1 in 5 students have learning and attention issues. An extensive literature review of empirical studies revealed three critical mindsets and eight key practices that can improve outcomes for students with learning and attention issues — and all students.
Just as we differentiate our core content instruction to meet individual student needs, our approach to digital citizenship should take student diversity into account. Get tips and strategies for teaching critical digital citizenship skills to your students with learning and attention issues.
In these video interviews, children's authors and illustrators who have learning and attention issues share their personal stories. You'll also hear from many popular children's authors who talk about books that can be engaging for kids who struggle with reading. Get tips on where to find great children's books, including graphic novels, book series, audio books, and more.
Learning to read is a challenge for many kids, but most can become good readers if they get the right help. Parents have an important job in recognizing when a child is struggling and knowing how to find help. Here are some signs to look for and things to do if you suspect your child is having trouble reading.
Browse these Top Picks to discover the best in educational apps and websites that support children with learning and attention issues in these areas: emotional intelligence, social skills, and executive function. You'll also find recommendations for quality assistive technology to support kids who are struggling with reading.
Talking to your child’s teacher about dyslexia is the best way for her to understand your child’s challenges, strengths and needs. Here are eight tips to help you have productive conversations.
There are many teaching methods that can help struggling readers, including children with dyslexia. Learn about the Orton–Gillingham approach and 10 other other methods to supplement your main classroom instruction.
Orton–Gillingham was the first teaching approach specifically designed to help struggling readers by explicitly teaching the connections between letters and sounds. Many reading programs include Orton–Gillingham ideas, including a “multisensory” approach, which is considered highly effective for teaching students with dyslexia.
Learn the benefits of getting your child evaluated, who does the evaluation, what happens during an evaluation, what to do with the results, and more. You can also view a video to get an inside look at a dyslexia evaluation.
Reading requires strong skills in decoding, vocabulary, and comprehension. Learn about some AT tools that can support students in these three key areas.
Learn the basics about text-to-speech, what the research says about how well it supports comprehension, tips on how to get the most out of the technology, and a short list of recommended text-to-speech tools.
Are students who use assistive technology getting an unfair advantage? Will AT fix a student's learning challenges? Here are the top three misconceptions about AT and how it is used in the classroom and at home.
Learn how to use the SETT framework to identify a struggling student's learning needs and match that with the most appropriate assistive technology options. A case study is provided.
In this Q&A with assistive technology expert Dr. Christopher Lee, learn more about using AT to support students with learning disabilities, finding the right AT tools, AT evaluations, self-advocacy, and much more.
Dr. Christopher Lee is a nationally recognized advocate, author, speaker, and leader in the fields of learning disabilities and adaptive technology. In this Q&A, Dr. Lee shares his personal story.
Most mobile devices come with assistive technology (AT) that can help with reading, writing and organization. Common built-in AT features include text-to-speech and dictation technology.
Trying out assistive technology (AT) can help you find the right tool for your child. You may be able to test out devices at your child’s school or there may be an AT lending library near you.
The IEP team at school decides which assistive technology tools each student needs. Many teams make these decisions using something called the SETT Framework. Learn how the overall process works.
This Q&A provides a brief overview of the responsibility of public schools to provide and pay for a student's assistive technology under the federal IDEA law and Section 504.
Assistive technology (AT) can be a powerful way to help children with reading issues, including kids with dyslexia. This guide is an introduction to AT tools for reading and where to find them.
Assistive technology (AT) can help kids with different types of writing challenges. AT tools can make the physical act of writing easier, as well as help kids who have trouble with spelling and grammar, and with organizing and expressing their thoughts. This guide provides an introduction to AT writing tools and where to find them.
Dictation is an assistive technology (AT) tool that can help kids who struggle with writing. Kids can use dictation to write with their voices, instead of writing by hand or with a keyboard — helpful for kids with dysgraphia, dyslexia and other learning and attention issues that impact writing.
Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is an approach to teaching aimed at meeting the needs of every student in a classroom. It can be helpful for all kids, including kids with learning and attention issues. But UDL takes careful planning by teachers. Here are just a few examples of how UDL can work in a classroom.
