Monday, August 27, 2012

The Creative Art of Animation and Motion Graphics - YouTube

Animation has been captivating audiences for more than a hundred years. From classic forms like hand drawn and stop-motion, to cutting-edge techniques like motion graphics and CGI, animation has a long history of creating style and poetry unachievable through live action filmmaking.

It is a tool for educating, a place for experimentation and play, and a way of telling personal stories that reach the viewer with powerful visual metaphors.

Dyslexia: Multi-Sensory Learning - Mind-Map

Multi-Sensory Study Skills in Mind-Map form.

Inside the Hidden World of Dyslexia and ADHD - YouTube

Rarely do we get a look inside dyslexia at the inner city level. Every dyslexic should be in tune with what Headstrong Nation is doing in the arena of Dyslexia advocacy.

We are looking forward to future initiatives from this group!

Dyslexia: Merilee Grage Hearing the Voices of Dragon

This week we are looking at the story of Merilee Grage who struggled with undiagnosed dyslexia for years.

She is using Nuance's Dragon Naturally Speaking to help finish her Master’s degree in Special Education.

She is a believer in the use of assistive tech in the classroom, and has introduced Dragon to the students in her repsonibility, who face reading challenges.

She reports that the results have been “amazing.”

Grage dropped out of college in 1979 due to her undiagnosed dyslexia, but with Dragon NaturallySpeaking, the tables have turned: "I bought Dragon to help with my typing and I ended up using it for everything: emails, papers, my online courses, and anything else that requires a keyboard."

"It’s about creativity and having a flow of work that’s not interrupted by worrying about spelling and grammar. Dragon is a major part of that."

More recently, Merilee has seen the transformation Dragon has had on students of all ages, including a 3rd grader with dyslexia who, for the first time, was excited about reading and was thirsty for more.

“When we were done,” Grage recalls he said, "There has to be a third book." His motivation was amazing.

This was a student who didn’t want to go to the resource room because he read at a first grade level and couldn’t write complete sentences.

"Dragon and echo reading during profile creation forced him to work on word pronunciation, and his comprehension and fluency greatly increased."

To read more of Merilee’s story, go to Nuance's website here.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Author of Book on Autism and Animals Responds to New Pet Study

A study released today indicates that the addition of a pet to the household may help autistic children develop skills.

This empirical research backs up what many working in the field of human-animal interactions have known for a long time.

For some children with autism, interacting with companion, therapy, or service animals can be life-changing.

Merope Pavlides, author of “Animal-assisted Interventions for Individuals with Autism,” urges families to think carefully, however, about how to best involve animals in their childs life.

Sometimes a study like this can drive families to act hastily, Pavlides notes. Adding a petno matter what the speciesshould be done thoughtfully, with careful consideration to the needs of the whole family. Pavlides, a special educator and dog trainer, has worked with many special needs families.

She recently conducted a webinar through the Association of Pet Dog Trainers to help dog trainers work more effectively with autistic children, and will be writing a series of articles for “The Chronicle of the Dog” on this topic.

People who work with autistic kids and animals often see amazing progress in their clients, Pavlides says.

For some childrenand adultson the autism spectrum, engaging with an animal can open up channels of communication and interaction that were previously closed.

That said, not all autistic people are going to find animal interactions helpful or even pleasant. For some, sensory issues triggered by proximity to animals can be overwhelming.

How can you tell if getting a pet for your child is the right choice? There are lots of ways to test out your childs responsiveness to animals, Pavlides says.

Many therapy animal groups provide opportunities for children with disabilities to interact with pets.

Consider how your child responds to pets he or she comes into contact with in the family or neighborhood.

School For Kids With ADHD, Dyslexia Boasts Record Enrollment

Marburn Academy began the new school year today with enrollment at an all-time high. The private school in the Northland area has been educating students with ADHD and dyslexia for more than thirty years.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Top 40 Dyslexia Twitter Handles

It can be difficult keeping up to date with everything going on on twitter. To make sure you’re not missing anything, here are the top 40 dyslexia twitter handles.

If you think someone else should be on here, suggest them in the comments and we’ll add them

Charity – UK & Ireland
1. @dyslexiaaction– A national education charity focused on improving lives. Currently running the #dyslexiamatters campaign calling for a national dyslexia strategy.
2. @bdadyslexia– Another national dyslexia charity. Currently running (July 2012) a petition to force a compulsory module on dyslexia in teacher training, as there is currently none!
3. @dyslexiafound– The handle of the dyslexia foundation, another leading dyslexia charity
4. @DyslexiaScotlan– Dyslexia charity for Scotland
5. @dyslexiaireland– The Dyslexia association of Ireland. Support for children and adults
6. @dyslexialincs- Pioneering local body helping people reach their full potential. Check out their free dyslexia apps
7. @dyslexiauk– A national UK charity, whose patron is Paul Smith

Charity – International
8. @IntlDyslexia– Known for short as the IDA. US based charity providing information and services on dyslexia
9. @LDOnline– Non profit organisation for students with learning difficulties and ADHD
10. @HawaiiDyslexia– The Hawaii branch of the IDA
11. @DyslexiaIndiana– For children, adolescents and adults, strategies that enable individuals to attain their full potential by learning to manage the challenges of dyslexia and benefit from its advantages.

12. @dyslexiayale– Yale university dyslexia research centre. A MUST follow.
13. @tes_sen– SEN teaching resources and lesson plans from UK based TES
14. @dyslexiaumich– An amazing blog and information resource from the University of Michigan

15. @dyslexicsonline– Run by Paul Grove, a dyslexic with ADD, currently investigating the way dyslexics use technology
16. @elitheddc– a dyslexia consultant who is also a passionate fundraiser for dyslexia
17. @neilmilliken– A technology expert who focuses on assistive technologies for those with disabilities. Also a passionate advocate for dyslexics, which is always nice!
18. @claire_kinton– mum, author, fundraiser and dyslexia advocate
19. @kgeeson– The chief exec of Dyslexia action. Passionate about dyslexia. Great person to follow to really understand the ins and outs of what’s going on in the dyslexia space
20. @thedyslexicpoet– Run by Caroline Gardner, a strong dyslexia advocate. Also the 1st Publisher to EXCLUSIVELY develop, publish and promote dyslexic writers and artists, including Forgotten Letters, the 1st anthology.

