Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Adult ADHD Research Breakthrough using MCT

Let's begin with a brief explanation about Meta-cognitive Therapy (MCT):
Meta-cognitive therapy is a therapy based on the principle that anxiety, worry and circular ruminations are universal processes that can lead to an emotional disorder.

These processes are linked to common but erroneous beliefs about thinking and unhelpful coping or self-regulation strategies. These are things we do to address the problem but they can be responsible for keeping it going.

Metacognitive therapy recognises this negative change in thinking patterns and believes it is very important. It gives it a name: the Cognitive-Attentional Syndrome (CAS).

Affected persons can suffer from repeated patterns of thinking that consist of worry, rumination, a fixation of attention on a threat, and they can develop coping behaviours that the person believes are helpful but in many cases they keep the emotional problems going.

So, successful use of meta-cognitive therapy can allow people to escape from, or break out of repetitive thinking patterns and therefroe the behavours that lead to prolonged psychological distress.

In this blog we will look at one team's research into it's effectiveness and use in addressing the needs of adults who suffer from ADHD - Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder.

Mount Sinai researchers have learned that meta-cognitive therapy (MCT), a method of skills teaching by use of cognitive-behavioural principles, yielded significantly greater improvements in symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in adults than those that participate in supportive therapy.

The study, titled "Meta-Cognitive Therapy," is now published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Mary Solanto, Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Director of the Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Center at The Mount Sinai Medical Center examined the effectiveness of a 12-week meta-cognitive therapy group. The intervention was intended to enhance time management, organisational, and planning skills/abilities in adults with ADHD.

"We observed adults with ADHD who were assigned randomly to receive either meta-cognitive therapy or a support group," said Dr. Solanto. "This is the first time we have demonstrated efficacy of a non-medication treatment for adult ADHD in a study that compared the active treatment against a control group that was equivalent in therapist time, attention, and support."

The study observed 88 adults with rigorously diagnosed ADHD, who were selected following structured diagnostic interviews and standardised questionnaires. Participants were randomly assigned to receive meta-cognitive therapy or supportive psychotherapy in a group setting. Groups were equated for ADHD medication use.

Participants were evaluated by an independent (blind) clinician using a standardised interview assessment of core inattentive symptoms and a subset of symptoms related to time-management and organisation.

After 12 weeks, the MCT group members were significantly more improved than those in the support group. The MCT group was also more improved on self-ratings and observer ratings of these symptoms.

Meta-cognitive therapy uses cognitive-behavioural principles and methods to teach skills and strategies in time management, organisation, and planning. Also targeted were depressed and anxious thoughts and ideas that undermine effective self-management.

The supportive therapy group matched the MCT group with respect to the nonspecific aspects of treatment, such as providing support for the participants, while avoiding discussion of time management, organization, and planning strategies.

In addition to Dr. Solanto, the research team included David Marks, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, and Jeanette Wasserstein, Ph.D., Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

If you would like to know more about MCT - Meta-cognitive Therapy, you can click on the link to go to the MCT Institute website.

NB: I have not examined this site at great length and see it only as a possible source of further information for the reader.

National Literacy Trust: State of the Nation (UK) Downlaod Report

Literacy is the combination of reading, writing, speaking and listening skills we all need to fulfil our potential. These life skills are essential to the happiness, health and wealth of individuals and society.

Literacy: State of the Nation provides a coherent picture of literacy in the UK today.

Literacy: State of the Nation reveals that:

  • One in six people in the UK struggle with literacy. This means their literacy is below the level expected of an eleven year old
  • A quarter of young people do not recognise a link between reading and success
  • Men and women with poor literacy are least likely to be in full-time employment at the age of thirty
  • 73% of parents and carers say their child often reads
  • The number of children achieving the expected levels for reading at age eleven increased from 78% in 1999 to 86% in 2009
  • The number of children achieving the expected levels for writing at age eleven increased from 54% to 67% in 2006, but this figure plateaued and remained the same (67%) three years later in 2009
Download Literacy: State of the Nation

17% of UK Adults have lowered Literacy Rate

One in six adults has lower literacy than the level expected of an 11-year-old, new research shows today.

It finds that only half of children enjoy reading, and that a quarter do not recognise any link between reading and success.

The report, Literacy: State of the Nation is the first coherent, national picture of reading and writing abilities, according to the National Literacy Trust.

It conducted a study of more than 17,000 pupils from 112 schools. Most read e-mails, blogs and websites more frequently than books, the survey suggests. However children who engage in technology are more likely to enjoy writing than their classmates.

While literacy levels have risen among 11-year-olds in the past decade, they have plateaued in writing. Yet three-quarters of parents said their child often read for pleasure.

The report also analysed reading and writing in the workplace, and found widespread concerns.

Almost seven in ten retail firms and half of manufacturing companies reported problems with literacy among staff.

Nearly two-thirds of men and three-quarters of women with very low literacy skills had never received a promotion, it found.

Jonathan Douglas, director of the National Literacy Trust, said the findings were “extremely worrying”.

“We believe this should be of great concern to all political parties as reading for pleasure helps to develop strong literacy skills and ultimately, supports academic and future success,” he said.

“The Treasury estimated the cider tax will bring in £30 million. For just a tenth of this money the Government could establish which adults are most in need of literacy support and run a year-long campaign to support children and adults who are struggling with literacy.

“It is estimated that poor literacy costs the economy £2.5bn a year.”

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Bamboo Fun a computer aid for Dyspraxia

Bamboo Fun - Go to the site and run the video

Bamboo Fun combines the benefits of Multi-Touch with the comfort and precision of Wacom's ergonomically-designed pen. The result: a powerful new way to work with your computer.

With Multi-Touch, you use simple hand gestures and finger taps on the tablet's surface. And because the active area is larger than traditional mobile devices and laptop trackpads, it's more comfortable and natural to use.

Easily move around your desktop, scroll through documents, navigate the web, zoom in and out of photos, and rotate images.

Need precision? Pick up the pressure-sensitive pen to edit photos, create personal greetings, make sketches, and mark up documents in your own handwriting.

Using Bamboo is easy—even if you're new to the touch experience. The included tutorial will teach you how to use simple hand gestures to move around your desktop, make selections, and complete other tasks on your computer.

You can even customise your Bamboo experience by assigning your own shortcuts to the four ExpressKeys™.

Bamboo works with your existing computer: desktop or laptop, PC or Mac. And, the distributor claims that it's incredible value with the included software: Adobe® Photoshop® Elements and Nik® Color Efex Pro™.

Sleek and black, the tablet makes for a stylish addition to your workspace but is not an ornament, it's supposed to be a tool.

You can attach Bamboo to any PC, Laptop or Mac, via a standard USB port, set it comfortably by your keyboard, and let your intuition guide you.

We are not endorsing this product and have no connection with the producer of it, it is simply here for information and for you to decide if it is useful to you or not.

Friday, March 26, 2010

When will children disobey parents? It depends on the rule

When will children disobey parents? It depends on the rule

As all parents know, children often want to do exactly what their parents don't want them to do. In three areas that children often consider parts of their personal domain, clothing, friendship, and leisure activitiesc having a degree of choice over decisions is important for children's sense of identity and mental health.

A new study that considered connections between control over issues within children's personal domain, identity, and emotional well-being has found that children make important distinctions between different kinds of rules.

The study was carried out by researchers at the University of California, Davis, the University of Illinois, Chicago, and Brock University in Ontario, Canada. It is published in the March/April 2010 issue of the journal Child Development.

The researchers looked at the beliefs of 60 4- to 7-year-olds about how child characters in role-playing situations would act and feel when a parent forbids them from engaging in a desired activity. At times, the parent's rule intruded on the child's personal domain (as in, you shouldn't play with a particular friend, take part in a certain activity, or wear certain clothes), while in others, the parent's rule fell within the moral domain (as in, you shouldn't hit or steal).

