Sunday, June 27, 2010

Howard Engel: The Writer who forgot how to Read

Howard Engel is an accomplished Canadian novelist. One day, Engel suffered a stroke that left him with alexia sine (Latin for without) agraphia. Also known as 'acquired Dyslexia' and in this case it was 'acquired' during a stroke.

Alexia is a condition which prevents a person from being able to read written words, without a major effort, while retaining their ability to write. In alexia or 'acquired dyslexia' the brain can no longer process text and the meaning of text, as a fixed reference.

Engel was puzzled by the fact that he could still write, but shortly after writing a piece of text, he was unable to read it. So Engel devised a way to use this remaining ability to regain his literacy.

Cartoonist and animator Levni Yilmaz produced this video for National Public Radio explaining how Engel was able to do it.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Dyslexia and Multi-sensory Learning: The Lexsum CML software

Maximise your Potential with Lexsum's CML

Free Download and trial - Click here

Here is an opportunity to try a Multi-sensory software package before you buy it. Why not try it out and see if it's what you need!

We are not in any way recommending this software vendor but are simply providing you with the information to review yourself.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Some Basic IT tools to help with Dyslexia

Here are some basic software tool that could help you overcome some of the difficulties and stress of dyslexia.

The Intel Reader is a device that takes pictures of text, processes it and then reads it back, all without any downloads.

Dragon Naturally Speaking is a software program that lets you talk into the headset and it types out for you.
Solo is a assistive technology software suite that is intended to deal with every type of paper organisation format.

CapturaTalk which is similar to the Intel Reader tool, whereby you take a pic of text and it is read out to you.

Ginger software is an online correction tool that will correct spelling and grammatical errors in your text typing.

This list is by no means complete, neither is it exhaustive. It is simply a suggestion to get you started. We also do not recommend or endorse these products in any way but simply supply the information for you to review and decide upon.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Children With Dyslexia and Problems With Self-Esteem

Children with dyslexia are faced with many obstacles to overcome. Issues with self-esteem are one of most emotional challenging confrontations that they must face. Since dyslexia is a language processing disorder that often affects written as well as spoken language having difficulties in these areas can play havoc on one's self view.

It is well known that children with dyslexia have a much harder time learning to read than those their own age without the disorder. Seeing their peers learn at a much faster rate can cause dyslexic children to feel like they are falling behind. Many times they feel "stupid" compared to others which in truth is not the case since a child that has dyslexia also has an average to above average IQ.

If dyslexia is causing communication skills to be lacking this can be another blow to the dyslexic child's self-esteem. When children are not able to read well or confuse words when read aloud can cause the child embarrassment. This can lead to ridicule from their classmates which adds to the child's poor self-image.

Some children with dyslexia have problems with spoken language as well. They may not use words correctly or sometimes have a hard time getting their points across. This may cause the dyslexic child tend to shy away from conversations with others as not appear like they don't fit in. This "peer pressure" to be like others is an enormous burden on a child with dyslexia.

It is a difficult task for a dyslexic child to keep their self-worth intact. A strong support network is imperative for children with dyslexia. Talk to your child about their feelings. Be patient with them as they express themselves. Praise them often for their accomplishments. Point out to them their areas of strengths such as artistic abilities. Keep the focus on what they "can" do and let them know that you are there to help them with their difficulties.

Ghotit Dyslexia | ESL Assistive Technology

Ghotit Dyslexia ESL Assistive Technology

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Lifestyle intervention reduces preschoolers’ body fat and improves fitness

Lifestyle intervention reduces preschoolers’ body fat, improves fitness — Science Blog

Migrant children are at increased risk of obesity, but a new study shows that a program teaching multiple lifestyle changes to predominantly migrant preschoolers and their parents helps the children reduce body fat and improve fitness.

Such interventions may be needed to help curb the global obesity epidemic, the study’s lead author Jardena Puder, MD, said. Puder, a senior resident at the University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland, said, “Even young children have high rates of obesity today.”

Statistics show that in the United States, about 14 percent of children ages 2 to 5 years are obese.

The public health program in this study attempted to reduce the risk of obesity among preschool children from areas of Switzerland with high migrant populations.

Specifically, it encouraged the children to increase their physical activity, improve nutrition, get more sleep and reduce audiovisual media use and stimulation, especially TV watching and video games.

Excessive exposure to stimulating media use can contribute to lack of physical activity, and insufficient sleep in early life may play a role in childhood obesity, according to the authors.

Compared with the control group, the group of children who participated in the program had significantly improved overall and aerobic fitness, according to the abstract.

