Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Best ADHD Resources on a Budget

As parents and educators, we know that attention issues are more prevalent than they should be for the estimated 11% of children 4-17 years of age who have ever been diagnosed with ADHD (as of 2011, statistics provided by the CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). That's right. Depending on the state of residency, more than 6.4 million children in our country from ages 4 to 17 are challenged with some type of attention issue.

Because of continuing budget cuts for schools and a challenging economy for family households, funds are not always available for the necessary resources to address the pressing needs of these children and teens with ADHD. Although medical care and medications for ADHD can often be covered by family healthcare insurance plans, holistic or non-medical resources for ADHD are rarely included in such plans or coverage. Parents, teachers and others who care for and serve the significant number of children with ADHD are many times left to locate, research and obtain services and resources for their children or students on their own time and with their own personal funds, too.

We thought it would be beneficial to help provide some current ADHD resources to at least help save valuable time for these adults who are "on a mission" to help kids with ADHD gain access to the resources they need. As a result, we have gathered a sizable collection of ADHD articles, strategies, service providers, tools and other supportive resources---all in one place on our ADHD Resources & Support Pinterest board (1,300+ resources!) It will be good to know that many of the resources in this collection are available at very low or even no cost, too. We hope you will find all or most of what you need to help a child or teen you know and care about who struggles daily with ADHD.

ADHD Resources & Support

ADHD Resources & Support---ALL in 1 Place!
This is a collection of 1,300+ ADHD supportive resources for parents, teachers, homeschoolers & others who help or care for children & teens with attention challenges.
https://www.pinterest.com/brennajn2000/adhd-resources-support/

Sources

Data & Statistics: Children w/ ADHD--from Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/data.html

For more information about tools & resources for children & teens with ADHD, please visit:
www.FocusandRead.com Tools for struggling readers of all ages!
www.BrennanInnovators.com Info & support for struggling readers
314-892-3897

Image sources:
Brennan Innovators, LLC at www.focusandread.com

Friday, March 31, 2017

The 6 Most Important Things About Dyslexia Teachers Need to Know

For many years, there is has been such controversy about dyslexia in the world of education. The reasons for this are varied, but the results of this controversy have been staggering and pervasive. For too long, there have been far too many students who cannot read. The nearly 1 in 5 students (17%) challenged with dyslexia continue to pay the price for this long-lasting controversy.

In this article we thought it would be helpful to all involved and invested in helping these students if we were to provide a short list of points for educators to keep in mind as the topic of dyslexia accommodations continues to be at the forefront of educational discussions across the country. In this way, perhaps teachers will be better able to begin addressing the pressing needs of their students with dyslexia in ways that will indeed make a difference in their academic and life experiences.

The 6 Most Important Things about Dyslexia Teachers Need to Know

1. Dyslexia is NOT a myth or imaginative condition. It is a language-based learning disability. Dyslexia is not a vision problem. It is not about intelligence. It certainly is not about laziness. Dyslexia affects the way the brain processes written and spoken language. Individuals with dyslexia have trouble mapping letters onto sounds and vice versa. Students with dyslexia usually have a hard time reading, but they can also struggle with spelling, writing and even pronouncing words.

2. Dyslexia is inherited and lifelong. It is not something a student will outgrow. At the same time, dyslexia and its symptoms may appear or be experienced differently at different times throughout development. Very often, a child’s diagnosis will result in a parent realizing for the first time that he or she also has dyslexia.

3. Dyslexia is more common than many believe. The International Dyslexia Association (IDA) estimates that as many as 15 to 20 percent of people have some symptoms of dyslexia. These individuals have trouble with reading, spelling and writing, or mixing up similar words. Dyslexia affects people from all types of backgrounds, too. Of the 13 or 14 percent of school-age children who have a condition that qualifies them for special education services, 7 percent are diagnosed with a learning disability. Furthermore, 85 percent of those children have a primary learning disability in reading and language processing.

4. Prior to Kindergarten (and even as late as third grade), dyslexia may not be obvious or suspected. Children are generally diagnosed with dyslexia when they learn to read or begin reading in order to learn. That may be in kindergarten, first grade or even later at the primary level. However, as dyslexia is often suspected or discovered in older students, it is still a good idea to request assessment since the condition sometimes isn’t identified until much later. Early identification and treatment can make a very significant difference in the long-term quality of life for students. Teachers have a very important role in all of this because they are on the front lines when it comes to identifying dyslexia.