21. @dyslexia4u– A Scottish dyslexia consultancy who provide tutoring services but who are also advocates for change in the way dyslexia is identified and worked with
22. @dyslexiax– Run by Steven Jones, an expert on dyslexia, their main site offers a dyslexia test facility plus other dyslexia resources
23. @dyslexicadv- Run by two Doctors, both experts on dyslexia, they focus on tweeting interesting dyslexia resources and talk about the advantages and unlocking the potential of the dyslexic brain
24. @dyslexiasupport– A Sheffield based assessment and tuition agency for children and adults
25. @dyslexicbrian- Video Based Dyslexia Self-Development Programme
26. @dyslexiamatter– A partnership working with children and adults to deal with dyslexia
27. @being_dyslexic– Dyslexia information for people of all ages. They also have a great and really active forum
28. @doreuk– focus on personalised exercise programs for those with dyslexia, dyspraxia and ADHD.
29. @bristoldyslexia– Independent teaching and assessment centre. Currently running an awesome tips series on dyslexic parenting tips
30. @letmelearn– dyslexia and dyscalulia shop run by Sue Kerrigan, herself a dyslexic, aswell as an entrepreneur, fundraiser and advocate
31. @education_IEP– provide special education resources for #sped teachers and parents
32. @geniuswithinltd– An online training platform for dyslexia and dyspraxia
33. @dysconxs– Scotland based provider of dyslexia learning and social development
34. @rudyslexice– Dyslexia organisation raising awareness

35. @lindafox– Adult ADHD coach, also focused on dyslexia.
36. @dyslexiarx– Dyslexia tester and tutor based in the US
37. @drseide– One half of the folks behind ‘The Dyslexic Advantage’
38. @cerirwilliams– A spLD and dyslexia teacher

39. @dyslexia_tweet– Lots of tweets, but seems to have gone a bit quietly recently
40. @dyslexiadublin– Dublin based SpED educators

Epilepsy Scotland's guidelines on Post-ictal Psychosis

Read Epilepsy Scotland's guidelines on Post-ictal Psychosis, the recovery process after having a seizure.

Postical psychosis often complicates chronic epilepsy, especially in patients with seizure clusters that include tonic–clonic seizures, bilateral cerebral dysfunction (e.g., bilateral epileptiform activity or history of encephalitis), and a family history of psychiatric illness.

Psychosis includes delusions, auditory and visual hallucinations, mood changes, and aggressive behaviour.

It typically emerges after a lucid interval of hours or days after the last seizure.

This treatable disorder is associated with serious morbidity and mortality.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Dyslexia: Teaching in Specialised Schools - CReSTeD

Click on the picture to visit their website

What Is Dysgraphia? - YouTube

Dysgraphia is a learning disability that affects writing, which requires a complex set of motor and information processing skills.

Dysgraphia makes the act of writing difficult. It can lead to problems with spelling, poor handwriting, and putting thoughts on paper.

People with dysgraphia can have trouble organizing letters, numbers, and words on a line or page. This can result partly from:
  • Visual-spatial difficulties: trouble processing what the eye sees
  • Language processing difficulty: trouble processing and making sense of what the ear hears
As with all learning disabilities (LD), dysgraphia is a lifelong challenge, although how it manifests may change over time.

A student with this disorder can benefit from specific accommodations in the learning environment. Extra practice learning the skills required to be an accomplished writer can also help.

Read more about Dysgraphia

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Dyslexic writing: The Journal of Writing in Creative Practice

Abstract taken from the paper written by Naomi Folb, a doctoral candidate at Goldsmiths, University of London, researching dyslexic identities, writing and subjectivity.

Much of the research on dyslexia and writing explores dyslexia as a deficit.

When it is through the historically famous or in comparison to non-dyslexic people, the researcher starts with an idea of what dyslexia is and seeks to identify it; for example, by evidence of orthographic aberration in their writing.

The purpose of this study was to draw on critical theory from outside the dyslexia literature which rejects the principle that the relation between author and text is simple and transparent.

This is with a view to understand both the context in which the work was written, but also acknowledges the reader’s role in interpretation, or the ‘relation of address’.

Moving away from the assumption that the dyslexic must ‘overcome’ dyslexia to write, the research draws on autobiographical writing by contemporary dyslexic writers.

I argue that these reveal how mistakes and imprecision are connected with a love for language and the imagination.

While traditionally dyslexia has been depicted from the viewpoint of non-dyslexic people as a ‘suffering’, as in – one is thought to ‘suffer from dyslexia’ – these representations of dyslexia suggest suffering is not simply ‘there’, as something one ‘has’.

Dyslexic writing therefore provides insight, not into the pathology of the author, but what the binary of inclusion/exclusion means to them.

Sally Gardner: Dyslexia is not a disease

It always struck me as strange that as a child I should be saddled with a word that I could neither pronounce or spell.

I look back at my education with a sense of bewildered frustration, I had no idea why I should be shown a picture of a boat and when the picture was taken away I was, as if by magic, supposed to know what the picture spelt.

It didn't matter how many phonic nutcases shouted at me saying B-O-A-T. Even now I have no idea whether o goes before a or a goes before o. And does it matter?

In those days it was called word blindness. I wasn't diagnosed with dyslexia until I was 11. It was of no value in school that I was visually or emotionally intelligent. Still, in 2011, these qualities in a child are often overlooked in favour of academic intelligence.

I believe we waste too many children in this country by failing to see the gifts they have. Instead we see dyslexia as a problem.

The word associated with dyslexia in schools, that I absolutely hate, is special needs. Our special needs are that the non dyslexic world stop telling us how we should be learning or what magic cure they have for us.

It's not a disease. People need to see what it has to offer, and not look at it as a negative. It's a misconception that because you are dyslexic you don't like books. In fact, although I couldn't read them, I always thought words beautiful hieroglyphics that I longed to be able to translate.

The first book I ever read, at the ripe old age of 14, was Wuthering Heights. I think it was because everyone had given up on me that I finally broke the code.

