Listing all posts with label reading tools. Show all posts.
  1. 13 Tips to Enhance e-Learning with Low-tech, High-tech & Sensory Resources
    (Article originally published via the ReadSpeaker.com blog on February 9, 2016)

    Educators know that getting and keeping students engaged in a lesson is challenging, but it is also key to learning success. Incorporating different kinds of strategies into a lesson plan will go a long way to ensure a higher level of student engagement, especially when these methods appeal to one or more of the students’ five senses. The more senses involved, the better the engagement, mastery level of the content and the retention thereof.

    In our world of education today where technology has become an integral part of learning, one might ask, how can I develop “sensory” units of study when so much of what we do in the classroom involves computers and tablets?

    Here is a list of 13 ways to incorporate low-tech, high-tech and sensory strategies into a unit of study:
     
    1.     Allow for the recording of oral notes from an online lesson with a micro-cassette recorder or other inexpensive recording device. When a main idea is presented in the digital text, it can then be recorded for future reference. The essential points that support each main idea should also be recorded as they are discovered in the text. Play back the oral notes for a variety of further study activities: to help create more accurate written notes, to facilitate in writing an essay, to review content at test time or to share with a study group. This is a good strategy for auditory learners.
     
    2.     Arrange for all course and book content to be made available via audiotape or CD. This will be another very helpful strategy for students who learn best by listening.
     
    3.     Use sensory-appealing tools to help isolate 1 or 2 lines of text for individuals with focusing challenges. These types of tools can help visual as well as tactile learners with their use of color, soft materials and other features. Many students can easily be overwhelmed by too much text on a computer, e-reader or tablet screen. For such an issue, a student might use these physical tools to help focus on each line of text and block out a large amount of surrounding text on a screen. This approach can make reading assignments much more manageable, breaking down the content into chunks or small sections.
     
    4.     Allow for access to a copy of prepared notes, especially after an online lesson or presentation. This will give students the benefit of knowing which ideas and points are important in a unit of study for an online lesson. This can be most helpful to students with attention and focus issues, writing challenges such as dysgraphia or other difficulties.
     
    5.     Provide stick-on notes for writing down main ideas from a lesson or study unit. Then allow for them to be placed on a wall at eye level. This is an effective strategy for visual learners and/or individuals with executive function challenges (memory, etc.)
     
    6.     Allow for the use of colored paper for handwritten and printed materials including worksheets, outlines, notes, etc. Experiment with pastels as well as bright shades. One particular color may produce significant results for each individual reader. White page backgrounds with black text in particular can cause “visual stress” for more than a few readers.
     
    7.     Along the same lines, consider the use of anti-glare computer screen filters and/or colored screen overlays when reading online content. These can decrease visually-offensive glare often caused by overhead florescent lighting, increase focus, diminish “visual stress” and help lengthen online reading and working periods. It is also recommended that appropriate colored overlays or films for smartboards and dry erase boards also be used for these purposes.
     
    8.     Allow for some kind of movement when reading online content. Also, permit kneeling or standing at a computer desk (if needed), as long as it does not cause problems or distractions for others. A standing computer desk can be a huge benefit to a kinesthetic learner or to an individual with ADHD. For an even lower-tech idea, consider attaching a “soundless” elastic band or bungee cord across the 2 front legs of a non-rolling computer chair. While seated and reading online, this will allow for feet to move within a small space and can be helpful for children who must “fidget” to focus. Stress balls can provide another option or additional support for some learners.
     
    9.     Consider adding 1 or more therapy balls as another seating option for students, as they work with computers or other tech devices. These types of balls strengthen core muscles and can be very therapeutic for kids who need to wiggle. These also can help develop proper posture, improved sitting habits and are good for children with sensory needs.
     
    10.   Permit the use of very low-volume music (instrumental) or environmental sounds (seashore, birds, etc.) while doing independent work online. Be sure to provide headphones in a classroom setting for this strategy, of course.
     
    11.   Allow students to work cooperatively with others at times as part of a “buddy” system of support. This can be an excellent strategy for interpersonal learning styles. Some students simply need to talk and interact in order to learn and retain information successfully.
     
    12.   Utilize text-to-speech technology, especially for students with reading challenges and for individuals who are auditory learners. Listening while reading to a text at the same time can greatly increase reading comprehension. This can be a particularly good strategy for students with dyslexia or those with low vision.
     
    13.   Seek out and implement the use of effective software applications to better enable individuals to focus and read digital media with more success (whether online or offline).
     
