Thursday, 23 February 2017

The Why’s and How’s of the IEP (Individual education Plan)and the benefits to individuals in the learning environment (revised)  by  Dyslexia Dublin CETC © 2017



Just received your child's IEP or would like to know more

Specific Needs Education is the education of students with special needs in a way that addresses the students' individual differences and needs. This process involves the individually planned scheme of work with an agreed level of help…sometimes intense help… to achieve a learning objective, such as learning the alphabet for example. This will also give an outline of the resources required to achieve an outcome equal or close to their peers (see article on Accommodation for further details).
This will include provision of in class support (SNA) and one to one (resource teacher), requiring extra resource hours.


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There are a range of learning needs and not all children in a class would have been through a diagnosis. The school however should be able to identify such students and should offer as much support as they possibly can. Parents must also be informed of this, which is key to helping move their individual child forward.
In most countries, inclusive education is in place; schools and teachers are changing the way in which they teach, to accommodate all students and allowing far more children with specific learning needs to be taught in the mainstream school.
Integration is less likely to cause stigma amongst the students as they are submersed in this modern learning environment. Inclusive education, with adequate resources and qualified knowledgeable staff, can offer almost everything to everyone in regard to education.
Specific learning needs students can be identified early in the learning process…observation of work and participation in group and solo activities can be monitored, along with performance in both testing and homework. These would all help to identify individuals that are struggling to understand the information being presented.
IEP (Individual Education Plan)
A learning programme should be agreed between teachers and this should also involve parents and the support staff within the school. This will vary from country to country and will be unique to the student that has been identified with a learning need. The IEP will set out the support and resources required to help the individual and will also document the resource hours and in-class provision (scribe…reader, etc.) required to help the student cope within the mainstream class.
As schools become more familiar with the range of individual needs, they will resource accordingly. This will require changes in the way they accommodate all within the group and this could be down to gaining physical access to classrooms (old schools) with the use of lifts to upper levels, to the introduction of computers for children who cannot write because of a physical disability. They must also take account of the child’s needs outside of the classroom during break times, to include access to the playground, toilets and eating facilities.
In the case of a child on the Autism Spectrum, it might be necessary to school them in a smaller group or classroom. This can also be the same with children who have SPD if they are tactile or not tactile, they might struggle to concentrate and would need to be positioned accordingly. This would also be the same for children with auditory processing problems and also those who may have visual stress.
Modifying the Lesson to include the IEP.
Students workload can be reduced and be more specific…for instance, handwriting can be in print rather than cursive to help students keep up with lessons that are dictated.
Project work can be assisted by giving the student a text book and also an audio or DVD to watch, such as Michael Morpurgo’s ‘War Horse’, for example.
Reduced homework given on a more consistent basis, with maybe one subject per night instead of several subjects…this also means there is less to forget and fewer books for the student to carry home.
Students should be given access to certain resources during testing, like the use of a calculator or having a bank of words to aid comprehension. Extra time for tests can also be agreed during the construction of the IEP.
ECM (every child matters) is an integral part of every school and classroom, or should be. The Teacher is responsible for ensuring the safety of all children in their care and take appropriate advice/action to maintain the safety of all.


If your child is starting a new school make sure the provision is there before you register them.


NB. This information is from personal experience and research and also partly sourced through the work of others.  It is purely for improving the understanding of dyslexia and to offer helpful advice in related areas.   Dyslexia Dublin  © 2017

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Saturday, 18 February 2017

Troubled Sleep in Children with Specific Learning Needs by Dyslexia Dublin CETC © 2017



A sleep disorder can be temporary or more long term/habitual.  This can be known as somnipathy, which is a medical disorder that affects our sleep patterns.

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Disturbed sleep can cause the same problems if it persists and this can lead to somnipathy and it may be severe enough to interfere with a person’s normal physical, mental and emotional functioning! Meltdowns/tantrums could well be the result of lack of sleep.

