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Stumped


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Joined: Dec 05, 2007
Posts: 6
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Posted Dec 05, 2007 at 1:35:44 AM
Subject: Stumped

Hello everyone, I'm an English teacher at an elementary school in Korea, where I teach the lowest level students, many of them having some learning disorder. Having been through Asperger's myself I can usually come up with good ways to teach them. However one student has me completely stumped.

Let me describe him, as I have no idea what if any diagnosis he's had. I'm sorry if this is long but I don't want to leave anything out that might be important.

He's a very good natured 4th grader, always smiling happy child with no care in the world about how poorly he is doing in all of his classes. He's rather small and thin for his age.

He seems to be severely dyslexic, with no ability to associated written typed, felt or otherwise letters with their sound. He does have some phonemic awareness and can 6 times out of ten match the beginning letter sound to another word beginning with teh same sound, using a computer flash game, but not with flashcards or oral practice.

In any other phonics activities (choosing out of four letters which makes the sound 'nnnn') he blindly guesses. When guessing to me, he does so with completel hopefulness and a big smile on his face then cheers if it's right. If it's wrong he moves onto the next letter in the list with equal entusiasm.

He has VERY little short term memory. Given a LOT of practice he can retain vocabulary words in his long term memory, but cannot retain information about words, letters, or sentence structure.

I hav elearned that he has just as much trouble in all of his other classes, and though he can read the korean language (which is entirely simple syllable-based) he has trouble with the rare, unusual letter combinations that sometimes appear in the language.

He is happy to sit in class for forty minutes avoiding work and never complains of boredom.

He is esepecially avoidant if his only classmate does better on a particular activity. If her skill is greater he immediately shuts downa nd refuses to do anything.

He loves to participate in games, despite the fact that he never really gets any answers right except by pure chance. It doesn't stop him from thoroughly enjoying himself.

I'v ebeen seeing some improvment since starting him on flash games I've found on the internet. He enjoys playing them and shows much better results (ie. He can put the alphabet in order more easily, recognize sounds more easily, etc). At the moment he can spell words decently providing the pool of letters does not exceed one vowel and 4 consonants.

If he doesn't understand something he holds his head down in his hands and moans quietly - the 'my brain is full response'

So my questions are thus:
1. Any insights into his problem? I recognize the dyslexia, but I can't help thinking there is something else going on with the short term memory problems and the happy, outgoing nature
2. Any suggestions on real programs out there (preferable computer based since he really loves to do activities on the computer) that I can use? THe flash games are very limited and I'm running out of them!
3. Any other methods that might be suitable? (please refer me to specificbooks or websites that could be helpful).

I know he's only one single student, but I hav ethe chance to really help him since there are only two students in the class, making it a lot easier to give him the attention he needs.

Thank you!

Tara

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geodob
Joined Feb 06, 2005
Posts: 265

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Posted:Dec 05, 2007 4:44:08 AM
Subject:Re: Stumped

Hi Tara,
You write that he is 'severely dyslexic', though Dyslexia is a general term.
Where their is a sub-type: 'Auditory Processing Disorder', which from what you wrote, could be the issue.
Where people with APD, are typically strong Visual thinkers. Who often 'think in pictures', rather than words.
People with APD, have far more difficulty with Western written language, due its Phonetic structure.
Yet have have far less of a problem with 'Chinese' based written languages, which are Pictographic languages.
So APD is little known in the region that you are in.
Though as to how to help him?
What I might suggest, is to take an 'opposite' approach, to developing phonemic awareness?

Where you take more of a 'Whole Word' approach?
Though to support this, you could make out a list of the Latin, Greek, French prefixes and suffixes that make up the English language, and put them on flash-cards.

You might also like to have a look at an Auditory Processing Disorder website in the UK as well?
http://www.apduk.org/

Geoff,

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Qof
Joined Dec 05, 2007
Posts: 6

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Posted:Dec 05, 2007 5:18:23 PM

I've tried several approaches:

1. Dolch words - a few at a time then made into simple repetitive readers with pictures replacing non-Dolch words. It seemed to work until it was evident he was merely remembering the four-6 line 'stories' and non reading them. When I started making reader that were less repetitive he couldn't follow them

2. Syllabic approach - starting with the letters a,b,c I made sheets with lines like ba ba ba ca ca ca. He could read the simplest of lines only, but once two more consonants were added he could not read the lines without adding the korean letters as reference

3. Whole word sight words - repeated showing of the pictures couples with the written word. Playing a concentration gam with the pictures and words to test his knowledge showed no memory of the words. Actually he has no memory of the cards, and will choose the same cards several times in a row even though they are wrong.

4. Creating the alphabet in order on a felt board. I take all the letters off and have him put them back one. He can do certain strings by himself, but some letters - notably J, N, H he cannot recognize. If I name any of those letters (or some others) he cannot point them out. Letters are also different colors. If I narrow down the pool to a single color he can do a little better in finding the given letter, but most of the time he still guesses randomly in hopes of getting it right.

5. Phonemic awareness sheets: pictures of different objects which I name and he has to tell me if it starts with the given letter or not. He generally calls out yes or no randomly. With help from the korean supervisor he can be talked into thinking about the sound and relate it to the korean letter. At this point he will get most of them right, but 5 minutes later cannot remember that the letter is associated with the korean letter, and cannot repeat the activity with accuracy.

THings he CAN do:
1. Match uppercase and lower case letters on computer flash games
2. About 60% accuracy matching a given word with another word starting with the same sound. (The game he uses involves listening to one word, then listening to six other words and choosing which one starts with the same sound).