5. There is no one solution for all with dyslexia. Not all children with reading, decoding and spelling problems consistent with dyslexia actually have dyslexia. Other language problems that cause reading challenges also need attention. Educators can use tools like the Test of Integrated Language and Literacy Skills (TILLS) to help determine what individual students with language or literacy problems need to succeed in the classroom. It is important to note that in the case of dyslexia, a combination of the right tools, strategies and other supports may be required for reading success. A unique combination of these may very well be needed for each individual students affected with dyslexia.

6. Current and pending dyslexia legislation in many states will very soon affect teaching and learning methods, strategies, accommodations and more in many U.S. classrooms and at all grade levels (K-12). It is most important that educators begin to build their own "dyslexia toolbox" so that a portfolio of resources will be ever at-the-ready for dyslexic students (and others who struggle with reading) at every grade level. To learn more about the current and pending dyslexia legislation in your state, visit Dyslegia: A Legislative Information Site.

Sources

10 Things About Dyslexia Every Teacher Needs to Know-by Nickola Wolf Nelson, Ph.D.
https://www.weareteachers.com/things-about-dyslexia-every-teacher-needs/?utm_source=WeAreTeachers_Pinterest&utm_campaign=BrookesP_5212&utm_medium=Article_04

8 Things Every Teacher Should Know About Dyslexia-from We Are Teachers
https://www.weareteachers.com/8-things-every-teacher-should-know-about-dyslexia/

Dyslexia in the Classroom: What Every Teacher Needs to Know-from the International Dyslexia Association (IDA)
https://dyslexiaida.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/DITC-Handbook.pdf

For more information about tools, strategies & support for challenged readers with dyslexia, please visit:
www.FocusandRead.com Tools for struggling readers of all ages!
www.BrennanInnovators.com Info & support for struggling readers
314-892-3897

Image sources:
Brennan Innovators, LLC at www.focusandread.com

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Celebrate Dr. Seuss Day in Style with These GREAT Resources!

One way to the heart of a reluctant reader or one who is challenged in other ways is to mention the name of the legendary Dr. Seuss. If you are already one of his grown-up fans, you probably know that Dr. Seuss Day is just around the corner and fast approaching, too. March 2 is the BIG day, and you'll most likely want to celebrate it in a special way with the young readers (and maybe the older ones, too!) you know.

On this second day in 1904, Theodor Geisel, better known to the world as Dr. Seuss, author and illustrator of such beloved children’s books as The Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham, was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. Geisel, who used his middle name (which was also his mother’s maiden name) as his pen name, wrote 48 books–--including some for adults–--that have sold well over 200 million copies and have been translated into multiple languages. Dr. Seuss books are known for their whimsical rhymes and quirky characters, which have names like the Lorax and the Sneetches and live in places like Hooterville.

This week's article will make it easy for you to commemorate the famous Dr. Seuss. We have gathered here a sizable collection of resources to make the day memorable for you, your children or students and others who love the books written by Mr. Geisel. These Dr. Seuss resources are FREE or at low cost to you. The most difficult part for you will be to choose the very best ones for the individual or group you serve, as there are so many great ones.

We know these reading and math resources will definitely get you in the mood for the GREAT day! So, you'll be all set to motivate young readers on March 2 with this ready-to-use bundle of activities, games, recipes, apps and other "goodies." These resources will help you celebrate Dr. Seuss' Birthday in style with ALL the readers you know. Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

GREAT Reading Resources for Dr. Seuss Day (March 2)

Dr. Seuss We LOVE!
Here are 120+ resources (all in one place!) to help you celebrate Dr. Seuss Day in a BIG way. You'll discover math activities, videos, finger puppet instructions, recipes, apps and so much more to make March 2 a great day to remember Dr. Seuss!
https://www.pinterest.com/brennajn2000/dr-seuss-we-love/?etslf=4828&eq=Dr.%20Seuss

Seussville.com---from Random House
Random House's website for all things Dr. Seuss---Games, activities and more that are all about Dr. Seuss. FREE resources for teachers and homeschooling parents, too.
http://www.seussville.com/#/home

55 Dr. Seuss Activities For Kids---from No Time for Flash Cards
A collection of Dr. Seuss activities and resources from other blogs and websites.
http://www.notimeforflashcards.com/2014/02/dr-seuss-activities-kids.html

Sources

1904-Dr. Seuss born---from History.com
http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/dr-seuss-born

For more information about assistive technologies for challenged readers, please visit:
www.FocusandRead.com Tools for struggling readers of all ages!
www.BrennanInnovators.com Info & support for struggling readers
314-892-3897

Image sources:
Courtesy of U.S. Stamp Gallery at http://usstampgallery.com/view.php?id=419a16d52b4e30c45d78c6ff65fa1aaea8220ef8 and
Brennan Innovators, LLC at www.focusandread.com

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

18 Tips to Support Dyslexics & Other Challenged Readers

Reading and learning do not come easily for every student. Parents and teachers often look for specific strategies and resources to assist struggling readers and learners, especially for the many with dyslexia, ADHD, autism, and/or other issues that can impact reading success.

