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Making the grade: Reading becomes a joy for special needs students
Atlanta Journal Constitution
For many readers, nothing compares with getting lost in a good book. But despite their desire to do so, many special needs students face challenges that make reading a pain instead of a pleasure. Not only are they locked out of the world of Harry Potter; they're also apt to be behind in their classes. "Most of school is reading, so many students with comprehension or expression problems — particularly those with dyslexia — are locked out," said Jennifer Topple, director of assistive technology at the Howard School on Atlanta's Westside. "The decoding part — sounding words out — is very difficult because their systems are not set up to do that smoothly."
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Looking to share your expertise?
In an effort to enhance the overall content of THE LD SOURCE, we'd like to include peer-written articles in future editions. As a member of LDA and/or reader of THE LD SOURCE, your knowledge of learning disabilities and related issues lends itself to unprecedented expertise. And we're hoping you'll share this expertise with your peers through well-written commentary. Because of the digital format, there's no word or graphical limit. Our group of talented editors can help with final edits. If you're interested in participating, please contact Ronnie Richard to discuss logistics.

How special educators can handle testing season
By: Pamela Hill
In numerous schools, testing season is just beginning. Countless public schools administer districtwide assessments three times a year, and they administer federally-mandated yearly statewide testing during the spring season. Consequently, beginning in January and continuing until May, many students will engage in two districtwide assessments and one statewide assessment. For students with learning disabilities, this can be a time of frustration or a time of confidence.
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  "ACHIEVE" it all at SIU!

Thinking about college? Do you struggle with learning difficulties or organizational skills? The Achieve Program provides comprehensive academic support for college students with learning disabilities, autism, and ADHD. Call us at 618-453-6155 or visit our website at to discover how Achieve can help you!

In practice, IDEA remedies may not be available to all
Disability Scoop
Family income appears to be a major factor influencing whether parents will seek mediation or due process in special education disputes with their child's school district. A nationwide survey of over 500 parents with children on the autism spectrum finds that families earning more than $100,000 a year are significantly more likely to pursue litigation compared to those with incomes that are half that level. The findings published recently in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders may point to fundamental inequities in the special education process, researchers said.
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 In the News

How integrating arts into other subjects makes learning come alive
Art has long been recognized as an important part of a well-rounded education — but when it comes down to setting budget priorities, the arts rarely rise to the top. Many public schools saw their visual, performing and musical arts programs cut completely during the last recession, despite the many studies showing that exposure to the arts can help with academics too. A few schools are taking the research to heart, weaving the arts into everything they do and finding that the approach not only boosts academic achievement but also promotes creativity, self-confidence and school pride.
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Looking for similar articles? Search here, keyword ADHD.

  Student-Paced, Mastery-Based Math

Since 2004, Math-U-See has worked with intervention and special education teachers to reach struggling special needs math students. Math-U-See corresponds to math ability rather than traditional grade levels, so it can be used with students of any age. We provide tools and training for an explicit, structured, systematic, cumulative program using multi-sensory teaching techniques. MORE

Warning signs for a learning disability: Short attention span, plus 7 others
Medical Daily
Nearly one in 10 American children under the age of 18 has some type of learning disability — a disorder that affects a child's ability to understand or use language, make mathematical calculations, maintain attention, and even coordinate body movements. Learning disabilities arise from neurological differences in brain structure and function. These differences, which often run in families, affect a person's ability to receive, store, process, retrieve or communicate information.
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Energy and calm: Brain breaks and focused-attention practices
When presented with new material, standards and complicated topics, we need to be focused and calm as we approach our assignments. We can use brain breaks and focused-attention practices to positively impact our emotional states and learning. They refocus our neural circuitry with either stimulating or quieting practices that generate increased activity in the prefrontal cortex, where problem solving and emotional regulation occur.
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  Unique Approach to Reading Problems

See how a sandwich and a cake can help your students learn to read! The Stevenson Reading Program uses proven methods in unique and imaginative ways to address the needs of LD students. It often succeeds with students who have struggled with other specialized approaches. Visit our website here or call 800-343-1211 for info.

Link between sleep quality and grades of school-aged children in math and languages
Medical News Today
Making sure school-aged kids get to sleep at a regular hour is often a struggle for parents. But a study by researchers at McGill University and the Douglas Mental Health University Institute in Montreal suggests it's well worth the effort: the researchers found that a good night's sleep is linked to better performance in math and languages — subjects that are powerful predictors of later learning and academic success. In findings published recently in the journal Sleep Medicine, the researchers reported that "sleep efficiency" is associated with higher academic performance in those key subjects. Sleep efficiency is a gauge of sleep quality that compares the amount of actual sleep time with the total time spent in bed.
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Duncan lays out priorities for education law: Testing, preschool funding, teacher evaluations
The Washington Post
Education Secretary Arne Duncan spelled out his priorities for a new federal education law, calling on Congress to build in funding for preschool, add $1 billion annually in federal aid for schools with the neediest students, and maintain the federal mandate that says states must test students every year in math and reading. Duncan spoke at Seaton Elementary, a high-poverty school in the District's Shaw neighborhood. He was supposed to visit a classroom, but school was delayed by freezing rain and none of the mostly Latino and African American students were present.
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Missed last week's issue? See which articles your colleagues read most.

    Strategies for getting and keeping the brain's attention (Edutopia)
What schools could use instead of standardized tests (NPR)
Learning disabilities: An easy way to avoid homework's pitfalls (By: Howard Margolis)
PARCC prep: A better way to teach compare and contrast (MiddleWeb)
Disruptive children benefit from tailored classroom intervention (New York University via Science Daily)

Don't be left behind. Click here to see what else you missed.

A new kind of social anxiety in the classroom
The Atlantic
Stress about a meeting that is still a week away, handwringing before talking to the cashier in the grocery line, worrying about seeing an acquaintance on the street — for people with social anxiety disorder, even the simplest task can prove challenging. The symptoms of social anxiety often set in around adolescence, when people place a new emphasis on social interactions and their place in their peer groups. But some academics fear that greater access to technology could exacerbate social anxiety among teens, particularly as smartphones, tablets and computers become omnipresent in and out of the classroom.
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Longer school days, school years: Somewhat helpful to boosting student learning, but amped-up teaching does more
The Oregonian
The Obama administration required low-performing schools that got federal money intended to spur a turnaround to add time to their school day or school year. Years into the effort, however, school leaders who accepted federal millions say the added teaching time was only moderately helpful. Stepped up teaching, often resulting from teachers being given more time to collaborate, yields a much bigger payoff, they report.
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LDA does not recommend or endorse any one specific diagnostic or therapeutic regime, whether it is educational, psychological or medical. The viewpoints expressed in THE LD SOURCE are those of the authors and advertisers.

Colby Horton, Vice President of Publishing, 469.420.2601
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Hailey Golden, Senior Education Editor, 469.420.2630   
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