Additionally, the intervention group had greater reductions in total and percent of body fat, waist size and appropriate or moderate media use. They also improved more than the controls in “some aspects of nutritional behaviour,” Puder said.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Secret Powers of Time - Animated video

Professor Philip Zimbardo conveys how our individual perspectives of time affect our work, health and well-being. Time influences who we are as a person, how we view relationships and how we act in the world. View the full video of Professor Philip Zimbardo’s talk at the RSA.

Empowering Learning - Pass Literacy on campaign

Empowering Learning - Pass Literacy on campaign

Many of our children are becoming really confused by the written english language, whilst becoming quite fluent in expressing themselves verbally. It is not helped by the fact that the sounds and spelling in english do not always match. And how would you know whether to write "to", "too" or "two", without knowing what the words look like?

Every parent and teacher would like to see their children flourish and many are actually seeing their youngsters becoming more and more confused. In our multinational society with innumerable accents no wonder some children really struggle being completely reliant on how words sound. They need visual memory too. Languages such as Spanish have perfect phonetics, and there is no need for spelling lessons as "what you hear is exactly what you write".

At the same time our children are very visual, probably more able to manipulate their visual pictures than their parents. To pass literacy on all we need to do is to teach children to visualise words at a young age, the skills that everyone who is good at reading and spelling in English already uses. This will stop all the confusion, misery and exhaustion that children go through, growing up feeling they are stupid.

Dyslexia: Learning difficulties may be centred in the eye

Dyslexia: Learning difficulties may be centred in the eye

Inside the eye, the retina contains a number of cells that respond to specific types of stimuli. Some react to certain colours, while others react to contrast or movement.

These cells individually gather information that combined provides our overall visual experience. One group of cells is called magno cells. These are the cells that respond to rapid movements, transmitting signals from the eye to the brain.

The information they send transforms what we see into live video. Without these cells, our brains would only perceive a series of still photos with no direct relationship, much like a comic book.

NTNU researchers suspect that the failure of magno cells to work the way they should may explain multiple learning disabilities and developmental problems.

From motor skills to math problems

Imagine that you are trying to catch a ball. If you can't quite perceive how the ball travels in relation to your body, you will be a bit awkward when you try to catch it. Or, as the experts say: Your motor skills are less precise than they should be.

But individuals who suffer from motor skill difficulties often have other problems too: Between three and eight per cent of school children have great difficulty learning mathematics (dyscalculia). About half of these individuals also have reading difficulties (dyslexia), and motor development problems.

It has long been known that several types of learning disabilities often occur together but the cause for this has not been understood.

Understanding leads to healing

understanding the underlying causes of learning disabilities can lead to a new approach to pedagogical methods. Children with dysfunctional magno cells probably need more specific tools to help them understand visual information than we previously thought. "The educational challenge is finding teaching techniques that make it easier for visual information to get to the areas of the brain where it will be processed further,"

Visual Processing 'Hinders Ability' To Read Body Language

Visual Processing 'Hinders Ability' To Read Body Language: Autism Study

With around half a million people in the UK affected by autism, the Durham University study suggests visual processing problems could be contributing to their day-to-day difficulties with social interaction.

The research showed that adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) found it difficult to identify emotions, such as anger or happiness, from short video clips of body movements without seeing faces or hearing sound.

Those adults who struggled most with this task also performed poorly when asked to detect the direction in which a group of dots moved coherently on a screen, thought to be due to visual processing problems.

People with autism often have difficulty in attributing mental states to others and this is thought to be one of the main causes of their struggle to know how other people feel. The Durham study, published in the academic journal Neuropsychologia, suggests visual processing problems may also be a contributing factor.

Henry Winkler becomes best-selling children's author

Henry Winkler: Happy Days actor Henry Winkler becomes best-selling  children's author
Henry Winkler: The series of 17 books follows a young dyslexic child called Hank Zipzer and is based on Winkler's own experience with the condition.

The actor, 64, has already sold 2.5 million copies of his books in the US and is now being published in Britain.

The series of 17 books follows a young dyslexic child called Hank Zipzer and is based on Winkler's own experience with the condition.

He said: "As a seven year-old I knew I wanted to be an actor. But if you want to know what means the most to me, it's the books."

Winkler is about to start working on a new set of books with his co-author Lin Oliver, called Ghost Buddy which centre around a 13 year-old boy with an imaginary best friend.

The actor has claimed that he did not read his first novel until he was in his 30s.