From ages 4 to 7, children's predictions that the characters would comply with moral rules (such as prohibitions against stealing) and feel good about doing so rose significantly, suggesting that between these ages, children become increasingly aware of the limits to legitimate disobedience. In stark contrast, children of all ages predicted that the characters would frequently break parents' rules when those rules intruded on the personal domain and that this disobedience would feel good, particularly when the desired activities were described as essential to the character's sense of identity.

"The findings suggest that children make important distinctions between different kinds of rules when reasoning about decisions and emotions," notes Kristin Hansen Lagattuta, associate professor of psychology and the Center for Mind and Brain at the University of California, Davis, who led the study. Previous research has shown that "although the particulars of what gets defined as the personal domain can vary across cultural settings, the establishment of a zone of personal choice and privacy appears to be culturally universal," she adds.

"These results have practical implications for parents and educators," Lagattuta suggests. "Foremost, they argue for balance in promoting morality in young children -- not only restricting actions that they shouldn't do, but helping them identify situations where they can assert personal control."

Four Pebble Meditation Exercise for Mothers and Children

Here is a lovely meditation practice for children, and points out that many adults like it too.

He calls it “four pebble meditation” and here’s how to do it -

First, select and collect four pebbles and keep them in small bag.

Select them so that each pebble reminds you, in turn, of a flower, a mountain, still water and space.

Take the first pebble, the 'flower' pebble, in your left hand, close your eyes and say “I see myself as a flower. I feel fresh.” Try to picture yourself as a flower in a warm breeze.

Repeat three times, then lay the pebble down.

Take the next pebble, the 'mountain' pebble, in your left hand and say “I see myself as a mountain. I feel solid” Picture yourself as a mountain, strong, and unmoveable.

Repeat three times, then lay the pebble down. Put this pebble aside.

Take the 'water' pebble in your left hand, saying “I see myself as still water. I reflect things as they truly are.” Picture yourself as a pool of fresh calm water reflecting the trees and flowers at your side.

Repeat three times, then lay the pebble down. Put this pebble aside.

Take the last pebble. The 'space' pebble and say “I see myself as space. I feel free.” Picture yourself as the vastness of space, quiet and enveloping, moving out beyond the troubles of the world and the restriction of gravity.
Repeat three times, then lay the pebble down.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Bullying: Pursuit of status and affection

Pursuit of status and affection drives bullies' behaviour ScienceBlog.com

Researchers questioned almost 500 elementary-school children ages 9 to 12. Based on their findings, they conclude that bullies generally choose to gain status by dominating their victims. But at the same time, they try to reduce the chances that they'll end up on the outs with other classmates by choosing as victims children who are weak and not well-liked by others. In short, even bullies care a lot about others' affection and don't want to lose it.

Gender also plays a role. For example, the study finds that at this age, bullies only care about not losing affection from classmates of their own gender. So when boys bully boys, it doesn't matter whether girls approve or disapprove. The same holds for girls. Moreover, boys will bully only those girls that aren't well liked by other boys, regardless of what girls think about it, and girls will do the same in their bullying of boys.

"To understand the complex nature of acceptance and rejection, it's necessary to distinguish the gender of the bully, the gender of the target, and the gender of the classmates who accept and reject bullies and victims," according to René Veenstra, professor of sociology at the University of Groningen, who led the study.

Child Development: Talk to your babies

Talk to your babies | ScienceBlog.com

Northwestern University researchers have found that even before infants begin to speak, words play an important role in their cognition. For 3-month-old infants, words influence performance in a cognitive task in a way that goes beyond the influence of other kinds of sounds, including musical tones.

The research by Alissa Ferry, Susan Hespos and Sandra Waxman in the psychology department in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, will appear in the March/April edition of the journal Child Development. In the study, infants who heard words provided evidence of categorization, while infants who heard tone sequences did not.

Three-month-old infants were shown a series of pictures of fish that were paired with words or beeps. Infants in the word group were told, for example, "Look at the toma!" ?-- a made-up word for fish, as they viewed each picture. Other infants heard a series of beeps carefully matched to the labeling phrases for tone and duration. Then infants were shown a picture of a new fish and a dinosaur side-by-side as the researchers measured how long they looked at each picture. If the infants formed the category, they would look longer at one picture than the other.

In brain-injured children, early gesturing predicts language delays

In brain-injured children, early gesturing predicts language delays | ScienceBlog.com

Researchers found that gesturing at 18 months (but not early speech) predicted which children with lesions had vocabulary delays a year later. The results suggest that gesture may be a tool for diagnosing persistent language delay in children with brain lesions.

These findings have both diagnostic and therapeutic implications, according to the authors of the study, Susan C. Levine, Stella M. Rowley Professor of Psychology, and Susan Goldin-Meadow, Beardsley Ruml Distinguished Service Professor, both in the Department of Psychology, Comparative Human Development, and the Committee on Education at the University of Chicago.

Notes Levine: "Gesture may be a promising diagnostic tool for identifying those children with pre- or perinatal brain lesions whose language delays are likely to persist at a time when they are saying very little. Early identification may be useful because intervention early in development may be critical to successful remediation of language delay."

Adds Goldin-Meadow: "The fact that gesture predicts later language delay raises the possibility that gesture itself may be an effective intervention??encouraging children with lesions to gesture in the first 18 months of life may improve their spoken vocabulary years later."

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Marketing materialism to the young is linked to self esteem

Peer pressure, targeted marketing campaigns and bad parenting have all been blamed for increasing materialism in children. Until now, there has been little evidence showing when this drive for material goods emerges in kids and what really causes it.

In one of the first studies to focus on the development of materialism among children, Deborah Roedder John, a professor of marketing at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, reveals that a young person’s level of materialism is directly connected to their self-esteem.

In her recent paper “Growing up in a Material World: Age Differences in Materialism in Children and Adolescents,” in the December 2007 issue of the Journal of Consumer Research, John and co-author Lan Nguyen Chaplin, assistant professor of marketing at the University of Illinois and Carlson alum, report the results of two studies conducted with children in three age groups.

In the first study, they found that materialism increases from middle childhood (8 and 9 years old) to early adolescence (12 and 13 years old) but then declines by the end of high school (16 to18 years old). This mirrors patterns in self-esteem, which instead decreases in early adolescence but increases in late adolescence.

“The level of materialism in teens is directly driven by self-esteem,” said John. “When self-esteem drops as children enter adolescence, materialism peaks. Then by late adolescence, when self-esteem rebounds, their materialism drops.”

In a second study, John and Chaplin boosted self-esteem by giving children positive information about peer acceptance. Children were given paper plates with positive descriptors about them, such as smart and fun, which were provided by their peers in a summer camp setting.

This seemingly small gesture drastically reduced the high levels of materialism found among 12 to 13 year-olds and the moderate levels of materialism found among 16 to 18 year-olds.

“Particularly relevant,” said John, “is the fact that by simply increasing self-esteem in teens, we see a decreased focus on material goods that parallels that of young children. While peers and marketing can certainly influence teens, materialism is directly connected to self-esteem.”

It is clear from this study that 'label' marketing is cynically aimed directly at the self-esteem of young children, teenagers and young adults.

For parents interested in instilling positive values in their children and teens, the message is clear: encouraging a sense of self-worth among young people can reduce the impact of cynical marketing and the emphasis on material goods.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Objective Software Review: Using a digital recorder with Dragon Naturally Speaking

Reviews: Using a digital recorder with Dragon Naturally Speaking Software

The not insignificant cost of purchasing the necessary software and hardware had delayed my “experiment” and although I had read and felt assured that speech recognition technology had improved vastly over the past few years since my earlier attempts, it did not always suit all users. I am also aware that my expressive writing style seems to “flow” from my typing rather than my speech.

I was assured that my computer was able to cope with the specifications demanded by Dragon Naturally Speaking and this was the first item to be installed, configured and used.

It was relatively easy to do, but I would recommend building into your financial plan a separate allowance for training. That way you can set up the software to your specific needs, learn to use the commands quickly and other useful tips and practices.

