Apr 9, 2010


My ADHD/LD son is 13.  I recently decided, against my better judgment, to get him a cell phone and allow him to text.  I set limits of usage, allowing only 200 texts per month with our data plan.

I soon realized that his life started to revolve around his new found freedom.  He felt powerless without his phone.  It was an ever-present accessory that I soon began to despise.

I randomly checked his texts to make sure he was sending and receiving age appropriate messages.  I was shocked at what I found.  His "friends" had began bullying him via text. 

We successfully addressed and eliminated the bullying issue at school and on the bus during the first month of school.  Now, it has crept back into his life.

My husband and I discussed the bullying texts with him.  He confided in us that he felt so much pressure to "fit in" and text like everyone else does.  Having ADHD and LD, he has always had a problem "fitting in" and relating to his peers. This seemed magnified now that he was attempting to text.  He frequently misspelled words and didn't understand when the kids texting him were joking or being serious. This is a common symptom of ADHD... inadequate social skills. 

We mutually decided to allow him to keep the phone but that there would be no more texting.  To my surprise, my son was relieved.  He said he instantly felt better knowing the "pressure" was now gone.  I told him to use me as the scapegoat.  I have no problem with him telling his buddies that his "mean mom" took his texting privileges away.

I explained that kids generally text things that they would never have the nerve to say face-to-face.  He agreed.  I'm encouraging him to actually use his phone for it's intended purpose.... to CALL his friends and actually SPEAK with them.  He's so much happier now and his hands, especially his thumbs, are beginning to straighten out.

Do you allow your ADHD/LD child to text?  Has he/she encountered text bullying?  What have you done to stop it?

Apr 5, 2010

Memory Techniques to Help Your LD Child

Does your LD child have problems remembering certain facts in science, math, history or English class? Have you tried using mnemonics (pronounced ni-mon-iks) to help him recall facts?

These memorization techniques have been invaluable in my son's schooling. A few of his favorites include:

    Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet.
    (This helps students remember the order of the colors in a rainbow)

  • Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally
    Parentheses, Exponents, Multiplication, Division, Addition, Subtraction.
    (This allows students to remember the Order of Operations in math)

  • My Very Earnest Mother Just Served Us Nine Pickles
    Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto
    (This is an easy way to remember the order of the planets from the sun out)

  • Thirty days hath September, ...
    (I even use this mnemonic to help me remember the number of days each month)
    Thirty days hath September,
    April, June, and November;
    All the rest have thirty-one
    Excepting February alone:
    Which hath but twenty-eight, in fine,
    Till leap year gives it twenty-nine.

    Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior
    (An easy way to remember the five Great Lakes)

  • In 1492 Columbus Sailed the Ocean Blue

For additional mnemonics and other memory techniques you can utilize to help your child, visit these websites:

Does your child need to remember something that you can't find a mnemonic for? Visit the following site, which offers a free mnemonic generator:

Mar 30, 2010

Book Reports and Your ADHD Child

My ADHD son is now in middle school. I was more worried about his starting the sixth grade than he was. I knew what was in his future...lockers, gym class, harder assignments and... BOOK REPORTS!

To say my son is a reluctant reader would be the understatement of the decade. How would he ever read (an entire book) and then report on what he read?! He generally loses interest in a book after just a couple of pages. I decided to cross that bridge when we came to it and not dwell on the inevitable.

Well, that bridge (and the inevitable) came the second semester of this school year. His English teacher announced that the class would be required to read any biographical book in the school library and write a book report on what they'd read. She assured me, and a few other concerned parents, that she would make it a positive experience. I had my doubts.

My son chose the biography of R.L. Stine, the author of the Goosbumps book series. Interesting, I thought. The book was around the same length of most books in the series, 136 pages. That, however, seemed insurmountable to my son.

I'm happy to report that he finished the report on time and even got a B+ on the assignment. How did it do it? With a little help from me and a lot of creativity from his teacher, it was easy.

Tips for book report success:

  • Allow the student a lengthy amount of time to "read" the book. My son's teacher allowed them six weeks to read a little over 100 pages... this amounted to a little over 3 pages a day!

  • Allow the student to listen to the book on CD while following along in the book. This appeals to both visual and auditory learners.

  • Allow the student to type the report. The thought of hand writing a book report will overwhelm many students. Tell them they can type it on a computer and the stress will be instantly lessened.

  • Allow the students to work in teams. Students will feed off of each other.

  • Allow the students to give oral, rather than written, book report presentations.

These are just a few things that my son's teacher did to ensure her class' success. You can find additional tips on the ADDitude Magazine website. When your child's teacher mentions those two dreaded words...book report...there's no need to cringe!

A Return to Blogging

Wow, it's been quite a year! After taking a year-long blogging break, I'm back. I'm more inspired than ever and anxious to share more ADHD and LD news with you.

I went on hiatus last April after going back to work for the first time in 12 years. I decided that I wanted more. Both of my boys were in school and I wanted more out of my day... more than just housework and laundry. I found that "more" by working for a local non-profit organization. I have found it immensely enjoyable and love what I do.

Now, I feel the desire to return to blogging. I've missed it terribly. Thank you for continuing to read. I look forward to a long writer/reader relationship!

Apr 1, 2009

Eliminating Grade Levels in Public Schools

In last Sunday's Parade Magazine I read an article entitled The End of Grade Levels? and found it quite intriguing. The theory is based on the fact that children learn in different ways and at various rates. What takes one student one hour to learn may take another student a full day to grasp.