Up to the age of 21, it seemed to me that everybody had a cinema in their heads and could see a book as you would see a film: playing out in their mind's eye.

I was studying theatre design at Central St Martins at the time, and working on The Tempest, when I first realised the director I was working with couldn't see a thing.

He was visually blind. I can't tell you how cross that made me. All those years I had been able to see in 3D in my head.

I had my own visual landscape and I realised that I was rich in an imagination that has turned out to be invaluable.

All those years of only being told I was stupid, thick. A moron, brain like a sieve. Still those negative voices haunt me.

Read the full article here: Sally Gardner: Dyslexia is not a disease - Telegraph

Sally Gardener: The dyslexic novelist

Sally Gardner was originally called Sarah, but as a child she couldn't spell her name. She knew that it started with an s, but the minute that was on the page the h would start to bug her.

Did it go before or after the r? "I know people say 'at the end' but I couldn't make it stay where it was supposed to go. I never got it.

My mother had a friend who was an actress called Sally who said, 'Look, darling, the best thing to do is Sally because the s is like a snake, you have a little a and two long lines and a y to catch it all.' And I thought, I can do that." She changed her name.

Gardner acts out the spelling of her chosen name: a snake action, the loops of the ls and the y rounding it all up, and you can see why it makes sense.

The word is almost a dance. The reason why words didn't normally make sense when she was a child, and can still completely fox her now, is that, like 10% of the population, Gardner is dyslexic.

In fact, Gardner, 51, falls into a smaller group, of about 4% of the population, who are severely dyslexic. As a child she says she was labelled unteachable, her reports called her lazy, and she spent time in a school for "maladjusted" children. She was bumped from school to school and hated every minute of it.

Her parents, both lawyers, were mystified. An educational psychologist told her that she was word blind; which she quite liked, as it made sense. Then they diagnosed her as dyslexic. "I remember thinking it so extraordinary for it to be called a word that I couldn't say or spell. Still can't."

Dyslexia is a learning difficulty, biological in origin, which often runs in families. It causes varying levels of difficulties in learning to read, write and spell. Short-term memory, mathematics, concentration, personal organisation and sequencing may be affected.

But Gardner is now a novelist. Her novel, I, Coriander, is published on Thursday and she's off to tour America.

She went from art school to a successful career in the theatre doing set design and then costumes, to illustration and writing children's books.

I, Coriander, her first full-length book, weaves between 17th-century London and a magical fairy world linked by a child named Coriander.

Read the full article here: The dyslexic novelist | Books | The Guardian

Billy Childish - Prolific UK Writer and Artist - Dyslexic

A cult figure in America, Europe and Japan, Billy Childish is by far the most prolific painter, poet, and song-writer of his generation.

He founded the Stuckism Art Movement.

In a twenty year period he has published over 40 collections of his poetry, recorded over 100 full-length independent LP’s and produced over 2000 paintings.

Born in 1959 in Chatham, Kent. Billy Childish left Secondary education at 16 an undiagnosed dyslexic.

Refused an interview at the local art school he entered the Naval Dockyard at Chatham as an apprentice stonemason.

During the following six months (the artist’s only prolonged period of employment), he produced some six hundred drawings in ‘the tea huts of hell.

On the basis of this work he was accepted into St Martin’s School of Art to study painting.

However, his acceptance was short-lived and before completing the course he was expelled for his outspokenness and unorthodox working methods.

With no qualifications and no job prospects Childish then spent some 12 years ‘painting on the dole’, developing his own highly personal writing style and producing his art independently.

R.A.S.P. - What is a Dyslexic Writer?

There are far too few books that are written for dyslexics. The ones available tend to focus on recovering from the problem.

They offer guidance or reassurance that dyslexia, can be solved, or lessened. They point out the advantages, disadvantages, or what it looks like.

All too common, is the perception that dyslexics would be better off in a world without books, without language, without reading.

In November 2011, to coincide with Dyslexia Awareness Week, RASP released Forgotten Letters: An Anthology of Literature by Dyslexic Writers.

The book is a compilation of work by contemporary dyslexic writers, both renowned and emerging, including but not limited to,
Some contributors have chosen to explore the concept of dyslexia through orthographic aberrations, while others have addressed their techniques for writing or discussed what writing means to them.

Together they bring attention to the structure of stories, images in words, and the authors’ love of language.

As such, this anthology is about more than the forgetting of letters. It is a testimony to the value of writing to dyslexics.

It brings to the fore notions of authorship, and authority.

It asks:
  • who decides what dyslexia is? and 
  • who authorises if whether dyslexics can write, or not? 
The book is considered to be of interest, not just to dyslexics, but also those interested in the relationship between identity and authorship as authority.

It provides a compelling read to all concerned with the limitations of representation and gives a voice to those who have been marginalised by literary traditions.

Visit the R.a.s.p. website here:

There are three books currently be distributed by RASP The Dyslexic Collective, Tal and the ABC and Pokkadots and Abucuses.

For more infomation about buying books from RASP email:

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Dislecksia The Movie visits with Dana Blackhurst - YouTube

Harvey Hubbell V documentary film maker and producer of Dislecksia The Movie, visits with Dana Blackhurst at the Chandler School.

Dana Blackhurst holds a B.S. in Early Childhood Education and a Certificate in Special Education from Erskine College.

Neglect Dyslexia - Left or Right

Deficits in reading may stem from disruptions of simple sensory impairments to more complex problems involving thinking related to language.

There are several subtypes of dyslexias and they can be categorized as either central or peripheral dyslexias (of which there are two, attentional dyslexia and neglect dyslexia), which result from impairment to brain processes that are capable of converting letters on the page into visual word forms.

There are two types of peripheral dyslexias called attentional dyslexia, and neglect dyslexia.

Neglect dyslexia is usually due to brain damage, and causes an impairment of reading because the affected person misidentifies letters in certain spatial regions of either a word or a group of words.

The defect for neglect dyslexia subtype is associated with the right parietal lobe.

Neglect dyslexia can be further divided into left neglect dyslexia and right neglect dyslexia.

In the left neglect dyslexia subtype, the affected person experiences difficulty reading initial letters of the word, which may cause a letter(s) to be substituted, omitted or added.

