywitz, S.E. (2006). The role of magnetic resonance imaging in understanding reading and dyslexia. Developmental Neuropsychology, 30 (1), 613-632.
Tags: adolescents and reading delay, below average reading skills, Brooklyn Letters, child's ability to read, children and reading delay, decoding comprehension tests, discrepancy model, dyslexia, evaluation process for dyslexia, how to identify a reading disorder in children, importance of dyslexia diagnosis, importance of dyslexia evaluation, neurological based reading difficulties, oral fluency, phonological weakness in children, phonological weaknesses and reading difficulties, psychoeducational evaluation, reading comprehension tests, reading difficulties, reading disorder, reading pace, reading skills, school accommodations for dyslexia, sensory problems and dyslexia, sensory problems and reading difficulties, spelling skills, standardized testing and reading difficulties
Join Brooklyn Letter’s pediatric experts Dr. Lindsay Whitman (pediatric neuropsychologist ages 4-18), Jo-Ann Kalb (NY State Certified Teacher & reading interventionist for children ages 5 to 10), and Craig Selinger (speech language therapist for babies to pre-adolescence) for a parent-friendly collaborative discussion on dyslexia (reading disorder). They will debunk common myths, provide up-to-date information on dyslexia, and review the process that should be undertaken to diagnose dyslexia. Finally, practical strategies to use with students (age 5-10) to help their reading development will be provided.
The discussion will take place in Park Slope. Cheese and wine will be provided.
When: Monday October 24th, 6:45pm-8:15 pm.
Lecture 6:45-7:45pm and Q & A 7:45-8:15pm.
Where: 435 15th St. #1 between 8th Ave and Prospect Park West in Park Slope, Brooklyn. One block from the F and G subway- 15th St. stop
Cost: $15 per person. No refund, unless event is canceled. Spots limited to 12 people.
Email Craig at firstname.lastname@example.org to RSVP. Once confirmed, please mail a check for $15, written out to Craig Selinger, and mail it to 435 15th St. #1, Brooklyn, NY 11215
Subscribe with RSS