Read and Spell Blog

Autism and typing as a form of augmentative communication
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Autism and typing

Autism and typing

Many children and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) struggle to express themselves in speaking and writing. Communication challenges can range from mild to severe: one child with autism may speak fluently with an impressive vocabulary and another might be completely nonverbal. Some learners say the same word over and over, and others repeat a series of sounds, or the speech of others, a condition known as echolalia.

But experiencing difficulties with speaking does not necessarily mean an autistic child cannot understand, process and use language to represent his or her thoughts, it may just be he or she doesn’t have the ability to express what’s inside. That’s why it can be useful to explore alternative forms of communication, such as typing. Typing can help verbal and nonverbal autistic learners as well as those who struggle to write by hand.

Apraxia vs. aphasia: What’s the difference?
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Apraxia vs. aphasia: What’s the difference?

Apraxia vs. aphasia: What’s the difference?

Both apraxia of speech and aphasia affect an individual’s ability to communicate – they just do so in different ways. Apraxia makes it hard to coordinate muscle movements and put sounds in the right order to produce intelligible speech. It may also impact on speech planning. Individuals can struggle with consonant clusters, rhythm, and stress, and may generally experience difficulties with aspects related to the prosody of language.

On the other hand, aphasia is about language retrieval and recognition. People with aphasia or dysphasia may not be able to find the words they need to express themselves in speech or in writing, or they might use the wrong words and not realize it. Additionally, individuals with receptive aphasia don’t always understand what other people are saying and can finding listening and reading challenging.

If aphasia and apraxia of speech are the result of a stroke, a person may also experience difficulties with enunciation, referred to as dysarthria. This can present as trouble controlling the volume levels of speech, excessive drooling, or problems getting enough air while speaking. Dysarthria is caused by weakness or paralysis of the muscles of the lips, tongue, throat and face.

helping students in special education
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3 Ways to help students in special education

3 Ways to help students in special education

There a number of reasons why a child may need to attend a special education program at school. Special education can help learners who struggle with developmental delays, such as dyspraxia or apraxia of speech, and/or children who experience challenges with literacy and numeracy because of a specific learning difference.

It may also be that a physical impairment is affecting a student’s ability to learn in the same way as his or her peers and specific accommodations and materials are necessary. The basic requirement for a program to be considered special education is that it must address the individual learner’s needs in a way that wouldn’t be possible in a mainstream classroom. But just because a child receives extra support, it doesn't mean they are less intelligent or talented than their peers.

How to know when handwriting problems are caused by dysgraphia or dyspraxia
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3 Common handwriting problems in children

3 Common handwriting problems in children

Learning how to write is one of the most important things a child will do when he or she begins school. That’s because writing offers a means for self-expression and reflecting on the work of others, but it’s also how knowledge and learning is measured in our society. Writing can be done on a computer or through dictation using speech-to-text technology, but it’s more common for children to learn how to write by hand. This happens between the ages of 4 and 5 and involves becoming familiar with the letters of the alphabet, mastering the pen strokes used to form letters, and practicing with holding the pen or pencil in a tripod grip.

It’s common for new writers to struggle with letter formation, spacing and posture in the beginning, but most are able to produce clear and legible text by the end of the second grade. However, there are some children who continue to struggle with the mechanics of handwriting beyond age 7 or 8. For these learners, writing is often slow and labored, and may cause high levels of stress, frustration, anxiety, and embarrassment at school.

Dyslexia programs that can help adults
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3 Dyslexia programs for adults

3 Dyslexia programs for adults

Dyslexia is a specific learning difference that can affect literacy skills in children and adults. This is because it makes it harder to break language down into its component sounds, which complicates the process of sounding words out and spelling them. It’s helpful not to think of dyslexia as an illness or a disability – despite it being called that in some countries - it’s just a different way of processing in the brain that can also impact on memory and organizational skills.

And while dyslexia can make some activities more challenging, such as reading and writing, dyslexic adults may also excel in other areas such as problem solving and creative pursuits. With the right support, including strategy training and accommodations in the classroom or workplace, every individual can achieve his or her full potential. That’s why it’s so important for adults with dyslexia to learn more about their options when it comes to choosing a literacy program, a trained tutor and/or the tools that can best support them.

What to do when you can't spell
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Help! I can’t spell.

Help! I can’t spell.

Everyone has difficulty with spelling from time to time. You might make a mistake when you use a word infrequently, or have trouble reporting a word’s spelling verbally when you’re put on the spot. These are common issues for a few reasons. One is that spelling is something we usually do in writing - delivering this information in another modality can be awkward. Two, spelling is information that we store in the brain as procedural knowledge.

This means it becomes automatic only after a person builds up extensive contact through repeat exposure to a word in reading and writing. You might have certain words you always mix up because you never learned the correct spelling, or because you wrote them incorrectly and now can’t tell the right from the wrong version. But some people struggle with spelling in a very different way.