Assistive technology (AT) can be an effective accommodation for children with learning and attention issues. Understanding what AT is and how it works is the first step toward finding the right tools for your child.
Text-to-speech (TTS) is a type of assistive technology that reads digital text aloud. It’s sometimes called “read aloud” technology. TTS can take words on a computer or other digital device and convert them into audio. TTS is very helpful for kids who struggle with reading, but it can also help kids with writing and editing, and even focusing.
A mother describes the warning signs for dyslexia in her daughter that she didn't see clearly. She also shares the life-changing resources that helped her understand what dyslexia is and how to get her daughter the support she needed to thrive.
Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a way of thinking about teaching and learning that helps give all students an equal opportunity to succeed. This approach offers flexibility in the ways students access material, engage with it and show what they know. Developing lesson plans this way helps all kids, but it may be especially helpful for kids with learning and attention issues.
Special literacy events and celebrations can be a great way to get kids excited about books and reading. But for kids who struggle with reading, these kinds of events can challenge their self-confidence. Here are 15 strategies to help you plan a successful, joyful reading event for all kinds of readers and learners.
Discover what kinds of books are especially popular with children who struggle with reading. The recommended books are based on a Reading Rockets survey of parents and educators of children with learning and attention issues, including dyslexia, ADD/ADHD, and autism spectrum disorder.
In this Q&A with Dr. Todd Cunningham, you'll learn the basics about assistive technology (AT) and how AT tools can help students with language-based learning disabilities to reach their full potential in the classroom.
Learn some best practices in helping children with language processing issues learn to read in this Q&A with expert Nanci Bell, director of Lindamood-Bell Learning Processes. Find out what works with children who have weaknesses in concept imagery or symbol imagery.
The term “learning and attention issues” covers a wide range of challenges kids may face in school, at home and in the community. It includes all children who are struggling — whether their issues have been formally identified or not. Learning and attention issues are brain-based difficulties, and they often run in families. Find resources that can help kids be successful in school and in life!
High-leverage practices (HLPs) and evidence-based practices (EBPs) when used together can become powerful tools for improving outcomes for students with disabilities and those who struggle. This brief shows the promise of these practices in advancing educator preparation and practice.
It is important for parents to understand the "language" of assistive technology so they can be informed advocates for their child's technology needs. The following glossary of terms can help parents learn about the kinds of assistive technologies that are currently available and how they can be used.
Self-advocacy is an important skill for even young kids with dyslexia to develop. But sometimes it’s hard for grade-schoolers to know what to say. Find out how you can help your child by rehearsing common situations she may face.
Many learners with disabilities are visual learners and are best able to understand and remember content when they can see it represented in some way; in other words, they need to “see what we mean.” Three visual supports helpful for teaching and supporting literacy development are described here: picture books, graphic notes, and story kits.
Discover five graphic organizers that can help kids with dysgraphia, executive functioning issues, and other issues that can cause trouble with writing.
Handwriting involves more than just making letters on a page — it requires strong fine motor and visual-motor skills. Here are some multisensory techniques to try if your child is struggling with writing.
Whether your child has mild or severe Autism Spectrum Disorder, making reading a fun activity can help your child's learning and social skills. You'll find sharing books together can be a good way to connect with your son or daughter. Reading also helps your child's language development and listening skills.
Audio books are a wonderful way to expose your child to complex language, expressive reading, and fantastic stories. Listening to audio books also gives kids the valuable and enjoyable experience of using their own imaginations to visualize the people and places they’re hearing about. Here, you’ll find guidance on what to look for in choosing audio books as well as listening tips.
For children with print-based reading disabilities, accessible formats provide alternate versions of print-based books that function in much the same way as a print-based textbook. Learn about the different kinds of accessible formats, including digital talking books, enlarged text, electronic publications, and more.
This resource guide identifies high-quality, useful resources that address various aspects of accessibility: developing an accessibility statement, conducting an accessibility audit, acquiring accessible technology, and building professional development resources on accessibility for school staff and others.
Teaching experience supports a multi-sensory instruction approach in the early grades to improve phonemic awareness, phonics, and reading comprehension skills. Multi-sensory instruction combines listening, speaking, reading, and a tactile or kinesthetic activity.
Discover 12 easy tips that encourage multisensory learning at home.
