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.
Summer Reading FUN for Kids!
Summer is here and with it comes a long, relaxing break from the classroom for millions of children. It will be a time for swimming and playing, enjoying lazy days with family and friends as well as afternoons spent with favorite activities. We hope one of those activities will be some summer reading time, as this can go a long way in retaining and even boosting skills for the next school year.
To help parents and teachers prepare for a summer break that allows and encourages more good reading for kids, we have gathered a list of new resources to make it easy. You'll discover recently published book lists for kids as well as FREE activities and other reading resources for the coming summer months. We hope you will find this list helpful as well as enjoyable for both you AND the children you care about and serve.
Here's are 2 EASY tips to help you get started on a wonderful summer of reading FUN:
1. Bring BOOKS with you EVERYWHERE! Keep a basket with a variety of kids' books in your family room and another in the kitchen. Store a backpack with books ready to read while kids are riding in the car as you do errands and other activities. Bring reading outside to the backyard or on the patio with a weather-proof container of books tucked in a corner.
2. Remember to visit your local library often this summer, too! Your kids will remember those visits for years to come---AND thank you later!
Summer Reading Resources That Are FUN, too!
2018 ALSC Summer Reading Lists (Birth to Grade 8) from the Association of Library Service to Children
Evergreen Audiobooks 2017 (Pre-K to Grade 8) from the Association of Library Service to Children
2018 Great Graphic Novels for Teens from the ALA-American Library Association
Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge 2018 from Scholastic, Inc.
Welcome to the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge for 2018! Get ready for the best and most magical summer ever! Monday, May 7—Friday, September 7, 2018
FREE Activities & Printables for Reading FUN! from Scholastic, Inc.
Image courtesy of : Brennan Innovators, LLC: www.FocusandRead.com and Pixabay: https:pixabay.com
13 Tips to Enhance e-Learning with Physical, Digital & 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
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.
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
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:
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)
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.
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