Twice exceptional students are both gifted and challenged; they are also likely to remain undiagnosed and treated as their strengths compensate for or hide their struggles. High expectations can exacerbate frustrations at school, home, and in friendships as they miss the mark — and don’t know why. ADDitude readers share their stories of securing a 2e diagnosis and academic supports for their children.
Many autistic people and ADHD-ers report using “masking” and “camouflaging” in their lives. This is where people conceal certain traits and replace them with neurotypical ones to avoid being recognised as neurominorities.
“Catastrophizing is an insidious process; a hijacking of the mind’s eye that causes it to see only oblivion as it peers into an unknowable future. What’s worse, awareness of catastrophizing isn’t enough to get rid of it. Luckily, I can call on a few effective suppression techniques to temper the worst of catastrophization when it does creep up.”
An estimated 5 to 15 percent of the population has dyslexia, the most common language disability, which hinders a person’s ability to read words correctly and efficiently. But in Boston and countless other communities, Black and Latino families have a much harder time than their White peers accessing two key tools to literacy: an instructor trained in how best to teach struggling readers the connections between letters and sounds, or a private school focused on children with language disabilities.
“Hands down the best planner around for ADHD.” You’ve got our attention! These ADDitude readers sent us their favorite paper journals and planners — ones that really click with ADHD brains getting organized, prioritized, and productive.
After the high-profile dismissal of an old-school NYU organic chemistry professor in September because his classes were too difficult, a familiar debate reignited. How hard should college be, and in what ways? Who doesn’t deserve to be there in the first place? What does it mean to receive a rigorous education, and what tangible benefits does such rigor, once defined, offer a college graduate?
New findings from neuroscience provide new insights and perspectives on classroom practices for literacy. There is growing theoretical and practical support for more emphasis on the dyslexic person’s strengths. Paradoxically, dyslexia may be a gift with a cluster of unique assets.
“Reluctant reader” does not have a positive connotation, for children or adults who identify with that term. In order to redefine reluctant readers, we first have to understand who they are. Reluctant readers fall into two main categories: unwilling and unable. It’s important to recognize the distinct differences between these two.
Listening to brown noise could have cognitive benefits for people with ADHD, but experts caution the evidence is still limited. The evidence that brown noise might help people with attention deficit issues is anecdotal, and there’s no definitive research. A few studies have suggested that a similar sound, called white noise, may improve cognitive function and concentration in people with ADHD, and experts believe brown noise may produce the same effect.
For college students with disabilities, even small changes to college-classroom procedures—like taking a test in a small, quiet room rather than a echoing lecture hall—can be make or break for academic success, but advocates say securing access to such accommodations can be confusing, costly, and time-consuming. A group of student advocates and national disability-rights organizations are seeking legislation to streamline the process by requiring colleges and universities to accept students’ individualized education programs, or IEPs, and evaluations from K-12 schools as proof of the need for accommodations and supports.
Subject-area teachers like me weren’t trained to identify and help struggling readers. Even if we had identified students with print-based learning disabilities, such as dyslexia, there was often no place to send them to get the support they needed. Some schools have implemented small-scale remediation programs, with varying rates of success. Some, like mine, have a few individuals doing their best to help struggling readers in groups that are too large during meetings that are too short.
A host of genetic variants associated with dyslexia have been identified by researchers, shedding light on the hereditary aspect of the disorder. Previous research has suggested it has a heritable component, with studies suggesting genetics account for somewhere between 40% and 80% of the average differences between those with dyslexia and general population. Researchers say they have identified about 170 genes and 42 specific genetic variants significantly associated with dyslexia in the largest such study to date.
A set of new literacy standards and teaching performance expectations, approved by the California commission that issues teaching credentials, should ensure all universities are on the same page when it comes to training future educators. The literacy standards, mandated by state legislation, put a greater emphasis on teaching foundational reading skills that include phonological awareness, phonics and word recognition, and fluency. The new standards also included support for struggling readers, English learners, and pupils with exceptional needs. The California Dyslexia Guidelines have been incorporated for the first time.
It’s a disservice to students, especially those who are historically disadvantaged, to center summer programming on remediating skills not learned during the school year, said speakers at a National Summer Learning Association conference session Wednesday. Rather, every day students spend in school over the summer months should include high quality instruction that engages students’ and teachers’ passions, aims for accelerating skills, and blends academics and enrichment, the speakers said.
About 20% of Hawaiʻi’s population struggle to learn because they have dyslexia, according to the Hawaiʻi Branch of the International Dyslexia Association. Among the local resources available for children living with learning difficulties is Assets School on Oʻahu. In recognition of National Dyslexia Awareness Month, the school has an in-person seminar this week about accommodating and supporting a child with dyslexia. The Conversation sat down with the Assistant Head of School Sandi Tadaki to discuss how early intervention and acceptance can help students avoid years of emotional and educational struggles.