    With these tips in mind, you can begin to incorporate and discover the right match between tech tools and a student’s needs. It may take some time and effort, but the appropriate combination of assistive technology tools and tips can be instrumental in helping a student become a much more successful and independent learner.
     
    Sources:
     
    1.   ReadSpeaker: Use the power of ReadSpeaker text-to-speech to give a voice to your websites, mobile apps, digital books, e-learning materials, documents, and more!
    2.   ReadSpeaker Blog: Original article published February 9, 2016, 13 Tips to Enhance e-Learning with Low-tech, High-tech & Sensory Resources
    3.   Brennan Innovators, LLC: Strategies & Accommodations for Challenged Readers
     
     
  2. 10 Tips to Help Children with Dysgraphia

    Does your child struggle to write on the appropriate lines provided? Do you know or teach a child who is challenged and/or frustrated with simply forming basic letters and words? A child or student with these issues just might be challenged with dysgraphia.

    Dysgraphia is a neurological disorder characterized by writing disabilities. Specifically, the disorder causes a person's writing to be distorted or incorrect. In children, the disorder generally emerges when they are first introduced to writing. They make inappropriately sized and spaced letters, or write wrong or misspelled words, despite thorough and apporpriate instruction.

    Children with the disorder may have other learning disabilities; however, they usually have no social or other academic problems. Dysgraphia in adults generally occurs after some trauma. In addition to poor handwriting, dysgraphia is characterized by wrong or odd spelling, and production of words that are not correct (i.e., using "boy" for "child"). The cause of the disorder is unknown, but in adults, it is usually associated with damage to the parietal lobe of the brain.

    1. First, CHANGE the paper used for writing.
    A person with dysgraphia experiences significant challenges in the writing process. These challenges involve the inability to organize information that is stored in memory AND getting words on to paper by handwriting or typing them.

    These 2 challenges prevent dysgraphic persons from understanding the spacing between letters, words, and sentences. In order to help your child visualize the space and to minimize frustration, first consider replacing your child’s lined paper with graph paper or turn the lined paper sideways, with each letter getting its own block/space and leaving an empty block/space between words.

    You might also try using various kinds of highlighted printing papers. There are a few online sources for such supplies. (Please see FREE downloadable templates available via the link provided below here, too.)

    Also, consider changing the color of the writing paper. A particular pastel color for paper may help alleviate some of the visual stress caused by white papers. Just the "right" colored paper for your child could make a positive difference, if only in the way he approaches the writing task.

    2. CHANGE the writing tool or instrument your child uses.
    Dysgraphia affects fine motor control. Because of this, gripping a pencil or pen lightly isn’t natural. Encourage your child to write as if she were holding a feather, or take it a bit further and give her an actual quill and ink. Feathers are delicate and children tend to handle them much more gently than they do a solid object like a pencil. If a quill is not readily available,consider using chalk, as it will crumble when pressed too hard.

    As for writing surfaces, the bigger, the better! Use an easel or a large sheet of white poster board. Another option is to use sliding glass doors on which to write (with washable markers or transparency pens) as they are huge and the glass surface naturally encourages my children to write much more softly than they would on other surfaces. An added benefit is that these large glass doors can easily and quickly be washed.

    In addition, adding a soft and comfortable pencil grip or holder to the writing tool currently used can provide much support for a struggling writer. These types of pencil grips can be found online from various special needs sources.

    3. TEACH your child to type and effectively use a computer keyboard.
    To help eliminate much of the stress of repeated writing difficulties, allow your child to express his ideas and thoughts with a word processor or computer keyboard. Providing this option can relax and enable your child to make more progress in learning in all content areas. Another option for this purpose is a portable keyboard/word processor called AlphaSmart. Although an older type of assistive technology, the AlphaSmart keyboards can provide the needed typing tool for a challenged writer and is available online either new or used.

    4. INTRODUCE your child to gross motor skill exercises.
    Show your child a few gross motor skill exercises to strengthen the arm and hand. Then incorporate these exercises into your child's daily routine. Make them fun, combining them with rhymes or your child's favorite kind of music. A good resource for these types of exercises is OT Mom Learning Activities (please see "gross motor" link below here).

    5. INTRODUCE fine motor control exercises.
    Introduce fine motor control exercises to strengthen the fingers and wrist. Add these to your child's daily activities as well. By combining these exercises with some relaxing instrumental music selections, your child may relax a bit more and be able to concentrate on the exercises more successfully. A variety of fine motor exercises can also be accessed via many special needs or OT websites such as OT Mom Learning Activities, too (please see "fine motor" link below here).

