Monday, October 1, 2012

ADHD and School - How to Succeed

It's really not that difficult to imagine that someone with ADHD or ADD might have trouble with school. Between having to focus for a long time to having to sit still for what feels like even longer, ADHD and school just don't seem to mix.
However, there are quite a few things ADHD students can do to improve their school results. One of the things is to change the way they study. Most ADHD students do better while studying in a quiet place, free from distractions. If they study at the same time each day, they are more likely to be able to focus during that time, as they will have trained their brain that this time is time to focus.
Another study tip for students with ADHD is to find a specific study technique or system and follow it religiously. One of the best systems for this is the Pomodoro Technique, which involves using a timer set for 25 minutes to regulate study time, followed by a brief 5 minute break to refresh.
ADHD students also benefit from learning and applying a memory system, such as the loci method or other visualization techniques. This makes remembering things a more active and involved process, leading to higher recall during tests and at other times.
All this is well and great for studying, but what about tests? ADHD and studying is one thing - students usually have some degree of control over their surroundings while studying. But tests are a different story altogether. There is pressure to perform and unavoidable distractions and noises from the surrounding students. What are some things that ADHD students can do to maximize their productivity during tests?
For starters, ADHD students can usually request some sort of accommodation, and teachers usually grant it. For some, taking the test by themselves, or at least separated from the rest of the class, can lessen distractions and greatly increase focus.
During tests, students are encouraged to "distract themselves." Of course, this doesn't mean to actually distract themselves, but instead means to change physical positions, take a deep breath, look around the room or up at the ceiling. If students can successfully "create distractions" like this, they are less likely to succumb to real distractions.
Finally, students should always be on their guard against carelessness. Double-checking answers should be a matter of course, and writing neatly not only keeps the grader happy, it keeps the student's brain organized.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Special Needs Assistant Description

A special needs assistant works specifically with one or more students who have special needs. The number of students each assistant will work with varies, depending upon the level of need each student requires.
Many special needs assistants work with only one student, because this one student cannot truly function on his or her own, for whatever reason. An assistant who works one-on-one with a student with special needs will spend the entire day with this student-the assistant's responsibilities may include monitoring the student, helping the student perform everyday skills, teaching the student new life skills, and/or assisting the student in the learning process by clarifying or re-explaining what the teacher says.
Sometimes the primary issue with a student with special needs is the way the disability affects his or her behavior. In these instances, the aide might seek to help the child learn appropriate behavior through a program of positive reinforcement and relevant consequences. The assistant would also make sure the child's behavior does not negatively impact the learning of other students in the class and in the school. This may mean removing the child from the classroom to work more privately with the student.
Other times, the primary issue is that a child simply cannot perform basic life skills alone. In these cases, the assistant essentially guides the child through the entire day, providing assistanbe when necessary. Sometimes the problem is that a child has a physical disability, in which case the assistant would help the child perform tasks he or she cannot perform with the disability. Or, perhaps the child suffers from autism and cannot communicate or correctly socialize with other people in the school. In this case, the assistant would essentially monitor and help this student throughout the day.
A special needs assistant might also work with several students who do not require as much assistance. This assistant would work with several students with learning disabilities who can otherwise function normally. During tests, the assistant may take the students out of the classroom, either to read the test to them or to simply provide them with a quieter and more private work environment. Also, during instruction, the aide may work with these students in a smaller group to re-teach or re-enforce concepts that may be challenging to them.
Special needs assistants are crucial to a school because they help prevent teachers from being spread too thin. Furthermore, they provide the necessary attention to students with more intensive needs that will help them succeed, as well as keep them from falling through the cracks. An assistant who works with students with special needs can expect great fulfillment and confidence in knowing that the student or students he or she works with will be forever impacted by the individual help they receive!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Silent Obstacles of the Hearing Impaired

