Finding and agreeing on the right accommodations for students with dyslexia can be a challenge for families and educators. Parents must climb a steep learning curve and acquire skills in communication and advocacy to forge effective collaboration with their child's teachers. They also face challenges in helping their dyslexic child stay positive, motivated and empowered. In this public webinar, reading and dyslexia specialist Barbara Steinberg addresses such topics while sharing her philosophy for helping children with dyslexia thrive. It encompasses three ideas: LEARN. ACCOMMODATE. INSPIRE.
Barbara's presentation is loaded with useful reminders and maxims, e.g. "remediation without accommodation forces failure," and "the genius of a child may be hidden beneath the surface." She emphasizes that with appropriate and effective remediation, accommodation, inspiration and support, there is unlimited potential for success.
In this engaging one-hour session, Barbara offers tools and tips you can immediately put into practice to benefit dyslexic students at home and in school. Her examples include suggestions of storybooks to help students understand different learning styles and that all children learn differently. She also shares some of her own clients' experiences and gives suggestions on how to effectively communicate with everyone who supports the child's education.
Download the following handouts from the webinar:
After her presentation, Barbara responded to personal questions submitted by attendees. The Q & A portion of the event proved to be compelling and is included in the above on-demand recording. Continue below to read her answers to additional questions we didn't have time to discuss during the live event:
How does a diagnosis of ADD affect the learning & accommodation of a child who also has dyslexia? My child has a hard time focusing on audiobooks—what can I do?
Barbara Steinberg: FACT: Untreated AD/HD can negatively impact the potential gains of remediation (tutoring) and accommodations.
However, this is a sticky issue. Often, symptoms of AD/HD are presented because they are masking an underlying learning disability. The big question that needs to be addressed is, “Are the symptoms of AD/HD a result of my child’s dyslexia or because of it?” Sadly, there is no easy answer to this question.
Given that inference is such a challenge for dyslexic students, how do we best address and accommodate all the inference requirements present in the Common Core curriculum, especially with regard to reading and writing?
Inference is a deep level comprehension strategy. When we ask students to think deeply about a text (which the Common Core does), we are asking them to think. Therefore, if your child needs support in reading comprehension strategies, this should be taught independent of “reading” instruction. I’m not suggesting reading and thinking are separate—they are not. The purpose of reading is thinking. But if a dyslexic student is struggling in both these areas, teach them to think using audiobooks only.
What are the pros and cons of using Dragon Dictation versus learning to type on a keyboard?
Dragon Dictation allows an individual to “type” at their speech rate. In other words, the computer will type exactly what you say. This is beneficial for students who can tell stories orally, but struggle when it comes to putting their ideas on paper.
Learning to type is a skill that benefits all students. With that said, if the aforementioned struggle is the issue, learning to type will not make a difference.
Is there a test you prefer for diagnosing dyslexia?
There is no “one size fits all” test for dyslexia. A comprehensive dyslexia assessment will include the following components:
You spoke of using accommodations before hitting the wall, but how do you convince administrators that your dyslexic child needs accommodations unless they are failing?
- Case History
- Battery of Assessments:
- Phonological Awareness
- Rapid Naming/Word Fluency
- Reading Fluency
- Reading Comprehension
This is often difficult to accomplish, but not impossible. Build relationships. Document everything. Make notes about how long it takes your child to complete a task. Advocate. Remember—you know your child best.
My son is 13 years old and has just been diagnosed with reading disabilities. What remediation is the most important at this age?
The only remediation is a simultaneous, multisensory, explicit approach. This is based on Orton-Gillingham, though there are many curricula that meet the criteria. Remember, more of the same begets more of the same. Do not waste time at a “one size fits all” learning center.
How far in advance do you need to start the process to get accommodations for the SAT or ACT?
The College Board is looking for evidence that, without accommodations, your child would fail. If your child made it through middle school and freshman year of high school without them (and did well according to report cards, etc.), the Board has leverage to deny your request. However, this is a case by case basis.
Barbara Steinberg has been educating, mentoring and inspiring students for over 15 years, first as a classroom teacher and now as a dyslexia and literacy consultant. She is the founder of PDX Reading Specialist, an organization whose mission is to create confident and capable learners through remediation, accommodation and inspiration. Barbara is passionate about educating and supporting those who work with struggling learners, and when not working with students herself, shares her wealth of knowledge and years of experience with parents, fellow educators and students themselves.