    6. CONSIDER by-passing printing & proceed directly to cursive writing.
    The move to cursive, too, can significantly reduce the levels of frustration experienced by many with dysgraphia, allowing them to relax and become better able to write. This might be a temporary by-pass of printing, or it could become more permanent, depending upon the results observed with the cursive writing.

    7. DEVELOP & UTILIZE narration or speaking skills whenever possible.
    Dysgraphia causes some individuals to experience a block between thinking something and writing it. Narration is an excellent tool for helping your child record her thoughts. Saying letters and words aloud as they are recorded on a small tech device (mp3 player or the like) or with a text-to-speech program will also be a benefit when it is time to write down those words. A handy list will have already been created.

    8. WORK TOGETHER to evaluate & change your writing goals as needed.
    Discuss at least once per week about how the accommodations are working to help your child. Even if your child is young, he can provide valuable input as to what is working and what is not. He may even have additional ideas to add or request, especially after you have begun to show him just a few helpful strategies or accommodations.

    9. DEMONSTRATE and USE large "air writing" techniques.
    Demonstrate and use large "air writing" of letters to develop a more efficient motor memory for the sequence of steps necessary in making each letter. You might also introduce "sand writing" which involves using the finder to write out letters in a sided tray of sand. These multi-sensory approaches often yield very positive results.

    10.MAKE USE of a other multi-sensory techniques.
    Make use of a variety of multi-sensory techniques to further develop handwriting skills. Visit Dysgraphia Resources to access more than 200 multi-sensory activities, tools and other resources to help your child with the challenges of dysgraphia (many of the resources there are FREE, too!)

    Sources & Resources:

    8 Strategies to Beat Dysgraphia from Homeschool Gameschool blog
    http://homeschoolgameschool.com/8-strategies-to-beat-dysgraphia/

    Strategies for Dealing with Dysgraphia by Regina G. Richards, LD Online
    http://www.ldonline.org/article/5890

    BEST Websites for Dyslexia & Dysgraphia from Help for Struggling Readers blog
    http://helpforstrugglingreaders.blogspot.com/2013/10/best-websites-for-dyslexia-dysgraphia.html

    Pencil Grips and Holders from Fun and Function
    https://funandfunction.com/more/write-and-more/grips.html

    AlphaSmart Keyboards
    Portable assistive technology for keyboarding and word processing.
    https://www.amazon.com/s?ie=UTF8&page=1&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Aalphasmart%20keyboards

    Fine Motor Activities from OT Mom Learning Activities
    www.ot-mom-learning-activities.com/hand-exercises-for-kids.html

    Gross Motor Skill Activities-from OT Mom Learning Activities
    http://www.ot-mom-learning-activities.com/gross-motor-activities.html

    Able Apps for Dysgraphia from Help for Struggling Readers blog
    http://helpforstrugglingreaders.blogspot.com/2012/08/able-apps-for-dysgraphia.html

    200+ Dysgraphia Resources---ALL in 1 Place from Brennan Innovators, LLC
    More than 200 multi-sensory resources to help someone you know with dysgraphia.
    https://www.pinterest.com/brennajn2000/dysgraphia-resources/?etslf=6371&eq=Dysgraphia
  3. Back-to-School Reading Resources for ADHD

    Two weeks ago, we were very privileged to once again participate as educators in an excellent gifted education program called College for Kids. This program at the St. Louis Community College-Meramec was established over 30 years ago with the inspiration and support of dedicated and committed parents of gifted children in the Greater St. Louis Area. 

    The courses in the College for Kids program are offered each summer for gifted and talented elementary and middle school youth who have completed kindergarten through eighth grade. These courses are designed to further challenge and advance gifted students' skills

    The students we worked with in the program this week were outstanding and most enjoyable to teach! We provided 2 classes each of ¡Bienvenidos, Mis Amigos!, an exploratory Spanish class and a STEM course called Mechanical Robotic Arm Build.  We certainly appreciated the enthusiasm and motivation demonstrated by these talented students. It was a GREAT week for ALL of us!

    At the same time, we could not help but notice that even in this gifted population, there were more than a few students who also had additional needs.  In our work, we have found that many parents and even teachers are not always aware that giftedness AND additional needs can sometimes co-exist for some students (called twice-exceptional).  Very often, these needs involve attention and concentration issues for gifted children and teens.  Many of their young minds require almost constant stimulation, which can in itself feed the ADHD they already may have.

    For this reason and because of our experiences with students of all abilities, we thought it would be beneficial to our readers to provide a resource list for ADHD reading tips, especially during this back-to-school season.  One of our previous articles entitled Let's Deal with Distractions---ADHD Strategies for Home & School included a rather extensive list of general home and school resources for ADHD.  