Experiencing a silent world, like that of those who are hearing impaired, whom we encounter throughout our lives, including children in public schools and even family members, is frustrating, full of altered expression and special accommodations. It would seem quite helpful to get acquainted with what this kind of disability entails, for their sake. If you are a teacher, you might want to make sure students are truly listening, and if they are unable to because of such a reason as any kind of hearing inability, you might feel a need to help guide them and their family to the appropriate resources.
Distinguishing sound is a natural ability for most of us. We take it for granted, while many suffer the lack or complete non-presence of it. Loss of hearing does not only slowly enter into people's lives at an older age; sadly some children are born without the ability to hear, due to developmental complications. Some loose it partially or fully later in life.
36 million Americans suffer from some degree of hearing loss, as the Hearing Loss Association of America informs. Studies report that one in six of these individuals were found to have signs. Furthermore, in the workplace, "as the hearing loss increases, so does the reduction in compensation," the HLAA notes. Hearing is so essential, yet so fragile.
First "consider the physical definition: Sound is a stimulus with the capability of producing an audible sensation. Any object with the properties of inertia and elasticity may be set into vibration and hence may produce a sound," an Introduction to The Fundamentals of Hearing, a second edition by Yost and Nielson informs. Sounds alert us for what is coming, like an alarm to signal the start of the day.
Many online articles mention how teenagers are at high risk of hearing loss due to listening to music too loudly, with newer technology allowing to blast the sound of their favorite artists to higher decibels. Music entertains this sense. Its high or low pitch may indicate the degree of someone's voice, while they try to communicate with another person. There are many functions to hearing we do not acknowledge most of the time, but technology is changing the obstacles that hearing impaired people face in gatherings with those without it.
The onset and progression of hearing loss may vary and extend at slow rates so being unaware of common sounds around anywhere is tricky, so here are some clues to spot the symptoms for adults:
• Denial always comes first, as people notice they hear but do not "understand": if an individual points out that people they come in contact with are mumbling more and more, they might be showing a sign of the early onset, which family and friends may notice before the actual person displaying them notices.
• If someone finds that soft everyday sounds, like a short "beep" coming out of a machine no longer makes noise while pushing a button, they might find that they have hearing loss.
• If someone needs the volume turned up too high on devices such as the television, or if they cannot make out what someone else is saying in a noisy environment, they might have hearing loss.
• Military exposure may have been a trigger in those individuals who served in combat.
Some symptoms to look out for in children are:
• If they seem like they are not paying attention, they might be hard of hearing, however children do tend to only pay attention on their own terms.
• If speech is developed late, or their speech seems different, they might have hearing loss.
• Poor self esteem, being bullied, or poor performance overall in school may also indicate it as feeling different, and not fully understanding everything may make them shy away from reaching out for help to school staff or their family.
It is harder to hear higher-pitched sounds than deeper ones. Furthermore, hearing screenings in classrooms should seem mandatory everywhere, but they are unfortunately not mandated in all states. The sooner someone gets help, the sooner they may enjoy being social and stop giving out the wrong impression. Now there are hearing aids available, sign language for the deaf community to better communicate, and closed captioning to aid their everyday activities in having an equal 

American Sign Language (ASL) is a special kind of language, as it is seen and not written. The Deaf Community takes advantage of its use everywhere. Moving both hands is essential, and making facial expressions is a must. Interestingly, like in other languages, accents are part of ASL, as a system of interpersonal communication.
Sixteenth century Europe brought about the first sign language into an applicable form, from which ASL stems from. It is the fourth most widely used language in the U.S. and the interest keeps peeking to this day.
Inflammation, infection, and even serious disease may cause the loss in hearing. Genetics and complications during pregnancy may also play part. As a result of hearing loss one of the least appealing side effects is personality change.
Hearing loss is an invisible condition which effects are barely noticed by many who do not suffer from it, so giving the topic the slightest attention is necessary, as people who suffer from it may not easily be informed on all that it may entail.
Technology with all its new user friendly applications is changing the lives of the hearing impaired in more ways now than ever. The internet is spreading fast news of advancement in the field. While we may not take the time to realize how important sound is to us, you have just kindly given it your attention, as now you realize that some cannot enjoy it perhaps as much as you are able to.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Understanding and Managing Students With ADHD