In the right neglect dyslexia subtype causes a patient to have letter errors at the end of the word.

Read more about the different types of Dyslexia here: Healthline

Attentional Dyslexia

Deficits in reading may stem from disruptions of simple sensory impairments to more complex problems involving thinking related to language.

There are several subtypes of dyslexias and they can be categorized as either central or peripheral dyslexias (of which there are two, attentional dyslexia and neglect dyslexia), which result from impairment to brain processes that are capable of converting letters on the page into visual word forms.

The attentional dyslexia subtype is a rare disorder of attention control, typically correlated with damage to the left parietal lobe (located on the sides of the head).

The attentional dyslexia causes an impairment of reading words in sentences, since the defect causes many words to be visible at the same time.

Read more about the different types of Dyslexia here: Healthline

Why Advocating for a Child with Dyslexia is so Difficult

Advocating for a child with dyslexia or suspected dyslexia can be tantamount to moving a cruise ship with a piece of string and your teeth but if you pull hard enough and you give the ship enough fuel to move, you can make progress.

Once you set sail the whole ordeal will be worth the struggle. So, why is it so difficult to get appropriate services or even recognition of a problem from most schools?

“Dyslexia is a broad term that covers a lot of different issues.” If I had a dime for every time I heard this mantra that has been adopted by countless participants at IEP meetings, I would have a lot of dimes.

I have to admit, I have had to control my smirk when I hear this mantra and wait for my turn to set the record straight.

The fact is the opposite is true. Dyslexia has a very narrow definition and only includes those students with a phonological processing problem ( for a complete and official definition).

It can be identified with the correct battery of tests that are correctly interpreted.

Solution: Be prepared for this response and do your homework. Bring FAQ sheets with you about dyslexia, ask them about their training in dyslexia, and ask them what they think dyslexia is and how they came to this conclusion and do so in collegiate manner – it’s an academic conversation not an accusation.

Dyslexia is so hotly debated that is important to remain calm in order to truly teach the team about it. Be prepared to compromise and pick your battles.

If they seem to understand the underlying cause of the reading/spelling trouble and seem willing to provide the appropriate strategies, then accept the label Specific Learning Disability.

Last but certainly not least, remind them that dyslexia is listed as one of the conditions under Specific Learning Disability.

This is where the humour comes in: Dyslexia is too broad, but it is listed as one of the eligible conditions.

Specific Learning Disability encompasses every learning disability but it is not too broad? Do you see why I am smirking now? Silly, right?

Read mor eof this article here: Putting the D in to the IEP

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Organic basis for dyslexia - Max Planck Leipzig Research Study

Severe and persistent reading and spelling impairment linked with difficulties in processing speech sounds (developmental dyslexia) may be associated with under-action of an area of the brain.

Establishing an underlying organic basis for dyslexia has been a controversial area in recent years, but a team based at the Max Planck Institute Leipzig has used functional MRI scanning on dyslexic adults.

They found that there was a dysfunction in the auditory sensory thalamus, the medial geniculate body (MGB), while all other structures in the auditory pathway behaved comparably with those in control patients without dyslexia.

Furthermore, MGB activity correlated with dyslexia diagnostic scores, indicating that the task modulation of the MGB is critical for performance in dyslexics.

The authors of the research, published this week in the online Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the US, suggest that 'deficits in dyslexia are associated with a failure of the neural mechanism that dynamically tunes the MGB according to predictions from cortical areas to optimise speech processing.'

This research may go some way in establishing an underlying neural framework for the various presentations of some forms of dyslexia.

Read the Abstract and get access to the full paper here; PNAS online 

Authors: Begoña Díaz, Florian Hintz, Stefan J. Kiebel and Katharina von Kriegstein

Dyslexia: Real A interviews Sir Jackie Stewart - YouTube

Real A, Rapper DJ, had a once in a lifetime opportunity to interview the legendary Scottish three-time world Formula One racing driver, Sir Jackie Stewart, President of Dyslexia Scotland, and ask him about his own personal struggles with dyslexia.

Visual Learning for Hearing Impaired

As the awareness of the effectiveness of Visual Learning has grown, and the significant benefits of online educational video have become more widely accepted and understood, the availability and the amount of online educational video has started to increase.

However with the exception of one company, the needs of the hearing impaired child or student appear to have been largely ignored and forgotten.

While this may not have been deliberate, the fact remains that this has largely come about because the majority of so-called educational video available online, is film footage that was original recorded for other uses including general TV distribution, and was not developed specifically for the teaching of the school curriculum.

This means, simply because those videos may be of a general educational nature, does not mean that they adequately meet the requirements of the curriculum standards.

Zane Education however has taken a totally different approach, and as a result has a developed an online educational video library of over 1,500 online videos covering 11 school subjects and 240 topics specifically for the teaching of the curriculum.

They also have had the foresight to provide children with as many learning style options as possible, by adding subtitles to all of their videos.

In other words children with hearing impairments can now also enjoy the significant benefits of online educational video.

The issue of Dyslexia, there are those that would speculate that learning by using video rather than the use of textbooks, means that children’s reading skills will suffer.

Obviously with the addition of subtitles that is not necessarily the case. In fact a future article to be released in the next week will demonstrate and explain precisely, how video subtitles can be used to rapidly increase a child’s reading skills.

Research carried out by the Availll Institute over the last 5 years has demonstrated the link between the use of subtitles on video, and the improvement in children’s reading skills.

Unlike the child with special needs, the hearing impaired student will not require the attention of a parent, teacher or specialised tutor to make full use, and receive the full benefit’s from Zane Education’s comprehensive online educational video library.

They will be able to work on their on quite comfortably, and upon the completion of each topic, they will then be able to take full advantage of another of the significant features of Zane Education’s website.

Not only does Zane provide the use of educational video, they also support each of the 260 curriculum topics by providing online testing for each of those topics.

Interactive multiple-choice K12 curriculum quizzes containing a total of over 23,000 questions help to continue the learning process by revealing to the child not only whether their selected answer was correct or incorrect, in addition a further explanation is provided as to why the child’s answer was right or wrong. Hence the learning process continues.