The world needs dyslexic thinking, an approach to problem solving, assessing information, and learning. Research tells us that dyslexic thinkers have the exact skills needed for the workplace of today. The Value of Dyslexia report points out that new roles and enhanced tasks will be created across industries that closely match the strengths of dyslexic thinking. This is why we have partnered with global charity Made By Dyslexia to help every educator identify, support, and empower every learner with dyslexia.
A new study explored whether adherence to American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines for diet and physical activity had any relationship with toddlers’ ability to remember, plan, pay attention, shift between tasks and regulate their own thoughts and behavior, a suite of skills known as executive function. Reported in The Journal of Pediatrics, the study found that 24-month-old children who spent less than 60 minutes looking at screens each day and those who engaged in daily physical activity had better executive function than those who didn’t meet the guidelines.
Whether due to rejection sensitivity, poor self-awareness, social anxiety, or executive dysfunction, social challenges follow many children with ADHD as they grow. Parents can take a page from the social-emotional learning approach to guide their kids toward social success. Here are 6 ways to get started.Social-emotional learning activities and strategies for ADHD kids who struggle to make and keep friends.
Managing the symptoms of ADHD can be a challenge for students and their families. Students diagnosed with ADHD can also experience symptoms related to other disorders that can impact learning, such as anxiety, depression and behavior disorders. That can make ADHD complex to diagnose. Educators can take several steps to identify the symptoms of ADHD in their students and connect them with the appropriate learning and behavioral supports when needed. Here are five tactics educators can implement today.
There’s no litmus test for dyslexia and education experts say the diagnosis covers a range of reading problems. Orton-Gillingham is one of the oldest approaches to help struggling readers, dating back to the 1930s, and it explicitly teaches letters and sounds, and breaks words down into letter patterns. It also emphasizes multisensory instruction. But two recent academic papers, synthesizing dozens of reading studies, are raising questions about the effectiveness of these expensive education policies. A review of 24 studies on the Orton-Gillingham method, found no statistically significant benefit for children with dyslexia. Instead, a review of 53 reading studies found that much cheaper reading interventions for children with a variety of reading difficulties were also quite effective for children with dyslexia.
Parent Lisa Manwell received a dozen calls last fall telling her her son couldn’t stay in school because of behaviors she says stemmed from his disability, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Many schools have promised to cut down on suspensions, since kids can’t learn as well when they aren’t in class. But none of these pickups was ever recorded as suspensions, despite the missed class time.
Laws and programs to address dyslexia are among the best hopes for students who struggle to learn to read. Legislation focused on dyslexia has been passed in at least 47 states. However, there is a downside that is not understood: Some dyslexia laws and practices exclude or neglect many struggling readers, even though most of them suffer from similar learning difficulties and require similar evidence-based instruction.
Dyslexia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) often travel together. (About 25% to 40% of the time, according to some estimates.) For individuals with ADHD and dyslexia, routine treatment protocols and approaches for each condition may not be effective. ADHD symptoms might affect therapies for dyslexia, and vice versa. And addressing only one condition – a common error – often results in subpar outcomes all around. If your child has both ADHD and dyslexia, it is important to understand the dynamic interplay between these conditions and how it affects the application of treatments and interventions.
Our bodies don’t come in neat, one-size-fits-all packages, so of course neither do our brains. Start to think outside the box with these titles for the tween and younger set that feature neurodivergent characters and celebrate the extensive ways our minds can come up with ideas, solve problems, and learn new things.
Neurodiversity can be seen in every classroom, but not every teacher incorporates the needs of neurodiverse students into their pedagogy. Our neurodiverse students are often great at hiding how overwhelmed they are in the classroom. As a neurodivergent teacher who has worked with neurodivergent students for many years, I’ve found that the following strategies help make sure these students feel less anxious and help them stay engaged in class. All of these strategies can be used and modified for K–12 students.
Growing up, my undiagnosed ADHD symptoms made me feel like something inside was broken or disconnected. A diagnosis in my early 20s, along with the right medication to manage symptoms, improved my life significantly — so much so that I carried on believing I had finally been “fixed.”
How you talk to your child about dyslexia and ADHD will depend on their age. With younger children, you need not focus on challenges just yet. For tweens and teens, acknowledging challenges is essential to helping them feel understood and supported.
Parents and educators can access free, online training to support the executive functioning skills of elementary school students with autism or ADHD. Children’s Hospital Colorado teamed with Children’s Hospital in Washington, D.C., and The Institute for Innovation and Implementation at the University of Maryland to pilot the online training and tele-support system for Unstuck and On Target, a program aimed at improving executive functioning skills such as flexible thinking, emotion regulation, planning and organization.
Many students with communication disorders were particularly affected by changes like virtual and hybrid learning that were implemented during the 2020–2021 school year due to the pandemic. As some of these children return to in-person instruction for the first time in more than a year, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) recommends the following ways for families to help them prepare for a successful in-person school year and support recovery of communication, social, and learning skills.