Aggressive... Impulsive... Disorganized... Impulsive... Absent-minded... Daydreamer... Delinquent... Bully... Mental case... Brain damage... Kulang sa Pansin... Low IQ...
These words are just among those that are usually attached to children with ADHD, especially if not yet diagnosed. Unknown to many, these words are mere "judgements" with unreliable bases. It is indeed true that our society still needs to be informed of this condition that affects millions of the Philippine population and other countries including the United States. With further education, judgements and mishandling of ADHD students in the educational setting and any other social functions can be lessened, and hopefully soon be eradicated.
To begin with, what is ADHD?
ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder. According to studies, ADHD is more prevalent among males than in females. In an article by Yam dela Cruz (2010), the statistics from the ADHD Society of the Philippines says that
80% of the adolescents have the symptoms of ADHD
60% of adults have the symptoms of ADHD
40% - 50% of children with ADHD have learning disabilities
30% - 50% of children with ADHD engage in disorderly conduct and exhibits signs of anti-social behavior
35% of children with ADHD do not finish high school
25% of children with ADHD oftentimes fight with other kids
20% - 25% of children experience hyperactivity
3% - 5% of the world population has ADHD
ADHD is not a product of an unhealthy environment, parenting gone wrong, poverty, stress, poor diet, laziness, and many other myths that most people concocted based on the child's behavior.
Although there is no definite cause for it yet, experts say this condition involves the brain mechanism, specifically how it receives and delivers signals from the brain to the other parts of the body and vice versa, which greatly affects one's behavior. Many factors were discussed by professionals on how this happened in the human body such as trauma, fetal disposition in the mother's womb, mother's diet during pregnancy, illnesses, and genes.
How can you tell if a student has ADHD?
Formal tests are conducted before a student may be said to have ADHD. These tests are done by neuropsychologists. However, family members and teachers can watch out for these symptoms and note the frequency of occurrences for certain situations:
a. inattentive
b. forgetful
c. disorganized
d. easily distracted
e. squirmy and fidgety
f. talks too much
g. unable to stay in one place
h. acts and speaks without thinking
i. blurts answers
j. impatient in waiting for turns
k. interrupts conversations or class discussions
How can teachers and family members make use of the characteristics of their ADHD child for success?
In any kind of set-up, an ADHD kid benefits from structure and sincere understanding. Remember, this condition is not something they put themselves into. In addition, even if students have ADHD, it doesn't mean they have low comprehension levels. Many personalities became successful despite having ADHD. As a matter of fact, most of these people with ADHD have their condition to their advantage. On the other hand, there is still a great number of students with ADHD that are heading for academic failure, which affects their emotional disposition. That is why it is important to provide the needed structure for learning and behavior management in school and at home.
Here are some tips on how to manage children with ADHD:
a.Set it straight. Be clear and specific.
Teachers/Parents together with the ADHD student must work together in identifying acceptable and unacceptable behaviors. Having identified these behaviors, it is also important to set goals with the child, which he or she must work on. In doing so, make sure instructions/wordings used are specific, short, and clear to avoid misunderstandings.
b. Keep it quick yet effective.
Activities must be given in a checklist or schedule. It is a way to give the child a set of tasks to look forward to. This is done to avoid inattention and distractability while on-task. Furthermore, to be able to sustain their attention span, activities must be quick but still suitable for your objectives/goals. It also helps to make the students aware of the amount of time they are expected to finish the task. Assist in keeping track of time by showing a countdown on the board and announcing it to the class.
c. Utilize the multisensorial teaching and learning approach.
Making activities very engaging and dynamic can greatly support child's involvement further ensuring comprehension and mastery of skills. Take advantage of their energy by constructing activities that allow them to use most of their senses together. This way, the ADHD students will be occupied learning through the set-up activities.
d. Post rules and reminders inside the classroom.
Reminders to monitor their behavior must be given when needed. For students with ADHD, reminders are always needed. This is to keep them on top of the situation, and to avoid impulsive actions resulting to misunderstandings. Posters or visual cues of the set of rules must also be verbalized to the students to keep them further reminded about it even if they're on their own.
e. Lessen distractions.
ADHD students are easily distracted even by the most minute detail that attracted their senses, thus it is important to organize their learning centers more effectively. It is a matter of placing the things inside the classroom in the appropriate places. Colorful visual aids can get their attention, but hopefully not to the point of focusing solely on the object itself disregarding its purpose. Multimedia presentations can promote comprehension among students just keep it direct to the point.
f. Acknowledge behaviors.
To acknowledge desirable and undesirable behavior, it is important to keep the students aware of the consequences of their actions through "processing" or "one-on-one talk". Give praises where it's due, and avoid reprimanding a child in front of the group because they easily get discouraged by that.
g. Model.
Modeling the appropriate behavior sets the child's mind and environment in doing the same behavior. The more they get to observe such behavior, the greater the possibility of acquiring it themselves.
h. Processing.
Always see to it that for every misbehavior done by the child, a processing must be done. Corporal punishment is not an option because it can only lead to trauma for the child. Hearing out the child's side, and explaining why his/her actions are unacceptable is more effective if the goal is to instill in them the awareness and application of desirable behaviors. Discuss with the child what happened, his/her reason/s for reacting in such a way, what he could have done in the situation, and what he/she can do to make it better. Processing behaviors must be immediate to avoid the chance of forgetting about the specific details leading to further misunderstandings.
There are tons and tons of videos, articles, books, and journals on how to understand and manage ADHD children in school and at home. All of these can provide helpful information for everyone, especially teachers and parents. With this article, it is in great hope that ADHD students can find more people and institutions that can provide them with the most effective structure and well-deserved understanding to aid in their goal to be successful in life just like everyone else that have DREAMS.

