Each week, LD OnLine gathers interesting news headlines about learning disabilities and ADHD issues. Please note that LD OnLine does not necessarily endorse these views or any others on these outside websites.
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The Center for Epilepsy and Seizure Education
"Some children with epilepsy experience marked learning problems. Children with epilepsy may or may not have learning weaknesses that fit the traditional definition of a “specific learning disability”. A learning disability (or disorder) refers to a condition in which a person is reading, writing and/or arithmetic skills are significantly weaker than expected based on their intellectual ability (i.e. their IQ). A learning disability needs to be distinguished from a low intellectual ability (e.g., a mental handicap or borderline intellectual functioning), which is typically associated with difficulties in most academic skill areas."
"Teaching performance is difficult to improve in part because the profession is so large. With about 4 million teachers in the profession, efforts to boost quality tend to take place on the margins. Many efforts focus on expanding the pool of new teachers entering the workforce, and on encouraging more teachers to work with special education and low-income students."
"Significantly more children have disabilities today as compared to a decade ago, largely due to increased diagnosis of neurodevelopmental and mental health conditions, researchers say. The prevalence of disability in children grew more than 16 percent in 10 years, according to findings presented Sunday at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting, a gathering of four leading pediatric organizations held in Washington, D.C."
"It’s unclear what’s behind the rise in disability prevalence, though greater diagnosis of autism could be at least partly responsible, said Amy Houtrow of the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine who is lead author of the study."
"Arizona is the place to be when it comes to services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, according to a new national ranking. The listing is part of a report set to be released Thursday by United Cerebral Palsy, which ranks disability services in all 50 states and the District of Columbia."
"ADHD, short for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, is indeed real. It is a complex condition with variable symptoms. The American Psychiatric Association (2000) estimates that 3-5 percent of kids have it. The biological basis is becoming better understood, but is still not completely clear."
The 1in5 Initiative
Learning Ally has created a new online support community and dyslexia resource. The site is explore1in5.org. It's a place where people who have or know others with dyslexia can find others "not only seeking answers, but also dispensing advice. 1in5 is an oasis, rich in audio and video communication, where you can upload your stories and experiences, and watch the stories and experiences of others."
The New York Times
"Textbooks have not gone the way of the scroll yet, but many educators say that it will not be long before they are replaced by digital versions — or supplanted altogether by lessons assembled from the wealth of free courseware, educational games, videos and projects on the Web. 'Kids are wired differently these days,' said Sheryl R. Abshire, chief technology officer for the Calcasieu Parish school system in Lake Charles, La. 'They’re digitally nimble. They multitask, transpose and extrapolate. And they think of knowledge as infinite.'"
"When children who struggle with learning are the topic of conversation, the spotlight is most often turned to reading. And with good reason. Trouble with reading is by far the most prevalent characteristic of specific learning disabilities (LD). That said, math is not far behind, and it is not unusual for individuals with LD to have trouble in both of these areas of learning and performance."
"The flexibility of digital text makes it a great option for customizing text to the needs of different learners. Digital text can be searched, rearranged, and read aloud by a computer. And because it is so flexible, it is often a perfect option for students with disabilities. The National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS) are working to create a standardized format that will allow alternate versions of text designed to meet the needs of students with visual, physical, hearing, learning and cognitive disabilities. While it is being developed, there are still many books and historical documents which have been converted to digital format, for access via a computer."
"Why bother measuring creativity? James Catterall, a psychologist and director of the Centers for Research on Creativity in Los Angeles, says the simple answer is that if society, business and education demands it, then we need to know when it's happening; otherwise, we're just guessing when it's there."
"Finding apps isn’t difficult. Finding education apps is only a bit more challenging. Finding free education apps is also possible. Finding free education apps worth downloading is a different story entirely."
"The following is our list for the 55 best apps for learning we can find. Some are formal learning–math drilling and phonics, for example–while others are RSS readers, social media platforms, and the like. These are purposely not all purely academic, “training” apps that focus on individual skills, but rather the an array of apps students could use daily to improve their ability to think, connect, and use information."
The New York Times
"Many theories are thrown around to explain the rise in the diagnosis and treatment of A.D.H.D. in children and adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 11 percent of school-age children have now received a diagnosis of the condition. I don’t doubt that many people do, in fact, have A.D.H.D.; I regularly diagnose and treat it in adults. But what if a substantial proportion of cases are really sleep disorders in disguise?"
"For some people — especially children — sleep deprivation does not necessarily cause lethargy; instead they become hyperactive and unfocused. Researchers and reporters are increasingly seeing connections between dysfunctional sleep and what looks like A.D.H.D., but those links are taking a long time to be understood by parents and doctors."
Educator Mary Beth Hertz writes, "there are a number of technology tools that allow for creating and sharing student work. I have made sure to choose some that are free and do not require a tablet or mobile device to download an app, though many of these tools do have apps."
In a recent study published in the Annals of Dyslexia, findings revealed that:
"Genetic influences on writing were significantly correlated with genetic influences on all of the language and reading skills, but significant independent genetic influences were also found for copy and samples, whose genetic correlations were significantly less than 1.0 with the reading and language skills. The genetic correlations varied significantly in strength depending on the overlap between the writing, language, and reading task demands. We discuss implications of our results for education, limitations of the study, and new directions for research on writing and its relations to language and reading.
"The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for Colleges and Careers, which had released pieces of its proposed accommodations policy for students with disabilities, has now put out a full draft of its accommodations manual for public comment. (The organization also has an explanatory Powerpoint presentation and a list of frequently asked questions linked to the release.)"
"By the upper elementary grades, writing becomes an essential tool both for learning and for showing what you know. Students who struggle significantly with writing are at a terrible disadvantage.
Data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress indicate that only 25% of students can be classified as competent writers; students with learning disabilities (LD) have even greater problems with writing than their normally achieving peers and frequently demonstrate a deteriorating attitude toward writing after the primary grades. In this article, we focus on composing and the writing process, and examine the knowledge base about writing development and instruction among students with LD."
"Getting kids engaged with learning, focused on working smarter, and ready for the future. This guide can help you better understand how mobile gadgets -- cell phones, tablets, and smartphones -- can engage students and change their learning environment."
Teachers & Writers Collaborative
Nicole Callihan describes a poetry lesson she came up with for students with LD:
"Teaching very young students often sends me grappling for something new. It was, I believe, on a very long train ride to teach learning-disabled kids in the Bronx or Jamaica, Queens, or students participating in an after-school program in Jackson Heights, Queens, called “Project Read” that I concocted a new game I call “OK, Tell me Something I Don’t Know.” Much to my delight all populations responded well. The following lesson incorporates this game. It works best with students through the 6th grade, although modifications can be made for older students."
The New York Times
"Philip Schultz is a winner of the Pulitzer Prize for poetry and the author of the forthcoming memoir My Dyslexia."
In a New York Times opinion article, Schultz wrote: "We know now that dyslexia is about so much more than just mixing up letters — that many dyslexics have difficulty with rhythm and meter and word retrieval, that they struggle to recognize voices and sounds. It’s my profound hope that our schools can use findings like these to better teach children who struggle to read, to help them overcome their limitations, and to help them understand that it’s not their fault."
"The micro-computer revolution of the 80's radically improved how teachers and schools carry on the business of learning. We now have iPads in classrooms that will not only improve it, but it has the potential to change the business of learning in schools. The question is, "Are teachers ready to adjust their teaching for this new learning revolution?'"