He said: "I was in the bottom 3 per cent at school. I was told I would never achieve. My parents had an affectionate term for me: 'dummerkind' [dumb kid]. I didn't' do well at school."

Winkler did not discover that he was dyslexic until his son Jed was diagnosed.

"I realised - that's me too," he said. "The first novel I read was when I was in my 30s. It was a triumph - all of those words in those covers."

He admitted that he always had difficulty reading the Happy Days scripts and said that he would memorise them on his own because he found it impossible to read in groups.

Winkler is currently touring 60 schools across the UK as part of the government's My Way campaign which is intended to encourage school pupils that there is no such thing as being stupid, just different approaches to learning.

Eating Brown Rice to Cut Diabetes Risk

Brown rice is a whole grain — white rice before it has been refined and polished and stripped of the bran covering, which is high in fiber and nutrients. Brown rice also has a lower glycemic index than white rice, which means it doesn’t cause blood glucose levels to rise as rapidly.

Now a new study from researchers at Harvard reports that Americans who eat two or more servings of brown rice a week reduce their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by about 10 percent compared to people who eat it less than once a month. And those who eat white rice on a regular basis — five or more times a week — are almost 20 percent more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than those who eat it less than once a month.

Just replacing a third of a serving of white rice with brown each day could reduce one’s risk of Type 2 diabetes by 16 percent, a statistical analysis showed. A serving is a cup of cooked rice.

The study, which used data from two Harvard nurses’ health studies and a separate study of health professionals, isn’t the first to point a finger at foods like white rice as a culprit in Type 2 diabetes. A 2007 study of Chinese women in Shanghai found that middle-aged women who ate large amounts of white rice and other refined carbohydrates were also at increased risk for diabetes compared to their peers who ate less.

But the Harvard study is one of the first to distinguish between brown rice and white rice consumption in the United States, where rice is not a staple food and relatively little is eaten overall, said Dr. Qi Sun, an instructor in medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, which is affiliated with Harvard Medical School. Many food studies simply lump brown and white rice together.

“The bottom line is we showed evidence that increased consumption of white rice – even at this low level of intake — is still associated with increased risk,” said Dr. Sun, who was at the Harvard School of Public Health when the study was done. “It’s really recommended to replace white rice with the same amount of brown rice or other whole grains.”

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Ginger Software - Text to Speech Online

Download link here
This blog does not endorse this product in any way, it is simply provided as a news item for your information.

Yale Center For Dyslexia & Creativity

Yale Center For Dyslexia & Creativity

A FEW YEARS AGO, SALLY SHAYWITZ and her husband, Bennett, were invited to travel to Davos, Switzerland, to give a presentation at the World Economic Forum, the glitzy annual gathering of the planet’s most influential people.

Bill Gates, CEOs, kings, presidents, and entertainers have attended it. But Sally, who is a co-director of the Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity, and her husband, also an expert on dyslexia, were a little perplexed by the invitation.

“My husband said, ‘What are we going to do there?’” she recalls. But after they gave their lecture on dyslexia, it became quite apparent that many in the audience had a keen personal interest in the topic.

“After [the presentation], we couldn’t walk through the halls without some head of state or CEO pulling us aside and saying, ‘Can I talk to you?’” says Shaywitz, who is the author of Overcoming Dyslexia.

Every Dad (and mum) Can Be a Hero

Give their children the gifts of responsibility and self–esteem. With these gifts, dads will become heroes in their children's hearts and Father's Day will become a true celebration of love and respect. Get started now by using the following steps:

Step 1: Show your kids how to make mistakes and solve them.
Great dads (and mums) don't try to be perfect. Instead, they allow their children to witness some of their small mistakes, show that they are human, and model what it looks like to be a good problem–solver.

For example, on a cool evening, a wise dad might purposefully leave his jacket at home and say to his kids, "Oops! I forgot to bring my jacket. I'm chilly. I sure am going to remember it next time!"

Step 2: Give your kids plenty of opportunities and permission to make "affordable" mistakes.
Parents know that the consequences of mistakes grow more dangerous as their children grow older. Therefore, they hope and pray their youngsters will make plenty of small or "affordable" mistakes when they are young, when the "price tags" of these mistakes are small.

For example, on another cool evening during the same week, dad might say to his kids, "We are leaving in 10 minutes. I'm going to treat you like big kids. What fun! You get to be in charge of remembering what you need to bring with you."