The alternative is to undertake a lenghty period of trial and error, without training. I do not recommend repeating the initial hit and miss practices of my early attempts.

Purchasing a good quality headphone set, is also strongly recommended.

NB: The Dyslexia Untied blogsite does not endorse products but provide this blog for information only. I hope it has been beneficial. Please leave me a comment.

Learning Difficulties - Robotic Teachers in the Class

An English-teaching robot stands in front of children at a primary school in Daejeon, South Korea

Picture: AFP/GETTY

Organise, Focus, Getting things Done

Organise, Focus, Getting things Done

Some self help tips for improving your organisational skills. Goog luck, I hope it helps!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Confidence Building in Dyslexic Children

The following exercise has a beneficial effect on children with low self esteem, and should be carried out by a parent, or a teacher, together with the child, on a one-to-one basis (never in a group).

Explain to the child what you are doing and that it is not a 'test', you are simply going to show them how clever they really are.

Take a sheet of paper and make two columns: in one column put ‘Things I am good at’ and in the other ‘Things that I am not so good at’

  • Things that I am good at
  • Things that I am not so good at

Take about five or ten minutes to discuss with the child all the things that the child is successful with and write them down on the paper.

These will include such skills as swimming, sports, caring for pets, making a collection, dancing, drama, singing, art, painting, drawing, and so on.

In the ‘Not so good’ column let the child tell you the things like spelling and writing that he really finds hard. The list will look something like this, depending of course on each child’s interests:

  • Things that I am good at
    • swimming
    • diving
    • looking after my pet
    • drawing
    • painting
    • collecting stamps
    • getting on well with other children
    • clearing the table
    • making people laugh
    • being friendly to grandparents
    • knowing about space, the planets and dinosaurs
    • etc.

  • Things that I am not so good at
    • spelling
    • reading
    • writing
    • arithmetic or maths

The evidence is staring the child in the face: there are far more things that he is good at than things he has difficulties with. He can’t possibly be stupid. He is clearly a successful person.

Clearly, there will be some resistance. He may say that the things he is weak at are the things that matter in life. If you can’t spell, how can you pass exams and get a job?

At this point you have to discuss and expand the argument with your child. Ask them; ‘What do you value in people – because they are good at spelling? Unlikely.

We value people for all sorts of qualities, especially their ability to be friendly, get on with you, consider your needs, think of other people before themselves and so on.

It’s up to you to keep the discussion going until the child can really begin to see himself in a new light. When they see themselves as a successful person who just happens to have been born with a small difference that sounds like a handicap.

Dyslexia is predominantly a difference in perception, similar to being colour-blind. It’s not something they have control over. It's definitely not their fault and it’s not because they don’t try hard enough, despite what many teachers may have told them.

Seeing themself in a new light can be a major turning point for the child, whatever their age and this new-born self-confidence can lay the foundation and an open-ness or willingness to adopt a new view on learning.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Brain waves and meditation

Brain waves and meditation

Forget about crystals and candles, and about sitting and breathing in awkward ways. Meditation research explores how the brain works when we refrain from concentration, rumination and intentional thinking. EEG, Electrical brain waves suggest that mental activity during meditation is wakeful and relaxed.

"Given the popularity and effectiveness of meditation as a means of alleviating stress and maintaining good health, there is a pressing need for a rigorous investigation of how it affects brain function," says Professor Jim Lagopoulos of Sydney University, Australia.

Lagopoulos is the principal investigator of a joint study between his university and researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) on changes in electrical brain activity during nondirective meditation.

Improve Your Memory - No Guarantees but it may help

If you’re looking for a way to increase the capacity of your memory or pass a test, you don’t need to memorise 23,000 words but the technique used to memorise large amounts of data can be used to memorise anything.

Below is the simpler version of a memory improvement system, developed to help pupils pass history, psychology, and other information-heavy tests.

  • First, use a pencil (or word processor, it’s faster) to type in complete sentences, any fact you think might appear on the test.
  • Use short sentences because they’re easier to remember.
  • Take your printed notes into a quiet room, shut the door, and eliminate all distractions.
  • Look at the first sentence in your notes and read it out loud. Then, close your eyes and say the sentence without looking at it.
  • Repeat the step above, this time with the first 2 sentences.
  • Next, try it with 3 sentences. Then 4. Repeat until you have memorised every sentence in your notes.

After a study session, take a quick nap. New memories are very vulnerable, but studies have shown that sleep helps your new memories stick. After your nap, repeat the memory technique once more for maximum retention.

The person who provided this system became so good at the technique that they could complete all studying for any 'information heavy' mid-term or final exam, in less than 6 hours.

Whatever you do, do not ignore all your classes until the last minute, but it’s good to know there is a way to save yourself if you do.

Does it Really Work?
This memory technique isn’t the newest, the prettiest, or the most interesting technique on the market but it should worked for most people, even people who claim to have the “worst memory in the world.”

Dyscalculia: Defined by the National Center for Learning Disabilities

What is dyscalculia?
Dyscalculia is a term referring to a wide range of life-long learning disabilities involving the manipulation of numbers, arithemtic and maths.

There is no single form of maths disability, and difficulties vary from person to person. It affects people differently, both in school and throughout life.

What are the effects of dyscalculia?
Since disabilities involving maths can be so different, the effects they have on a person's development can be just as different e.g. a person who has trouble processing language will face different challenges in maths than a person who has difficulty with visual - spatial relationships.

Another person with trouble remembering facts and keeping a sequence of steps in order, will have yet a different set of maths-related challenges to overcome.

Early childhood
Clearly, building a solid foundation in maths involves many different skills. Young children with learning disabilities can have difficulty with;

  • learning the meaning of numbers (number sense),
  • trouble with tasks like sorting objects by shape, size or color;
  • recognising groups and patterns;
  • comparing and contrasting using concepts like smaller/bigger or taller/shorter.

Learning to count, recognising numbers and matching numbers with amounts can also be difficult for these children.

School-age children
As maths learning continues, school-age children with language processing disabilities may have difficulty solving basic number problems using addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.

They struggle to remember and retain basic mathematical facts (i.e. times tables), and have trouble figuring out how to apply their knowledge and skills to solve number problems.

Difficulties may also arise because of weakness in visual-spatial skills, where a person may understand the needed mathematical facts, but have difficulty putting them down on paper in an organised way.

Visual-spatial difficulties can also be challenging, when trying to understand what is written on a board or in a textbook.

Teenagers & adults
If basic mathematical facts are not mastered, many teenagers and adults with dyscalculia may have difficulty moving on to more advanced math applications. Language processing disabilities can make it hard for a person to get a grasp of the vocabulary of math. Without the proper vocabulary and a clear understanding of what the words represent, it is difficult to build on math knowledge.

Success in more advanced math procedures requires that a person be able to follow multi-step procedures. For individuals with learning disabilities, it may be hard to visualize patterns, different parts of a math problem or identify critical information needed to solve equations and more complex problems.

What are the warning signs?
Since math disabilities are varied, the signs that a person may have a difficulty in this area can be just as varied. However, having difficulty learning math skills does not necessarily mean a person has a learning disability. All students learn at different paces, and particularly among young people, it takes time and practice for formal math procedures to make practical sense.

If a person has trouble in any of the areas below, additional help may be beneficial.

  • Good at speaking, reading, and writing, but slow to develop counting and math problem-solving skills
  • Good memory for printed words, but difficulty reading numbers, or recalling numbers in sequence
  • Good with general math concepts, but frustrated when specific computation and organisation skills need to be used
  • Trouble with the concept of time-chronically late, difficulty remembering schedules, trouble with approximating how long something will take
  • Poor sense of direction, easily disoriented and easily confused by changes in routine
    Poor long term memory of concepts-can do math functions one day, but is unable to repeat them the next day
  • Poor mental math ability-trouble estimating grocery costs or counting days until vacation
  • Difficulty playing strategy games like chess, bridge or role-playing video games
  • Difficulty keeping score when playing board and card games.