    This week, we continue to help parents and teachers in the preparation for a new school year with our ADHD resource list for reading.  We hope this list will assist our readers in helping students experience improved focus, more sustained attention and better concentration when reading (whether online or offline).  It is important to note that these resources can be helpful not only to gifted children but to ALL children with focusing and attention issues.  We hope the list and its "goodies" will provide you with the needed resources to help a child you know with the reading challenges of ADHD.

    Helpful Reading Resources for ADHD

    How to Improve Reading Skills in Children with ADHD or Learning Disabilities 
    by Matthew Cruger, Ph.D. and ADDitude Magazine
    Guaranteed tips for improving reading comprehension in children with ADHD or learning disabilities like dyslexia.

    Many ADHD Kids Also Have Reading Problems
    by Denise Mann, WebMD Health News
    About half of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may experience problems with reading, according to a new study in Pediatrics. It was found that 51% of boys with ADHD had reading problems, as did 46.7% of girls with ADHD. More information about this study and many reading resources for ADHD are offered here.

    Print & Use Tools: Study Skills from School Family
    FREE worksheets, lists and activities to help children (especially those with ADHD) become better organized, more motivated and more on top of school work.

    Desktop APP: Reading Focus Cards (Patent 8,360,779) (Price: $5.99)
    from Brennan Innovators, LLC
    This desktop app is the digital version of the physical Reading Focus Cards (Patent 7,565,759), solutions for struggling readers. This app for Windows PCs and Macs provides practical READING SUPPORT for children and adults with dyslexia, ADHD, autism and other conditions that can affect reading success. It promotes more FOCUSED online reading of almost ALL digital media (webpages, PDF files, Word docs, Excel spreadsheets & more.)  In addition, the Reading Focus Cards app is compatible with and supports touch-screen technology.  The application can be moved on the screen over text by the fingers, mouse or arrow keys as needed. 

    1. For Macs (desktops & notebooks): 
    Visit the Mac App Store and search for Reading Focus Cards or go directly to 
    2. For Windows PCs (desktops & laptops):
    Visit Gumroad at https://gumroad.com/l/ReadingFocusCards OR visit the Microsoft Windows Store and search for the app called Reading Focus Cards. (No URLs are ever provided for apps in the Windows Store.)


    5 Back To School Tips for Your ADD or ADHD Child 
    by Dr. Robert Myers, Child Psychologist 
    Here are some back-to-school tips to make things seem a lot easier and smoother for parents and kids.

    ADD/ADHD Resources for Teachers from TeacherVision
    Articles and many FREE resources to help educators manage the special nature of students with ADD/ADHD.

    For more information on customizable reading tools for better focus & attention, please visit:
    www.FocusandRead.com ---Tools for struggling readers of all ages!
  4. MORE Helpful Resources for the Autism Community

    In June 2015, we had the pleasure of publishing an article for the autism community that was written by one of its members, Ms. Kathleen Carter.  She is challenged with Asperger’s Syndrome and authored the article in this blog entitled Empowering Resources for Persons of ALL Ages with Autism.

    Once again, we are pleased to publish here Ms, Carter's latest collection of resources for the autism community.  As our readers may know, there is  a wide range of ways and levels in which people are affected by autism.  Because of this, nearly every autism resource has the potential to significantly impact the quality of life for many on the spectrum. 

    Many of our readers may have witnessed firsthand the very helpful benefits of service dogs, but did you know that these very special dogs can be profoundly beneficial for autistic persons?  Ms. Carter has told us that she herself will soon begin working with an autism service dog, and she wants to spread the good word about the positive impact these animals can have for those on the autism spectrum.  In addition to the service-dog links included in her list below, Ms. Carter and we have also included other resources that may help the individuals who need them.  We, too, hope our readers who work hard to serve persons on the autism spectrum will find them to be helpful in their good efforts.

    Thank you, Ms. Kathleen Carter, for providing this great list of resources!