Step 3: If a mistake is made, provide a strong "dose" of empathy and hold your child accountable.
Believe it or not, the parents who are loved and respected by kids provide firm consequences for mistakes or misbehavior. The most loved and respected dads (and mums) provide a strong message of caring or empathy before they deliver consequences.

If a child forgets to bring his or her jacket, a parent might say very sincerely, "This is so sad. You forgot your jacket, and now you're chilly. We can't drive all the way home to get it. Hang in there. I love you."

Step 4: Give your children the same task again.
The very next day, the same father might say, "We are leaving in 10 minutes. You again get to be in charge of remembering what you need to bring with you."

When parents give their children responsibility for the same task again, without nagging or reminding them of their previous mistakes, they send a very powerful message: "I believe that you are smart enough to be responsible and learn from your mistakes!"

Friday, June 18, 2010

Dyslexia Assistive Technology Delivers Writing Independence To Children And Adul by Ghotit Ltd

Dyslexia Assistive Technology Delivers Writing Independence To Children And Adul by Ghotit Ltd

Ghotit, a leading provider of text correction technology has released its new and improved spelling and grammar checker. Ghotit targets people who can't spell close enough for traditional spell checkers to provide value. Millions of people around the world do not find regular spell and grammar checkers effective.

These people include people with dyslexia (about 17% of the world population),English Language Learners ELL, English as Second Language ESL and millions of other people that the reasons for their problems were never diagnosed.

Ghotit leverages its Intelligent Context Correction (ICC) patent-pending technology to correct heavily misspelled words and misused words - words that are spelled correctly but are out- of-context of the sentence being written. Ghotit has recently leveraged its ICC technology to correct grammar errors uncorrectable by regular spell checkers.

In addition, Ghotit has completely re-designed its Microsoft add-in to simplify the correction process and integrate value added services such as Text-to-Speech, Dictionary, and Search services.

Studies show that people that can't write fluently have problems in school, in finding and maintaining a job and even in their personal life. Many of Ghotit users have reported a dramatic increase in their writing competence, resulting in a direct rise in their work or study productivity.

Ofer Chermesh, one of Ghotit's founders and a lifelong heavy dyslexic says that for him Ghotit has replaced his personal human writing assistant. "In the past before sending out any email, I always asked my wife to correct my spelling.

Now after I write, I press the Ghotit icon in Microsoft Word and it intelligently corrects my spelling based on the context of what I have written. I have won my writing independence."

For more detailed information, please visit .

Speech recognition, mobile apps help build reading skills

Students’ scores on a national reading assessment have remained relatively flat for nearly 40 years, with students ages 9-17 scoring an average of 255 points on a scale of 0 to 500. As educators work hard to bring that average up, many are excited about the potential for new technologies to help.

Some schools, for example, are using tools such as speech recognition technology to give students a personal reading coach inside the classroom. Others are taking advantage of mobile technology to help students build the skills they need for reading fluency in their spare time, wherever they might be, by downloading audio books or applications to their mobile phones or mp3 players.

“Technology changes the whole game,” said Matt Walker, vice president of sales and marketing for Recorded Books, a company that provides audio books and other products for schools.

Meanwhile, there is new research to suggest that this approach can be successful: A PBS study found that mobile applications can help increase students’ vocabulary. That could be welcome news for educators who have seen students’ reading scores remain largely flat in national exams.

Long-term trend results in reading from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) are available on the National Center for Educational Statistics web site for 12 assessment years, going back to the first in 1971.

The average reading score for 9-year-olds was 220 points in 2008, increasing 4 points since 2004 and 12 points in comparison to 1971. While the average score for 13-year-olds in 2008 was higher than in both 2004 and 1971, it was not significantly different from the scores in some assessment years in between, at 260 points. The average reading score for 17-year-olds was higher in 2008 (286 points) than in 2004 (283 points) but was not significantly different from the score of 285 points in 1971.

Scientific Learning Corp.’s Reading Assistant software aims to change that. The program is a guided oral reading tool that is used to build fluency. The software uses speech verification technology to monitor for signs of difficulty in reading—which include hesitations, silence, mispronunciations, and other cues—and provides assistance when students stumble or get stuck.

“Reading Assistant was developed with the idea of bringing additional reading tutors to students through computers,” said Maura Deptula, projects manager for Scientific Learning. “The computer can listen to students the way a teacher can and prompt the student when he or she gets stuck.”

The software automatically calculates a student’s fluency rate, and there is a direct correlation between fluency and comprehension, said Liz Kline, product manager for Reading Assistant. The software not only helps teachers identify problem areas but also allows them to make sure each student’s reading has been assessed.

