15+ Helpful Strategies & Tools for Challenged Readers & Learners
Reading and learning do not come easily for every
child. Parents and teachers often look for specific strategies, tools and other resources to assist struggling readers and learners, especially the 6.4 million children with ADHD
and the nearly 1 in 5 children with dyslexia
in addition to other issues. Here are just a few ways you might consider when helping the challenged reader(s) or learner(s) in your life:
Request or allow for course and book content to be available via audiotape, CD, or DVD
2. Use a portable, hand-held spell checker
(such as the Franklin Spelling Ace) for unknown words.
3. Use graph paper, a ruler or the Reading Focus Cards for more focus with math work
(i.e., to help promote more accurate number placement in column addition, long division, equations, etc.)
4. Use interactive computer reading programs
that support challenged readers or learners and require only a limited number of tasks at a time.
5. Underline or highlight important key words in a set of directions
BEFORE beginning an assignment.
6. Fold a worksheet so that only a small amount of text, information, or problems is visible at one time
. Using individualized tools can help with this as well.
7. Allow for moving to optional work areas
with less distraction.
8. Allow for the experience of a variety of sensory learning techniques
such as those derived from the use of a computer, tape recorder, projector, and/or manipulatives. The more senses you appeal to in the learning process, the more success and retention the student will experience.
9. Use word processors or computers to complete written work
, especially when writing is a struggle.
10. Allow for kneeling or standing at a desk
(if needed), as long as it does not cause problems or distractions for other children or students.
11. Allow for access to a copy of prepared notes
, especially after a teaching session or discussion.
12. Arrange for a second set of textbooks at home
so that materials are always at hand when needed.
13. Use very low-volume music
(instrumental) or environmental sounds (seashore or other nature sounds) while doing independent work.
14. Allow for a child or student to work cooperatively
at times with others as part of a "buddy" system of support.
15. Use colored paper
for all printed materials including worksheets, outlines, notes, etc. Experiment with pastels as well as bright shades. One particular color may produce the best results for an individual.
16. Consider the use of colored overlays or the Reading Focus Cards for focus and reading challenges
because the white background of a page of text can be visually “offensive” to some readers/learners. In addition to being used with physical
books and worksheets, these types of reading tools are also very good for use with e-readers
(i.e., Kindles, Nooks, etc.) as well as with e-tablets
(i.e., iPads, etc.)
A non-scratch film should be used to protect tech device screens with this application.
Utilize the many online educational resources available like math.com
or Khan Academy
as well as other similar free websites for help with specific math and science challenges
Consider using the webste live ink
for readers at all levels of ability to re-format text
in order to deliver instant benefits like improved comprehension, retention, fluency and efficiency (speed & accuracy) as well as reduced eye strain and other advantages.
19. For reading online and/or offline digital media
, use the Reading Focus Cards desktop app
with Macs and Windows PC's to provide more focus and fluency, better tracking, increased comprehension and improved retention for unfocused or overwhelmed readers.
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
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.
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
Strategies for Dealing with Dysgraphia
by Regina G. Richards, LD Online
BEST Websites for Dyslexia & Dysgraphia
from Help for Struggling Readers
Pencil Grips and Holders
from Fun and Function
Portable assistive technology for keyboarding and word processing.
Able Apps for Dysgraphia
from Help for Struggling Readers
Fine Motor Skills and Handwriting (Activities Included)
from EduBlox Online Tutor
300+ Dysgraphia Resources---ALL in 1 Place
from Brennan Innovators, LLC
More than 300 multi-sensory resources to help someone you know with dysgraphia.
2 Literacy Apps That Work TOGETHER to Help ADHD & Dyslexic Readers Succeed!
With these 2 desktop apps in your tech toolbox, you'll be ready to support even more challenged readers!
Children and adults who struggle to read, especially individuals with ADHD and dyslexia, have many more options available to them today than they did only a few years ago. Now, there are many assistive technologies possible that were not even dreamed about a decade ago
. Today, both higher-level tech resources and low-tech tools can offer much help for unfocused or otherwise challenged readers.