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Causes and Treatment of Children's Learning Disabilities in Reading

Learning disabilities in reading are just one of those generically described as learning difficulties, which can result in someone having problems learning specific skills. These are usually any or all of reading, writing, speaking, listening, reasoning and doing sums.
The causes of children's learning disabilities in reading are largely unknown but in some way the child's brain has been affected in such a way that its ability to collect and handle information is impaired. This in turn, may have been caused by:
1. Heredity - Learning disabilities are often inherited even if a generation has been skipped. Check whether other members of the family have had reading difficulties in the past. 
2. Problems During Pregnancy and Birth - Learning disabilities can be the result of irregularities in brain development caused by the mother being ill, having an accident such as a fall, drinking, smoking or taking drugs during pregnancy. Equally, a prolonged labour, oxygen deprivation during birth or premature birth can result in abnormality in brain development. 
3. Accidents After Birth - Learning disabilities can result from head injuries. For example the child being dropped or falling over, undernourishment or exposure to toxins such as pesticides.

Regardless of the cause, treatment of children's learning disabilities in reading is essential as soon as possible after discovery and this could take the form of any or all of the following.
1. Special Education - Special education is probably the commonest treatment for learning difficulties. Speciality teachers will evaluate the level of the child's problems as compared with their academic and intellectual potential. These teachers will then, basically, teach the child to learn by building on their strengths while correcting their weaknesses. 
2. Speech and Language Therapy - Some learning disabilities in reading stem from difficulties hearing and speaking so appropriate therapies may be needed. 
3. Medication - If a child's problems reading stem from attention deficit disorder then medication may be effective in improving concentration and attention span.

If you're not satisfied with the progress your child is making, following any or all of the above treatments then you could take some action yourself.
1. Employ a private tutor who specialises in helping children with reading difficulties. 
2. Buy and online phonics based reading course which your child can do at home with your help. These programs are designed to be taken at whatever pace your child wants and they hold interest by using child-friendly cartoon characters to lead the child through the lessons. The lessons are short enough to hold the child's interest and they initially teach the relationship between how a sound looks and how it sounds. The courses progress from sounds to whole words and sentences and in addition to improving reading skills, the child will learn keyboard skills.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Is Your Child Struggling to Read? Symptoms of Dyslexia in Children

Is your child struggling to read? If your child isn't keeping up with his classmates in terms of reading or writing then he may have some kind of learning difficulty.
Could he be dyslexic? There's a chance that he is if he's displaying any of the following symptoms of dyslexia in children.
Dyslexic children are often bright and intelligent with a high IQ but are often labelled "lazy" or "stupid" by their peers and teachers may think that they aren't trying or that they have behavioural problems so they don't receive the help that they need. As a result the child himself thinks he's stupid and develops low self-esteem. He tries to hide his weaknesses by misbehaving or daydreaming in class and becomes frustrated easily when faced with reading, writing or mathematical tasks. In general, such a child will be:
• unable to read, write or spell at a level considered to be normal for his age 
• not able to complete written tests although he may do well orally 
• good at non-academic subjects such as music, art, drama, business, woodworking, design or engineering 
• able to learn more effectively by demonstration and visual aids 
• able to count but will have problems with counting objects or money 
• unable to do sums without using his fingers or other such aids; he will come up with the right answer to simple sums in this way but won't be able to put the workings down on paper and won't be able to progress to higher maths or algebra