Making using of such strategies or accommodations allows for more fairness in the classroom where other, more typical readers and learners at the same grade level may be present. These are supports that can actually help "level the playing field" for many children, teens and adults who would not otherwise receive the support needed to be successful readers and learners.

In addition, such supportive accommodations should be implemented for as long as they are needed by the individuals. Here is a printable list that you might consider to help and support the challenged reader(s) or learner(s) in your family or in your classroom:

1. Request or allow 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 or the Reading Focus Cards for math to promote accurate placeholder work.

4. Use interactive computer reading programs that 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 standing at a desk/table or moving to optional work areas with less distraction.

8. Allow for the experience of a variety of sensory learning techniques such as those from the use of a computer, e-tablet, mp3 player, tape recorder, projector, and/or manipulatives. The more senses you appeal to and employ in the learning process, the more success 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 others.

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 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. Use colored overlays or the low-tech Reading Focus Cards for focus and reading challenges with physical book pages, worksheets and other documents. These inexpensive reading aids can diminish or eliminate the visual “stress” or discomfort some readers/learners experience with the white backgrounds of most text pages. These same tools can also be used with Kindles, Nooks, and other e-readers (Model #001-Shorter) as well as iPads and other e-tablets (Model #002-Longer), too.

17. Make use of websites such as www.math.com, www.khanacademy.org, www.mobymax.com or other free sites for help with specific math, science or other content challenges.

18. For reading online or offline digital media, use the Reading Focus Cards desktop app with Macs and Windows PCs to provide more focus and fluency, better tracking, increased comprehension and improved retention for unfocused or overwhelmed readers.

For more information about assistive technologies for challenged readers, please visit:
www.FocusandRead.com Tools for struggling readers of all ages!
www.BrennanInnovators.com Info & support for struggling readers
314-892-3897

Image source: Brennan Innovators, LLC at www.focusandread.com

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

5 Decoding Tips and Tools for Reluctant Readers

What IS Decoding?

The term decoding refers to the process of translating a printed word into a sound. To demonstrate, please read the following words aloud: dog, table, jump. This is an example of decoding regular words and is sometimes called word identification skill. Regular words are commonly used words, i.e., words frequently found in printed material.

To further illustrate the skill of decoding, please read the following words, aloud: blud, wight, frish. This is an example of decoding non-words (or decoding pseudo-words) and is sometimes called word attack skill. Pseudo-words are pronounceable based on phonics rules but are not real words. A highly similar task involves asking students to read words that they have never seen before—i.e., unfamiliar or new vocabulary words.

How can we tell if a student is proficient at decoding? The two most common tests of decoding skill are to ask students to:

1. Translate printed, regular words into sounds (i.e., word identification skill) and
2. Translate printed pseudo-words or printed unfamiliar words into sounds (i.e., word attack skill).

We can measure a student's decoding accuracy—by counting the number of times the student makes the correct sound—or the student's decoding speed (also called efficiency)—by counting the number of correctly decoded words per minute. As one might expect, high proficiency is indicated by a high rate of accuracy and/or speed.

However, significant problems result when a student's decoding skill level is low or poorly developed. When he cannot breakdown words into the sound of each phoneme, fluency, rate, tracking and other skills also suffer.

There are a variety of tips, strategies and tools available today to help improve a reader's decoding skill. We hope the following 5 resources will help you and the readers you serve to get started in the right way. In the process, you will also be promoting more in the way of phonemic awareness at the same time. The end result may very well be that reading reluctance could turn into reading motivation for the individuals you help.

Tips to Help with Decoding

1. Use individual colored markers to highlight each phoneme (or syllable, if that is the phonics method you employ) in a word. Try a different color for each phoneme. For optimum results, consistently use the same color for the same phoneme from one activity to another. This may best be accomplished by using a key or legend shared with the reluctant reader you are assisting.

2. If a variety of colored markers are not available, box out each phoneme or syllable with a pencil or pen to show the beginnings and endings of words, blends or other phonemes. As in the above method, this also helps break down a word or phrase into chunks or manageable units for a challenged or reluctant reader.

3. Cover parts of words and phrases that do not need decoding at the moment. So much of the reluctance of a challenged reader is the feeling of overwhelm by just too many letters, words or lines of text viewed simultaneously or in rapid succession. This covering can be achieved simply with the aid of a one's finger.