How is dyscalculia identified?
When a teacher or trained professional evaluates a student for learning disabilities in math, the student is interviewed about a full range of math-related skills and behaviours. Pencil and paper math tests are often used, but a real evaluation needs to accomplish more.

An evaluation needs to reveal how a person understands and uses numbers and maths concepts, to solve advanced-level, as well as everyday, problems.

The evaluation compares a person's expected and actual levels of skill and understanding while noting the person's specific strengths and weaknesses. Below are some of the areas that may be addressed:

  • Ability with basic math skills like counting, adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing
  • Ability to predict appropriate procedures based on understanding patterns - knowing when to add, subtract, multiply, divide or do more advanced computations
  • Ability to organize objects in a logical way
  • Ability to measure-telling time, using money
  • Ability to estimate number quantities
  • Ability to self-check work and find alternate ways to solve problems.

Treating dyscalculia
Helping a student identify his/her strengths and weaknesses is the first step to getting help. Following identification, parents, teachers and other educators can work together to establish strategies that will help the student learn math more effectively.

Help outside the classroom lets a student and tutor focus specifically on the difficulties that student is having, taking pressure off moving to new topics too quickly. Repeated reinforcement and specific practice of straightforward ideas can make understanding easier.

Other strategies for inside and outside the classroom include:

  • Use graph paper for students who have difficulty organising ideas on paper.
  • Work on finding different ways to approach mathematical facts; i.e., instead of just memorising the multiplication tables, explain that 8 x 2 = 16, so if 16 is doubled, 8 x 4 must = 32. Put them in a number triangle.
  • Practice estimating as a way to begin solving math problems.
  • Introduce new skills beginning with concrete examples and later moving to more abstract applications.
  • For language difficulties, explain ideas and problems clearly. Encourage students to talk about their difficulties and ask questions as they work.
  • Provide a place to work with few distractions and have pencils, erasers and other tools on hand as needed.
  • Help students become aware of their strengths and weaknesses. Understanding how a person learns best is a big step in achieving academic success and confidence.

A pioneering new way to face up to dyslexia - Times Online

A pioneering new way to face up to dyslexia - A.A. Gill - Times Online

A.A. Gill is a professional writer and author of high repute. In this insightful article he expresses his feelings and experiences around his dawning realisation of dyslexia and how he lives with this condition. He describes himself as;

A dyslexic who writes a lot — 1,500 words, give or take, a day. And if I let the spellchecker get its bureaucratic little pince-nez within squinting distance of any of them, it would say 1,000 are spelt wrongly.

I am a grammar cripple, a functioning illiterate. Literally. I write for a living and, like blind mountaineers and limbless golfers, I am a straw to be clutched at by these quietly desperate and bravely determined people whose lives and dreams for their children have been overwhelmed by 26 characters in search of an orthodoxy.

I have taken several extracts from the article to illustrate his depth of feelings on the subject and his concern for parents and children alike. Those who suffer criticism, exclusion and isolation because of the ignorance of others.

He describes a local meeting of the dyslexia group;

The parents, mostly mothers, their faces taut with worry and incomprehension, listen intently. One or two have brought their children, who sit with their heads down, drawing, trying to be invisible. I’m with them.

The outcome of this meeting, like so many others, is disappointing from the parents' viewpoint and consequently, for the children with dyslexia.

After too long, the meeting closes. It has answered all the questions with more questions. Doors have opened to reveal corridors filled with more doors.

It has helped only to concern the concerned, whose anxieties mostly revolve around statements.

Children with learning difficulties need to be statemented — that is, given a series of tests by a professional that take a long time and are, if not arbitrary, then not altogether precise, a bit like a Cosmo quiz for the semiliterate.

They are useful, and they are craved by the parents of children who are failing.

He brings to life the growing panic and exclusion that comes from dyslexia and other learning difficulties. Although confident in his adult life, in the face of an enthusiastic teacher, he finds himself falling back into his fearful past;

I can feel myself regressing, the panic begins to constrict my chest. I can’t follow what Mr Taylor is saying. I don’t understand.

Millie (a young pupil) leans across and helps me, not as a politeness to a grown-up who’s older than her dad, but with the fellowship of the impaired; another word-blind, number-paralysed school sufferer.

It all rushes back over me: everything falling off my brain, like hearing through double glazing, the fog of incomprehension, the panic of being left behind.

I’d completely forgotten the loneliness of classrooms where it all makes sense to everyone else. I look down at the page and my handwriting belongs to a child. I get it all wrong. “Never mind,” says Millie. No, never mind.

This is the most salutary of lessons. I had utterly buried this feeling, until now: being here in this place.

His opportunity to evangelise to a young audience is full of humour and human feelings of doubt, self awareness and passionate belief. It's his passion and belief that come through in his writings.

I stood in front of this sea of blameless little faces, knowing that behind each of them there was already a room full of low esteem, full of catalogues of failure, a great weight of parental concern, and I wondered again at the horrible obstacle course we make of other people’s childhoods after we’ve f***ed up our own.

And I caught sight of Zinzan, and I felt the anger, the hot fury for the wasted, tearful, silently worried, failed years of school, and I had a Spartacus moment. I started talking, rather too loudly.

I told them this was their language, this English, this most marvellous and expressive cloak of meaning and imagination. This great, exclamatory, illuminating song, it belonged to anyone who found it in their mouths.

There was no wrong way to say it, or write it, the language couldn’t be compelled or herded, it couldn’t be tonsured or pruned, pollarded or plaited, it was as hard as oaths and as subtle as rhyme.

It couldn’t be forced or bullied or policed by academics; it wasn’t owned by those with flat accents; nobody had the right to tell them how to use it or what to say.

There are no rules and nobody speaks incorrectly, because there is no correctly: no high court of syntax.

And while everyone can speak with the language, nobody speaks for the language. Not grammars, not dictionaries. They just run along behind, picking up discarded usages. This English doesn’t belong to examiners or teachers.

All of you already own the greatest gift, the highest degree this country can bestow. It’s on the tip of your tongue.

And then I caught sight of myself, standing like a declamatory ticktack man, bellowing like a costermonger, and I stopped and stared at the faces staring at me with expressions of utter, dyslexic incomprehension.

From the back of the room, a teacher coughed.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Temper Dysregulation Syndrome - TDD

So what is TDD?

Here is the proposed criteria for TDD:

A. The disorder is characterised by severe recurrent temper outbursts in response to common stressors.

  • The temper outbursts are manifest verbally and/or behaviourally, such as in the form of verbal rages, or physical aggression towards people or property.
  • The reaction is grossly out of proportion in intensity or duration to the situation or provocation.
  • The responses are inconsistent with developmental level.

B. Frequency: The temper outbursts occur, on average, three or more times per week.

C. Mood between temper outbursts:

  • Nearly every day, the mood between temper outbursts is persistently negative (irritable, angry, and/or sad).
  • The negative mood is observable by others (e.g., parents, teachers, peers).
D. Duration: Criteria A-C have been present for at least 12 months. Throughout that time, the person has never been without the symptoms of Criteria A-C for more than 3 months at a time.

E. The temper outbursts and/or negative mood are present in at least two settings (at home, at school, or with peers) and must be severe in at least in one setting.

F. Chronological age is at least 6 years (or equivalent developmental level).

G. The onset is before age 10 years.

H. In the past year, there has never been a distinct period lasting more than one day during which abnormally elevated or expansive mood was present most of the day for most days.

Also the abnormally elevated or expansive mood was accompanied by the onset, or worsening, of three of the “B” criteria of mania

  • grandiosity or inflated self esteem,
  • decreased need for sleep,
  • pressured speech,
  • flight of ideas,
  • distractibility,
  • increase in goal directed activity, or
  • excessive involvement in activities with a high potential for painful consequences.