Read the full article here

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Autism Books for Children With Aspergers

There is no shortage of great books for you to learn from. I thought I would share my short list with you, so that you can continue to learn about tips and solutions to prosper with Aspergers. autism books

Autism Spectrum Books #1: The first favorite of mine is Solutions for Adults with Asperger’s Syndrome: Maximizing the Benefits, Minimizing the Drawbacks to Achieve Success Who Else Wants My Favorite Autism Spectrum Books?, written by Dr. Juanita P. Lovett. I love this book because it is written from a positive standpoint. Dr. Lovett is a psychologist with over 25 years of experience. I recently utilized her chapter on How Marriage Is Affected by Aspergers Syndrome in writing my most recent post for my blog, Spectrum Solutions, at Psychology Today.

Autism Spectrum Books #2: Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger’s Who Else Wants My Favorite Autism Spectrum Books?, by John Elder Robinson. This gentleman tells his story about his life growing up with Aspergers, undiagnosed, until he was in middle adulthood. He tells his story with sensitivity, yet with humor. You know those smoking guitars from the band KISS? Well, he designed those! He also runs his own very successful high end car restoration business. You can find out a little more about him in the Google author video below:

Autism Spectrum Books #3: Navigating the Social World: A Curriculum for Individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome, High Functioning Autism and Related Disorders Who Else Wants My Favorite Autism Spectrum Books?, by Dr. Jeanette McAffee is one of my favorites that I use in teaching social skills to children with Aspergers. (And if you are an adult with Aspergers, you can benefit from all of these exercises as well). This book is divided into sections as follows:

Recognizing and Coping with One’s Own Emotions

Communication and Social Skills Abstact

Thinking Skills Behavioral Issues

These programs are broken down into very easy to understand exercises to help you, whether child or adult, make sense of the often confusing world of social and non-verbal cues.

Autism Books #4

Thinking About You, Thinking About Me Who Else Wants My Favorite Autism Spectrum Books?, written by speech therapist Michelle Garcia Winner. I’m still wrapping my brain around this book, which is chock full with tips for teaching persons on the autism spectrum. She has pioneered an approach called perspective taking and social thinking. And I love that she has reframed some of the difficulties children with Aspergers face: social cognitive learning challenges.

She has written a lot of her curriculum to be user friendly for teachers and for incorporating objectives into a child’s Individual Education Plan.

There are eleven information packed chapters covering perspective taking, keys to perspective taking, four steps to communication (enhancing perspective taking knowledge and skills, establishing physical presence, thinking with your eyes, and using language to develop and sustain relationships), social behavior mapping, the ME Binder: teaching children about their IEP’s (Individual Education Plan), a healthy perspective on dynamic social thinking assessment.

Autism Spectrum Books #5:

Pretending to Be Normal: Living With Asperger’s Syndrome Who Else Wants My Favorite Autism Spectrum Books? written by Lianne Holliday Willey is another beautiful, painful, yet hope filled story of a very talented woman who grew up not knowing she had Aspergers syndrome. In fact, she did not figure it out until her own daughter was diagnosed with Aspergers.

If you enjoyed some of these reviews, check out the books I’ve talked about. Also, feel free to stop by my Autism Spectrum Books page on this site for other suggestions of books you can read to expand your knowledge of and tips for living successfully with Aspergers syndrome. .

Teaching Social Awareness: MyfriendQuest

MyfriendQuest Mainly aimed at teaching social skills to autistic children and teenagers, it is a very interesting approach.

Sharing the lessons from an autistic child

Sharing the lessons from an autistic child

When Jordan Soriano was just over a year old, he seemed to shut down.

"His mother had him on video, smiling and playing with trucks," said Colleen Buccieri, Jordan's godmother. "Then all the sudden, boom. He just went into his own world. For about six months, we thought he was deaf because he would not respond to anything. We even rang a big cowbell behind his head, and he did not even flinch."

It would be another four years before Jordan, now 10, would officially receive an autism diagnosis, and help through the public schools.

"As time went on and we learned more about autism, we kept saying, 'If only we'd known this a year ago, or known that two years ago,'" said Buccieri, also a longtime friend of Jordan's mother, Yvonne.

Buccieri and the Sorianos do not want other youngsters with autism to go years without the treatment they need. So they have founded Face Autism, a local group devoted to providing early autism screenings for children ages 18 months to four years, and to helping families through small grants for things like medical appointments and gluten-free food.