I don't think APD is the problem, as he seems to do better on purely listening tasks then any tasks involving letters.

[Modified by: Qof on December 05, 2007 05:21 PM]

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scifinut
Joined Jul 11, 2005
Posts: 550

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Posted:Dec 05, 2007 7:33:17 PM
Subject:Stumped

Its possible he has a visual processing issue that is NOT dyslexia. As geodob mentioned, dyslexia is a very general term and is sometimes used erroneously when a student has reading difficulties. He may do better with computer aided programs because of the colors used, larger fonts and it holds the attention more.

Do not let the ability to follow verbal directions fool you into thinking it may not be APD. Some kids with APD have difficulty with the dual processing required to put written words/letters with their sounds. Since he already has slow processing issues, the task of trying to match what he hears and sees may slow that processing even more.

Earobics and Lindamood-Bell have computerized programs that help with auditory processing AND phonological awareness. A program such as this might be helpful for him.

Having him use a Text to Speech program for books may be helpful, too. This type of program can highlight the words as it says them so it is more connected in the brain. You can also change the background colors and font size for easier reading. There are many different types and several of them has demo versions that you can try.

scifinut mom to: ms 16, bp/adhd/anxiety/complex ld mr. 20, add/dyslexic I hear and I forget I see and I remember I do and I understand. -Anonymous

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geodob
Joined Feb 06, 2005
Posts: 265

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Posted:Dec 06, 2007 12:59:45 AM
Subject:Re: Stumped

Hi Tara,
I've just been investigating the Korean writing system, where part of the problem might be with our inferior English writing system?
Though I was wondering if perhaps you could try the learning Korean writing approach?
Where you shift the focus away from the alphabet, and letters, to syllables?
As the western use of letters, is an unfamiliar concept.
I also noted that the Korean approach, is more concerned with learning morphemes than phonemes.
Along with suffixes and prefixes.

So that basically, it is presented a more familiar way, that has a relationship with his native language?

Geoff,

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Qof
Joined Dec 05, 2007
Posts: 6

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Posted:Dec 09, 2007 7:03:06 PM
Subject:Stumped

Sorry fo rtaking so long to get back I was doing some research. Earobics and Lindamood look good but the price it very high for a school this small. Our budget is pretty tight, as foreign teachers are very expensive to keep!

My coworker attended a conference once that explained a method to learning phonemes involving repetitive hand motions, and three dimensional letters. The idea was that drawing the letter in the and having tactile association, repeated on a daily basis led to better learning. But he can't remember the name of this program.

Aside from that I might have found a cheaper option in software called phonicstutor Anyone know of this?

And perhaps I will revisit my earilier attempts at using a syllabic approach. If I can wean him off the reliance on a 'cheat sheet' with the korean letters perhaps I get further then three or four consonants with enough repetition.

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Qof
Joined Dec 05, 2007
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Posted:Dec 09, 2007 11:12:51 PM
Subject:Stumped

Ah one more thing - he has sensitive hearing does that ring any bells? He reacts strongly when I put the volume at normal levels, and immediately turns it down to barely perceptible levels

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scifinut
Joined Jul 11, 2005
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Posted:Dec 10, 2007 6:44:20 PM
Subject:Stumped

Yes, sensitivity to noise can indicate an auditory processing issue. There are several books on auditory integration that may explain things better. When Listening Comes Alive is one I read when my dd was dx'd with auditory issues. We did an auditory integration program called The Listening Program, which helped tremendously.

scifinut mom to: ms 16, bp/adhd/anxiety/complex ld mr. 20, add/dyslexic I hear and I forget I see and I remember I do and I understand. -Anonymous

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Qof
Joined Dec 05, 2007
Posts: 6

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Posted:Dec 10, 2007 11:16:22 PM
Subject:Stumped

Just a note: I downloaded the demo for Phonics tutor and tried it out on the three worst students (the above mentioned one, one autistic, one dyslexic) - and all three are showing progress. If anyone else is looking for stuff you might want to check that it.

As for the listening program I will look into it. I already did some research on a place in the UK that does work with sound therapy with good results and would be interested in finding something home based.

Thanks for all of your help!

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Lvstch'n
Joined Jun 22, 2006
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Posted:Dec 18, 2007 4:40:51 PM
Subject:Re: Stumped

Hi Tara,
You're really working hard for this student! Good for you. Nice to have more teachers that care about the progress of 'just one student'. I have a special place in my heart for my low functioning students. I teach middle school (7th-8th) Special Day Class for children with learning disabilities. Your child sounds like he might be involved with more than just auditory perception problems, no matter how severe. His 'happy go lucky' attitude (whether he's right or wrong) and shutting down when his classmate 'gets it' and he doesn't made me wonder what his cognitive levels are. Could he also be cognitively impaired? Making connections between different stimuli is difficult enough with processing disorders, but if he has low cognitive functioning, making connections (that make sense) is difficult for him across all environments in many different situations.
Also, in regard to reading programs...my district uses two different ones for special ed. One is called, "Language!" by Jane Fell Greene. It's strongly phonic based with hand movements to segment words. There are many games that support the skills. It's highly repetive and scripted at level one. There are fluency pages that reinforce the lessons and word families (-at, -in, etc) are emphasized as a way to access decoding words. I had to switch from that program to use the other one due to on-site politics, and there is a new edition since I used it. I don't know if it includes technology, but it's worth a look.
Good luck.
Beth

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