So in many ways this approach to providing subtitles on each video removes virtually any distinction between the needs of the hearing impaired student and their peers, whether it is in the classroom or in the homeschool environment.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

BiPolar Disorder: Cannabis increases neuro-cognitive performance

According to a study published online in the journal Psychiatry Research, individuals with bipolar disorder who used cannabis showed higher neuro-cognitive performance than patients who did not use cannabis.

The Researchers; The Zucker Hillside Hospital in Long Island, NY, in collaboration with a team at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City.

They examined the difference in cognitive performance among 50 individuals with bipolar disorder who had a history of cannabis use, with 150 bipolar patients who had no history of cannabis use.

Both groups of patients were similar in age at bipolar onset. In addition, the groups did not differ in racial background, age, or highest education level achieved.

The team discovered that patients who used cannabis showed superior neuro-cognitive performance than those who did not. However, patients who used cannabis did not differ considerably on estimates of premorbid IQ.

The researchers explained: "Results from our analysis suggest that subjects with bipolar disorder and history of (cannabis use) demonstrate significantly better neurocognitive performance, particularly on measures of attention, processing speed, and working memory.

These findings are consistent with a previous study that demonstrated that bipolar subjects with history of cannabis use had superior verbal fluency performance as compared to bipolar patients without a history of cannabis use.

Similar results have also been found in schizophrenia in several studies."

They concluded, "The data could be interpreted to suggest that cannabis use may have a beneficial effect on cognitive functioning in patients with severe psychiatric disorders.

However, it is also possible that these findings may be due to the requirement for a certain level of cognitive function and related social skills in the acquisition of illicit drugs."

What is Bipolar Disorder?  
Bipolar disorder, more commonly known in the past as manic depression or manic depressive illness, is a mental disorder in which the patient has mood instability, often severe. In severe cases the illness can be very disabling, psychologically and socially.

An individual with bipolar disorder typically has unusual shifts in mood, energy, and the ability to function - these changes can last for weeks and sometimes months.

The fluctuations present in bipolar disorder are much more severe than the "ups-and-downs" we all go through. The changes are much steeper and last longer.

They can damage relationships, destroy job prospects, and undermine school performance. Some patients find their symptoms so unbearable that they attempt to commit suicide.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Dyslexia: The First 100 most commonly used words chart

High frequency words are quite simply those words which occur most frequently in written material. For example, "and", "the", "as" and "it".

They are often words that have little meaning on their own, but they do contribute a great deal to the meaning of a sentence.

Some of the high frequency words can be sounded out using basic phonic rules, e.g. "it" is an easy word to read using phonics.

However, many of the high frequency words are not phonically regular and are therefore hard to read in the early stages.

These words are sometimes called tricky words, sight words or camera words.

In addition to being difficult to sound out, most of the high frequency words have a rather abstract meaning which is hard to explain to a child.

Below you can download our first 100 and second 100 most commonly used words chart for your classroom as a display or simply to put in front of your child when they are doing their homework to assist them with spelling.

University of Ghent Dyslexia Studies in Students - Video

To see the Video Click on the picture to link to the University of Ghent's  Website

This video is in the Dutch /Flemish language with English sub-titles.

Studying with Dyslexia
The documentary tells the story of young professionals with dyslexia who are studying at the university and how they are building exciting careers.

They testify about the obstacles from their student days.

A team of experts combines the stories of the professionals in the research on dyslexia today. A melting pot of intense testimony, scientific research and everyday practice makes for a fascinating viewing experience.

"Studying with dyslexia 'is an absolute must for anyone who wants to get rid of prejudices about dyslexia.

The DVD can be ordered via

The Centre for Reading Research CRR: first papers on dyslexia in higher education released

The Center for Reading Research, Belgium, is a research group connected to the Department of Experimental Psychology of Ghent University , sponsored by an Odysseus Grant from the Government of Flanders.

It is centered on three research topics:
  1. Word recognition
  2. Language dominance and reading
  3. Dyslexia in higher education
Dyslexia in Higher Education
Some 1-3% of the population have specific reading problems unrelated to overall intelligence or other limitations (pure dyslexia).

This means that each year tens of students with dyslexia enter higher education. To know how to best help them, we have decided to direct some of our resources and expertise to this problem.

More specifically, we try to get a clear and objective picture of the strengths and weaknesses of dyslexic students in higher education and the measures they find helpful.

We are currently running an in-depth study of some 100 students with dyslexia and 100 controls on an extensive battery of tests. This will allow us to address questions such as:
  • Which tests are particularly informative to assess dyslexia? Several tests have been developed in recent years, but few of them have been validated, so that it is not always clear whether they give a correct assessment.
  • Are there different profiles of dyslexia? It seems unlikely that all reading problems are due to a single cause. It will be good to get a clear picture of the different profiles that are present in our sample.
  • Are some weaknesses particularly hard to overcome and, if so, is there any type of support?
  • Are some strengths particularly helpful and, if so, can these be taught?
  • Can we learn more about the processes that form the basis of reading difficulties? If so, does this allow us to develop better training?
Here you find the first results of our study.

Dyslexia in Higher Education Reports
At long last the first papers of our dyslexia project have been accepted for publication. In this project we administered a battery of tests to a sample of 100 first-year students with dyslexia and 100 controls, to have a full profile of their strengths and weaknesses.

The basic findings are:
  • The students with dyslexia show a pattern of results that completely fits the traditional definition of dyslexia: equivalent fluid intelligence combined with severe deficits in word reading, spelling, and phonological processing (there are no indications that they use the assessment to compensate for a lack of other skills).
  • The students with dyslexia are also slightly at a disadvantage to retrieve verbal information from long term memory; this includes simple arithmetical facts (addition, multiplication, division).
  • Because the problems are so specific, assessment only requires three tests (word reading, word spelling, phonological awareness). This allows us to correctly predict the status of 91% of future participants.
  • The handwriting of students with dyslexia is not judged as more sloppy than that of controls. Their texts tend to be slightly less structured, though, and are therefore judged as less agreeable to read. This is something we think remedial teaching can help with.
A full description of our findings can be found in:
Callens, M., Tops, W., & Brysbaert, M. (in press). Cognitive profile of students who enter higher education with an indication of dyslexia. PLoS One. pdf

Tops, W., Callens, M., Lammertyn, J., Van Hees, V., & Brysbaert, M. (in press). Identifying students with dyslexia in higher education. Annals of Dyslexia. pdf

Tops, W., Callens, M., Van Cauwenberghe, E., Adriaens, J, & Brysbaert, M. (in press). Beyond spelling: The writing skills of students with dyslexia in higher education. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal. pdf

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Saturday, August 11, 2012

What is Visual Stress and Irlen Syndrome?