Many struggling and special needs students have a print disability. Teachers can meet these students’ needs by translating the three principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) into practice. Learn about the seven features of "born accessible materials" and how to select these materials for your school and classroom.
Three patterns of reading difficulties are common. This article explains how recognizing these three patterns can provide a valuable starting point for planning reading instruction and interventions.
Get insight into how a 21st century literacies perspective can support inclusive literacy practices that create a community of learners, use digital tools to make the curriculum accessible, and link academic goals with real‐world platforms.
Inferential comprehension requires both emotional intelligence and cognitive skills, however instructional comprehension strategies typically underemphasize the emotional contribution. This article documents an intervention used by diverse third grade students which centers on teaching story comprehension through character perspective-taking (i.e., Theory of Mind).
Let’s face it: Not all kids love to write. For some, every step of the writing process is difficult — including spelling, handwriting and getting organized ideas onto paper. In this edition of Growing Readers, you'll learn more about dysgraphia and how you can support your child's writing.
Dr. Tracy Gray, a nationally recognized expert in education and technology implementation, answers questions about the use of technology to support struggling readers and writers, including children with learning disabilities.
Learn more about the English spelling system, how spelling supports reading, why children with dyslexia and dysgraphia struggle, which words should be taught, and instruction that works.
Learn how technology tools can support struggling students and those with learning disabilities in acquiring background knowledge and vocabulary, improving their reading comprehension, and making connections between reading and writing.
Universal Design for Learning (UDL) provides the opportunity for all students to access, participate in, and progress in the general-education curriculum by reducing barriers to instruction. Learn more about how UDL offers options for how information is presented, how students respond or demonstrate their knowledge and skills, and how students are engaged in learning.
Dysgraphia is a learning disability that affects a child's handwriting. Children with dysgraphia usually have other problems such as difficulty with written expression. Learn more about causes, the importance of early assessment, dysgraphia and spelling, and effective instructional strategies that strengthen written language skills.
One motivating, engaging, and inexpensive way to help build the foundational reading skills of students is through the use of closed-captioned and subtitled television shows and movies. These supports can help boost foundational reading skills, such as phonics, word recognition, and fluency.
Classrooms can be perilous in a number of ways for students with learning disabilities. Here are some tips to remember when working with students with LD.
Speech recognition, also referred to as speech-to-text or voice recognition, is technology that recognizes speech, allowing voice to serve as the "main interface between the human and the computer." This Info Brief discusses how current speech recognition technology facilitates student learning, as well as how the technology can develop to advance learning in the future.
Our Top 8 back-to-school tips for parents emphasize communication, organization, and staying up-to-date on special education news.
Our top 10 back-to-school tips for special education teachers emphasize communication, organization, and a focus on student success.
Get the basics on Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD), including signs, treatment, accommodations in school, and tips for parents and teachers.
Reading comprehension is often a concern for the teachers of students with autism. The comprehension strategies described in this article may help some students gain comprehension skills and improve their ability to read and communicate about written material.
Some students identified with autism can participate successfully in whole-class rich literacy experiences, with the right kind of support. Learn about strategies for designing lessons that are appropriate, engaging, and challenging for every learner in the inclusive classroom.
Knowing how to engage in signature scientific acts, such as formulating questions and using evidence in arguments is an important part of science learning. This InfoBrief from the National Center for Technology Innovation offers more information about using technology to support struggling students.
The law requires that public schools develop appropriate Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) for each child. The IEP is a written plan for educating a child with a disability. The IEP describes the student's specific special education needs as well as any related services, including assistive technology.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Ophthalmology, and the Council on Children with Disabilities published a statement summarizing what is currently known about visual problems and dyslexia. The statement also covers what treatments are and are not recommended when diagnosing and treating vision problems, learning disabilities, and dyslexia.
If your child has a learning disability, he or she may benefit from assistive technology tools that play to their strengths and work around their challenges.
Research-based information and advice for sizing up reading programs and finding the right one for your child with a learning disability.
Learn about assistive technology tools — from abbreviation expanders to word-recognition software programs — that address your child's specific writing difficulties.
Learn about assistive technology tools — from audiobooks to variable-speed tape recorders — that help students with reading.