Tools to Help with Decoding

1. Use a ruler, index card or the low-tech Reading Focus Cards (Patent 7,565,759), inexpensive tools for challenged readers, to easily breakdown or decode words, phrases and lines of text on physical pages, worksheets or other documents. Both the colored reading window and/or the notch at the top of the focus cards can be used for this decoding process.

Use of the Reading Focus Cards' reading window (yellow filter option) for decoding:


Use of the Reading Focus Cards' reading notch for decoding:


2. Use the digital Reading Focus Cards desktop app (Patent 8,360,779) for Macs and Windows PCs, an innovative and fully customizable application for challenged readers to easily breakdown or decode words, phrases and lines of text on digital pages or documents---whether online or offline.

Here are just 2 decoding steps out of a possible 7 steps to break down the word happiness with this Reading Focus Cards desktop app:


Sources

What is Decoding? article by R.E. Mayer, education.com
https://www.education.com/reference/article/what-is-decoding-reading/

For more information about assistive technologies for challenged readers, please visit:
www.FocusandRead.com Tools for struggling readers of all ages!
www.BrennanInnovators.com Info & support for struggling readers
314-892-3897

Image sources:
Fingernail photo: Mr. Barlow's Blog at https://mrbarlow.wordpress.com/2008/10/19/why-do-you-get-white-spots-on-your-fingernails/
Other images: Brennan Innovators, LLC at www.focusandread.com

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Low-tech and Digital Supports for Challenged Readers and Writers

Part 3 & final article in a series about Assistive Technologies for Challenged Readers

Many of the keyword searches that bring visitors to our blog and websites revolve around the term “struggling" or "challenged" readers and writers (really?) We felt it was about time to provide a list of good tech tools for teachers, parents and others who work tirelessly with children and teens challenged with reading (dyslexia, convergence insufficiency, etc.) and/or writing (dysgraphia, dyspraxia, etc.)

To follow here, you will find a collection of supportive low-tech & digital technologies for spelling, grammar, decoding, tracking, fluency, word choice, reading level, and overall visual readability. We hope these tech resources will “fill the bill” for those who come to us looking for solutions to help the many struggling readers and writers everywhere.

Reading & Writing Support Tools for Challenged Readers & Writers

1. Clicker 7 - Custom onscreen keyboards, talking word processor, word prediction & more (Mac & PC-FREE trial)
http://www.cricksoft.com/us/products/clicker/home.aspx

2. Ghotit - Spelling/grammar checker software & mobile apps for dyslexia & dysgraphia
(Mac/PC/iOS/Android/Linux-FREE trial)
http://www.ghotit.com/

3. Ginger Software - Spellchecker for content (online, PC-FREE & $)
http://www.gingersoftware.com/

4. Grammarly - Grammar & spelling checker (FREE & $)
https://www.grammarly.com/

5. Low-tech Reading Focus Cards - Customizable reading tools for physical books, documents & other applications (From $16.95)
http://www.focusandread.com/products

6. OpenDyslexic - Font designed by Abbie Gonzalez to ease visual aspects of reading for dyslexia (FREE)
http://opendyslexic.org/

7. Reading Focus Cards App - Virtual index card-like reading tool to aid visual focus, tracking, fluency, comprehension & retention---infinitely customizable (Mac, PC-$5.99)
http://www.focusandread.com/page/488513590

8. Rewordify - Automatically defines, or substitutes simpler words in place on web pages (FREE)
http://rewordify.com/

9. Snap&Read Universal - Text-to-speech, image-to-text conversion & text leveling (simplify difficult words) for online reading (FREE trial)
http://donjohnston.com/snap-read/

10. Visual Thesaurus - Visual word map (online, Mac & PC-FREE & $)
http://www.visualthesaurus.com/

11. WordQ - Allows readers to modify word prediction to use specific vocabulary or topics.(Various $)
http://www.goqsoftware.com/wordQ.php?gclid=CN6P3K-l8KwCFRECQAod9TKxKg

12. WriteOnline - word banks, talking word processor, word prediction, mind mapping (online, Mac & PC-FREE trial)
http://www.cricksoft.com/us/products/writeonline/default.aspx

Sources:
My Assistive Technology Toolbox by Shelley Haven, ATP, RET
http://techpotential.net/attoolbox

Software & Assistive Technology by DyslexiaHelp, University of Michigan
http://dyslexiahelp.umich.edu/tools/software-assistive-technology

For more information about assistive technologies for challenged readers, please visit:
www.FocusandRead.com Tools for struggling readers of all ages!
www.BrennanInnovators.com Info & support for struggling readers
314-892-3897

Image courtesy of:
Brennan Innovators, LLC at www.focusandread.com

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

BEST Websites for Assistive Tech: Text-to-Speech Tools and Related Resources

Part 2 in a series of articles about Assistive Technologies for Challenged Readers

Text-to-speech (TTS) is a form of speech synthesis that converts written text into a spoken voice output, or speech. Text-to-speech allows a computer, device, or application to speak by giving it a voice.

