LDA Newsletter

Newsletter – August 2018

Cup of Joe

Dyslexia: Coming to a School Near You – Part III
By Joe Biondo, Educational Consultant

Greetings to all, as the new school year is set to begin! With the new year comes a feeling of excitement (possibly mixed with anxiety) and a fresh start for a number of parents and students. For those of you whose child has learning issues, let’s think positive and remember to schedule a meeting with the IEP team soon after the first week or two of school. Let’s get the team together and make sure everyone is on the same page and the lines of communication are open.

On a totally different note, I feel the need to update you on the topic of Dyslexia Screening. As I have reported in my last couple of articles, all Missouri public schools will be screening your primary grade level child for dyslexia. An important reminder is this very short assessment is a screening and not a comprehensive evaluation looking to identify a learning disorder in basic reading. Should a student fail the screening, an additional assessment will take place and may involve one or more of the following:

  • Testing with a normed instrument
  • Review of classroom performance tools used to monitor daily progress
  • Review of previous standardized district testing
  • Daily classroom performance
  • Teacher observations

This information will be reviewed to determine the need for a more comprehensive, individualized reading program with a primary focus on issues associated with decoding (phonological processing and/or awareness). These services are generally provided by the Reading Specialist/Reading Interventionist, who is someone from your home school district with special training in this basic reading deficit (dyslexia).

Now, what I have just very briefly summarized are the basics of the required screening process. The guidelines set forth by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will be much more specific. You will no doubt be receiving details from your school district prior to or shortly after school resumes in the fall.

Once again, this screening is primarily a General Education initiative, and any resulting interventions are also the responsibility of the public-school district. Children and adolescents currently identified with an educational disability will also be screened, but the particulars of this process are a subject to be addressed at a later time. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact your child’s school for what to expect and for specifics with this new screening process. You are also welcome to contact a St. Louis LDA Educational Consultant with questions related to this screening initiative, dyslexia or other learning disorders.

Have a great and very successful school year!

Click HERE to support the students of St. Louis LDA

Our Amazing Brain

Karen Thomson, M.A.
Program and Resource Development

The brain is wired to learn. At birth, our brain is about 25% of the adult brain size in weight and volume. However, the newborn brain has about the same number of neurons or brain cells as that of an adult. Brain development is not about creating the brain cells themselves but about increasing connections between brain cells. Experiences such as exposure to language and other stimulus create new and stronger connections. What gets fired–gets wired.

Due to recent brain research inspired by technologies such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), researchers have been able to discover increased insight about how the brain develops and how early experiences can impact the development of the brain. Because brain functions are sequenced from the most simple to the most complex, early life events impact future growth & development. In fact, our brains grow to 85% of their adult size between conception and the age of three. This is especially significant when considering early exposure to toxic, stressful, or traumatic environments.

When a child’s experiences are traumatic, the pathways that are most active are those that respond to the trauma, which leads to a reduction in the formation of other pathways needed for adaptive behavior. Trauma in early childhood can result in an inability to form healthy relationships, cognitive delays, and difficulty managing emotions. Also, the overdevelopment of certain brain pathways and the underdevelopment of others can lead to a variety of impairments later in life (Perry, 1995).

Impacted Areas:
− Attachment: Trouble with relationships, boundaries, empathy, and social isolation
− Physical Health: Impaired motor skills, coordination problems, and multiple medical issues
− Emotional Regulation: Difficulty identifying or labeling feelings and communicating needs
− Dissociation: Altered states of consciousness, amnesia, impaired memory
− Cognitive Ability: Problems with focus, learning, processing new information, language development, planning and orientation to time and space
− Self-Concept: Lack of consistent sense of self, body image issues, low self-esteem, shame and guilt
− Behavioral Control: Difficulty controlling impulses, aggression, disrupted sleep and eating patterns, acting out due to reliving trauma
(Cook, et al, 2005)

The brain is an amazing organ within the human body. As mentioned above, by the age of 3 a child’s brain is already 85% developed. Adequate stimulation and enriched learning in early childhood is the best way to encourage healthy brain development and set a child on a path to success. St. Louis LDA impacts thousands of kids, parents, and teachers each year through our consulting services and professional development training for early childhood educators. For more information on this topic and other St. Louis LDA workshops contact us at 314-966-3088 or info@ldastl.org. Look for our next installment on how to form strong brains from birth.

The above information was taken from St. Louis LDA’s workshop on Brain Development, Trauma Informed Care, and Early Warning Signs.

Perry, BD, Pollard, R, Blakely, T, Baker, W, Vigilante, D Childhood trauma, the neurobiology of adaptation and ‘use-dependent’ development of the brain: how “states” become “traits'”. Infant Mental Health J, 16 (4): 271-291, 1995.
Cook, B. G.; Pengelly, B. C.; Brown, S. D.; Donnelly, J. L.; Eagles, D. A.; Franco, M. A. ; Hanson, J.; Mullen, B. F.; Partridge, I. J.; Peters, M.; Schultze-Kraft, R., 2005. Tropical forages. CSIRO, DPI&F(Qld), CIAT and ILRI, Brisbane; Australia, 2005.
EdwardsVJ, Anda RF, Dube SR, Dong M, Chapman DF, Felitti VJ. The wide-ranging health consequences of adverse childhood experiences. In Kathleen Kendall-Tackett and Sarah Giacomoni (eds.) Victimization of Children and Youth: Patterns of Abuse, Response Strategies, Kingston, NJ: Civic Research Institute; 2005.

Success Story

One of our learning specialists shared an example of how she sees kids growing and changing over time as they work hard to build their success:

The first day the student came to St. Louis LDA tutoring he was very upset, cried, and refused to do anything. The next time he came, he was a different person. He said, “I am ready to work now.” For the next four years, he and I worked well together. We worked on strategies that would help him with his schoolwork. He called them “tips,” and he continues to use them. He was given assistance and it helped him to realize that his tutor was on his side and wanted only the best for him. He developed more confidence in his abilities, and he no longer “gave up” when the work was more challenging. He is now enrolled in a private high school and is receiving A’s and B’s. He completes his work without arguing, which was a concern in the past–and he has realized how important it is to turn in all his work on time. That is another positive change. His mother said with all the support he received from tutoring, it greatly helped him in transitioning to his new school and also in achieving success.

Helpful Links

Dr. Jim Russell’s Twice Exceptional (2e) person lecture from the December 2016 TEDx TALK.
TEDx Talk will provide a description of the twice-exceptional (2e) person from childhood through adulthood. The main points covered during the presentation will be the cognitive and emotional difficulties experienced by the person, the identification process, and how the “Average Person Standard” may affect eligibility for accommodations, when a person has a disability.

Have  You Seen These Upcoming Events?

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