According to the British Dyslexia Association and many Opticians, Visual Stress or Irlen Syndrome, is very common among people diagnosed with dyslexia.

According to the opticians round 35-40% of those with dyslexia have it.  In the general population the prevalence is thought to be around 5-20%.

Visual Stress has many different names:  Visual Dyslexia, Scoptic Sensitivity, Meares-Irlen Syndrome or Irlen Syndrome and Binocular Amblyopia.

Sufferers do not see a page of text the way it was written – with text all lined up neatly in rows.  For them, the text may be swirling in circles, running down the page like a waterfall and whole words or individual letters moving.

Along with these illusions they may also be suffering  from headaches, stomach aches, migraines and complain about feeling sick or their eyes hurt when they read.

Other clues are people who frequently yawn whilst reading or the use their finger to keep their place, lose their place when going from line to line or re-read the same lines, slow reading, rubbing eyes and poor comprehension.

If you think you, your child or a child in your class has visual stress you can use this handy screening test (and guide) as an initial assessment.

If the test highlights that there is a strong possibility of Visual Stress then there is a very inexpensive way of finding out if using a tint over the text will make a difference.

You should go to an Optician that is able to test for Visual Stress along with the standard sight test.

You may also find that there is a difference between the overlay tint you find most helpful and the glasses tint you find most helpful but that can be discussed with your optician, if necessary.

Eddie Izzard - Scrabble and Dyslexia - YouTube

Friday, August 10, 2012

Social Media Guru Jason Falls Talks about Parenting - YouTube

Social business marketing guru Jason Falls and talk about parenting.

Jason Falls, co-author of No Bullshit Social Media is one of the most in-demand speakers in the social media, public relations and marketing fields due to a simple truth: He delivers value. Known for his clever insights, sharp wit and the ever-present brutal honesty, Falls tackles audiences, not topics, engaging and sending all away with a sense they’ve learned something.

Perhaps at best in the role of social media educator, Falls has spoken nationally and internationally on a wide range of topics and to a variety of audiences. From corporate board rooms to standing-room-only conference halls, Falls caters each presentation to the audience make up, energy and comprehension level.

Falls also coordinates workshops on social media marketing for groups like American Marketing Association, Public Relations Society of America and International Association of Business Communicators chapters. Lisa Ross, president of the Central Virginia Chapter of the AMA had this to say after his Digital Marketing Summit in April of 2010:

“Jason developed content for a full-day seminar for our organization on Digital Marketing. He brought in other social and digital media experts to give the event added interest. Not only is Jason a brilliant speaker, he delivered a turnkey event that was profitable for our chapter and got rave reviews from the attendees.”

To book Jason for your event, or contact him about collaborating for more involved events for  your organization, send him a message on his booking page.

You can visit his website,
OR explore his resources at

Diglot Bilingual Books for Children - Dutch English ABC

Diglot Bilingual books for toddlers.

Alison O' Dornan of Diglot Books is on Twitter if you are hunting for new multilingual language resources.

You will be impressed by her books, also by her drive to make excellent products for the bilingual children’s market.

Alison’s concept is simple, produce quality books and products which support language learning in bilingual children.

What makes Diglot different is the attention to detail. There are lots of books which give you the alphabet in English or Dutch, but Diglot produce the only A-Z where the word in both languages is the same, promoting word recognition equally in both languages.

Diglot Books are also stocked in Waterstones, Amsterdam.

Diglot Books also provide Dutch-English A-Z Going Shopping Flash Cards as well as their ever popular Nederlands English ABC.

NB: Unfortunately at this point in time their website is experiencing difficulties and is under maintenance.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

RSA Animate - The Divided Brain - YouTube

In this new RSAnimate, renowned psychiatrist and writer Iain McGilchrist explains how our 'divided brain' has profoundly altered human behaviour, culture and society.

Taken from a lecture given by Iain McGilchrist as part of the RSA's free public events programme. To view the full lecture, go to

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Learning through Play - The Canon Stomp

The Cannon Stomp: There is no other word but funky that describes this toy. Aim it then Fire it to see how far your ball can travel.

Cannon Stomp is great fun and can easily be played together with others.

When your child jumps or stomps on the silicone cannon a foam ball is dispensed with great speed, the harder you stomp the further & faster it travels.

You can make it extra fun by making and setting targets for the ball to hit!

Eye test detects sexual orientation

Although there was a popular belief that sexual orientation can be revealed by pupil dilation in response to attraction, there was no scientific evidence until now.

For the first time, researchers at Cornell University used a specialized infrared lens to measure pupillary changes to participants watching erotic videos.

Their findings are published August 3 in the journal PloS ONE.

Previous research explored these mechanisms either by simply asking people about their sexuality or by using such physiological measures as assessing their genital arousal. These methods, however, come with substantial problems.

“We wanted to find an alternative measure that would be an automatic indication of sexual orientation but without being as invasive as previous measures. Pupillary responses are exactly that,” says Gerulf Rieger, lead author and Cornell postdoctoral associate, who conducted the study with Ritch C. Savin-Williams, professor of human development and director of the Sex and Gender Lab.

“With this new technology, we are able to explore sexual orientation of people who would never participate in a study on genital arousal, such as people from traditional cultures,” says Rieger. “This will give us a much better understanding how sexuality is expressed across the planet.”

The new study adds considerably more to the field of sexuality research than just a new measurement, say the authors.

As expected, heterosexual men showed strong pupillary responses to sexual videos of women, and little to men; heterosexual women, however, showed pupillary responses to both sexes.

This result confirms previous research suggesting that women and men’s sexuality work differently.