There are very strong links between childhood sleep disorders and behaviour, lack of concentration and mood swings. Sleep disorders that are directly caused by behavioural factors (eg. sleep-onset association disorder) can present in some children with specific learning needs. Invariably, sleep deprivation increases the chances of  meltdowns and this can have a major impact on the entire family.

Some sleep disorders are serious enough and known to interfere with physical, mental and emotional routines.  In cases that are causing noticeable problems, a sleep study/test (Polysomnography Test) can be recommended by your GP/Consultant.

Insomnia can also cause problems, due to falling asleep at times when you are feeling at ease (symptoms however need to go beyond 4 weeks before the GP will intervene) and then at the allotted time you cannot sleep due to things flooding the mind. This, however, is more apparent in adults.

What is a reasonable amount of sleep required to carry out normal routines in childhood? Children of 5–13 years require about 10 hours sleep, and those aged 14–18 years need about 8 hours. These levels are the minimum required and if involved in physical exercise, they should take more rest.
The amount of sleep a person needs will vary from individual to individual, but most people require around eight hours.

We don’t fully understand how we came to require around seven to eight hours of rest per night (just to add, catching up is a bit of a fallacy). It is thought by many professionals in this field that it is down to build, muscle size and fat stores. We tend to go into partial hibernation in the winter months and spend longer sleeping. A lot takes place in these hours of rest, children’s growth hormones become very active, as do our repair and replenishment function (skin replacement and general healing).

So, what causes our sleep to be disturbed? Not winding down is one and this can be caused by the run up to bed time…home work should be well finished by tea time, any revision after this point will lead to the mind being occupied and the chance of a good night’s rest will be compromised, making the following day more challenging.

SPD (teeth grinding) is another possibility, along with dehydration and lack of air…many children with dyspraxia tend to breathe through their mouths which dries the mouth out and can also cause snoring. This may also result in headaches (drink a good few glasses of water a day).
Sugar is another cause of hyper activity and lack of sleep. Caffeine (stimulants) should not be consumed after 17.00.

Children, like adults, need to unwind and creating a relaxed, noise free atmosphere is a must. Let them chat about their day and also encourage them to keep a reflective diary, as this will dump information into their long term memory. Try to avoid giving them information about special occasions until the day…how many children have trouble sleeping before a birthday or Christmas?!

Sleep could be, and often is, thrown out of sync due to lack of a stable routine and the body clock being altered through certain habits, such as allowing  a child to routinely fall asleep watching telly during the day (with exceptions like illness).  For example, a parent might be working night shifts and nods off and the child relaxes and does likewise (eg. on the couch with the parent). Also, getting up late in the day becomes self-perpetuating, this will lead to difficulties in getting to wind down and sleep in the evening or can even cause problems due to being in a light sleep and waking during the night. Even during school holidays the routine should still be in place, stability and regularity are one thing that are needed to correct and maintain good sleep patterns.

By around the age of two, if a child wakes in the night it should have the ability to be self-soothing and able to settle again. Separation anxiety can also lead to sleep disorders and it is always a good idea not to share your child’s bed or let them share yours. You can wean a child off this and one good way is to substitute you with a favourite teddy or doll…allow the surrogate to share the meal table, watch TV with you and even go out on family trips. A trust will build very quickly and when the child has to separate from you for socialising or sleep, it will bring a great feeling of security. This will also help with children that have recurring bad dreams…it’s no harm to record dates and details of the bad dreams or broken sleep patterns and try to identify triggers or see if a pattern emerges…watching adult TV/movies is a big factor.

All this has a knock-on effect on the ability to maintain concentration and discipline during school time…this is something the school might not pick up on as they may only notice lethargy or bad behaviour and not lack of sleep. 

Teenagers have a greater problem in this area and their lifestyle so often exacerbates poor sleep routines. Social networking means that teens can communicate with their friends well into the night and many would never see this as the cause of their lack of motivation during school times and even the weekends.

The problems tend to increase in the summer due to the bright evenings and increased noise which travels greater distances through the thinner air.