    4 Paws For Ability
    http://4pawsforability.org/autism-assistance-dog/

    The Life-Changing Impact of Autism Service Dogs
    https://www.rover.com/blog/autism-service-dogs

    Stress & Anxiety Reduction | Autism Research Institute
    http://www.autism.com/treating_grodin

    How to Handle the 4 Most Challenging Autism Behaviors
    https://www.care.com/a/how-to-handle-the-4-most-challenging-autism-behaviors-1204050236

    The Reading Focus Cards (Patent 7,565,759)Low-tech Reading Tools for Challenged Readers 
    From Brennan Innovators, LLC
    Sensory-appealing and customizable reading tools and solutions for challenged readers of all ages. Made in the U.S.A. 
    www.FocusandRead.com/products

    19 User-Friendly Apps for Individuals with Disabilities and Special Needs Children
    http://www.cellphonecity.com/blog/features/19-user-friendly-apps-for-seniors-alzheimers-patients-and-caregivers-individuals-with-disabilities-and-special-needs-children

    Reading Focus Cards Digital Desktop App (Patent 8,360,779)---for Macs & Windows PCs (Price: $5.99)
    From Brennan Innovators, LLC
    This desktop app for Windows PCs and Macs is the digital version of the physical Reading Focus Cards (Patent 7,565,759), solutions for struggling readers. The app provides practical support for children and adults with autism, ADHD, dyslexia and other conditions that can affect reading success. It promotes more focused reading of digital media---whether online or offline. The application floats on top AND stays on top of any other underlying application.
    1. Macs (desktops & notebooks): Visit the Mac App Store and search for Reading Focus Cards or go directly to 
    https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/read-and-focus/id920617853?mt=12
    2. Windows PCs (desktops & laptops): Visit Gumroad at 
    https://gumroad.com/l/ReadingFocusCards

    A Parent’s Guide to Autism Spectrum Disorder
    http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/a-parents-guide-to-autism-spectrum-disorder/index.shtml  

    National Center for Autism Resources & Education
    https://www.disability.gov/resource/national-center-for-autism-resources-education-ncare/

    Source for image: http://rlv.zcache.com/autism_puzzle_ribbon_awareness_poster-r447c6ac7647142f0ae07364edc5fe352_xzptb_8byvr_512.jpg
  5. Dyslexia Awareness, Tools, Resources & Support

    Some of our readers may know that the month of October is Dyslexia Awareness Month. Although we provide dyslexia tools and resources to our many customers and clients throughout the year, we make it a point to emphasize awareness of and share even more resources for dyslexia with everyone during this month of October. With the incidence of dyslexia estimated to be 1 in 5, it is essential that parents, teachers and other adults become aware of these statistics so that they can better address the needs of the many individuals with this specific learning challenge. 

    Dyslexia is a brain-based learning difference that specifically impairs a person's ability to read. Individuals challenged with dyslexia typically read at levels significantly lower than expected even with normal or average intelligence. Although the symptoms and experiences of dyslexia can vary from one person to another, the common characteristics of the condition are:

    1. Difficulty with phonological processing
        -Phonics understanding
        -Phonemic awareness and/or
        -Manipulation of sounds

    2. Challenges with spelling and/or

    3. Difficulty with rapid visual-verbal responding

    In persons with the adult onset of dyslexia, it usually occurs as a result of brain injury or in association with dementia. However, dyslexia may have been present in childhood or adolescence but was never identified until adulthood. Children who experience the symptoms listed above here should be considered candidates for dyslexia testing and evaluation by an appropriate medical professional (a behavioral or developmental optometrist, a developmental pediatrician, or other certified dyslexia specialist). Dyslexia can be inherited in some families, and recent studies have identified a number of genes that may predispose an individual to develop dyslexia.

    In honor of this Dyslexia Awareness Month, we wanted to provide our readers with current and helpful resources to assist parents, teachers and other adults as they work with individuals challenged with dyslexia.  We hope you will find these resources of benefit to you or someone you know.

    Dyslexia Resources & Support Organizations

    The Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity
    The Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity serves as a nexus for research on dyslexia, and is as well a leading source of advocacy and information to better the lives of people with dyslexia. 
    http://dyslexia.yale.edu/

    DyslexiaHelp---University of Michigan
    This website offers much information about dyslexia together with research, success stories and other related resources for parents, teachers and students.
    http://dyslexiahelp.umich.edu/

    The International Dyslexia Association
    This well-known organization provides general information and support for persons with dyslexia. The following link presents an online Dyslexia Self-Assessment for Adults
    http://www.interdys.org/AreYouDyslexic_AdultTest.htm
    FAQ page: http://www.interdys.org/FAQ.htm

    Decoding Dyslexia
    Decoding Dyslexia is a network of parent-led grassroots movements across the country concerned with the limited access to educational interventions for dyslexia within the public education system. We aim to raise dyslexia awareness, empower families to support their children and inform policy-makers on best practices to identify, remediate and support students with dyslexia. For more information and to learn if your state has an affiliate branch of this organization (currently all 50 states do), please visit the link provided here.
    http://www.decodingdyslexia.net/