Straight from the Source DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0040256

Voice Recognition Software for Smartphones

Voice-recognition software is nothing new. But put it on a smartphone, and it comes to life. All of the frustrations of trying to control your PC by voice--fiddling for a microphone, repeating yourself again and again, resisting the urge to relent and turn to your trusty keyboard--are eliminated when you use the same technology on your mobile phone.

And it's becoming more popular all the time, thanks in large measure to the improved speech recognition capabilities of today's mobile phone platforms, such as Google's Android and Apple's iOS. But that's not the only factor behind the uptick in mobile voice recognition, says Tuong Nguyen, principal research analyst with Gartner. He cites the demand for improved user interfaces, especially from users who don't want to rely solely on a touchscreen to interact with their phone.

In addition, the increasing prevalence of laws restricting the use of cell phones while driving has fueled demand for these voice-based apps, Nguyen says. Bluetooth headsets allow drivers to talk hands-free, but many people want access to e-mail and text messages while driving, too, he notes.

Luckily, plenty of apps provide such access--and more. Here's a roundup of some of today's best voice-recognition apps for your phone.

Google Mobile Apps

Platform: Android, BlackBerry, iOS
Price: Free
Google Search App for BlackBerry.Google Search App for BlackBerry.Whatever platform you're on, you can give your fingers a rest with one of Google's Mobile Apps. Whether you use the Google Quick Search Box on Android, the Google Mobile app for the iPhone, or the Google Search App for BlackBerry, the application lets you access the goodness of Google with the power of your voice. Search the Web, your contacts, and more without lifting a finger.
Why it's worth checking out: It's Google, duh.


Platform: Android, iOS
Price: Free
Microsoft Bing search engine.Microsoft's Bing search engine can be used with voice-recognition software and has a good-looking interface.Google isn't the only search engine in town--and it isn't the only one that delivers mobile searches powered by voice, either. Microsoft's Bing does it, too, with the same elegance that the desktop Decision Engine delivers.
Why it's worth checking out: Bing's mobile app has a fluid, elegant interface, and it looks even better without your paw prints all over the screen.


Platform: Android, BlackBerry, iOS, Nokia, Windows Phone
Price: Free (Basic version only; prices of Plus versions vary by platform)
Vlingo interface.Vlingo interface.Personal assistants are not just for the rich and famous: In virtual form, they're also available to smartphone users. With versions for Android, iOS, and other platforms, the Vlingo app does your bidding, whether you want it to update your Facebook status, fire off a text message, or search the Web.
Why it's worth checking out: As MC Hammer--who is quoted on Vlingo's iOS App Store page--says, "Vlingo is dope."

Siri Assistant

Platform: iOS
Price: Free
Siri Assistant for iOS.The Siri Assistant voice recognition app focuses on getting things done for you.Too busy to type? Turn to Siri Assistant, a virtual personal assistant that resembles Vlingo but is more focused on such tasks as finding restaurants, making reservations, locating theater tickets, and booking taxis. And just like a human assistant, Siri Assistant learns more about your personal preferences over time.
Why it's worth checking out: Apple purchased Siri back in 2010. Clearly, Steve Jobs sees something he likes here. Pro

Platform: Android, BlackBerry, iOS
Price: $13.95 per year Pro.The Pro app reads incoming text messages to you. You can compose and respond by voice.Not only is it unsafe to text while driving, but in many places it's also illegal. Still, you don't have to be out of touch when you're behind the wheel, thanks to Pro. This app reads your incoming text messages to you and lets you compose and send responses by voice. (A free version for Android will read incoming messages only.)
Why it's worth checking out: The app's name pretty much sums its raison d'être: Texting by hand while driving is not a good idea.

Dragon Downloadable Apps

Platform: Android, BlackBerry, iOS
Price: Varies
FlexT9 for Android.FlexT9 for Android.Nuance's popular line of Dragon voice-recognition software has gone mobile. The company offers various mobile apps, including Dragon Dictation (free), which lets you control many functions of your iOS device by voice; Dragon for Email (free), which enables BlackBerry users to compose and send messages by voice; and FlexT9 for Android ($4.99), which lets you choose your preferred method of input--speak, trace, write, or tap--based on your current needs.
Why it's worth checking out: Nuance's Dragon line of software has set the standard for PC-based voice recognition. If you're looking for a company that knows voice products, look no further.

ChaCha Answers

Platform: Android
Price: Free
ChaCha Android app.The ChaCha app for Android phones provides quick answers to your verbal questions.Search engines are great when you're looking for a wide swath of information. But if you have a narrowly specific question, digging through multiple pages of results looking for a simple answer is counterproductive. That's when you need ChaCha Answers, a question-and-answer service that provides quick answers to your pressing questions.
Why it's worth checking out: It can tell you how much you'd weigh on Saturn--in case you were wondering.

Jibbigo Voice Translation

Platform: Android, iOS
Price: $4.99 and up
Jibbigo Voice Translation.Speak in one language and have your words translated into another with the Jibbbigo Voice Translation app.What good is talking if your intended audience can't understand what your saying? Enter Jibbigo. This two-way translation app for Android and iOS listens as you talk in one language, and then translates your words into another language. It's available in eight different language pairs, including English, Filipino, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin Chinese, and Spanish.

Why it's worth checking out: We've heard your German accent, and it's terrible. Our advice: Stop talking and let Jibbigo speak for you.

Dyslexia: The Big Picture Movie Trailer - YouTube

A dyslexic high school student pursues admission to a competitive college -- a challenge for a boy that didn't learn to read until 4th grade. Additional accounts of the dyslexic experience from children, experts, and Iconic leaders help us understand that dyslexia is as much a gift as it is a challenge.

The Big Picture website:

Locked Away: The Background - Seclusion Rooms

Seclusion rooms are enclosed spaces that are supposed to be used to calm or restrain children who become violent.

In Ohio, no state law governs seclusion rooms, and the Ohio Department of Education has provided little guidance and virtually no oversight to schools.

But the discussion about whether or how to regulate seclusion in schools has continued in the U.S. for nearly four decades.

In 2012, after accounts of inappropriate restraint and seclusion of Columbus students made news, the Ohio Department of Education restarted a 2009 task force that had drafted a state policy on the use of seclusion and restraint. The department says a new draft policy will be completed in August 2012.