"If you can identify these children early and get them the resources they need, that's not only going to help the family, it's going to help the community," Buccieri said. "I see so many adults now going, 'What do I do with my child who has autism who didn't get any services earlier?'"

Read the full article here

What does ADHD feel like: Picture

The Impossible art of Erik Johansson

Friday, June 11, 2010

2000 word essay in a week? You have to be joking? | Dyslexic Brian

2000 word essay in a week? You have to be joking? | Dyslexic Brian

...I did not finish that damn essay...

...I did not finish that damn essay...

Awww the alarm! 7.45am already, which means I slept for….. (Counting on fingers) 4 and a half hours! Mmmm it is going to be a long day. Even though I was up half the night I did not finish that damn essay. Stress! It has to be in tomorrow and I’m not half done yet, even though I’ve been at it for days, long into the night and early morning. Oh well!

So I get and the first thing I do is switch on the computer, ready to start battling with it again…. soon. Must wake up first, brain is in a fog that is particularly hard to shake this morning. Probably prolonged lack of sleep and the fact that my brain is in constant action. Thinking, thinking all the time, thoughts whizzing in and out, playing movies in my head. Constant thought I can’t escape. Thoughts about everything…thoughts about nothing…..just thoughts all the time. Great!! Being able to think fast, that can’t be a bad thing…right…. wrong! Think of these thoughts whizzing around in there, but when trying to apply an appropriate output for these thoughts you become stuck. That is, the thoughts run up against the brick wall in your mind, jumble up and ‘fall’ out in no particular order. Must sit for ten minutes in silence with my coffee, try and quite the jumble.

It’s Sunday so my family are sleeping late, I won’t be disturbed for a while. So I sit with the laptop on my knee staring at what I wrote the night before. I start to read, I’m confronted with a page full of undeveloped thoughts, bad grammar and lots of waffle! Depicted by the spell checker as lots of little red and green squiggly lines. Awww another frustrated groan leaves my throat. I know what I mean when I write it, I know the facts, I’ve done my ‘homework’ I understand the subject. Why, why is this so hard!

A week, that’s what we were given to produce a 2000 word essay, a week! Perhaps an achievable task for someone more adept with the written word than I. But to me, to be honest a mammoth task! I look at my essay plan again, the order in which I think the information should go based on Cottrel, Palgrave and other authors of ‘how to write a good essay’ type books. The trouble is (I think) that I know my conclusion before I start; I’ve made my judgment on the subject. I don’t necessarily know however, why I think that. This leads me to ‘what an essay is?’

I suppose it is a description, or flow of thoughts, describing arguments and evidence that lead to a natural conclusion. Where the writer takes a certain viewpoint, or impartially describes the argument, using a logical flow of the thought. And that’s when the problem is obvious, my chaotic mind struggles with putting my thoughts in any rigid logical order. The undeveloped thoughts (on paper) are a symptom of my fast thought, my hands unable to keep up with what I’m thinking, so ‘skipping stuff’. Add to this a below average ability for spelling, poor short term memory, slow reading and processing rate, and you have the ingredients for a tortures task!

So I say to my friendly lecturer, who said in an encouraging way “its only 2000 words, and I know you have notes… so you can do it” when I complained that a week was not long enough. I say, you’re probably right, given longer I would have just pained over it for longer! But…in no way is it a flippant or easy task. Just so you know, it will take me twice as long, tremendous amount of concentration, a deathly quite atmosphere in which to quite my mind, many re-writes, re-reads and re-arranging.

Then when I get my work back, there will be pages of corrected grammar, spelling and sentence structure, to contemplate. Even though I looked that work over at least three times and could see no mistakes, they are there! Almost like a chicken with blue ink on its feet scratched all over my work! Ah well…I pull my wandering mind back to my work and continue with the battle. I just have to work harder…that’s all!?

~ Shirley Cooper from Aberdeen in Scotland

Tour Perth Scotland: PUSH Support Perth Scotland

Tour Perth Scotland: PUSH Support Perth Scotland

PUSH is an excellent organisation, based in Perth Scotland working for inclusion for people with learning disabilities under the idea of Person Centred Planning. As well as being a fountain of knowledge and support, they also offer training and awareness sessions to community groups, schools and any other organisations that would benefit.

They offer a range of group activities - on Monday evenings, a group meet alternate weeks in order to gain confidence and social skills in a safe and secure setting.

On Friday mornings, the concerns of those over 50 years old meet to address problems they are facing, to cope with family, change, health and happiness issues.

Thursday evenings are for the young 'uns to set goals and challenge themselves.