Abnormally elevated mood should be differentiated from developmentally appropriate mood elevation, such as occurs in the context of a highly positive event or its anticipation.

I. The behaviours do not occur exclusively during the course of a Psychotic or Mood Disorder

  • Major Depressive Disorder,
  • Dysthymic Disorder,
  • Bipolar Disorder or
  • Other - they are not better accounted for by another mental disorder e.g., Pervasive Developmental Disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, separation anxiety disorder.

NB: This diagnosis can co-exist with Oppositional Defiant Disorder, ADHD, Conduct Disorder, and Substance Use Disorders.

The symptoms are not due to the direct physiological effects of a drug of abuse, or to a general medical or neurological condition

Bipolar diagnosis in children may do more harm than good

Troubled children diagnosed with bipolar disorder may see more improvement with a different diagnosis, according to researchers at The Hastings Center.

The researchers support an emerging approach, which gives many of those children a new diagnosis called Severe Mood Dysregulation (SMD) or Temper Dysregulation Disorder with Dysphoria (TDD).

The findings come soon after proposed revisions to the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) were opened to public comment.

In a paper published in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health, Erik Parens and Josephine Johnston examine the evolution of the diagnosis of bipolar disorder in children and its dramatic increase since the mid 1990s, after the criteria for diagnosis broadened.

They emphasize that there is vigorous debate in pediatric psychiatry about whether symptoms in children accurately reflect the criteria for bipolar disorder, particularly for mania.

The increase in cases has led to concerns about accurately defining psychiatric disorders in children as well as the safety and efficacy of resulting pharmacological treatment.

It is difficult to diagnose psychiatric disorders in children, Parens and Johnston write, and many children receiving bipolar diagnoses exhibit behaviors that do not closely fit the disease's criteria.

"Using new labels such as SMD or TDD reflects that physicians do not yet know exactly what is wrong with these children or how to treat it," said Johnston. "Facing up to this uncertainty could lead to better treatment recommendations and more accurate long-term prognosis." A new diagnostic category would also help reframe the research agenda.

Their findings come from an interdisciplinary series of workshops funded by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health. Participants included psychiatrists, pediatricians, educators, bioethicists, parents, and social scientists. Erik Parens is a senior research scholar and Josephine Johnston a research scholar at The Hastings Center, a bioethics research institution.

Among the workshop conclusions:

  • The bipolar label may fit poorly many of the children who have received it over the last decade.
  • There is debate about what children's symptoms represent. For example, what is characterised as mania in children is very different from its features in adults. Mania is a hallmark feature of bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic-depressive disorder.
  • The bipolar label, which has a strong genetic component, can distract from addressing the family or social context.
  • Physicians must be forthcoming with families about uncertainties and complexities in the diagnosis and treatment of bipolar disorder in children.
  • Current training practices and reimbursement policies may leave some psychiatrists and pediatricians unable to deliver the comprehensive care that these children need.

The authors also note that, while experts sometimes disagree about labels, the workshop group universally agreed that "children and families can suffer terribly as a result of serious disturbances in children's moods and behaviours," and that these troubled children desperately need help.

They also write, "It is a deeply regrettable feature of our current mental health and educational systems that some DSM diagnoses are better than others at getting children and families access to needed care and services."

The Hastings Center is a nonpartisan bioethics research institution dedicated to bioethics and the public interest since 1969. The Center is a pioneer in collaborative interdisciplinary research and dialogue on the ethical and social impact of advances in health care and the life sciences.

The Center draws on a worldwide network of experts to frame and examine issues that inform professional practice, public conversation, and social policy. Learn more about The Hastings Center at: www.thehastingscenter.org

To read the full paper, click on this link

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Medialexie: Computer Tools to Overcome Reading Difficulties?

Medialexie is another computer software and hardware company that provides tools for people with reading difficulties and not only dyslexia, but a range of other conditions.

From their website, they state that;
Medialexie has acquired an incontestable reputation for quality, reactivity and competence in France and abroad. Medialexie offers an efficient solution to the problems met by people touched by dyslexia, dypraxia, dysgraphia, dysorthography or confronted with difficulties in written or oral communication.

Medialexie has conceived a computor software that functions on a PC. The software comes with an ensemble of equipment (headset, scanner, etc.) and associated services (training in its use, technical support, personalised follow-up, user community, etc.).

The company offers their product information in 3 languages; English (US), French (Canada) and German (Swiss). The many website is in French bit do not be alarmed, simply click on the US flag to change that to English.

NB: We have no connection with this company and have no reason to think that they do not do what they say. Just to let you know that we do not endorse products in any way.

However, we would very much like to hear from anyone who has used these products, to get your valuable feedback on them. Please get in touch with us if you have used their products and found them beneficial or not. Thank you!

Does Captura Talk Software Help with Dyslexia and Reading Difficulties?

Is Captura Talk software a revolutionary way to Access Text as claimed by it's proud developers.

Does it have the power to help people who struggle to read text, by enabling them to have text read to them on their iPhones or other Windows Mobile Phone?

I am asking for your help and feedback to try this product and to let me know the benefits and the draw backs. Will you help?

Their website says that it is ideal for people who require literacy support for disabilities such as dyslexia, or for those learning English as a second language.

Capture Text
Also, users can capture text from books, signs, leaflets etc using the camera on the phone and CapturaTalk will recognise the text, using optical character recognition (ocr), and read it back using high-quality text-to-speech voices.

Alternatively Captura Talk can be used to read documents on the phone itself, such as e-mails, Pocket Word, Internet Explorer and, now for version 3, Adobe PDF files.

Dictionary included
Captura Talk highlights words as it reads them, which they claim, has been shown to help reinforce word recognition. Users can also use the software as a dictionary and spell-checker, by selecting a word and having Captura Talk read the explanation from the stored Oxford English dictionary.

Captura's website claims the 'People don't just need assistive technology when they are sat at a computer. CapturaTalk gives users the ability to access text instantly, wherever they are and with complete discretion, as it can be used with headphones.'

Demo Available
Captura offer a Demo and a 30 day free trial and I suggest you use those to determine whether this software is beneficial for you or your family. Having tested it I would be very keen to hear back from you about your feelings on this product.

It comes in 3 languages; English, Swedish and Danish. You can got to the Captura website by clicking here and you can download the free trial here.

The download is 30MB and may cost you phone charges depending on your connection package.

Just to be clear, this blog and myself do not endorse or guarantee this product in any way, and have no affiliations with it.

We are simply interested to know how effective it is in helping reading difficulties and dyslexia. For that we need your help. Please provide comments. Thank you!

Improving Motor Skills: Helping Kids Take Care of Their Healthy Smiles

Sometims children with reduced motor skills struggle a little more with daily activities. Fine motor issues can get in the way of easily accomplishing basic tasks, like dressing, bathing and brushing teeth.

Physical and occupational therapies are a big help when it comes to helping children with these problems. They can also learn how to accomplish some of the harder tasks, like buttons, catches and zippers. Sometimes these therapies also help children become more independent or consistent with their personal hygiene.

Is Brushing Teeth the Exception?

Brushing teeth involves a lot of motor skills. Children need to have good proprioceptive awareness, meaning they need to know where their bodies are in space, in order to comfortably aim the toothbrush into the mouth.

It also involves a skill called “ crossing the midline,” meaning kids need to be able to comfortably and confidently reach a hand from one side of the body to the other and use brush with accuracy.

Because of the difficulty in brushing, parents of children with motor skills deficits often end up brushing their childrens’ teeth for them, and for much longer than they might for other children.

Reading Difficulties: Ways to calm a struggling reader

How to calm a struggling reader requires the tutor to know what is currently causing or aggravating the problem; this allows the tutor to tailor interventions, such as the strategies below, to the struggling reader’s needs.