Seclusion rooms can be crucial tools to keep students who may quickly spin out of control and become violent safe. Many educators say seclusion rooms should be used only when children are at risk of hurting themselves or others.

There is little evidence that seclusion helps children but plenty of evidence that it hurts them. Seclusion rooms do take children out of the classroom, where they could be learning.

Teachers and students can be injured forcing a struggling child into a seclusion room. Research shows that children have committed suicide, hurt themselves and even died inside seclusion rooms.

Locked Away: Moving Away From "Mainstreaming" | StateImpact Ohio

Locked Away: Moving Away From "Mainstreaming"

The use of special rooms to isolate students for behavioral problems is in some ways an outgrowth of a longstanding movement to integrate special needs students into “regular” school.

For three decades, federal law has required “mainstreaming” of students with disabilities and behavioral problems.

Before that, schools didn’t have to accept special-needs kids, leaving them out of public education.

Parents revolted, arguing that their children deserved the same schooling as anyone else and that mainstreaming would benefit everyone: Special-needs kids could learn to act like the other kids, and those kids could learn a bit of empathy by going to school with students different from them.

Seclusion rooms evolved as a way to handle disruptions in class. They were intended to be used when students posed a physical threat to themselves or others.

Now, many parents of special-needs students are opting to move away from mainstreaming their children in public schools.

Read the full article here: Locked Away: Moving Away From "Mainstreaming" | StateImpact Ohio

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Dyslexia: A Neurological Disorder

Up to one in five Americans have dyslexia, making it challenging for them to get through a best seller — or even a menu.

If they weren't diagnosed in school, many may incorrectly assume they're simply slow readers — "or even stupid," says Sally Shaywitz, M.D., codirector of the Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity.

Dyslexia is neurological: Disruptions in key brain circuits affect the ability to retrieve or correctly order the basic sounds of language, explains Dr. Shaywitz.

Telltale clues — beyond reading in a way that feels plodding and deliberate — include exceptionally poor spelling and knowing a word but being unable to utter it correctly.

Although the process is time- consuming, you can overcome dyslexia. It requires relearning the basics of reading, all the way back to learning how to sound out words.

Group classes for adults typically meet at libraries, adult education centers, or offices of nonprofit literacy organizations several times a week for a year or longer.

You can also have private lessons with a tutor. Two reading programs that Dr. Shaywitz recommends: the Wilson Reading System ( and Language (

Does Teaching toddlers to pay attention help academic success

The secret to raising an academic child is not to coach toddlers in maths or play them classical music, but to teach them to pay attention, research by child development experts suggests.

Toddlers who are better at concentrating, taking directions and persisting with a game even after hitting difficulties have a 50 per cent greater chance of getting a degree when older, a two-decade long experiment found.

The study (Relations between preschool attention span-persistence ..)  tracked 430 kids from pre-school to 21-years-old, monitoring academic and social development, behavioural skills and behaviour at home and in the classroom.

Parents were asked to watch how long the children would play with one particular toy while at home, while teachers were instructed to give the class a task and then monitor which toddlers gave up and which ones kept persevering until they had completed it.

Results of the study by Oregon State University were published in the online journal Early Childhood Research Quarterly.

The children most likely to go through further education were those who, at an early age, persisted in tasks and paid attention in pre-school sessions, said researchers.

Researchers said these are qualities that both parents and teachers can easily teach youngsters.

Many ambitious parents try to introduce maths or classical music or other academic subjects to their children to give them a headstart in life but they may be better teaching social skills like paying attention, not giving up and how to follow directions, said child development expert Megan McClelland.

She said: "There is a big push now to teach children early academic skills at the pre-school level.

"Our study shows that the biggest predictor of college completion wasn't maths or reading skills, but whether or not they were able to pay attention and finish tasks at age four."

The pre-school research included seeing how long children would play with a single toy or how easily they would give up when they reached difficulties in a task.

Dyslexia: The Role of Hearing and Auditory Processing

Doctors have known for years that those with dyslexia process information differently than others, like seeing words with transposed letters but there is mounting evidence that they might also hear language differently, as well.

“Any sort of language problem could very well have its roots in perception itself,” said Susan Nittrouer, Ph.D., of The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. “To many people, the solution seems to be, well, we will just train those with dyslexia how to recognize words correctly but the problem is really more fundamental than that.”

Nittrouer said she began to suspect the role hearing might play in dyslexia after nearly a decade-long study involving children who were born deaf or with profound hearing loss.

“We began following this group of over a hundred children, basically, since they were infants,” Nittrouer said.

All the children in the study got cochlear implants, which use microphones mounted just behind their ears, to capture and feed sound waves to nerves near the brain.

Through consistent testing, researchers found that the implants made a remarkable difference in terms of childrens’ ability to hear, but they’ve raised some intriguing questions as well.

“Cochlear implants have been able to help children who are deaf basically function as hearing children do,” said Nittrouer.

“However, once you begin to scratch the surface, you often find that children who have cochlear implants function similarly to how children who have dyslexia function.”

Nittrouer says that’s important because it points to the role of hearing in dyslexia. “Given that they look so much like children with dyslexia,” said Nittrouer, “we can really connect the dots between their perception, the kind of signal that they’re getting, and the sort of language problem that results.”

Even more encouraging, is that researchers say they spotted problems in these children long before they would have been obvious in dyslexic children who have normal hearing.

“We were able to identify these emerging problems in these children at kindergarten,” Nittrouer said. “If they didn’t have cochlear implants and weren’t in this project, in all likelihood, these problems learning to read would not have have shown up until they were in 3rd grade.”

Nittrouer says more research need to be done, but her findings could eventually lead to a new approach to dyslexia.

“We might be able to develop tests that could be administered earlier to predict who might be at risk for dyslexia,” she said.

“If, indeed, it turns out to be that these children have broader perceptual issues, then we need to begin to put together a broader intervention approach,” said Nittrouer, “one that does not involve just pulling the children out of the classroom for 20 minutes of tutoring a few times a week, but rather a program that involves all educators for the child’s entire day at school.”

¹What is Dyslexia?, National Center for Learning Disabilities, (citing the National Institute of Child and Human Development), June 2012.