Volunteers are always welcomed at PUSH, as are any fund raising ideas. PUSH have recently moved offices and can now be found at 1/1 Methven Mews, 55 South Methven St, Perth. For further details contact 01738 621929

To see more recent posts from Tour Perth Scotland click here.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Phonological and orthographic spelling in high-functioning adult dyslexics

Phonological and orthographic spelling in high-functioning adult dyslexics. Nenagh Kemp. 2008; Dyslexia - Wiley InterScience

Despite a history of reading or spelling difficulties, some adults attain age-appropriate spelling skills and succeed at university.

The research compared the spelling of 29 such high-functioning dyslexics with that of 28 typical students, matched on general spelling ability, and controlling for vocabulary and non-verbal intelligence. Participants wrote derived real and pseudo words, whose spelling relationship to their base forms was categorised as phonologically simple (apt-aptly), orthographically simple (deceit-deceitful), phonologically complex (ash-ashen), or orthographically complex (plenty-plentiful).

Dyslexic participants spelled all word and pseudoword categories more poorly than controls. Both groups spelled simple phonological words best. Dyslexics were particularly poor at spelling simple orthographic words, whose letter patterns and rules must likely be memorised.

In contrast, dyslexics wrote more plausible spellings of orthographic than phonological pseudowords, but this might be an artefact of their more variable spelling attempts.

These results suggest that high-functioning dyslexics make some use of phonological skills to spell familiar words, but they have difficulty in memorising orthographic patterns, which makes it difficult to spell unfamiliar words consistently in the absence of sufficient phonological cues or orthographic rules

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

"I couldn't read or write until I was 27 years old"

"I couldn't read or write until I was 27 years old"

Brian Clissold

Brian Clissold now reads a book a week and enjoys biographies

On the face of it, 61-year-old Brian Clissold from Brighton has had the kind of life most of us would aspire to.

He has owned companies, sailed on the maiden voyage of the Queen Mary 2 and lived in Spain for five years.

But behind the success, Mr Clissold has a secret. "I couldn't read or write until I was 27," he says.

"It's been a slow process because I've worked all my life and haven't have time to study but I'm getting there now.

"It wasn't until this year that I've been able to read books written for adults.

At the age of 27, Mr Clissold signed up for weekly reading lessons with a doctor's wife in Brighton.

He carried on with the lessons until he started running a hotel at the age of 35.

"I was only able to read Janet and John books, but I stopped seeing her because I was too busy with work," he says.

Mr Clissold remained at this level until last year when, at the age of 60, he decided to learn how to use computers.

He signed up for free IT and literacy Skills for Life courses at the Central Sussex College in Crawley.

As far as he is concerned, he is learning again from scratch.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Home, preschool and school coordination boosts achievement

Researchers evaluated children's homes and child care/preschool settings when the children were 4-1/2 years old, studied their first grade classrooms, and evaluated reading and math test scores through fifth grade.

In doing so, they gauged whether the links between various combinations of cognitive stimulation and children's achievement were simply due to the socioeconomic circumstances of the children's families, or whether children from different socioeconomic backgrounds got more or less, academically, from each combination.

"The ultimate payoff of attempts to improve one context of early childhood depends in part on whether related contexts are improved, too," according to Crosnoe.

Moreover, even though children from advantaged families are more likely to experience this convergence of support for learning across the contexts of their lives, the study found that low-income children may benefit more from it.

"Helping children, especially those from poor families, get off to a good start in elementary school has become a major focus of education policy," Crosnoe adds. "These policy interventions typically target one setting -- the home, preschool, or elementary school -- but rarely the intersection of all three."

This study suggests that increasing coordination among the three main contexts involved in the transition to formal school is critical. "To do so, policymakers must put renewed focus on the home-preschool partnerships often advocated by early intervention programs and the family-school partnerships advocated by No Child Left Behind (NCLB), the Elementary and Secondary Education Act," according to Crosnoe.

Journal Reference:

1.Robert Crosnoe, Tama Leventhal, R. J. Wirth, Kim M. Pierce, Robert C. Pianta. Family Socioeconomic Status and Consistent Environmental Stimulation in Early Childhood. Child Development, May 13 2010 DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2010.01446.x

How Does the Human Brain Memorize a Sound?

To investigate how auditory memory is formed, researchers subjected volunteers to various noise samples: these noises were generated in a totally random and unpredictable way to ensure that the volunteers would never have heard them before.

Furthermore, these original complex sound waves had no meaning, and were perceived at first as an indistinct hiss. Listeners were not told that an identical complex noise pattern could be played several times during the experiment.

