If you need some distractions

By Mir
September 11, 2013

Yep, I know what today is. Nope, not gonna talk about it. There are plenty of places you can go to get that, today.

What I’m offering, instead, is two different distractions if you need ’em. Because YAY, shiny and less-depressing things!

First: My latest post at Alpha Mom is all about teaching teens to think about money, even though mostly what my teens think about money is, “Mom should give us more of it.”

Second: I’ve been given the privilege of doing some collaboration with the National Center for Learning Disabilities, which does all sorts of awesome things (and I would say that even if I wasn’t working with them). I think that when you say “learning disability” most people think “dyslexia,” even though there’s a plethora of learning differences which includes things like ADHD, Autism Spectrum disorders, and more. The NCLD is interested in hearing more from other parents. If you have a child with a learning difference, what types of resources would you find most helpful in making sure your child receives the best education possible? Everything shared here will be passed along to the NCLD to assist them in improving their offerings. (Please share this feedback opportunity with others who might have something to say, too, even if they’re not blog readers. All input welcome!)


  1. Sarah B.

    Resources more freely available to kids in alternative schooling situations, like students in private schools or who are homeschooled. My son, who has an ASD diagnosis, cannot handle public school (tried, epic fail), but because he’s not in public school, there are almost no educational resources available without me paying through the nose. I can get him tested through the school (after all the enrolled students who need testing have gone through the process), but that’s it. It may not be realistic, but hey, you asked. ;)

  2. jodifur

    I’d like to know more about resources for kids who learn differently but who are not diagnosed. i think all of us have learning differences. Some people learn auditory, some people learn through reading, and schools are so cookie cutter now, they fail so many students. How do we reach the kids who have learning differences but are either undiagnosed, or simply didn’t fit into the box?

  3. Amanda

    I think resources to write our legislators and let them know how the laws fail our differently learning kids would help. So many people think a diagnosis automatically equals services, but with dyslexia, for example, many schools ONLY offer a 504, which has no real legal recourse like due process if it’s not followed, and often the students still fall through the cracks. The schools even sometimes flat out refuse to accept an outside diagnosis of a learning disability, and insurances don’t cover diagnosis or therapies, so most families NEED the school systems to recognize and help, or there needs to be more affordable options available. These students fall through the cracks even more so than our children with a more heavily recognized diagnosis under IDEA.

  4. Jenn

    I’d love to have a resource that addresses specific issues (in my case, helping your ADHD child to be a successful reader) and tactics for dealing with them. I envision this being some sort of online wiki-type tool where I could choose “Attention Issues” and “Reading” and get a list of articles.

    Obviously I have an ADHD child and having one resource that could centralize information and curate it so articles from complete crackpots aren’t included would be immensely helpful. . . .

  5. not supergirl

    I’d like my school to have more of a sense of *how* to help my daughter. She falls under the vague category “dyslexic” but is more specifically dealing with dysgraphia. Her handwriting looks like a second-grader’s, and her spelling isn’t quite that good. She also has trouble reading entire words accurately, constantly making substitutions. Still, she’s a bright, competent kid. My school will offer accommodations, like allowing her to type assignments when possible, using the benefit of legible fonts and spellcheck, but I don’t know if I feel like I’m satisfied with them just ignoring her issues. I’d be much happier if they could actually help her with them. Maybe that is not reasonable, and these are things she’ll never excel in. I can accept that for spelling and handwriting, but the reading accuracy is pretty critical.

    • Lucinda

      I posted below but much of what you describe sounds like my son (without the benefit of ever getting any kind of actual identification at his school). We had him tested by a visual therapist because he was a slow reader, had dysgraphia, horrible handwriting, slow writing, headaches, etc. His teachers agreed that his output did not match his intellect at all. He could comprehend what he was reading if he was allowed to read as slowly as he needed too but his fluency (accuracy) was well behind grade-level. Now he has a much more positive outlook and I can actually see the difference when I look at how his eyes move now. That may not be the answer for you but it can’t hurt to look into it.

  6. Lisa

    I have an 8yo who is probably, but not quite enough for an ‘official’ diagnosis, an aspie. With ADHD. And sensory integration issues. And is so very very smart. Add to that, we live in a relatively rural area without a lot of specialized services.

    Our small public school does a fantastic job of providing alternatives/accommodations for him. Like today where it is testing day and oh the anxiety and frustration. So they allow him a separate room, lots of breaks whenever he needs it, and he can bring in an iPod & headphones (for his Pink Floyd, Peter Gabriel, and Mumford & Sons fix).

    But. I still feel like we’re not doing enough to help him learn the right or enough skills to cope and adapt as he moves into the horror that is middle school. And I feel like there aren’t many like-minded kids for him to play with.

    Essentially, I would love to have more access to alternative schools in rural areas. (Monkey’s Hippie School sounded so so good.) We are so limited here. It’s public school or homeschool, and for us, the latter is not an option at the moment.

    Thank you, Mir, for asking and passing responses along. You’re looking mighty pretty today.

  7. Patricia

    You know what would help the most? Knowing what’s actually available and maybe even a list of things to try. I have an ADHD kid who I’ve spent countless hours trying to help the teachers help him — which is fine. But not knowing what is available to help me/him makes asking for anything seem daunting. I’ve had to sort through what other families have had to ask for and then see if that might help and frankly that’s backwards. I’m guessing my school district isn’t atypical, but it seems that the motto is to give the least amount of support possible — which makes them (as good-hearted as some are) less likely to offer up ideas. (And yes, Mir, I bake and bribe and beg.)