Although the strategies below are directed to the tutor, teachers and parents might also benefit from understanding them:

1.Use Proper Materials. Especially during the first few months of tutoring, make sure that the material is easy for him. Make sure that after this period,
  • When you increase the difficulty of the materials he’s about to read, you give him materials at his proper reading instructional level; before instruction, he should be able to quickly recognize 95% or more of the words in what he’s about to read and understand 70% or more of the material.
  • When he’s about to read independently, you’re sure he can recognize 99% of the words and understand 90% of the material.
2.Remove Threats by Stressing Fun. Remove the threats inherent in tutoring. Do this by building lots of fun into tutoring. Fun means the struggling reader likes it and looks forward to it.

This may require playing Monopoly for the first few sessions or, if he likes basketball, just “shooting hoops.” When you do this, you’re not wasting time; instead, you’re building a positive relationship—one in which he feels safe, comfortable, and respected—and anticipates good things.

As time passes and he’s obviously feeling comfortable, gradually add reading instruction that’s designed to foster success and the anticipation of success.

You might begin by reading aloud to him, but reading only materials in which he’s interested, such as Pokémon comics. You might also motivate him by having him choose what to read, from materials that will interest him and that are at his proper instructional and independent levels. This means, start where he is comfortable.

3.Explore Relaxation Training. If the struggling reader is getting help from a qualified mental health specialist, such as a psychologist, psychiatrist, or Licensed Clinical Social Worker, thoroughly discuss with this person and with the child’s parents the possibility of teaching the child simple relaxation strategies, such as diaphragmatic breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or visual imagery.

Relaxation training refers to a promising set of simple practices that lower anxiety, and, as a side benefit, have helped some children strengthen their reading, improve their attention and their behavior.

To learn more about relaxation training, visit our website (www.reading2008.com) and download the free article, Self‑induced relaxation: A practical strategy to improve self‑concepts, reduce anxiety and prevent behavioral problems.

4.Systematically Strengthen the Struggling Reader’s Self-Efficacy. Self-efficacy is the child’s belief that he can succeed on a task. Add to this definition, if he makes a moderate effort. Self-efficacy is critical to motivation. After all, if a child thinks he’ll fail, no matter his effort, he’s unlikely to try, he’s likely to resist. He’ll think: Why try, I'll just fail? Why prove to everyone I’m dumb? Why embarrass myself?

If his self-efficacy for reading is weak—as it is with many struggling readers—you have to help him strengthen it. To do so, you need to stress the four sources of self-efficacy: (a) mastery experiences, (b) vicarious experiences, (c) verbal persuasion, and (d) physiological and emotional arousal.

5.Weave Aerobic Exercise and Music into Your Tutoring Sessions. To improve the struggling reader’s mood, you may want to start your sessions with music that will help him feel positive about the upcoming lesson:

  • Music seems to offer a novel system of communication rooted in emotions rather than in meaning.
  • Music reliably conveys certain sentiments.
  • We may never know why music exists but even amid uncertainty about music’s origins, we can still use songs to pump ourselves up or calm ourselves down, ease pain and anxiety, bond with others or simply move people to tears. (Schrock, 2009)

You might also provide short sessions of aerobic exercise throughout the tutoring session. Why? Because aerobic exercise can improve both a child’s mood and his cognitive functioning. So, you might encourage him to exercise three minutes here, two there:

We learn more effectively when we are physically active. (Siegel, 2010, p. 84)

Critical Questions
Clearly, we’ve listed only a few ways to improve the struggling reader’s readiness for learning, including his confidence, motivation, and behavior. Other ways include counseling, music therapy (see http://www.reading2008.com/blog/?s=pellitteri), and applied behavior analysis. Generally, it’s best to match the intervention to the current causes of the difficulty, which can take considerable time and expertise.

In the meantime, build your lessons around these five questions;
  • Does the struggling reader think the lesson will be fun?
  • Does he think the materials and the activities will be interesting or important?
  • Does he think he will succeed if he makes a moderate effort?
  • Does he think his success will help him achieve goals that are important to him, that will get him what he wants?
  • What can you say and do to strengthen his self-efficacy, his confidence that he will succeed?
Also examine other parts of his day. Ask:
  • Throughout the day, are his teachers giving him materials and activities at his proper instructional and independent levels, including homework?
  • Throughout the day, is he getting sufficient social and emotional support, so that he feels psychologically and physically secure?
  • Is he getting enough sleep? Is it quality sleep?
  • Is his diet likely to support learning?
  • Throughout the day, is he getting enough exercise?

Therapeutic Games and Music for Auditory Hypersensitive and ADHD Children

Therapeutic games and music for auditory hypersensitive, autistic, downs syndrome, pdd and add children.

Lecture delivered to the World Organization Meeting of the
Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential. May 1994, by
William P. Mueller Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors

Transient Electronic Auditory Stimulation

The Institutes have known for forty years that certain brain-injuries cause hyperactive auditory sensitivity.

In the past twenty years others have also begun to study this problem. I first beame aware of that condition when I met David, an eight year old brain-injured child at The Institutes who had this problem.

He screamed at the slightest noise. In fact, he screamed eight hours a day. His parents whispered all day to keep from setting him off.

When they arrived at The Institutes he was given the auditory stimulation program as part of his overall program. His parents were instructed to bang pots and pans randomly around the house!

David's mother told me she laughed all the way home after that initial visit. However, they did The Institute's auditory stimulation program and within two weeks David was no longer hypersensitive to sound.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Magical Motivation for Manual Dexterity and Dyspraxia

It's often hard to motivate youngsters to exercise, especially if they have dyspraxia or more serious physical disabilities.

A new approach from a Tel Aviv University researcher is working to bridge the worlds of behaviour and science to help kids with dyspraxia and motor dysfunction conditions.

The research team are working to improve the physical skills and inner confidence of youngsters by using a trick they like to keep up her sleeve. It's called "magic" or more accurately, conjuring tricks.

Dr Dido Green of Tel Aviv University's School of Health Professionals developed an innovative yet remarkably simple series of therapeutic exercises for children and young adults based on sleight-of-hand tricks used by professional magicians.

Dr. Green and her magicians used sponge balls, elastics and paper clips to teach the children how to perform challenging, fun and engaging exercises.

Making physical therapy fun
"Children with dyspraxia, or more serious motor disorders like hemiplegia, perform routine exercises with their hands and wrists to be able to carry out basic functions such as opening a door, doing up their zipper, or closing buttons," explains Dr. Green.

She is an occupational therapist with a masters degree in clinical neuroscience and a Ph.D. in psychomotor development of children. "Not only did the kids get a kick out of the magic tricks, they loved doing the exercises every day."

Magic Camps
Dr. Green hopes to create summer "magic camps" for disabled children in both the U.K. and Israel, and will further investigate the benefits of magic for improving motor development skills in children with more severe disabilities.

Her initial research, now in the process of publication looked at a sample of nine children. "We had a hunch that learning magic tricks could do wonders for kids' movement problems, but we wanted to see if the kids would actually practice them," says Dr. Green.

She needn't have worried. It was a big success!

The children practiced ten minutes a day over four to six weeks, resulting in a significant and measurable change in their motor skills. "It was a big enough effect to make us want to develop further the concept of using magic or conjuring tricks to improve motor learning," says Dr. Green.

Further research
American Friends of Tel Aviv University (www.aftau.org) supports Israel's leading and most comprehensive center of higher learning. In independent rankings, TAU's innovations and discoveries are cited more often by the global scientific community than all but 20 other universities worldwide

A Personal YouTube Video: i am dyslexic

ok this has taken a lot of curage to uplod i cept puting it of however i got another comment on my aporling spelling so i thort that i need to explain, not for simpethy but for understanding and to spred the nowlage of the dificultys faced by many people who are dyslexic.

i was diagnosed as being saverly dysleixc at the age of 8 and had a re diagnose last summer that comfermed that i am still savialy dysleic, the saverity of someones dysleixa is not yust a test to see how well someone can reed or spell it is a test to mesher up someones inteligence agast a persons reading, spelling and short term memary, so if someone had aporling spelling, reeding and sort tearm memary but the IQ was above average then they are the ones with siverar dyslexia, inother words we are not thik!!! thanks for woching and spred the word dyseliax deosn't = stupidaty!!!