    National Center for Learning Disabilities (Section on Dyslexia)
    The National Center for Learning Disabilities improves the lives of all people with learning difficulties and disabilities by empowering parents, enabling young adults, transforming schools, and creating policy and advocacy impact. The link to follow here provides general information, dyslexia symptoms/warning signs categorized by grade level and resources to help parents and teachers.
    http://ncld.org/types-learning-disabilities/dyslexia

    Wrightslaw Special Education Law and Advocacy 
    Parents, educators, advocates, and attorneys come to Wrightslaw for accurate, reliable information about special education law, education law, and advocacy for children with disabilities. - See more at: http://wrightslaw.com/#sthash.ajmQK87L.dpuf
    http://wrightslaw.com/

    Dyslegia: A Legislative Information Site
    This website is maintained by Davis Dyslexia Association International to report and track pending legislation in the United States. This blog-based web site is a resource for sharing information about legislative initiatives, as a forum for discussion and exploration of policy issues, and as a communications tool to encourage citizen participation and involvement with their representatives in government.
    http://www.dyslegia.com/

    National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
    This website provides basic information about dyslexia as well as supportive resource links.
    http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/dyslexia/dyslexia.htm

    College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD)
    Organization of developmental (behavioral) optometrists, medical professionals who can test and evaluate as well as diagnose and treat dyslexia and other vision-related reading challenges.  A "locator tool" for such diagnosticians in your area is available on the website.
    http://www.covd.org

    Helpful Dyslexia Tools & Apps

    OpenDyslexic Font (FREE)
    Created by Abelardo Gonzalez
    OpenDyslexic is a new, open-sourced font created to increase readability for readers with dyslexia. The typeface includes regular, bold, italic, and bold-italic styles. It is being updated continually and improved based on input from dyslexic users. There are no restrictions on using OpenDyslexic outside of attribution. FREE download via this link.
    http://opendyslexic.org/

    The Reading Focus Cards (Low-tech Reading Tools)
    (Patent 7,565,759)
    From Brennan Innovators, LLC
    Sensory-appealing and customizable reading tools and solutions for challenged readers of all ages. Made in the U.S.A. 
    www.FocusandRead.com/products

    APP---Overlays! (for OS X 10.8 or later---Price: $6.99)
    Created by Abbie Gonzalez
    Use to help with reading or sometimes to help following large tables and lists of data. Battle the wall of text, eyestrain and distractions with this on screen overlay to help you keep your place!
    https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/overlays!/id868499627?mt=12

    APP---Reading Focus Cards (Macs & Windows PCs---Price: $5.99)
    (Patent 8,360,779)
    From Brennan Innovators, LLC
    This DESKTOP app is the digital version of the physical Reading Focus Cards (Patent 7,565,759), solutions for struggling readers. This app for Windows PCs and Macs provides practical READING SUPPORT for children and adults with ADHD, dyslexia, autism and other conditions that can affect reading success. It promotes more FOCUSED online reading of almost ALL digital media (webpages, PDF files, Word docs, Excel spreadsheets & more.) In addition, the Reading Focus Card app is compatible with and supports touch-screen technology. The application can be moved on the screen over text by the fingers, mouse or arrow keys as needed. 
    1. For Macs (desktops & notebooks): 
    Visit the Mac App Store and search for Reading Focus Cards or go directly to 
    https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/read-and-focus/id920617853?mt=12
    2. For Windows PCs (desktops & laptops):
    Visit Gumroad at https://gumroad.com/l/ReadingFocusCards OR visit the Microsoft Windows Store and search for the app called Reading Focus Cards.(No URLs are ever provided for apps in the Windows Store.)

    Best Books for Dyslexia

    Overcoming Dyslexia: A New and Complete Science-Based Program for Reading Problems at Any Level
    by Sally Shaywitz, M.D.; Vintage (2005)

    Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy: The Special Education Survival Guide
    by Pam Wright and Pete Wright; Harbor House Law Press (2006)

    The Gift of Dyslexia
    by Ronald D. Davis, Eldon M. Braun; Penguin Group-USA (1997)
    (first published May 1, 1993) 

    The Dyslexic Advantage: Unlocking the Hidden Potential of the Dyslexic Brain
    by Brock and Fernette Eide M.D.; Plume (2012) 

    Dyslexic AND UN-Stoppable - How Dyslexia Helps Us Create The Life Of Our Dreams And How YOU Can Do It Too
    by Lucie M. Curtiss, R.N. and Douglas C. Curtiss, M.D., FAAP 
  6. Empowering Resources for Persons of ALL Ages with Autism
     
    We believe that the right tools, strategies and resources can significantly improve one’s reading and learning success, especially when reading and learning can be difficult for someone with ADHD, dyslexia and other issues.
     