Learn more about where to find help if you suspect that your child may have a developmental delay. A developmental evaluation will be used to decide if your child needs early intervention services and/or a treatment plan specifically tailored to meet a child's individual needs.
Tutors can play very important roles in the lives of the children they work with. Learn about these roles and the types of tutoring programs that are available to provide young readers with one-on-one support.
A psychologist specializing in language-based learning disabilities explains how to talk to children about their LD: All the parts you need to be smart are in your brain. Nothing is missing or broken. The difference between your brain and one that doesn't have an LD is that your brain gets "traffic jams" on certain highways.
Heading off to kindergarten is a big event for all kids and parents. For young children who have struggled socially or academically during preschool, it is a transition that needs careful planning and attention. Below are four suggestions for parents of children who may need extra help making a successful move to kindergarten.
Researchers have identified three kinds of developmental reading disabilities that often overlap but that can be separate and distinct: (1) phonological deficit, (2) processing speed/orthographic processing deficit, and (3) comprehension deficit.
Learn what to look for as your child's handwriting skills begin to develop, as well as some signs and symptoms of dysgraphia — a learning disability that affects a child's handwriting and ability to hold a pencil or crayon.
Find out more about the different types of learning disabilities, how they're identified, and what types of instruction support students with LD.
Here are some strategies to help a child who does his or her homework, but doesn't turn it in.
Get tips on how you can foster a sense of partnership with the teacher and administration to support your child's education.
How do parents know if their child's reading delay is a real problem or simply a "developmental lag?" How long should parents wait before seeking help if their child is struggling with reading? Susan Hall answers these questions.
Spelling is a challenge for people with dyslexia. The International Dyslexia Association provides a fact sheet explaining why people with dyslexia have trouble spelling, how to find out the reasons a particular child has this difficulty, and how to help children with dyslexia spell better.
As we head towards September and a new school year, here's advice from special education expert Rick Lavoie that may be helpful as you attempt to make special needs kids in your class feel warm, welcome, and wanted. Using the word SEPTEMBER, he shares nine concepts that can help you in this effort.
Teachers and parents should suspect dysgraphia if a child's handwriting is unusually difficult to read. Find out more about this neurological problem that can cause physical pain as some children struggle to write.
Eli, a young boy, tells us what it is like to have dysgraphia. Regina Richards, a well-known expert on dysgraphia (and Eli's mom), explains how to help children who struggle with the challenges Eli describes. Practical techniques discussed include POWER: Prepare, Organize, Write, Edit, Revise.
Teachers: How do you convince your principal, fellow teachers, and other school staff to help the student in your class who has a learning disability? Rick Lavoie, world-renowned expert, speaker, and author on teaching children with LD, tells you how to get your voice heard. Learn how to handle common road blocks and become a proactive and successful advocate in the hallways, the teacher's lounge, and the administrative suite.
Writing is a complex operation requiring knowledge of text structure, syntax, vocabulary, and topic, and sensitivity to audience needs; so it is not surprising that many teens find writing challenging. This article identifies the qualities of strong writing instruction, and offers advice to teachers for incorporating writing instruction into their practice, using tools like notebooks and journals, and sharing strategies that reinforce the importance of pre-writing and revision.
Writing is a highly complex language skill. Without skilled, systematic instruction, many students — particularly those with disabilities — may not become proficient writers. At stake is access to the general education curriculum. This brief discusses developmental stages, why writing may pose particular challenges for students with disabilities, and what areas should be the focus for remediation.
Children with executive function problems have difficulty with planning, organizing and managing time and space, and weakness with "working memory." Learn more about executive function, how it affects learning, and strategies to help children in school and at home.
Concrete suggestions for teachers who want to communicate well with all of their students, especially English language learners and students with learning disabilities.
Do you think your child or student might have dyslexia? This fact sheet provides a definition of dyslexia, symptoms, prevalence, signs, and effects, as well as ways to help your child.
Many children with learning disabilities have a hard time staying organized. As your child begins a new school year, find out more about the concept of organizational skills and learn some strategies to help your child.
If your child cannot read their textbooks, they need digital copies of their books. Schools now can use National Instructional Material Accessibility Standard (NIMAS) to get e-text. Learn the details that will help you advocate for your child so they can use NIMAS. And learn where to find the publishers and producers that provide e-text.