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Dyslexia: Ideas for Developing Vocabulary At Home

Apparently there is a strong correlation between the size of a child’s vocabulary and his reading ability.

It is also said that one of the best predictors of success in reading is the quantity of words children know. While there is a correlation between words known and reading ability, and good reading comprehension requires a good vocabulary, a good vocabulary does not guarantee good reading comprehension.

This means that just because you improve your child's vocabulary, it does not mean that they will automatically comprehend what they read. Unfortunately, reading comprehension and interpretation requires more than that. It requires the ability to relate and connect with the ideas presented. Simply knowing the meaning of the individual words is not enough.

However, the value of a good vocabulary at any age cannot be ignored or underestimated. Later in life, personal impressions in social and business situations can often be influenced by vocabulary knowledge.

The following are ideas that parents can use to develop their child’s vocabulary.
  • Plan Ahead. Plan to include new vocabulary words that you can easily introduce into conversations with your child. Some topics discussed are predictable and recur on a regular basis, from day to day or week to week. Other discussions are less predictable.
  • For topics that you discuss on a regular basis (your child visiting his friends, dinner preparation), think of different words for stating your message.
  • If you’re about to discuss reasons people shouldn’tt be late for appointments, consider using “tardy” instead of “late.” Let’s say you’re going to speak to your child about a family automobile trip to a nearby town she’s visited often.
  • Think of new words to describe what you know she’ll see. You might use “edifice” to describe a large building, “pasture” a “field,” “facade” the front of a building.
  • Use Repetition and Replacement. Repeatedly hearing the same new words is essential for vocabulary growth. A new word, once learned, should not be allowed to be forgotten like an old toy. As a parent, you should model its use whenever possible so that your child knows the word is part of the family’s language. For example, instead of saying “automobile,” often say “vehicle.” The more you use “vehicle,” the greater the likelihood your child will learn it and use it.
  • Discuss Words. New words are best learned when they’re connected to known words. Have a family discussion (during dinner perhaps) about words with the same word part. For example, “astronaut” can easily be related to “astronomy,” “astrology,” “astronomical,” astronomer,” and even the “Houston Astros” baseball team. They all have “astro” in common. “Aquifer” can be related to “aquarium,” “aqueduct” and “aquatic.”
  • Word discussion is also important because it encourages children’s interest in the history or etymology of words. Your child will start to make connection between words that have common parts. Soon, on his own, he may see and learn the common parts of words, such as “bio” (life) and “logy” (study of the field of) in biology. He might use this knowledge to figure out the meaning of “biology” on his own.
  • Give Positive Feedback. Complimenting your child for using a new word is essential for the continued growth of vocabulary. Your feedback should focus on your child’s success, not on pleasing you. Thus, it’s better for you to say “You should be proud of yourself for using ‘establish’” than to say “I’m proud of you for using ‘establish.’” When I taught elementary school, I complimented my students profusely when they used “recently taught vocabulary.” Before I knew it, they were incorporating recently taught vocabulary words into class discussions. And much to my pleasure, I often heard them use those words in the lunchroom.
  • Encourage Reading. One of the most successful ways for children to increase their vocabulary is to read, read, read. The more your child reads, the more likely she’ll see new words. When she asks you about the meaning of a new word, encourage her to figure out the meaning herself. Say, “What do you think it means?” Don’t automatically send her to the dictionary. In some situations, the dictionary can help. However, finding a word in a dictionary does not always help children understand how it’s used in a story. By trying to figure out the meaning of a word—without a dictionary—you encourage your child to think. As a result, she’ll remember the word better.

As you nurture your child’s vocabulary, you should also augment your vocabulary because vocabulary development is never complete.

Development can, should, and needs to continue throughout your life and as you show your child that you’re working to learn new words, you give him a wonderful gift: an excellent model for lifelong learning.

Dogs And 2-Year-Olds Share A Limited Ability To Understand Adult Pointing Gestures

Does your dog or your toddlers get the point?

When humans started to domesticate dogs, the animals became predisposed to read human behaviour and their diverse communication signals, including pointing, head turning and gazing.

Talking Dogs
Some would go as far as to say that they understand ever word they say but that's not the case. They are simply very good at reading the tone of your voice and your body language.

Furthermore, the dogs' home is often shared by babies, toddlers and small humans. So, the question is, are there similarities in the social stimulation and understanding of both young children and dogs.

Dogs and Toddlers
The researchers carried out two studies in which they compared the performance of adult dogs and 2- and 3-year-old toddlers, this is the period of human development during which children and dogs respond in similar ways.

They investigated whether dogs and toddlers are able to understand the difference between familiar pointing gestures and unfamiliar ones. Also, whether they understood that the unfamiliar pointing actions were actually directional signals.

Places everyone
A total of fifteen dogs, thirteen 2-year-olds and eleven 3-year-old children took part in the two studies.

First Study
In the first study, the researchers used a combination of finger and elbow pointing gestures to help dogs locate hidden food and children a favourite toy.

In Silhouette
They found that dogs focused on, and choose a direction for the reward, based on a protruding body part. The part selected by the dog was seen as protruding from the adult's silhouette, and the dogs did this even when the index finger was pointing in a different direction.

The Toddlers' Turn
Similar to the dogs, the 2-year-olds did not understand the significance of the pointing index finger, when it did not protrude from the adult's silhouette. In each of these cases, the elbow was protruded in the opposite direction.

In contrast, the 3-year-olds focussed on the adults' finger pointing and responded successfully to all gestures made by the adults.

The Second Study
In the second study, the researchers used unfamiliar pointing gestures with a combination of finger, leg and knee pointing. All children and the dogs understood the leg-pointing gestures but only 3-year-olds successfully responded to pointing with the knee.

The authors conclude that protruding body parts provide the main cue for deducing direction for 2-year-old children and dogs. Clearly, by the age of 3 the child is more developed, is not focusing on the adult's silhouette and responds more appropriately to the pointing gestures.

The similar performance of the dogs and 2 year-olds can be explained by near parallels in their evolutionary history and their introduction and socialisation into an adult human environment.

Parenting Skills: Trust Issues in Children

Researchers examining 'trust' issues in children conducted a study whereby children were shown a video of a ficticious game called 'daxing'. In the video shown to the children, either a boy or a man argued over the correct way to 'dax'.

The child was then asked to play the game 'dax', and the method they chose to use was recorded. Children were also shown a puppet, who interjected and said it was his time to 'dax'.

The Puppet's role
I find the inclusion of a puppet very interesting in this study. I believe that the puppet here represented a non-threatening neutral or objective character, neither adult nor peer and therefore exerted little or no social pressure on the child.

It had no established role, except that of an object that had a social status equal to, or lower than the child and therefore, can easily be addressed and controlled by the child. Perhaps moreso than his peers, perhaps not, but I digress.

To return to the study, the puppet performed 'daxing' either in the way the boy in the film or the man in the film did it, and the children's reactions were recorded.


The researchers found that the children imitated the adult's method of 'daxing' significantly more often than they imitated the boy's method.

Children were also more likely to intervene when the puppet performed 'daxing' using the boy's method, protesting that the puppet was 'daxing' wrongly.

Lessons Learned

The results from the study suggest that children prefer to learn from adults rather than other children when it comes to rule-governed activities like learning a new game.

They also expect other people (the puppet) to learn and perform actions in the way that the adults have defined. This is demonstrated by the expectation that the puppet would also follow the adult's actions and not the boy's and consequent protests if it did not.

Social Norms

These findings tell us many things. Firstly, that young children will more readily accept adult's instructions and behaviour as being right, in normal circumstances and that adults' behaviour should be copied and followed or repeated, accordingly. Certainly, if the other choice is to listen to or comply with their peers or, heaven forbid, a puppet (other people).