The veteran educator and leading voice for differentiated instruction offers five hopeful scenarios for classrooms this fall. There will be an abundance of collaboration, accomplishment, and adventure.
Reflection is one of the most important and powerful skills for anyone to engage with, and it’s important for educators to introduce this concept to all students. Far too often, students with disabilities are not afforded the opportunity to learn about reflection and how it can help them succeed in school. Reflection encourages students to evaluate and understand their mistakes while supporting a growth mindset to develop either solutions or action plans to improve their skills in order to master a topic or standard.
For the latest audio roundup, we turn to titles inspired by fairy tales and mythology, each published in 2022. Rewriting, adapting, subverting the familiar has long been a popular literary trope—who can argue with universal appeal? Cinderella, especially, continues to be an evergreen favorite, appearing in multiple stories, often in surprising permutations. Read (and listen) on!
While the pandemic caused widespread disruption to learning, one of the biggest concerns, for students of all ages, has been how it has affected their mental health. High numbers of teenagers have reported persistently feeling sad or hopeless, and the Biden Administration has tried to make student mental health a priority. For parents concerned about how their students are handling the new school year, here are five suggestions mental health experts say can help them monitor their child’s mental health.
Educational software maker Texthelp announced the results of a new study which looked at the current state of teaching dyslexic students. The goal of the study was to “identify common problems in student teaching and learning that could be addressed, and to help build better, more inclusive learning environments.” Nearly 50% of teachers surveyed said utilizing assistive technology is one of the best ways to help dyslexic students improve their literacy, along with reading and phonemic awareness.
The California public education system’s approach to educating students with dyslexia is a study in contrasts. Some schools have made real strides in recent years to implement curricular and culture changes aimed at helping struggling readers and dyslexic students overcome their early difficulties before they fall too far behind. Yet in many schools, a lot of parents feel they must fight the system to get support for their kids, paying thousands of dollars out-of-pocket for tutoring services or private evaluations. Advocates say Sacramento’s reluctance to hand down clear mandates means some schools’ approaches to literacy instruction remain woefully out of date.
Literacy advocate Weaver is heading up a campaign to get his old school district in Oakland, CA to reinstate many of the methods that teachers resisted so strongly: specifically, systematic and consistent instruction in phonemic awareness and phonics. Weaver and his co-petitioners—including civil rights, educational, and literacy groups—want schools to spend more time in the youngest grades teaching the sounds that make up words and the letters that represent those sounds. His petition is part of an enormous rethink of reading instruction that is sweeping the U.S.
Mayor Eric Adams has made literacy a priority, promising to overhaul reading instruction in New York City schools. Carolyne Quintana, the education department’s deputy chancellor for teaching and learning, shared some insights around the city’s push to incorporate more phonics in K-2 classrooms across the five boroughs, along with more training for teachers. Some smaller scale initiatives: Two new elementary school programs will target children with reading challenges including dyslexia, and about 160 elementary and middle schools will receive extra training on literacy strategies and different types of interventions for struggling readers.
It’s an extremely personal decision for educators with disabilities to decide when to share their experiences and with whom. Some have kept their diagnoses private; others started talking about it publicly to help students and families. Some did so after their seeing their own children struggle to get appropriate resources and accommodations in K-12. Others believe that showing vulnerability builds trust. Winston Sakurai, a former school principal who was diagnosed with dyslexia as a college student, thinks broadly about the needs of students—not just those with disabilities—when policies are being developed. He’s constantly asking, “‘Is there something that we are missing that we can actually help the students with?’ ”
Gifted programming, already uneven across the country and prone to racial discrimination, has yet another blind spot: twice exceptional students. These advanced learners, who may also receive special education services, can languish academically, their skills overlooked. The same holds true for low-income children, students of color and those learning to speak English.
A new study from neuroscientists at the University of California-Berkeley found that whether you’re reading a story or listening to it, you’re activating the same parts of your brain. Delilah Orpi, a literary specialist who works with struggling readers and students with dyslexia, has been using audiobooks in her teaching for years. She says audiobooks and podcasts aren’t as passive as watching videos. That makes all the difference. “When listening to a book or podcast we must visualize what we hear and make a ‘mental movie’ much like we do as we read printed text,” she said. “Through visualizing we can comprehend and recall information. Listening to stories actually strengthens our comprehension skills.”
When working with students with sensory needs and difficulties focusing, fidgets can be a vital tool to help them stay engaged. Students with these needs can use these tools to burn off excess energy, reduce classroom anxiety, and energize their bodies to remain involved with the lesson. The key is to pick the right kind of fidget. They need to be quiet and low-tech and serve a purpose. The students also need to be taught the appropriate way to use them. The students must know that these are tools, not toys.
About 150 high school and college students with ADHD, dyslexia, and other neurodiversities are set to gather this week in Denver at a conference about mentorship, leadership, and advocacy. They’re involved with a national organization called Eye to Eye that trains older students with learning differences to mentor younger ones. Eye to Eye estimates that 20% of students have a learning difference.