Some of these technologies can even be combined in order to better help the estimated 1 in 5 persons in the U.S. challenged with dyslexia
or the 8 to 13%
(depending on the state) of school-aged children in our country who have been diagnosed with attention deficit disorders
(ADHD). These individuals can find it particularly difficult to focus, track, concentrate, comprehend and retain information when reading, especially for extended periods or when many pages of digital text must be read at a time.
One of the most popular and easily recognizable technologies to help these challenged readers is Amazon's Kindle
, the well-known e-reader launched in late 2007 that has been most disruptive
to the publishing world. The Kindle
technology enables readers to eliminate glare with a unique screen, diminish the starkness of white page backgrounds behind dark, virtual text, manipulate font or text sizes and more to assist persons with various reading issues.
Turn Your Computer into a Kindle with This App from Amazon!
If this upfront cost is prohibitive, readers should seriously consider downloading the FREE Kindle
app to your desktop or laptop, whether it is a Mac or Windows PC (the app is also available for other tech devices as well via the same web page). It costs nothing to turn one's computer into a virtual Kindle
and then immediately allows the individual to purchase e-books from Amazon.com for download directly to your computer. Kindle
app download link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/digital/fiona/kcp-landing-page/
Add The Reading Focus Cards Desktop App to the Kindle App & Watch What Happens on Your Desktop!
For challenged readers who often struggle with focus and attention, tracking, comprehension and retention, it would be hard to beat the combination of the Kindle app
AND an innovative application called the Reading Focus Cards desktop app
(Patent 8,360,779) for Macs and Windows PC's. If you know a challenged student or other struggling reader with ADHD or dyslexia, this 2-app combination can enable that individual to experience more comfortably focused, sustained and successful reading of e-books or other digital media.
When in use, the virtual
Reading Focus Card actually floats on top
AND stays on top of
e-book pages or any underlying application to more easily read a web page, Word or PDF document, Excel spreadsheet, e-book or other digital media.
If readers become overwhelmed with too much text
on a digital page of an e-book, the Reading Focus Cards
app directs the eye to what needs to be read WHILE covering as much or as little of the surrounding text as selected by the reader. Nearly an entire digital e-book page can be covered to improve focus on the text line needing attention.
Reading Focus Cards
desktop app download links:
Mac version: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/read-and-focus/id920617853?mt=12
Windows XP, 7, 8 & 10 versions: https://gumroad.com/l/ReadingFocusCards
Windows 10 version only: https://www.microsoft.com/store/apps/9WZDNCRDF33D
The Reading Focus Cards desktop app
will allow you to:
– Infinitely configure
Reading Focus Card’s features to improve your focus & attention
, decoding skills
, reading rate
– Easily move the virtual Reading Focus Card over an underlying e-book or other application
on the screen with a touchpad, mouse, arrow keys or even with your fingers, where touch technology is applicable.
– With this app's pop-up Toolbox
, independently customize the color
, level of transparency
of both the virtual
Reading Window and Reading Card, respectively, to provide more reading comfort
and block out distractions
, keeping you focused on the text you need to read.
Reading Focus Card to accommodate very large fonts or extensive paragraphs
, if you choose!
– Never worry about the virtual
Reading Focus Card disappearing from the screen unexpectedly, even when using it with the Kindle
app or other underlying programs! It floats on top
AND stays on top
of your computer screen, so you can scroll through e-book pages as well as read documents without interruption. You decide when to close the application.
Currently, mobile devices are unable to successfully support this unique, overlay-type Reading Focus Cards
app that stays on top of and moves independently of the underlying media applications.
Now, readers of any age and ability can improve their focus to read e-books as well as other digital media in greater comfort and with much more reading success. It is now possible with the combination of these 2 great apps, the Kindle app
for Macs and Windows PC's AND the Reading Focus Cards desktop app
Happy Reading---now for everyone!
By the Numbers: 120+ Amazing Amazon Statistics (2016)
by Craig Smith, of DMR
e-Book Statistics Update
from Writing for Life
Research-Based Literacy Tool – Helpful App for Struggling Readers
by Jayne Clare, of Teachers With Apps
Reading Focus Cards Desktop App
---Patent 8,360,779 (for Macs & PC's)
OR visit the Mac App Store and search for the Reading Focus Cards
Windows PC's: https://gumroad.com/l/ReadingFocusCards
OR visit the Microsoft Windows Store and search for the Reading Focus Cards
. (No URLs provided for apps in the Windows Store.)
for Macs, Windows PC's & Other Tech Devices
by Charles Dickens
Dickens, Charles. Great Expectations
. A Public Domain Book. N.p. N.d. e-Book.