This has wide spread implications for social learning of both good, bad and corrective guidance and behaviour in children and adults, especially for parents. The basic expectations of the children are that their parents are the leaders, good role models and positive examples to be trusted, obeyed and followed.

For more information on the study click on the link to the British Psychological Society (BPS)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Sleep Deficit and ADHD, which came first?

Researchers have long since found that children with ADHD demonstrate significantly more difficulty sleeping at night than their undiagnosed peers.

Unfortunately, too many psychiatrists have overlooked sleep disturbances as a possible cause of the ADD/ADHD because previous studies on the subject provided mixed evidence.

Recent finding that children with ADD/ADHD do have more sleep disturbances, however, means that future studies are needed and should be aimed at the possibility of separating the causes, from the condition.

This would mean that the treatment and reduction of sleep disturbances and poor sleep behaviour, may improve daytime ADHD symptoms.

Parents and guardians know that children with ADD/ADHD demonstrate more bedtime resistance, e.g. refusing to get ready for bed, refusing to remain in their own bed, difficulty with falling asleep, restless and disturbed sleep, etc.

ADHD children are also more likely to have other sleep orientated or sleep disordered symptoms e.g. snoring, long pauses in breathing, sleep apnea, etc. This has the added issue of the children not being able to wake properly, or on time.

We all know the detrimental effects of not sleeping well and not feeling refreshed from a night spent sleeping. We feel grouchy, are more clumsy and later in the day we will experience increased daytime sleepiness and be looking for a catch-up nap.

Resolving Sleep Disorders
Children with ADD/ADHD are reported to take longer to transition from full wakefulness, through sleepiness to finally falling asleep, as well as experiencing more shallow breathing and a lower respiratory rate while sleeping.

We learn good bedtime routines from our parents and family. Good sleep behaviour is a learned experience and it needs to be taught to modern children, living in a 24 hour always-on society.

We need to teach them how to withdraw at the right time, how to relax and calm the senses before preparing for bed. The bedroom is a place for sleeping, so no TV, no computer games or other stimulating activities. It should be warm, not hot. A safe, secure place to fall comfortably asleep.

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Sleep problems with ADHD children can be addressed separately from their other ADHD symptoms and once this hurdle is overcome it will have a calming effect on the child and a beneficial effect on their behaviour generally.

The skills learned in treating sleep deficits can be expanded into everyday life and will have added beneficial effects on the whole family. The need to improve the difficult relationships inside a family affected by ADHD is essential if everyone is to get the best out of their lives.

For more invaluable information on sleep behaviour training and bedtime parenting skills click on the link to Dream-Angus.com

Neuropsychologia: Lateralised temporal order judgement (TOJ) in dyslexia

ScienceDirect - Neuropsychologia : Lateralized temporal order judgement in dyslexia

In this research study Temporal and Spatial attention deficits in dyslexia were investigated using a lateralised visual temporal order judgment (TOJ) paradigm. This allowed both sensitivity to temporal order and spatial attention bias to be measured.

Findings indicate that adult participants with dyslexia were significantly less sensitive to the temporal order of the stimuli than other adults who were not affected by dyslexia. But this study did not show a significantly different lateral bias.

However, the data indicated that performance on the TOJ task dissociated into at least three factors.

1) The first one loaded on trials with long Stimulus Onset Asynchronies (SOA) and was strongly correlated with full-scale IQ (FSIQ), and, while also correlated with both poor reading and with symptoms of attentional deficit disorder, was not specific to these.

2) The second factor loaded on trials with short SOAs in which the left stimulus was presented first. Low scores on this factor were associated with poor non-word reading accuracy, and factor scores accounted for variance in non-word reading accuracy that was not accounted for by either FSIQ or the presence of a phonological deficit.

This suggests that a “left mini-neglect” syndrome, also reported in attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), may directly contribute to poor non-word reading.

However, attention deficit symptoms loaded not only on this factor, but also on a third factor, representing on trials at short SOAs in which the first stimulus was presented in left hemifield.

This suggests that attentional deficit symptoms impaired temporal processing at short SOAs, regardless of the hemifield in with the stimuli were presented.

The study concludes that people with attention deficits (ADD) find a visual TOJ task difficult when the stimuli are presented rapidly. This is regardless of intelligence levels (FSIQ).

Also, where an attention deficit bias is present, non-word reading accuracy may be directly impaired. This will happen, even if there is no phonological deficit.

For further reading and more scientific papers on Temporal Order Judgement (TOJ) click on this link to Mendeley - Philosophy of the Mind

Cognition : A case study of an English-Japanese bilingual with monolingual dyslexia

ScienceDirect - Cognition : A case study of an English-Japanese bilingual with monolingual dyslexia

Here is a very interesting report, the case of AS, a 16 year-old English/Japanese bilingual boy, whose reading/writing difficulties are confined to English only.

AS was born in Japan to a highly literate Australian father and English mother, and goes to a Japanese selective senior high school in Japan. His spoken language at home is English.

AS's reading in logo-graphic Japanese Kanji and syllabic Kana is equivalent to that of Japanese undergraduates or graduates.

In contrast, his performance in various reading and writing tests in English as well as tasks involving phonological processing was very poor, even when compared to his Japanese contemporaries.

Yet he has no problem with letter names or letter sounds, and his phoneme categorisation is well within the normal range of English native speakers.

The data show a clear dissociation between AS's ability to read English and Japanese, and the research study put forward the ‘hypothesis of granularity and transparency'.

The Orthography of a language specifies the correct way of using a specific writing system to write the language and Phonology is the systematic use of sound to encode meaning in any spoken human language.

Study Postulation
It is postulated that any language where orthography-to-phonology mapping is transparent, or even opaque, or any language whose orthographic unit representing sound is coarse (i.e. at a whole character or word level) should not produce a high incidence of developmental phonological dyslexia.

A structural–functional basis for dyslexia in Chinese readers

From the Cover: A structural–functional basis for dyslexia in the cortex of Chinese readers

We are by now aware that Developmental Dyslexia is a neurobiologically based disorder that affects ≈5–17% of school children and is characterised by an impairment in reading skills.

For readers of alphabetic (e.g., English) languages, recent neuroimaging studies (fMRI scans) have demonstrated that dyslexia is associated with weak reading-related activity in left temporoparietal and occipitotemporal regions, and the difference in the activity in this area, may be because of reduced gray matter volume in these areas.

In this research study, they find different structural and functional abnormalities in dyslexic readers of Chinese, a nonalphabetic more graphical language. It has often been said that the Chinese do not experience dyslexia but this is not the case. They may simply experience it in a different way.

In comparison with other developing Chinese children, children with impaired reading in logo-graphic Chinese exhibited reduced gray matter volume in a left middle frontal gyrus region previously shown to be important for Chinese reading and writing.

Using functional MRI to study language-related activation of cortical regions in dyslexics, the study found reduced activation in this same left middle frontal gyrus region in Chinese dyslexics, and there was a significant correlation between gray matter volume and activation in the language task in this same area.

By contrast, Chinese children who suffer from dyslexia did not show functional or structural (i.e., volumetric gray matter) differences from other developing children, in the more posterior brain systems that have been shown to be abnormal in alphabetic-language dyslexics.

The results suggest that the structural and functional basis for dyslexia varies between alphabetic and nonalphabetic languages.

The Western child will work extremely hard, using their frontal lobes to interpret and understand letters and words, without having access to the long term word storage area in the back of the brain. This may be because the frontal lobes are unable to transfer letters and word data to the long term storage areas or the areas are unreceptive because they are under-developed or have limited capacity.

The Chinese child has no reliance on the long term letter and word storage area at the back of the brain or accesses it in a different way. Their reliance is in the capacity of their frontal lobes, which may or may not be fully developed or functional.

Future studies may look at a) the message and delivery service between the frontal lobes and the back of the brain, long term storage and b) the ability of the frontal lobes to connect succesfully with other cognitive parts of the brain.