For example, dyslexic individuals may put a word’s letters in the wrong order, miss out on a letter, or even add one that doesn’t belong. They often have difficulty spelling consistently, and can get a word right one day and not the next. This doesn’t mean they are “stupid” or “lazy,” it just means there’s something interrupting the encoding process by which words are split into their component sounds and those sounds are then mapped onto English letters.

Adult ADD Checklist of symptoms to look out for
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An Adult ADD Checklist

An Adult ADD Checklist

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) are commonly discussed in reference to school-age children, but some estimates suggest that up to 4% of the adult population also struggles with attention difficulties. The symptoms include difficulty focusing, impulsivity, forgetfulness, and sometimes periods of hyper-focus.

Individuals with attention difficulties may have trouble sleeping and staying organized. They can be prone to emotional outbursts and can feel overly flustered and anxious when under stress. Someone with an undiagnosed learning difficulty may struggle with a secret sense of shame, believing they are not as smart or as capable as their peers. Poor impulse control is also common. Attention difficulties are not something you grow out of, but many adults develop coping skills to help them get by.

Am I dyslexic?
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Am I dyslexic?

Am I dyslexic?

Dyslexia is a specific learning difference that can affect an individual’s ability to break words down into their component sounds. This, in turn, impacts on reading and spelling ability and may result in them needing extra time and/or classroom and workplace accommodations to achieve the same results as peers. However, dyslexia is not a measure of intelligence, it is just a different way of processing in the brain – and it is also associated with some positives!

For example, dyslexic individuals may possess keen analytical and problem-solving skills. They may have sophisticated spatial awareness, can be talented and creative artists, and have a knack for seeing the bigger picture. They may “think outside the box,” and be great team players. Estimates suggest up to 10% of the population has dyslexia and it is not uncommon for adults to suspect they are dyslexic, particularly if reading and writing have always been a challenge.

But like most specific learning differences, dyslexia exists on a spectrum and no two people will experience the same set or severity of symptoms. Having a diagnostic assessment can help you learn more about your strengths and weaknesses and which strategies and accommodations will most benefit you.

The best Down syndrome blogs to follow
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6 Down syndrome blogs to follow

6 Down syndrome blogs to follow

For families who are just embarking on their journey, blogs are a good place to start. That’s because they give you a way to move beyond the medical facts and statistics your doctors might discuss with you and discover the practical and emotional sides of raising a child with Down syndrome. You can engage with the blogs' authors, join in on-going discussions with other readers, and learn more about families who are on a similar path to yours.

Down syndrome is a genetic condition that occurs when a child is born with an extra copy of chromosome 21. In the past, it was assumed that children with Down syndrome would not benefit from early access to education. Thankfully today we understand that with the right support, these very special children can go on to lead rich and fulfilling lives.

Exchanging ideas and sharing tips and anecdotes can help you gain much needed perspective and provide support when you need it most. Blogs also serve as a platform for circulating the latest resources and research, and getting behind local and national causes. That’s why we’re sharing our list of the top Down syndrome blogs in 2018. We hope you’ll give them a read! With the right guidance, care and accommodations, every child with Down syndrome can go on to achieve great things.

Understanding dyspraxia in adults
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5 Things to know about dyspraxia in adults

5 Things to know about dyspraxia in adults

Dyspraxia is a motor learning disability that can impact on gross and fine motor skills, coordination and planning ability. In certain cases processing speed, attention and memory may also be affected. Because no two people will present with the same set or severity of symptoms, every dyspraxic individual has different needs. For example, it can be helpful for some students to have task instructions broken down into individual steps and lesson material chunked into more manageable sets.

Folders, agendas and calendar tools may help a working adult stay organized and meet deadlines, and in cases in which writing by hand is painful, it might be recommended that someone with dyspraxia learn how to touch-type. Dyspraxia is a lifelong condition, but with a strategy program in place and access to the right accommodations, most adults can overcome the challenges they face and achieve their full potential at work or at school.

Computer basics for adults to help at school and in the workplace
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Computer basics for adults

Computer basics for adults

For adults who lack familiarity with computers, life in the modern age can be a challenge. That’s because technology is involved in almost every aspect of our lives: we need it for work, school, keeping in touch, day-to-day task management, remote education and even online shopping.

Being able to use a word processor is required for students and working professionals because formal assignment and written reports must be typed. Referencing and research that used to be done in a library is now largely undertaken via online searches of the worldwide web and academic databases.

You need an email address to sign up for new services, make online purchases, apply for jobs and education programs, and communicate with friends and family. Even something as simple as locating a suitable local tradesman is more efficient when done through an online search vs. looking in the yellow pages.

And while tablets and smartphones account for a large portion of our daily technology use, computers are still an important tool.

Thankfully adult basic skills courses exist to help learners achieve the tech-fluency they need to feel more comfortable using computers and many local libraries and community centers offer free introductory programs too.