Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Problems with Anger Management, Homework, or Anxiety? A Different Solution.....

A poll by University of Michigan's C.S. Mott Children's hospital revealed that while most parents visit the pediatrician prepared to ask questions about new physical symptoms demonstrated by their children, they often neglect to mention behavior changes.

The problem? Behavior and emotions are often linked to physical problems. For example:

  • Temper tantrums could be triggered by 
    • gastric pain from a food allergy or sensitivity
    • a seizure disorder
    • ADHD
  • Sudden homework problems may arise from
    • vision difficulties
    • anxiety
    • sleep of poor quality
    • depression
    • ADD/ADHD
  • Anxiety could be the result of
    • depression
    • asthma
    • diabetes
    • thyroid problems
    • heart disease
    • irritable bowel syndrome
What do you do? Discuss sudden changes in behavior and emotions (such as sadness that lasts for a month or longer) or symptoms that are unusual for the child's age, with your family doctor. Together you can consult about the most appropriate interventions. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Dyslexia - Just the Facts

Many people assume that everyone with a reading difficulty is dyslexic. Problems with literacy are not always the result of dyslexia. Here's how you can tell if your youngster has dyslexia:

Dyslexia is generally considered to be present when the problems are in

  • phonological processing
  • phonological manipulation
  • single-word reading
  • reading fluency
  • spelling
Phonological processing involves how speech sounds are processed in the brain. It includes
  • awareness 
  • memory
  • rapid naming
Phonological awareness is the ability to be aware of sound patterns in words or syllables. Your child should be able to do the following at the appropriate age:
  • Kindergarten (beginning) - word awareness, making rhymes
  • Kindergarten (end) - identify  and isolate beginning sounds, segmenting and blending syllables
  • First grade (middle) - identify and isolate ending sounds, blending sound segments
  • First grade (end) - blending and segmenting sounds in 4-5 phoneme words
  • Second grade and above - segment words, manipulate sounds (delete first sound in "sip", and replace with "t" sound to make tip), in beginning, middle, and end of words
Phonemic Awareness is the ability to discriminate between sounds, recall and/or manipulate them. This is what helps children understand the alphabet, correlate letters and sounds, and recognize or decode unfamiliar words. It is also important for spelling. 

Phonological memory takes place in the part of the brain that holds words. This allows the child to recall the phonological skills they have learned. 

Rapid naming in the ability to quickly access words in long-term memory that belong in a certain category, such as names of friends, or types of animals. 

Teachers and evaluation personnel can test for any of the challenges listed above, plus how well the student can read single words, reading fluency levels, and spelling ability. An evaluation of each area is needed to tell if the child really has dyslexia. Screeners are available at http://www.superduperinc.com/handouts/pdf/172%20Phonological%20Awareness.pdf and http://www.readingrockets.org/article/top-10-resources-dyslexia 

More information on dyslexia is available at http://www.readingrockets.org/reading-topics/dyslexia 

Next time: interventions for dyslexia.