Conditions have to be right for all children to sleep… young children don’t have the ability to regulate temperature until they are around eight years of age, so room/body temperature can be a problem.

Maintain a good sleep routine, even during holidays.
Keep your children hydrated during the day and reduce sugars and caffeines.
Make sure the bedroom has plenty of air and is noise free.
Use blackout curtains and, if needs be, acquire a soothing night light.
Wind your children down…don’t let them play with gaming machines just before bed.
Avoid homework in the evening, this should all be finished by tea time.
If they are young, read a story and one that will relax them.
Don’t share their bed, sit on the edge or in a chair.
You can also use specialist relaxation CD’s. http://dyslexiadublin.mygostore.co.uk/mindfulness-matters-cd.html

Record disturbed sleep patterns and try to see if there is a trigger.
Don’t let them share your bed…if they can’t settle, stay in their room until they do.

Make sure they eat well.
If you want to reduce tantrums/meltdowns, etc. persevere and they will very soon get back into a settled sleep pattern.

Don’t be fooled by a child that has his or her eyes shut, they could be sat up the second they think the coast is clear!

Sleep is vital for restoring mental energy. We spend all day learning, thinking and creating, this all helps to deplete our energy reserves. And during our hours of sleep we process this information, for the most part in a harmless way (dreams) and sometimes the opposite…(nightmares).

You and your children’s bodies are like a well-oiled machine and rest is required by each and every one of us. We don’t know for sure exactly how much sleep we all need, but we sure know the consequences if we, or our children, have too little.

 N.b This article was written for guidance purpose only and, as with all things that cause concern professional advice should always be sought.


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Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Dyspraxia And Dyslexia. How it can Affect Us In Relationships? by Dyslexia Dublin © 2017

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A strong, healthy relationship can be one of the best and most important supports you will ever experience in your life.  A good, strong relationship improves all aspects of your life, it helps strengthen and maintain a healthy existence, it settles and improves your mind and it can also help you maintain and develop connections with others.  However, if the relationship isn't working, it can also be a tremendous drain and strain.  Relationships are for the long haul and you should reap what you sow.
As has been mentioned in previous articles, we are made up of left, right and those with left and right brains… this is important to understand as communication between like-minded people is, for the most part simple, straightforward and often without problem.  However, communications between a left brain dominant and a right brained dominant can have its fair share of moments… equal left/ right brained should find communicating with others less problematic.
Dyspraxia and dyslexia can affect us in so many of our relationship’s, families… friends, school peers and also loving relationships.  One of the key elements that can cause mood swings and distancing is so often the fear of being let down or letting others down, through poor judgement or negative criticism (often rings bells from the past), doing or saying the wrong thing at the wrong time (this is mainly down to lack of confidence).  We can so often miss the point due to our slow processing speed, which leads to incorrectly picking up the wrong signals and we can also appear shy.  I had a huge problem with dancing due to co-ordination… this was a real inhibitor, as those that could dance always got the girls.  We also tend to be very trusting; we don’t always see the worst in others until it’s too far down the road and, coupled to this, we tend to fall in love very quickly.
I think this is down to the draw of being loved, attention and the initial lack of criticism; the wheels can very quickly fall off when the relationship settles down and our partners tire of our ways and then start to pull us up with regularity, usually down to the many things we struggle to do correctly.  This is hard and often brings us back to all the criticism we have had to face from so many throughout our lives.
It’s so important to get through conflict.  Some couples talk things out quietly, while others may raise their voices and passionately disagree.  The key in a strong relationship, though, is not to be fearful of conflict.  You need to be safe to express things that bother you without fear of retaliation and be able to resolve conflict without humiliation, degradation or insisting on being right and this can be difficult with those of us who have dyspraxia.  We by nature have excellent memories, we don’t tend to let things bother us in the early stages and we store things, often quoting letter and verse at the person we are upset or arguing with.
Honest, direct communication is the mainstay of any relationship.  When both people feel comfortable expressing their needs, fears and desires, trust and close bonds are maintained and indeed strengthened.  Non-verbal cues, ie. body language like eye contact, leaning forward or away, or touching someone’s arm, are critical to communication and again this is an area that doesn't come as natural to a dyspraxic as it does to those who don’t suffer from the syndrome.
Touch has long been accepted as a fundamental part of human existence; however this can be a problem for those of us that have tactile processing issues.  Studies on infants have shown the importance of regular, loving touch and holding has a long lasting benefit to early brain development. These benefits do not end in childhood. Life without physical contact with others is a lonely life indeed.