Put together a summer listening program for your child. Listening is an engaging way to learn, so your child may love listening to books and other written documents. Have them listen to music and stage plays, comedy routines, and other works. Point out background sounds, such as the way the peppy tune on a sound track adds fun and humor to an adventure tale. Learning to listen is particularly helpful to children with learning disabilities.
Learn what questions to ask about Response to Intervention (RTI), an approach to helping struggling learners that is gaining momentum in schools across the country. This article from the National Association of School Psychologists tells you the most important features of the process, key terms, and RTI's relationship to special education evaluation.
Can teachers and parents of preschoolers identify learning problems early enough to prevent problems later in school? The Recognition & Response model helps adults know what to look for and how to help, so that later remediation and special education may not be necessary.
Here are a dozen simple strategies to help your children keep the academic skills they learned during the school year. Support them as they read. Give them material that is motivating — and some of it should be easy. Help them enjoy books and feel pleasure — not pressure — from reading. The summer should be a relaxed time where their love of learning can flower.
The identification of a child with dyslexia is a difficult process, but there are ways that parents and teachers can learn more about the reading difficulty and support the child's learning.
The literacy-rich environment emphasizes the importance of speaking, reading, and writing in the learning of all students. This involves the selection of materials that will facilitate language and literacy opportunities; reflection and thought regarding classroom design; and intentional instruction and facilitation by teachers and staff.
If you're thinking of hiring a private specialist to test your child for a learning disability, here are some key questions to ask yourself and the prospective evaluator.
The National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities developed an overview on screening, diagnosing and serving children age four or younger. The document was developed for researchers, administrators, and people who need an academic overview.
Professional school counselors can be more effective in their work with parents of students with disabilities — as well as with the students themselves, their teachers, and other students — if they understand parent perspectives. Parents' areas of concern are described, and implications for school counselors are discussed.
The school experiences of students with disabilities can be positively or negatively influenced by the attitudes and behaviors of students and staff and by general school policies. School counselors can take the lead in assessing school climate in relation to students with disabilities and initiating interventions or advocating for change when appropriate. This article provides an overview of factors to consider in creating positive school experiences for students with disabilities and suggestions for intervention efforts.
One of the most misunderstood topics in reading instruction involves the extent to which children should be encouraged to rely on context cues in reading.
Learn about an early intervening system being developed for young children, called Recognition and Response, designed to help parents and teachers respond to learning difficulties in young children who may be at risk for learning disabilities as early as possible, beginning at age 3 or 4, before they experience school failure and before they are referred for formal evaluation and possible placement in special education.
The National Center for Learning Disabilities presents a basic fact sheet on dyscalculia, a term which refers to a wide range of learning disabilities involving math. The following questions are answered: What are the effects of dyscalculia in early childhood, during the school years, and on teenagers and adults? What are the warning signs? How is dyscalculia identified and treated?
Helping struggling readers in the general classroom is a challenge, but The Access Center offers a solution. By using Response-to-Instruction’s tiered approach and Universal Design’s equal access philosophy, you can bridge the gap so that you are truly leaving no child behind.
Response to Instruction (RTI) and Universal Design for Learning (UDL) are two great ideas for making sure the curriculum reaches all students. Learn about how you can implement these ideas as part of your regular routine in the general education classroom.
Technology — and especially the subset of technology tools known as assistive technology (AT) — can be an effective element of the writing curriculum for students with disabilities. Since writing is so integral to school success, AT is often indicated to assist students with disabilities.
Spelling difficulties can be enduring in individuals with reading disabilities, sometimes even after reading has been successfully remediated. Addressing spelling difficulties is important, because poor spelling can hamper writing and can convey a negative impression even when the content of the writing is excellent.
Named "One of America's Top Doctors," Dr. Shaywitz is professor of pediatrics at Yale University School of Medicine and author of the bestseller Overcoming Dyslexia. On January 27, 2005, Reading Rockets hosted an online discussion with Dr. Shaywitz, who answered questions about dyslexia and other reading difficulties and responded to parents' concerns.