This is the e-book available via Amazon.com used for the screenshots in this article.
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
The Ultimate Reading Guide for Your Child
Are you hoping your child will love reading as much as you do? Or are you interested in ensuring your child enjoys reading because it was never one of your favorite things to do. Either way, here are some practical tips to help you turn your child into a book lover.
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:
50+ Patriotic Activities & Resources for Kids---All in 1 Place!
We are fast approaching the 4th of July Weekend
and with it the unofficial milestone of mid-summer, too. Wasn't it just yesterday that we were enjoying the season's first barbecue over the Memorial Day Weekend
? Time marches on, as they say! Before we know it, Labor Day
will be looming, and children will be returning to school. For now, though, let's enjoy the summer, right?
While we are enjoying time with our families, it is also a very good idea to help prevent what is often called the summer slide
or summer slowdown
, terms used to describe the loss of reading and math skills that children have learned. This loss can occur when there is a decrease or lack in stimulation of young brains during extended school vacations or other academic break times.
Though it may seem challenging to do so, it is very possible to avoid this loss of skills
by working with children, using stimulating activities during those long vacation times. The Fourth of July Weekend is a perfect time to introduce these kinds of activities to help your child or grandchild avoid this learning loss
, especially when we have reached the mid-point of the summer, and children just might be looking for a variety of new
things to do.
Should you choose to utilize some or all of the many resources in the link provided below here, your child or grandchild will be ahead when the new school year begins
. So, keep the link handy for your use during the coming holiday weekend. You might also want to refer to it again over the Labor Day break, too. At any rate, you will help your child enjoy our Independence Day holiday as well as help keep his mind sharp over the summer vacation period.
Yes, we can still have fun in the sun this 4th of July, but at the same time, avoid the summer slide
with an array of enjoyable reading activities, games and other related resources having a patriotic flare
. That way, long after the holiday weekend is history, your children (or grandchildren) will be skipping around the summer slide
and well on their way to gearing up for the coming school year
while still having fun
this July 4th.
Remember to KEEP
them reading and learning
ALL summer long! Have a Happy and Safe 4th of July
with your family!
Link to 50+ Patriotic Reading Activities & Resources
(Most are FREE!)
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
The Life-Changing Impact of Autism Service Dogs
Stress & Anxiety Reduction | Autism Research Institute
How to Handle the 4 Most Challenging Autism Behaviors
The Reading Focus Cards (Patent 7,565,759):
Physical 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.
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.
A Parent’s Guide to Autism Spectrum Disorder
Source for image: http://rlv.zcache.com/autism_puzzle_ribbon_awareness_poster-r447c6ac7647142f0ae07364edc5fe352_xzptb_8byvr_512.jpg
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:
Difficulty with phonological processing
-Manipulation of sounds
Challenges with spelling
. 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.
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.
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
FAQ page: https://dyslexiaida.org/frequently-asked-questions-2/
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.
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.
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
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.
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
This website provides basic information about dyslexia as well as supportive resource links.
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.
Helpful Dyslexia Tools & Apps
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.
The Reading Focus Cards
(Low-tech Reading Tools)
From Brennan Innovators, LLC
Sensory-appealing and customizable reading tools and solutions for challenged readers of all ages. Made in the U.S.A.
(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!
APP---Reading Focus Cards
(Macs & Windows PCs---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 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
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
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
2. Career Assistance for People with Autism
3. National Center for Autism Resources & Education
4. AutismNOW Transition Planning
5. Aquatic Therapy for Children with Autism
7. Equine Therapy Programs for Children with Asperger's and Autism
8. Autism Resources from Easter Seals
9. Family Grant Opportunities
(for Therapy, Assistive Technology, etc.)