The practice of placing students in grades according to their age is being changed. Some schools are beginning to place students in classes according to their ability.

This has already been implemented in the Chugach school district in Alaska. In just five years, that district's achievement scores have gone from being the lowest in the state to among the highest. Schools nationwide are beginning to give this new approach a try.

I can definitely see how this approach would benefit my ADHD/LD son. This is the teaching model one school we previously considered for our son used. Although we decided against placing our son in that school, it had nothing to do with their lack of grade levels.

I think my son would excel in an environment that accommodated his learning disabilities. If he were surrounded by other students, regardless of their age, who were having difficulties as well, he would be more comfortable and relaxed. He wouldn't feel like the "dumb one" when he didn't understand a concept that the rest of the class mastered easily. Everyones learning curve would be relatively the same, reducing his anxiety.

I would love to see every school district in the U.S. give parents and students the option... attend a school with grade levels or without. I know that will never happen, but I can dream.

What are your thoughts on this subject? Do you think your child would benefit from this type of classroom environment? Do you see any negatives?

By the way, Parade Magazine has created a poll to see how m any of their readers agree and disagree with the idea of not having grade levels in schools. So far their readers are in favor of it.... 79% for and 21% against.

Mar 24, 2009

Learning Disabilities Linked to Early Surgeries

Young children undergoing repeated anesthesia may be at increased risk for learning disabilities, researchers here said.

In a retrospective cohort study, children with two exposures to anesthesia before age 4 were 59% more likely than unexposed children to be diagnosed with learning disabilities (95% CI 6% to 137%) according to Jurajsurgery Sprung, M.D., Ph.D., of the Mayo Clinic, and colleagues reporting online in Anesthesiology.

Youngsters with three or more exposures had a 2.6-fold increased risk of learning disabilities (95% CI 1.6 to 4.2), the researchers found.

I find this study to be especially interesting. My twelve year old son was diagnosed with learning disabilities at the age of six. Prior to that, he had undergone two surgeries. The first surgery was to place tubes in his ears and remove his tonsils. The second was a insert tubes for the second time and to remove his adenoids.

To think that the anesthesia from those surgeries could have possibly contributed to his learning disabilities is mind blowing. The doctors who were trying to help him could have possibly been responsible for his learning difficulties now.

I am anxious for more research to be done on this topic. Had your LD child undergone surgery prior to being diagnosed? Do you think there is a link between the two?

Full story available via: MedPage Today

Mar 20, 2009

Elementary Teacher Gives Students the World

They ate with chopsticks in Japan, made piƱatas and dove into chips and salsa in
Mexico and threw boomerangs in Australia.

And on Thursday and Friday, Debbie Suhrie's first-grade students ate fruit kabobs as they kicked back at their desks and listened to steel drum music in their Jamaican-themed classroom.

Every six weeks, Suhrie's students pack their bags, prepare their passports and head out for a cultural classroom adventure.

Suhrie, 55, believes in the old saying, "If you can reach them, you can teach them." So she taps into her creativity to figure out how to reach every one of her students.

Now that's what creative teaching is all about! This teacher was nominated for, awarded and certainly earned the Golden Apple Award.

Wouldn't it be amazing if all, or at least many more, teachers went above and beyond the call of duty to teach our children. Think of the possibilities. Countless students could be reached with creative teaching.

Kudos to you, Mrs. Suhrie. You wouldn't want to relocate to Virginia any time soon would you?

You can read the article in its entirety via NewsPress.com.

Mar 19, 2009

All teachers have to do is ditch the classroom chair. A growing number are replacing them with exercise stability balls more associated with Pilates classes than schoolroom lectures as an innovative way to improve student posture and attention.

"They're awesome," gushed 10-year-old James Howell, a fourth-grader at Bauder Elementary School whose class switched to purple stability balls in January. "They help you focus, they help you keep your structure. And sometimes you get to bounce on them, get the wiggles out."

I can definitely see how these would benefit all children. Even children that do not have a diagnosed disability get the "wiggles" sometimes. Kudos to this school for thinking outside of the box and for doing whatever is necessary to promote the students' ability to learn.

Do you think these would benefit your child? Should they be required in schools. Or, should children at least have the option to use them if they choose?

You can read the full story via the San Francisco Chronicle website.

Mar 18, 2009

Assistive Technology for Children with Learning Disabilities

I came across an article today on the Great Schools website and wanted to share it with it. It's full of information and links about the assistive technology that is out there for children with learning disabilities.

Assistive technology (AT) is available to help individuals with many types of disabilities — from cognitive problems to physical impairment. This article will focus specifically on AT for individuals with learning disabilities (LD).

The use of technology to enhance learning is an effective approach for many children. Additionally, students with LD often experience greater success when they are allowed to use their abilities (strengths) to work around their disabilities (challenges). AT tools combine the best of both of these practices.

This article will introduce parents to the role of AT in helping their children with LD.

You can visit the Great Schools website to read this article in its entirety.

Mar 14, 2009

Ransom-Note Ads About Children's Health

In December 2007 an ad agency created a series of advertisements for the Child Study Center at New York University. After only two weeks the ads were pulled due to parental protest. The original goal was to increase awareness of children's mental and neurological disorders.
Advocates for children with autism and for other special-needs children said the ads reinforced negative stereotypes.
What are your thoughts on this? Do you think ads like these would promote stereotypical notions of ADHD and other disorders? Or do you think this would have been a novel approach to promote awareness?
You can read the full story on The New York Times website.