    If you or someone you know is challenged with autism, however, the importance of those tools, strategies and resources may be even more important in efforts to improve the quality of life.  You may already know about the low-tech and digital Reading Focus Cards, effective tools that help challenged, unfocused readers with autism and sensory issues.  We also provide a free list of reading and learning strategies and accommodations to help persons of any age with autism.  The list can be found on this website.
     
    For this article, we wanted to address the third component---resources that can actually help to EMPOWER persons with autism to become more confident, more socially interactive and better able to overcome their obstacles.  In our efforts to write this article, we have received the assistance of Ms. Kathleen Carter, a high-school student with Asperger's (autism) and volunteer-intern-extraordinaire at EducatorLabs.  She assists the organization with its research and outreach activities. 
     
    Ms. Carter has kindly provided the first six empowering resources in our list included here.  We want to thank her for these good resources for autism.  We have added a few more links to the list and hope that because of our combined efforts, these resources may help you or others you know in the autism community to feel empowered to become more confident, more comfortable in social situations and more independent in overcoming the challenges of autism---each and every day!

    Empowering Resources for Persons with Autism

    1.   Autism Speaks Resource Guide
    http://www.autismspeaks.org/family-services/resource-guide

    2.   Career Assistance for People with Autism
    http://www.hloom.com/career-assistance-for-people-with-autism/

    3.   National Center for Autism Resources & Education
    https://www.disability.gov/resource/national-center-for-autism-resources-education-ncare/

    4.   AutismNOW Transition Planning
    http://autismnow.org/in-the-classroom/transition-planning-for-students/

    5.   Aquatic Therapy for Children with Autism
    http://www.saveonpoolsupplies.com/landing/aquatic-therapy-for-children-with-autism.aspx

    6.   Autism
    http://healthfinder.gov/FindServices/SearchContext.aspx?topic=81

    7.   Equine Therapy Programs for Children with Asperger's and Autism
    http://www.equine-therapy-programs.com/aspergers.html

    8.   Autism Resources from Easter Seals
    http://www.easterseals.com/explore-resources/living-with-autism/autism-resources.html

    9.   Family Grant Opportunities (for Therapy, Assistive Technology, etc.)
    https://www.autismspeaks.org/family-services/resource-library/family-grant-opportunities

    10. Resources - Solutions to Problems in the Autism Community---US Autism & Asperger Association
    http://www.usautism.org/resources.html

    11. BEST Apps for Sensory Processing Issues (iPad, Android and Desktop Apps)
    http://helpforstrugglingreaders.blogspot.com/2015/04/best-apps-for-sensory-processing-issues.html

    12. BEST Apps for Autism-2015 (iPad, Android and Desktop Apps)
    http://helpforstrugglingreaders.blogspot.com/2015/01/best-apps-for-autism-2015.html

  7. Better Reading & Writing with the World’s BEST Grammar Checker

    We all know that the ability to read well is an all-important keystone for success in the classroom and in life.  The right strategies and tools can significantly improve one’s reading skills, particularly when learning to read is a challenge (i.e., ADHD, dyslexia and other issues).

    Writing skills, on the other hand, have traditionally relied more on one’s ability to apply what has been learned through reading.  This includes a host of important skills, especially in the area of proofreading: knowledge of mechanics, proper spelling, appropriate grammar usage and more.  Yes, there are strategies for learning the rules and methods of proofreading a body of text, but having a reliable tool at-the-ready for a writer can provide needed support and reinforcement of such rules and methods.  Unfortunately, it has been more than a little challenging to find a worthy tool that provides both accurate and comprehensive proofreading assistance for writers---until very recently.

    Although we have very competent writers on our staff here at Brennan Innovators, we have been less than impressed with the traditional spell checkers and poor grammar checking tools found online.  However, just a few months ago, we discovered Grammarly.com, a great site that we believe offers reliable tools for proofreading letters, papers and other documents with a surprising amount of accuracy.  Although its resources may not be a direct replacement for a professional proofreader, Grammarly.com does offer writers a second set of eyes for their proofreading needs. 

