Friday, November 25, 2011

Best Colleges for Students with Learning Disabilities or ADHD

One common worry for parents of children with learning disabilities or ADHD is about post-secondary education. Where can they go? What services will be provided? Can they be successful?

Bottom Line Personal Magazine recently ran an article listing colleges with programs for students who have learning disabilities (LD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Here's a short rundown:

Two Year Schools:

Dean College - Franklin, Massachusetts
Special Programs - Personalized Learning Services (tutoring), Arch Learning Community (improved academic skills), Pathway Learning Community (small classes), Program to transition to a 4-year school

Landmark College - Putney, Vermont
Special Programs - Specially designed for LD/ADHD students--teaches students to overcome their disabilities and transfer to a 4-year school, smaller classes, tutorials, coaching programs

Four Year Schools:

Curry College - Milton, Massachusetts
Special Program - Program for Advancement of Learning (PAL)
  • Students applying through PAL don't need SAT/ACT scores
  • 3 week summer session to ease transition to college
  • Strong support including help with homework

Lynn University - Boca Raton, Florida
Special Program - Comprehensive Support Program
  • Tutorials
  • Study sessions
  • Special classes
  • Resources and accommodations

Southern Illinois University Carbondale - Carbondale, Illinois
Special Program - Achieve Program
  • Diagnostic evaluation
  • tutorials
  • Notetakers
  • Audio textbooks
  • Remedial Classes

University of Arizona - Tucson, Arizona
Special programs - Strategic Alternative Learning Techniques (SALT), Disability Resource Center (DRC)
  • Facilities
  • Resources
  • Support

University of Denver - Denver, Colorado
Special Program - Learning Effectiveness Program (LEP)
  • Customized support
  • One-on-one counseling

University of Indianapolis - Indianapolis, Indiana
Special Program - Baccalaureate for University of Indianapolis Learning Disabled (BUILD)
  • Minimum 2 hours individualized tutoring/week
  • Special Math & English classes

Need more information? Visit the individual sites. For more articles with good information like this, go to for a trial subscription to Bottom Line Personal.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Taming Test Anxiety

We live in a world of high-stakes testing. Even third graders face assessments that will determine if they can progress to fourth grade.

Many people become overly anxious about the tests they take. Some become so paralyzed they struggle to remember how to spell their own name.

My bouts with this type of fear came from external sources. While on the way to take my first test for teacher certification, my minivan refused to shift out of second gear. Fears of an enormous bill and temporary loss of transportation boiled in my mind. After arriving at the test site, I put my head down on the steering wheel and repeated my new mantra, "Don't think about the car, think about the test!"

During the second test, I needed to use the restroom. Only one person was allowed in the restroom at a time, even though people in different rooms were taking assessments for very different subjects. I was rather shocked when the hall monitor followed me into the restroom. I decided to take action, turning around and asking, "Do you want me to leave the stall door open?" This prompted the monitor to leave the room, giving me much-needed privacy.

My problems with the last critical assessment didn't start until I actually arrived in the testing room. I found I was seated in front of the pencil sharpener. The room was packed, so there was no way to request a new seat. Noises are very distracting to me, so I began to panic. I decided whenever someone was sharpening their pencil, I would take a break and stare at my shoes.

What can you do if you or your child suffers from test anxiety?

·         Teach study skills, including using study guides, reviewing with a friend, and practicing with games.

·         Follow a study schedule with specific goals, materials ready, and by creating an outline of course material.

·         Study early so the learner can attend tutorials to review difficult material.

·         Use online games for review. Many can be found at or check with the teacher.

·         Teach test-taking skills including the following:

o   Memory dump—write down what you are afraid of forgetting (definitions, formulas, dates, mnemonics, etc.) on the test as soon as it begins.

o   Do easier questions first, then return to harder ones.

o   Highlight key instructional words related to the directions about details, types of answers requested, etc.

o   Cancel out obvious wrong choices.

·         Teach relaxation skills such as use of a squeeze ball, arriving on time rather than early, controlling breathing, meditating and praying, taking breaks, and positive self-talk.

·         Give lots of encouragement during study time and just prior to the test.
Good luck, and remember--it's just a test, and they can't actually kill you when it's over!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Fiction - The Key to Understanding Others...and Changing Yourself

According to "In the Minds of Others", an article by Keith Oatley in Scientific American Mind, reading fiction is entertaining. It provides an escape from your problems. But can it really help you psychologically?
Fiction can help improve your relationships with others. It can also change your personality and impact the happiness of your life.

When you read about the lives of others, including what they are thinking, helps you understand them. This allows you to build empathy and see another point of view. Computer programs use sophisticated technology to allow you to experience another world. Readers have done this for centuries.

The socially-withdrawn bookworm is a sterotype that still exists. But a study done in Toronto found that those who read the most fiction were better at recognizing emotions and interpreting social cues. Other studies revealed that reading fiction helped people solve logic problems or draw conclusions about social situations. The improvement was seen after as little as an hour of reading. On the other hand, children who watched many hours of television were less able to understand others.

People who read fiction on a regular basis also had better social connections than those who confined themselves to nonfiction. Your "sense of self" is also changed as you are more likely to become more open and perceptive about fellow humans.

Why all the benefits? The source is the emotional connection between the reader and the characters. This allows us to picture ourselves as part of the story, experiencing aspects of the plotline.  Brain imaging studies reveal that when you read about a character sitting on a chair, for example, the reader's brain lights up as if he or she were performing the action. In short, we virtually live through good fiction. While we experience our own emotions in reaction to events, we are still tied to the story.

The takeaway? Get off the computer and go read a good book.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The LDS Disabilities Web Site--An Awesome Resource!

The LDS Disabilities web site can be found here. Let's take a look at how this site can help parents, teachers, and church leaders.

There is a disability list. It is not meant to be exhaustive, but covers the general categories. One example is the mental illness category. Parents can be reminded not to take behavior related to the mental illness personally. Teachers can learn mental illness is not a punishment from God. Leaders will understand how to include that person in ward activities.

The family section lists specific help for parents, such as how to explain disabilities to siblings. This page is also for teachers, and they can discover that by babysitting, they can give the parents a chance to strengthen their marriage. Leaders can use information such as the advice to grandparents to counsel families.

The question and answer page has a link to statistics of how many members are affected by disabilities. Families will be encouraged to learn they are not alone. Teachers can take advantages of the resources section, and leaders can review doctrine and policies.

In the general information section, families can review the First Presidency statement about disabilities. Teachers and leaders will learn how to show respect for those with disabilities.

The leaders and teachers section also relates to families. They can share this information with ward members to increase understanding. Teachers will learn how to adapt lessons and manage classrooms effectively. Leaders will understand the importance of building a relationship of trust.

Accessible materials provides a resource for parents, teachers, and leaders. From audio scriptures to Braille and sign language materials, those with disabilities can access Church materials.

The final section, scriptures and quotes, gives inspiration to everyone. Take advantage of this wonderful resource that makes the Gospel available to everyone, regardless of ability. You'll find it helps you in ways you cannot yet imagine.