Using this fairly simple protocol, the scientists discovered that our ear is remarkably effective in detecting noise repetitions.

Listeners nearly always recognised the noise pattern that had been played several times; two listenings were enough for those with a trained ear, and only about ten for less experienced ears.

Sound repetition therefore induces both extremely rapid and effective learning, which occurs implicitly (it is not supervised). In addition, this memory for noise can last several weeks. A fortnight after the first experiment, volunteers identified the noise pattern again, at the first attempt.

The scientists have demonstrated the existence of a form of fast, solid and long-lasting auditory learning. Their experimental protocol has proven to be a relevant and simple method that could make it possible to study auditory memory in both humans and animals.

These results imply that a mechanism for rapid auditory plasticity -- that is, a mechanism involved in an auditory neuron's ability to adapt its response to a given sound stimulant -- plays a very effective role in the learning of sounds.

This process is likely to be essential to identify and memorise recurrent sound patterns in our acoustic environment, such as the voice of relatives. It has all the characteristics considered necessary for human beings to learn to associate a sound with what produces it.

The same mechanism may also be involved in relearning, which is often inevitable when hearing suddenly changes. This is true of hearing-impaired people who start using hearing aids.

A period of adaptation to their prosthesis is necessary so they can get used to hearing sounds they no longer heard or perceived differently.

The researchers hope that one day they will be able to study the effect of the modifications introduced by hearing aids on re-learning more in depth.

Journal Reference:

1.Trevor R. Agus, Simon J. Thorpe, Daniel Pressnitzer. Rapid Formation of Robust Auditory Memories: Insights from Noise. Neuron, 2010; 66 (4): 610 DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2010.04.014

The Map Room: Joshua Miele’s Tactile Maps

The Map Room: Joshua Miele’s Tactile Maps

On May 8th, the California Map Society held a meeting at Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA. One of the speakers was Joshua Miele, Ph.D., Associate Scientist at the Smith Kettlewell Eye Research Institute’s Rehabilatation Engineering Researcn Center in San Francisco.
His topic was Automated Production of Tactile and Audio/Tactile Maps. In other words — Maps for the Blind.

What sounds like an impossibility is already in production and Dr. Miele, who incidentally is totally blind, held the audience enthralled with the description of his development of a web-based software tool for the rapid production of tactile street maps.
The attached photo shows such a map with a centered location grid locating the intersection of 14th and Broadway in Oakland, CA. Around the periphery are three digit Braille street name abbreviations. The raised street grid allows the blind user to quickly understand the street patterns and orient themselves. Even complex intersections can be easily portrayed and understood.

The map is not meant to carried but portions can be quickly memorized by the user. Not all streets are named, but each street is shown so the number of blocks between named streets is obvious to the user. Dr. Miele’s talk was as a self assured scientist putting his life’s work to use for others whose needs he understands. At the end of his presentation the audience gave him a richly deserved ovation.
Links added. Here is the website of Dr. Miele’s tactile map project.

Child Soldiers: Acceptance, social support, and educational access provide safety net

Acceptance, social support, and educational access provide safety net for former child soldiers — Science Blog

The Child Soldiers Global Report 20081 estimates that more than 300,000 children are engaged as soldiers around the globe, and more children are recruited every year in ongoing and new conflicts.

Although a number of multinational coalitions are aligned to stop the recruitment of child soldiers, some countries persist in not only the recruitment of children but also in exposing children to both the psychological and physical dangers associated with combat.

In the June issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Harvard researchers report on the mental health outcomes of former child soldiers in Sierra Leone, finding that community acceptance, social support and school attendance can help mitigate the damaging influences of the children’s wartime experiences and post-conflict stigma.

The article, titled “Sierra Leone’s Former Child Soldiers: A Longitudinal Study of Risk, Protective Factors, and Mental Health,” draws on a longitudinal study of 260 male and female former child soldiers in Sierra Leone, ages 10-17 at the start of the study. 2 Betancourt and colleagues evaluated these youth at three time points in order to determine the long-term course of internalizing and externalizing problems and adaptive/prosocial behaviors, and investigate whether post-conflict factors contributed to adverse or resilient mental health outcomes.

Virtually all of the subjects were children who were recruited by force or abduction to join the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), the rebel force which was one of the main actors in the 11-year civil war in Sierra Leone. At the time of the first evaluation (2002) 55.3% of the youth lived with a least one biological parent, although the percentage decreased to 34.1% by the third evaluation (2008).