10. Resources - Solutions to Problems in the Autism Community---US Autism & Asperger Association
11. BEST Apps for Sensory Processing Issues
(iPad, Android and Desktop Apps)
12. BEST Apps for Autism-2015
(iPad, Android and Desktop Apps)
BEST Organizational Apps for ADHD
It is Back-to-School Season! As the new school year approaches, many parents of children with ADHD can become more than a little anxious. The relaxed days of summer offered a welcome respite from the prodding to complete homework assignments, the scheduling of school activities and the daily challenges of ADHD
. Now with the pending return to school, it is easy to see that these parents and their children are reluctant to leave behind those lazy, hazy days if summer.
We can help you, your child or teen manage some of these challenges, however. Because our Reading Focus Cards
work well with e-readers
(shorter size) and e-tablets
(longer size), we continue to receive quite a number of requests for lists of apps to help students of all ages with many of these ADHD challenges. In fact, there are currently a significant number of apps available that can help "tame the ADHD tiger" or at least manage some of the issues and symptoms often experienced with this disorder.
Organizational skills are usually at the top of the list of issues, as these skills can frequently impact many of the other ADHD issues. For example, if a student's study area is always in a state of chaos, it is often very difficult to find homework assignments, class notes and even text books or other learning materials.
For this reason, we have gathered together here a few apps to assist you (or someone you care about) with these organizational challenges. We hope you will find that these app resources will help start your new school year on the right foot. Have a GREAT
school year, everyone!
Links to BEST Organizational Apps for ADHD
Save your ideas, things you like, things you hear and things you see. This application works with nearly every computer, phone and mobile device available today. Evernote makes remembering easy!
Google Calendar (
for Android & iOS) (FREE)
The Calendar app displays events from each of your Google Accounts that synchronizes with your Android device. You can also:
-Create, edit and delete events
-View all your calendars at the same time, including non-Google calendars
-Quickly email all event guests from a notification with a customizable message.
For Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.calendar&hl=en
For Apple iOS: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/google-calendar/id909319292?mt=8
(for Mac, iPhone & iPad) ($9.99)
This is a task-management tool that's easy to use, yet has all the power when you need it. Projects, tags, repeat tasks – will all be at your fingertips. No matter what device you're on, Things Cloud
keeps your to-dos updated across them all - automatically.
14 BEST iPhone/iPad & Android Apps for People w/ ADHD
ADHD is challenging, especially in this age of instant gratification, constant distraction and the need for everything at our finger tips. Even persons without ADHD find the world a distracting place. This collection of organizational apps for various tech devices can help make life easier for everyone, especially individuals with ADHD.
Reading with COLOR---What a Difference It Can Make!
It is an unfortunate statistic that as many as 80% of U.S. students with learning disabilities (LD) have problems with reading. A number of these children experience such reading problems because of dyslexia, convergence insufficiency, or other vision-related reading issues. Others are challenged with attention deficits (AD/HD), autism, low vision, stroke recovery issues or TBI issues that many times will negatively impact reading success.
If you notice your child or your student is struggling to read, there are a few strategies that can be implemented to help to improve reading success. Interestingly enough, the strategies to follow here involve the use of COLOR, which can improve the connections made in the brain when one is attempting to read. Consider one or more of these tips:
COLOR Strategies for More Reading Success
1. Colored Paper: When reading printed media such as worksheets, etc., consider copying the documents on colored paper instead of on traditional white copy paper. A ream of several different colors can be purchased at your local office supply store. Each week, try a different color of paper until the “optimum” color is discovered; that is, the color that provides the most eye comfort and focus, allowing the reader to better attend to the text and more successfully comprehend the printed material.
REASON: White page backgrounds can cause “visual stress” for some readers. As a result, these readers often struggle with focusing which affects attention and comprehension. These visually- stressed readers can also experience fatigue much sooner, and their retention of what is read is often significantly impacted.
2. Colored Overlays: Place a colored yet transparent plastic sheet over a page of text to be read. These can be purchased at some office or art supply stores. Consider trying a variety of different colored sheets, one color at a time with a resting interval between each color trial. There is a good possibility that one particular color may promote more focus and comfort for the reader than other colors. Try pastels as well as dark and brighter colors. Introducing the best or “right” color can positively affect the appearance of printed text for a reader with symptoms of dyslexia or other reading challenge. The reader may report that the letters stopped “moving out”, “waving out” or “shadowing” on the page. (Please see REASON above here.)