This article seems to have an adult flavour to it, however I would like to point out that some of these points would be relevant to our children too.
Our articles offer guidance and we always recommend that those reading them should always seek professional advice on any thing that might concern them.

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Toby Lee, Dublin CETC © 2017
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Friday, 3 February 2017

Why Don’t You Listen To Me? (Auditory Processing) by Dyslexia Dublin, © 2017


Listening relates so closely to most of what we achieve in school and in our daily lives.
Let’s take a look at Auditory Processing and the causation.

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Auditory processing disorder (APD) is common amongst children and also goes into adulthood. It affects around 5-6% of the world’s population, myself included, and is also known as Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD).  We have real problems when it comes to picking up verbal instruction, we simply don’t hear quite the same as others who don’t have auditory processing issues.  Why… and a very important why?  Our brains and ears function in a slightly miscued way and at a far slower connection rate.  This can have a huge effect on the way we speak, we quite often have to slow speech down to avoid mistakes.
This is so important… the connection between the individual and their instructor/teacher needs clarity and, if there is a cross infection with other noises, the signal becomes confused or even lost, and the reaction/response is often the wrong one.  This is more prevalent today than ever before as modern class environments are more open with micro learning groups.  Some teaching styles and resources can work very much against those with auditory processing, eg. teaching as a facilitator… using mainly student input which may well involve various voices and demonstrations/role play, lots going on within the classroom.  It seems such a shame in many ways, but the old school layout and delivery was very much favourable to good linguistics… a single voice in a quiet classroom, with the exception of the teacher talking whilst writing on the board.  However, at that time we didn’t understand specific learning needs, now we do... or should do!  Very often the work is projected onto the whiteboard which allows the teacher to face the class, but the background noise minimises the pluses here.
Have you ever been in a cafĂ© or restaurant and struggled to listen to your friends/family?  Do you look up if someone drops something, or they turn on the ice/smoothie machine, or maybe driving in the car and the children are talking or playing loud music and you make a mistake or go the wrong way?  Have you ever wondered why some children and adults don’t enjoy swimming?  It’s not always the water that puts them off… swimming pools amplify sound to unbelievable levels.  My own daughter used to hate going to motor racing circuits and bonfire nights use to be a real problem too.  We often never realise how noise pollution affects some of us, although I will say the majority of us don’t even notice competing sounds and can just keep zoned into the person talking, or focus on what they are doing.

How do we assess for auditory processing problems?

This can be quite easy for both parents, teachers and indeed self-diagnosis in an adult.
Most who parent or work with children will notice how they can appear to switch off/zone out whilst doing certain activities, like at home watching television or deep into a game, they simply don’t hear you telling them dinner is ready or to turn the TV down.  You are competing with other sounds and they don’t hear you… this is often the case with missed instruction in the classroom too.
If we go into a quiet room, like a library, for instance, we can listen to sounds without any problem… why?  Because they are clear and unhindered.  If you have ever been for a hearing test, you might have wondered why you walked through so many doors and into a sound-proof room?  It’s because they have to ensure there are no competing sounds or noise pollution.
Some children and adults can have an over-sensitivity to noise, however, there will also be those that have an auditory problem.  This needs clarification if it’s suspected that treatment can be given and any problems are addressed before they fall too far behind ie. speech delay or studies.
We can go through childhood into adulthood and this might not be picked up due to lack of awareness, or maybe it’s not severe enough to cause concern.  However mild, moderate or severe, it should all be looked into to avoid any problems.
One of my children would have problems with competing sounds as mentioned earlier and maybe you can already see similarities… shout them for dinner and, if they are listening to music or watching TV, they won’t hear you.  Trust me, this is not with intent, they just can’t hear you… stand in front of the TV and they will hear you fine.
So, do you notice any of the following…
Do they have volume control problems, ie. they raise their voice for no reason?
Do they dislike noisy places like swimming pools, cafes, etc?
Are noisy environments upsetting to your child?
Do they look around when there is a sudden increase in competing noises?