  8. Anne

    I think over the years the hardest part of the parent/school relationship has been not knowing exactly what to ask for. I have a child with multiple issues and no real diagnosis. We have seen many doctors and done much testing with no consensus. So with no “label” there is no standard of services. thankfully, with no “label” there are no imposed limitations either. When I am in the child study team meetings I have always felt like I could get more help from the school but they are certainly not going to share the possibilities with me and will only agree to things when forced. They have yet to voluntarily offer any helpful services despite whole heartedly agreeing that she needs services. This is my child’s last year of high school, I foresee a big battle ahead as we start her transitional planning, sigh.

  9. Lucinda

    1) My daughter was born 12 years ago today so I celebrate!

    2) My son in currently in visual therapy to retrain his brain. Perhaps as many as 25% of children have some kind of visual perception issue that affects their learning but schools are completely unequipped to deal with it (except to ask the student to just work harder). After at least two years of me saying something and not being heard and another two years of intervention that only gave him headaches, I pursued private options. The change I’ve seen in 2 months is astounding. I would love to see more training and education about visual perception and how treatable it truly is. At any age.

    Visual perception issues include flipping letters and numbers, struggling to read aloud, reading more slowly (poor fluency) but having great comprehension, the inability to focus from far to near to far again, trouble with tracking so the eye does not hit its target (can you imagine how much longer you take to read if you have to find your place with every new line of text????), and headaches because your eyes are working so hard.

    Please pass this on as it is one learning disability that is truly treatable and probably affects thousands of students. It is also hereditary. At our visual therapists office, they showed a video where it said they wished they could screen every child when they enter school. Any child with visual perception issues would go through visual therapy before ever starting school. It could save so much heartache and time. I’m so glad you are asking for input.

    • andrea

      oh. my. gosh. You totally hit the nail on the head for my son! Thank you for sharing this. What kind of testing/assessment should I ask my pediatrician (or other specialist??) to run?

  10. Heather Devereaux

    I would be happy if the teachers even knew my son is diagnosed with ADHD. He is in his 3rd and last year of Middle School and every year for all the classes I find myself having to tell the teacher, ‘yeah I know he is a little hyper and talks out, he is ADHD.’ And the response, ‘oh I didn’t know.’ Really? It’s in his chart, he takes pills for his ADHD at school. One of my favorite responses is, but he gets A’s. When did ADHD = bad grades?

    Now I would like to say that the majority of his teachers, once I tell them, understand and try to be helpful. I always make it very clear that I am ALWAYS available by phone or email.

    This year he happens to have the same teacher for 4th hour (Math, which happens to be one of his favorite subjects) and 7th hour (Intro to Theater). Yesterday at the open house I again found myself saying yeah, 7th hour is a hard one for him, he is ADHD. The teacher said oh that explains a lot, he is a lot more talkative in 7th hour. Which made me laugh, first because frustration and second because I would think that class would require more talking.

    I think in small communities like I live in ADHD is looked at as an excuse instead of a disease. It took me a couple years to convince my dad, there are still times he says things like ‘he has no excuse to act like that.’

    I think I totally got off subject, what was the question again?

  11. Rachel

    I’m very grateful that my town happens to be the best town in the area for language based learning disabilities. In fact, some say it’s better than the nearby private school just for LBLD. My daughter has a-language-based-ld-that’s-not-dyslexia.

    I would like to see an active special ed/ld parent group. Can I get some info online? Yes. But I need to know what is happening locally. I need parents who have been through this system and know the tricks. Our SEPAC has 2 presentations a year, and that’s it. Other towns have actual meetings with other local parents. That would also help me to know what resources are available within our town for my other kid who is looking at an ADHD dx. (as an aside, extreme introvert + ADHD = nightmare in large school. And “large” = 250/grade)

    Finally, I’d like to see more resources for people dealing with “twice exceptional” kids – ie: kids with learning disabilities who are also gifted. Schools often put LD kids in lower-level courses due to their disabilities, when they could easily handle harder courses. I also think the schools need to actively teach self-advocacy for teens with LD. Math was a nightmare for my daughter last year partly because it was geometry (bad when you have problems processing things visually), partly because the teacher was a jerk and ineffective (he was there for only one year for good reason), and partly because she didn’t feel comfortable advocating for herself when she had problems in his class (partly because of the jerk part). I do my best at home, but actively teaching that would be great. The teens will need that in college!

    • Mir

      Ooooh, more resources/understanding for 2e kids is on my wish list, too. The number of teachers who seem to believe that a bright kid “can’t” have an other-than-dyslexia learning disability is staggering. So frustrating.

      • Nancy

        Yes- please more info on Twice Exceptional programs! I get so frustrated when the kiddos I work who don’t get the academic challenge they need, then they are punished when they become bored and start to act out.

  12. Rachael

    So I have both a husband and daughter who are “intellectual disabled (really low IQ and low comprehension and learns things slowly),” and my husband has ADHD as well.

    For my daughter, I wish they would really take the time to get her down on a level where she is learning. She’s in 6th grade and has already been held back a grade once. She’s at a 2nd grade reading level. So we’re in a new school district, and they’re basically “seeing where she’s at,” which means she’s way in over her head and the meltdowns are frequent. I wish that they had someone who could literally sit beside her all day at school so she can constantly get walked through problems and actually learn. It’s what we have to do when she’s home to even think about reasonably getting her homework done in a shorter amount of time. I’ve tried homeschooling her, but it’s a day of constant frustration for both of us.

    And I wish they had support for adults, too. I have watched my husband get fired from job after job because he’s not catching on. And it’s so not fair to him, because he wants to understand and he wants to learn and do well… employers are absolutely NOT patient at all.

  13. Michele R.

    What a great opportunity you have! I have been dealing with IEPs and ADHD for 7 years now. My almost 13 year old is doing so much better, but it has been a huge learning curve for her father and I and we have always felt like we were running uphill trying to understand what we need to be doing to best advocate for our daughter. I would love some online forum to talk to other parents.

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