Specifically, the child will read haltingly, leaving out words or substituting different words, reversing letters or numbers or even words and will understand little of what he's read. Letters, words, numbers and explanations may cause confusion and spelling will be inconsistent. There are also some physical manifestations such as:
• headache, dizziness or stomach ache while reading or a feeling that a fictional something is moving and causing distraction 
• vision problems although an eye test reveals nothing 
• very keen sight and observational skills or poor peripheral vision 
• hearing things not audible to others 
• speech problems including mispronunciations, transposition of syllables, words and phrases and stuttering when stressed 
• being ambidextrous 
• repeated ear infections 
• a sensitivity to food additives or chemicals

Other symptoms of dyslexia in children concern motor skills and may include:
• writing difficulties often because of an unusual way of holding a pencil; writing may be inconsistent or illegible 
• clumsiness and a lack of co-ordination, not good at ball sports or team games, difficulties carrying out simple tasks that require a degree of motor skills 
• a confusion between left and right or over and under

In addition, a dyslexic child may have problems telling the time, managing time or learning or remember sequences, facts or information that he hasn't personally experienced but will probably have a good long-term memory for people, places and experiences.
Behaviour and development can be an accurate indicator that a child has dyslexia and shouldn't be confused with normal childish behaviour. Behaviour can be compulsive or obsessive and could be at either end of the spectrum such as:
• tidiness or untidiness 
• too noisy or too quiet in class 
Development can be either very early or very late when it comes to crawling, walking and talking and the child may be a very light or deep sleeper or may continue to wet the bed long after it is normal to do so.

The child may have a very high or low pain threshold and may be sensitive emothonally.
Any of these symptoms of dyslexia in children will appear to a greater degree if the child is confused, stressed, under pressure of any kind or in poor health.
If your child is displaying any of these behaviours or traits, do get him tested for dyslexia right away so that the appropriate education can be started before the symptoms become worse or eventually unmanageable.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

USMLE Step 1 Exam - Briefly Explained

Toppers are always looked with awe, be it USMLE or any other exams. They are some who think that toppers possess some mysterious powers or intelligence, which helps them score, while others are left scratching their heads in wonder. However there is no such special power; the thing that differentiates the two is their approach towards the examination.
Passing the USMLE exams needs great effort as these are conducted over a series of varying levels. Clearing the very first step is considered the most strenuous for medical graduates hoping to practice in the United States. USMLE is not just confined to US nationals only; foreign nationals can apply too, but with some differentiated procedural rules.
Clearing USMLE step 1 exam with good scores can open up more doors than you might have thought. A decent step 1 score is not just confined to obtaining a license, but is a determinant factor for hospital residency programs. Score good and you have two great options to choose from. Step 1 exam score also plays a pivotal role in making up your choice for further medicinal courses. Prestigious residential hospitals are obviously looking for the smartest graduates around and those with high scores fill in the gap.
While step 2 is used to assess a student's skill to put into use of what he/she studied, USMLE step 1 checks for a student's understanding and knowledge levels. The various sections that the step 1 exam covers include physiology, pathology, anatomy, microbiology among others. With around 322 multiple choice questions divided in 7 sections, USMLE step 1 exam looks scary enough.
USMLE exams are thought to be one of the toughest to appear for and passing the first level is itself considered to be a game only for nerds. Students are always in a self doubt mode as to whether they are ready to appear for USMLE exams or not. Getting good scores in USMLE exams is not impossible at all; some smart tactics and you would get through. Why exactly is this exam so dreadful? Apprehensions say that it is the time constraint that medical students are faced with, which plays the spoilsport. Medical students do find it hard to adjust their studies and prepare for exams in short stipulated times.
Having a question bank by your side is a must if you are appearing for USMLE step 1 exam. This step 1 exam is meant to assess a student's theoretical knowledge to the practical field of medicine. A multiple choice examination like this is sure to set in a lot of confusion with similar answer choices. No wonder students find this 8-hour examination tough enough but they have to deal with it if they are to enter the medicinal world. Additionally, the various rules set in to answer the MCQ's are looked upon with fear by students. A single mistake here and there and your scores are on the risk mode.
Why take risk in your USMLE exam scores when there is easy help available? Preparing with online test guides is a good way out to avoid treading the wrong path. Regular practice with dummy exams can be a good confidence booster.