    The Grammarly software actually scans text for more than 250 types of grammar mistakes in six distinct writing genres. Grammarly also provides informative flash cards to help a writer transform weak areas into strengths.  In fact, Top Ten Reviews, an independent provider of reliable information for consumers, says, “Everything about Grammarly centers on not only improving written texts, but also developing the writers themselves.” This is one of the reasons it has earned the Top Ten Reviews Gold Award for 2015.  

    We think using the award-winning Grammarly tools now gives individuals the proofreading support they have been needing and wanting for a long time in order to help them significantly improve their writing.  They only need to visit Grammarly.com to make it happen!

    Resources

    Grammarly.com
    Grammarly improves your emails, social media posts, and documents by checking for grammar, spelling, and punctuation mistakes. FREE and various paid account options are available.
    https://www.grammarly.com  

    Top Ten Reviews
    Here is the link to the online review of Grammarly.com provided by Top Ten Reviews.
    http://online-grammar-check-review.toptenreviews.com  
  8. The Reading Focus Cards: Helpful Focusing Tools for Books, Technology & More! 

    As we come to the end of the month of October, LD Awareness Month is also drawing to a close.  We all know, however, that the awareness raised for special needs and learning challenges this past month cannot remain static.  We need to continue to be advocates for those who are unable to advocate for themselves and help teach those who are able the strategies that can enable their voices and needs to be heard---and addressed effectively.

    At the same time, we want to ensure that the helpful resources, techniques and tools already available can be utilized in the most effective ways.  That is the reason for this article.  We want to demonstrate that the Reading Focus Cards you may already have can be used in variety of other ways as well.  Since diagrams and photos are important means of teaching visual learners, we have decided to present most of this information in that format.  We hope you will find a few more options here for using BOTH sizes of your Reading Focus Cards.

    Other Options for Using the Reading Focus Cards
    (Patent 7,565,759)


      Use with e-Readers (i.e., Kindles, Nooks, etc.)

    Use the SHORTER size of the Reading Focus Card (Model #001),
    moving it straight down the the screen of the device.  

    Special Note:  Please use a protective film for all tech device screens with this application.     

    Use with e-Tablets (i.e., iPads, Androids, etc.)

    Use the LONGER size of the Reading Focus Card (Model #002),
    moving it straight down the the screen of the device.  

    Special Note:  Please use a protective film for all tech device screens with this application.      

    Choose the BEST Option for YOUR Focus & Reading Success!


    For larger font sizes, one line of text can be read through the Reading Window.








    When font sizes are smaller, it can be possible to view more than one
    line of text in the Readng Window.





    If a reader prefers NO colored Reading Filter, the area of the
    Reading Focus Card that precedes the Reading Notch can be
    another option for reading text lines from left to right.

    This application is also quite helpful for breaking down words into phonemes or syllables.  Just uncover (from left to right) the letters, phonemes or syllables needed at a time.  This application can be especially helpful for readers with dyslexiaELL/ESL students or new, young readers in word-attack skill building activities.

    Another Option for More Focus & Reading Comfort

    For readers who prefer NO colored Reading Filter but desire text already read to be visible and text not yet read to be covered, simply turn the Reading Focus Card 180 degrees from its horizontal position to access a LONG, unframed section of text.

    Use the Reading Focus Cards with Math Applications, too!

    For long addition, multiplication and division, the SHORTER Reading Focus Card can help increase focus on the needed place holder column and improve accuracy with problem solving.

    Some readers may choose to use both sizes of the Reading Focus Card when working with math and science equations (tool size determined by equation length).

    The Reading Focus Cards Are IDEAL Tools for Tests & Exams

    For bubble-type test answer sheets (such as Scantron, etc. and where permitted), the Reading Focus Cards allow the reader to locate AND retain the appropriate line of bubbles for a specific test question.  Using the tools in this application can actually help increase the participant's focus, rate and test accuracy

    Special Note:  Many states in the U.S. currently allow the use of tools such as these on annual state achievement tests (usually for students with IEPs or 504 Plans only).  However, there may be conditions required for this permission.  Please check with DESE (Department of Elementary and Secondary Education) in your particular state.

    Craft & Household Uses for the Reading Focus Cards

    Special Note:
     For the following use options, simply turn the Reading Focus Card over or upside-down so that the gripping side of the tool faces the page of text.  This will keep the reading tool in place until the reader is ready to move it to other text.

    It's easy to lose one's place when working with a crochet, knitting and other craft or hobby patterns.  However, with the Reading Focus Cards, your favorite activities become so much easier AND more enjoyable, too!



    The Reading Focus Cards can also help in the kitchen.  When reading recipes, you won't add an ingredient more than once if you retain your place in the ingredient list with this tool (usually the SHORTER tool).
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