Language and Reading Evaluations in Pre-K and K

There are lots of professionals who are qualified to evaluate children for written language disorders, sometimes referred to as dyslexia.  Included in this group are speech-language pathologists (SLPs).

The American Speech-Language Association (ASHA) says that one of the roles of the SLP includes:
Diagnosing disorders of reading and writing - including dyslexia - and describing the relationship between these disorders and the student's spoken language difficulties. There are lots of different perspectives on how to evaluate, what should be included in the evaluation, and what we should call "it."  The people who don't win in all this confusion are the parents and kids. Google and social media outlets are flooded with both expert advice and pseudo-science snake oil.  It's hard to tell the difference as a parent.
Often, parents don't realize that their child i…

Summer Therapy or Summer Break?

Every year at about this time I hear the same question - "Should I keep coming to therapy during the summer or take a break?" I get it.  By the time we roll around to the end of the school year and are experiencing the end-of-year May activities, a break sounds really good.  Here are some things to think about.

Do I need a break from everything, or just a break from the daily routine?   While you take a break from school can you still continue to devote a few hours a week to language or reading therapy?  Chances are that your child isn't tired of learning.  They're more tired of the daily grind.  If you are taking a much needed break from the schooling routine, consider whether you can still squeeze in an hour or two of therapy.

Can we take a small break and feel refreshed, or do we need the extended break? If you want to take a break, consider taking two weeks off instead of the entire summer.  Think about that winter break you get around Christmas.  I know that by…

Categorizing with Word Clouds

One of the important skills we teach children is categorization.  Many people don't realize how necessary categorization is to everyday life.  Think about when you go to the grocery store.  How do you know where to look for flour?  The thought process might go something like this:

What do we do with flour?
We use it for baking.
So, the flour might be located with other baking items.
Therefore, head to the aisle with all the cake mixes to find the flour.

Bet you didn't realize all that thinking went into grocery shopping!  Now what about when you get home to unpack those groceries?  You probably have a place where every item goes.  Maybe you store the poptarts next to the cereal in the cabinet because they both are breakfast items.  Or the apples and oranges you bought maybe go in the same refrigerator drawer with other fruit items.  You are more organized than you think because you are able to categorize, or sort items that go together.

Sometimes children who struggle with …

Is vision therapy helpful for dyslexia?

When I talk with parents about dyslexia, the topic of vision therapy almost always comes up.  It is heavily discussed on parent dyslexia support forums and one of the first results on a google search about dyslexia.  As a parent it is difficult to sift through all the information and determine what's good research and what's pseudoscience.

In 2009 the following professional organizations issued a joint statement that explains the scientific evidence does not support vision therapy:

That list of reputable and respected medical organizations should definitely give you pause.  In summary, their joint statement said this:

"Currently, there is no adequate scientific evidence to support the view that subtle eye or visual problems cause learning disabilities.8,30,31,45,46,48–59 Furthermore, the evidence does not support the concept that vision therapy or tinted lenses or filters are effective, directly or indirectly, in the treatment of learning disabilities.# Thus, the claim th…
'Tis the Season...for wondering what gifts to buy.  You want to get your kids something fun.  But you also want to sneak a little educational purpose in without them noticing.  Check out the new gizmo called Moonlite.  It's a story projector for your iPhone.

It's got all the right stuff.  It easily hooks up to technology - your iPhone.  It's also high interest.  Now, stay with me just a minute while we flash back to the 80s.  Insert time warp sounds here.....

Remember those old Viewmaster projectors? I got one of those when I was a kid and that was just the coolest.  Lay out the blankets and pillows, bring in the popcorn, turn off the lights, and shine that Viewmaster projector on the wall.  Instant movie.  But the best part for parents? It's got guilt-free educational purpose!

Ok, enough of the good old days.  Back to our holiday shopping dilemma.  Similar to the classic Viewmaster, Moonlite uses the flashlight of your phone and story "reels" to shine…

Spelling Isn't a Scary Halloween Costume

Spelling has always been the scary part of reading instruction.  It's always the thing we don't have time for because we are avoiding it at all costs.  People tell us spelling doesn't make sense or that learning to write is becoming obsolete with increasing technology to do it for us.

In schools, teachers have focused less and less on spelling instruction.  Many schools even quit teaching it at all after third grade.  Parents whose children struggle to read are often in favor of ignoring spelling.  After all, there's spell check for that, right?  And memorizing those spelling lists each week seems like cruel and unusual punishment for a struggling child.  I've even heard professionals tell people that it's OK to ignore the spelling lists.  So let's talk about that.
Get ready. I'm going to use the word "research."  Brace yourselves.  I'll be brief so stick with me.  Here goes.  The research tells us that kids can more easily read what the…

Building language in natural conversations

If you have noticed that your child isn't speaking with as many words as other children of the same age, you might be looking for ways to help them build their language skills.  You might look at google or visit the pediatrician and get some great advice like "name objects for your child."  Don't doubt it, that's good advice.  Kids need to learn the names for things, but here's the catch.  You can't start walking around naming things that your child's attention wasn't drawn to in the first place.  It won't help and you will make yourself nuts trying to do that all day.  So let's talk about how to naturally work on language skills during the day.  It's easy.  Just follow your child's lead.

Instead of thinking up ways to create a scenario that will get them talking, use the opportunities that are already presenting themselves.  For instance, you take your child to the bathroom to wash their hands after a splendid dinner of spaghettio…