3. Reading Focus Cards: These sensory-appealing tools combine the features of the 2 options above AND also focus the eye in one directed area. The Reading Focus Cards are able to isolate 1 or 2 lines of text on a page and block more surrounding text than any other tool available. In addition, these tools allow the reader to change white page backgrounds with a selected colored filter (included with each tool).
If you try the strategies described above here, and the reading problems persist, consider visiting a developmental optometrist. This medical professional can evaluate, diagnose and treat children and adults with vision-related reading challenges. To locate this specialized optometrist, please visit the website for the College of Optometrists in Vision Development (Please see Resources to follow here). There you will find a “Locate a Doctor” tool in the upper right hand corner of each of the web pages on the site. This will enable you to locate a developmental optometrist in your area.
The Link Between Color and Reading Comprehension
College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD) Website---Information about vision-related reading challenges from the College of Optometrists in Vision Development. Site includes an online tool
to “Locate a Doctor” in a specific geographical area.
ADHD Tips, Tricks & Strategies for Adults
ADHD is not just a challenge that affects children and teens. Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder can affect adults as well. In fact, current statistics indicate that approximately 8.7% of the U.S. adult population is challenged with some form of ADHD (Source: National Institute of Mental Health, 2011). However, this is certainly a condition whose symptoms can be managed with success. It just might take the right strategies and resources to help make it happen. It might also mean learning to “channel” that ever-present energy in the right direction.
We have gathered together here a short list of just the right resources to help adults who are truly MOTIVATED to manage these symptoms so that they can have more control over their daily lives. Not only will these offerings help improve daily life at home and at work, but they will also improve the self-esteem and level of confidence for an adult challenged with ADHD. We hope you find them helpful!
Tips, Strategies & Resources for Adults with ADHD
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Among Adults---Statistics for U.S. adults with ADHD from National Institute of Mental Health--- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common childhood disorders and can continue through adolescence and into adulthood. Symptoms include difficulty staying focused and paying attention, difficulty controlling behavior, and hyperactivity (over-activity).
12 Tips for Getting Organized for Adults with ADHD---article by Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.
There are small steps you can take to organize your space and your life. Attention and ADHD coach Laura Rolands and clinical psychologist and ADHD expert Ari Tuckman share their strategies for getting a handle on clutter and creating a clean space.
How I Got My Groove Back ---by Gina Pera
Top 10 tips for putting the brakes on the ADD/ADHD roller coaster
VIDEO: Tools for Managing Adult ADHD---by Dr. Abigail Levrini (Length: approx. 24 minutes)
Adult ADHD: 50 Tips of Management---by Edward M Hallowell, M.D. and John J. Ratey, M.D.
Excellent article with practical strategies and written by the physician team, Hallowell and Ratey, renowned ADHD specialists
Have a GREAT week with these new ADHD strategies and tips!
ADHD Tips, Tricks & Strategies for Teens & College Students
As promised this week, we are providing our readers with a good list of helpful tips for teens and college students with ADHD. Some students in this age group often develope their own strategies to overcome or manage many of the symptoms of ADHD by the time they reach late high school or college. However, there are many who are not able to do this or who have tried to adapt but in vain.
There are specific learning strategies and study techniques that can make a measurable difference for teens and college students who really want to enjoy more academic success. We have compiled a short list of these for you to try as you begin this new semester. Just attempt to do one at a time to see how it fits in with your own personal learning style. You may find that 1 or 2 of them are good strategies for you where others are not as helpful.
Please let us know which ones work best for you and why. We’re interested in your learning success. We also would like to know if there are successful strategies you use that are not listed here. Please feel free to share these in the comment box to follow. Your good ideas could help others who are working hard to manage the many symptoms of ADHD---just like you!
List of ADHD Tips & Tricks for Teens & College Students
1. First , Learn to Be a Good Advocate for Yourself
a. Requesting time to talk with teachers, instructors and tutors can be a good first step on the road to more academic success. Always be respectful and courteous when describing your learning needs. This approach will result in having many more of those needs met. Also, remember that as a new student, you are establishing a “reputation” in the school or on the campus. Keep in mind that first impressions can last a lifetime.
b. Always ask for additional assistance BEFORE getting behind in your work. It is so much easier to take care of a problem early before it becomes a BIG issue. The bigger the problem, the more time and effort it will take you (and perhaps others) to resolve.