Text-to-speech was originally used to improve the accessibility of computers. This allowed visually-impaired and other challenged readers to listen to digital content that they were originally unable to read. It was also used to provide a voice for persons who had lost their own voices for a variety of reasons (injury, illness, etc.). Today, text-to-speech technology is used in medical devices, audio and announcement systems, emergency alerts, e-learning software, interactive voice response (IVR) systems and many other technological products. This same technology can be indispensable for readers with dyslexia, ADHD, autism and other issues that often impact reading success.

More recently, the demand for text-to-speech has grown rapidly. By combining text-to-speech and speech recognition capabilities, individuals are able to interact with technology as they would with another person through conversation. Because of the hands-free user interface this creates and employs, barriers are greatly eased or even eliminated for many challenged readers and learners.

Text-to-speech technology has become a significant part of the technical world and will increasingly become an even larger part of our daily lives. Through the text-to-speech tools from the websites and resource links provided below here, we hope you will discover just the right technology for your child, a struggling student or even yourself in order to enhance the reading and learning experience. In that way, an individual's quality of life will be significantly improved, too.

TextAloud MP3 for PC (FREE Trial)
http://www.textaloud.com/

GhostReader for Mac (FREE Trial)
http://www.convenienceware.com/ghostreader

ReadSpeaker (as used with this and all other articles in this blog-FREE Demo)
http://www.readspeaker.com/

NaturalReader for Mac & PC (FREE Version Available)
https://www.naturalreaders.com/index.html

NeoSpeech Text-to-Speech (FREE Demo)
http://www.neospeech.com/?gclid=CJu3yrX8lNECFVa5wAodgj0DRw

VoiceOver and Speak Selected Text (included in Mac operating system)
VoiceOver: http://www.apple.com/accessibility/mac/vision/
Speak Selected Text: http://osxdaily.com/2012/09/15/speak-selected-text-with-a-keystroke-in-mac-os-x/

Speak Selection and Speak Screen (included in iOS)
Speak Selection: https://help.apple.com/ipad/8/#/iPad9a247097
Speak Screen: https://help.apple.com/ipad/8/#/iPadfd740569

Speak command for Microsoft Word for PC (FREE to configure)
https://support.office.com/en-us/article/Using-the-Speak-text-to-speech-feature-459e7704-a76d-4fe2-ab48-189d6b83333c?CorrelationId=d85e4603-d659-4086-9e3e-e187ddec1f9a&ui=en-US&rs=en-US&ad=US&ocmsassetID=HA102066711

Bookshare Web Reader extension for Chrome on Mac, PC; Safari on Mac; Chromebook (Requires Bookshare Acct.)
https://www.bookshare.org/cms/get-started/how-read-books/read-your-own

Read2Go (iOS app for Bookshare books-$19.99)
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/read2go/id425585903?mt=8

Voice Dream Reader (iOS and Android app for Bookshare books and other text)
iOS ($14.99): https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/voice-dream-reader/id496177674?mt=8
Android ($9.99): https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=voicedream.reader&hl=en

GoRead (Android app for Bookshare books-FREE)
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.benetech.android&hl=en

Darwin Reader (Android app for Bookshare books-$14.95))
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ndu.mobile.daisy.full&hl=en

iBooks for Mac, iOS - Use device's built-in text-to-speech
http://www.apple.com/accessibility/mac/learning-and-literacy/

Acapela Text-To-Speech (FREE Demo)
http://www.acapela-group.com/

Nuance: RealSpeak (FREE Trial)
http://www.nuance.com/index.htm

Have Siri Read Articles To You on iPhone or iPad
http://osxdaily.com/2016/10/31/have-siri-read-screen-ios/

Sources:

My Assistive Technology Toolbox by Shelley Haven, ATP, RET
http://techpotential.net/attoolbox

The Benefits of Text to Speech by ReadSpeaker
http://www.readspeaker.com/benefits-of-text-to-speech/

What Is Text-to-Speech: Text-to-Speech Definition by Neospeech
http://www.neospeech.com/what-is-text-to-speech

For more information about assistive technologies for challenged readers, please visit:
www.FocusandRead.com Tools for struggling readers of all ages!
www.BrennanInnovators.com Info & support for struggling readers
314-892-3897

Image courtesy of:
Brennan Innovators, LLC at www.focusandread.com