Have you noticed a variation with them in different settings?... like at home with maybe just you and them with no competing noises they can completely focus, whereas if there's two or three children doing homework together and you’re making dinner or whatever, they can’t focus.
If the environment is noisy, is their accuracy with tasks or commands affected?
Remember that this can be comorbid with other SPLD’S like dyslexia and dyscalculia, add, ADHD and can lead people to believe that they have other problems when it can just simply be auditory processing.  Lack of understanding/clarity of what they’re hearing can cause students to appear hyper and disruptive and while I must say this is not one size fits all, it is well worth exploring… especially if you see a change in your child.
Maybe they have a problem academically that is caused by their inability to zone into the teacher?  Maybe their class is noisy at times?  You can often find noise levels increase in more non-kinesthetic subjects like English and Maths, as some children are less stimulated and distracted and this can raise noise levels to the point where your child cannot focus.  We need really good listening and processing skills in the early phases of learning English, as there is such a small variation in sounds between certain letters and letter formations.  We can also look at confusion with homework… what happens when the teacher wraps up or the children know the school day is coming to an end?  Ever wondered why they forget books or misunderstood what was required for homework?  This is often laid at the door of poor organisational skillsets… however, a simple fix is to set the homework earlier in the day, as when it is coming near to home time the class in general is winding down and getting reading to go home.  Better still, give them one or two subjects per night for homework, less books to carry too! 
Maybe your school is proactive and are prepared to offer FM (the student wears headphones  linked to the teacher which allows them to hear only the teacher’s voice) or take steps to reduce competing noises.  You can also work on this at home when tasks require a high level of accuracy.  Help them to speak with good tone variation, try talking into the mirror with them, record their voice and play it back… this helps pitch.  Try not to use high level vocabulary, make it fit their academic age range, we often talk to our children these days as if they are adults, this never happened years ago.  Also, keep an eye on the type of programmes they are watching on the television.
We tend to slow our speech down when talking to non-English speakers and this is also a good idea for talking to people with APD, but not to the point where the person feels that we are mocking them, there has to be a good balance.  School environment can account for some issues… teachers can make sure those who they feel may have APD can be seated nearer the front of the class and preferably away from the noisy elements.  Let your child share ownership of this, especially if they are of an age where they can see the negative effect it has on their progress both in and out of school.

How do we find out if our child, or indeed an adult, has APD?  You can monitor activities and mood swings during events… like the school disco, a visit to the circus or swimming for example.  If we feel concerned, then we can see our GP and maybe get an auditory test by an audiologist.  We must wait until sufficient maturation has taken place to give a fair and conclusive assessment, from age 7 years up… this would be from first class in Ireland, junior school in the UK, the equivalent would be third grade in America.
                                         
Processing Information

We are slower auditory processors than most others… we take far more time to devour information and we often need to be told a few times or read text (out loud) several times.  We can even take things the wrong way and miss punch lines in jokes or be the butt of a joke without realising it.  There are several ways information can be interpreted and we often only figure one angle, this can lead to people belittling us and bullying can also result.
NB. This information is from personal experience and research and also partly sourced through the work of others. It is purely for improving the understanding of dyslexia and to offer helpful advice. Dyslexia Dublin CETC © 2017

we have a great product to help with auditory processing 
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