The purpose of this National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities (NJCLD) report is to examine the concepts, potential benefits, practical issues, and unanswered questions associated with responsiveness to intervention (RTI) and learning disabilities (LD). A brief overview of the approach is provided, including attributes, characteristics, and promising features, as well as issues, concerns, unanswered questions, and research needs.
About 10 million children have difficulties learning to read. The good news is that more than 90 percent of struggling readers can overcome their difficulties if they receive appropriate treatment at early ages.
The specific signs of dyslexia, both weaknesses and strengths, vary widely. Problems with oral language, decoding, fluency, spelling, and handwriting are addressed, as well as strengths in higher order thinking skills.
The earliest clues involve mostly spoken language. The very first clue to a language (and reading) problem may be delayed language. Once the child begins to speak, look for difficulties with rhyming, phonemic awareness, and the ability to read common one-syllable words.
Recent research on academically talented students with learning disabilities indicates that they have specific counseling needs that often are not addressed in elementary and secondary school. This article looks at what kinds of support students with this profile need, and how school counselors can provide it.
What should you do if you think your child is having trouble with reading? Sometimes children just need more time, but sometimes they need extra help. Trust your instincts! You know your child best. If you think there's a problem, there probably is.
This article discusses current research-supported instructional practices in reading and writing. It also reviews alternatives to ability-achievement discrepancy in identifying students for special education services, as well as introduces the idea that ability-achievement discrepancies should be based on specific cognitive factors that are relevant to specific kinds of learning disabilities rather than Full Scale IQ.
Does your child need to be evaluated for a learning disability? Learn how to find the best professional, prepare for evaluation, and get the most information from the experience.
Motivation is key to school success. Just as the actor asks a director, "What is my motivation, for this scene?," the child turns to teachers, parents, and peers to discover the "why" of learning. Motivation is often defined as a need or drive that energizes behavior toward a goal.
The International Dyslexia Association prepared this fact sheet describing reasonable accommodations involving materials, interactive instruction, and student performance to will help children with learning problems in general education and special education classrooms.
Find out how to help students with executive functioning issues learn to manage their time, space, materials, and school work.
Review well-established scientific findings about reading and their practical implications, for children with and without reading disabilities. In addition, consider some broader ways that science may be useful to educators and get suggestions for individual teachers interested in becoming more familiar with scientific research on reading.
Dyslexia is a language-based disability that affects both oral and written language. With help, children with dyslexia can become successful readers. Find out the warning signs for dyslexia that preschool and elementary school children might display.
When a child is having a language or reading problem, he just may need more time to learn language skills. Some children might have trouble seeing, hearing, or speaking, while others may have a learning disability. If you suspect a problem, it's important to get help quickly.
Differentiation means tailoring instruction to meet individual needs. Whether teachers differentiate content, process, products, or the learning environment, the use of ongoing assessment and flexible grouping makes this a successful approach to instruction.
Parents are often the best educational advocates for their children, especially children with a learning disability. Discover nine tips to help you be a strong champion for your child.
Dyslexia is the most common cause of reading, writing and spelling difficulties. This article provides a brief overview list of typical signs of dyslexia in preschool and kindergarten.
Research-based guidelines for teaching phonological awareness and phonemic awareness to all children are described. Additional instructional design guidelines are offered for teaching children with learning disabilities who are experiencing difficulties with early reading.
Many teachers will be using supplemental phonics and word-recognition materials to enhance reading instruction for their students. In this article, the authors provide guidelines for determining the accessibility of these phonics and word recognition programs.
Student writing can be evaluated on five product factors: fluency, content, conventions, syntax, and vocabulary. Writing samples also should be assessed across a variety of purposes for writing to give a complete picture of a student's writing performance across different text structures and genres. These simple classroom help in identifying strengths and weaknesses, planning instruction, evaluating instructional activities, giving feedback, monitoring performance, and reporting progress.
These tips for parents of children with learning disabilities emphasize to all parents the importance of helping children learn about letters and sounds. Get concrete advice for teaching the alphabet, raising awareness about sounds, and promoting letter-sound knowledge.
Learn about specific strategies you can use to differentiate instruction to help your students overcome fluency problems, as well technology tools that can support development of fluency skills.