2. Plan the Term or Semester
a. Purchase or create a large desk calendar and plan for the study of each subject AND the specific chapters or units for each of your classes---BEFORE the semester or term begins.
b. “Map out” how much time and on which days you will study or work on projects, assignments or test prep. Be as specific as possible in this “mapping”. Describe what and how much you will do at a specific time. Allow plenty of time for quality research if that is expected for any assignments.
c. For long-term assignments, commit to starting such projects immediately instead of waiting until much later or when it’s almost due.
d. After a test, assess if enough time was allotted for each task, making adjustments for future units and assignments.
3. Use Graphic Organizers
a. Graphic organizers can help when trying to sort out information AND remember it. They help to visually categorize facts, dates, events, etc. so the facts are easier to understand AND remember.
b. Several resources offering a variety of FREE graphic organizers are:
1.) UDL Tech Tool Kit: Offers both low-tech and high-tech graphic organizers
2.) Creately Templates: Web-based software for creating interactive and colorful graphic organizers - Venn Diagram, Storyboard, Mind Map, Cycle Diagram, Fishbone Diagram, KWL Chart, T Chart, Y Chart and more.
3.) 38 Examples of Graphic Organizers from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: A FREE service for college students
4. Flash Cards Keep Content Organized, Retained & Remembered!
a. When studying history or science facts and working memory is an “issue”, consider creating informational flash cards from ruled or unruled 3” X 5” index cards.
b. Write or type (on a computer), print, cut out and paste definitions or dates on 1 side of a card and the terms or events on the reverse side of the cards.
c. Punch holes in the upper, left-hand corner for a loose leaf ring to keep the cards “together” and flip them as you master each one’s information.
d. Although, they usually are available in white card stock, think about using colored index cards with a particular color for each chapter, content or other category of information.
e. Recycle shoeboxes as “file cabinets” for storing each chapter’s set of flash cards (use rubber bands to separate and keep organized). That way, when a semester test or exam is looming, pull out the needed flash cards and begin your review ahead of time.
5. “Change” White Page Backgrounds for More Reading Comfort
a. Try using colored but transparent acetate of polycarbonate overlays placed on white book page backgrounds, as the “whiteness” can be visually stressing and cut short your study time. Choose a different color of transparency each week, stopping when you discover which color provides the most comfort for your reading and study.
b. Consider using customizable Reading Focus Cards to also change white page backgrounds to a more comfortable and less visually-stressing color. However, these sensory-appealing tools will also help your eyes focus on 1 or 2 lines of text and block out more surrounding text to diminish distractions caused by too many words/graphics on a page. If you have ADHD or dyslexia, these tools can be particularly helpful.
All the BEST of learning SUCCESS to our teens and college students!
ADHD Tips, Tricks, & Strategies for Parents & Teachers
Whether you or someone you know is challenged with ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder), it is understood that struggles with organization and follow-through occur all too often and can disrupt daily life. It’s so easy to focus on the struggles and spend much less time, if any, thinking about solutions or strategies to manage those issues.
So, we thought we would provide you with some strategies to help with just this---management of ADHD symptoms and challenges. We organized the tips into separate lists, depending on who would be using the information. The post today is the first of three articles on this topic, each prepared for a specific group of individuals:
Week 1: ADHD Tips, Tricks & Strategies for Parents & Teachers
Week 2: ADHD Tips, Tricks & Strategies for Teens & College Students
Week 3: ADHD Tips, Tricks & Strategies for Adults
If you are a parent or teacher of one or more children with ADHD, then this week’s article is for you. We hope you’ll find the following list of ideas and strategies to be helpful for your child(ren) or students who struggle daily with ADHD:
List of ADHD Tips & Tricks for Parents & Teachers
1. One of the most important things to keep in mind with your child or student who struggles with ADHD is to think in “small bytes”---small bytes when imparting information, making requests, and doing tasks. Isolate, focus on or mention just ONE thing---one fact, one step, one question or one chore at a time until it is accomplished or completed.
a. Parent: “Molly, let’s first pick up the clothes on the floor.”
b. Teacher: “Let’s just focus on the first question at the end of the chapter.”
2. Good communication between parents and teachers is always important for every student’s success in school. However, when ADHD is part of a child or teen’s life, excellent communication between home and school is essential and can determine a student’s achievement level for an entire year (or more.) Decide early in each school year to establish good communication channels to best benefit your child or each student. Inform all concerned in the method and approach for best communication results (school email system, protocol for phone messages, etc.)
3. Think about using pastel-colored paper for printing worksheets for the classroom, if you are a teacher. For parents, think of ways to change the white background of book pages to a more soothing, less visually-stressing color (pastels or the child’s favorite color). Colored overlays can also be very good for this as can be the Reading Focus Cards (with a choice of 3 colored reading filters included with each focus card).
4. Consider the use of a sound therapy machine or a simple CD player with nature sounds can relax some students and help block out other distractions in a classroom (headphones may be needed for these or other students in the classroom.) These same tools can also soothe a child at the end of a long, hectic day so that sleep is more easily possible. Also, for parents, it may be good to know that the use of a few drops of lavender oil (from a pharmacist, online resource for vitamins or natural remedies, etc.) on a child’s pillow can provide the natural aromatherapy needed to induce sleep without the side effects of medication.
5. Plan to introduce just one of these strategies above (from 1 to 4) each week. To try more than one may make any other attempted strategies less effective or not effective at all. Keep in mind, “This one thing I do,” for you, your child or your student.
These are only a small sampling of tips and tricks for children and students with ADHD. You may have already discovered others that work well, too. Please tell us about them in the comments section of this page. We will certainly appreciate your good input on this topic. We wish you much success with these strategies and hope that they will in some way help improve the quality of life for your child, your family, your students and your classroom.
All the BEST of learning SUCCESS!
ADHD? Success Begins with Good Support
Happy New Year to you! We want to wish all our readers here much success in the new year, especially in the area of reading success.
If you are a challenged adult reader, a teacher or the parent of a struggling reader, you have just discovered a blog that should offer both help and support. The articles in this blog will provide you with effective strategies, tools and resources for readers of all ages who are challenged. These challenges may be ADHD, dyslexia, autism, low vision issues or other conditions that can affect one's reading ability.
Our first article in this blog is dedicated to the many children and adults who struggle daily with ADHD (attention deficit disorder---both hyperactive and/or inattentive types). The American Psychiatric Association states in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR) that 3%-7% of school-aged children have ADHD. However, studies have estimated higher rates in community samples.
It is important to note that the most recent data (for the U.S.) from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that:
Source: Article---Increasing Prevalence of Parent-Reported Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Among Children --- United States, 2003 and 2007 http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5944a3.htm?s_cid=mm5944a3_w
- The percentage of children with a parent-reported ADHD diagnosis increased by 22% between 2003 and 2007.
- The rates of ADHD diagnosis increased an average of 3% per year from 1997 to 2006 and an average of 5.5% per year from 2003 to 2007.
- Boys (13.2%) were more likely than girls (5.6%) to have ever been diagnosed with ADHD.
Because of the focus and concentration challenges associated with attention deficit disorder, we wanted to provide you with some resources that might benefit readers with ADHD whom you know and wish to help.
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder---Current data and statistics for ADHD in the U.S.
Diagnosed Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Learning Disability---Article from Vital and Health Statistics published July 2008---Series 10, Number 237 (from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services-CDC-National Center for Health Statistics)
CHADD--- CHADD (Children & Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) is the nation’s leading non-profit organization serving individuals with ADHD and their families. CHADD has over 16,000 members in 200 local chapters throughout the U.S. Chapters offer support for individuals, parents, teachers, professionals, and others. The website offers many resources to help individuals and families challenged with ADHD.
Help for Struggling Readers---Excellent blog for challenged readers, their parents and teachers! Contains 85+ articles to help children and adults with ADHD, dyslexia, autism, convergence insufficiency and other issues who struggle with reading.
FREE Printables from ADDitude Magazine---Complimentary, downloadable resources from the premier publication for individuals and families challenged with ADHD (includes such printables as 40 School Accommodations That Work, Strengthen Your IEP, 6 Steps to Success at School and more!)
Here’s to MORE reading SUCCESS in the New Year!
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