Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Adult ADHD: 'All over the map'

Link to story about adult ADHD
At 30, he's all over the map because he has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD. Growing up, he was labeled a problem child. He struggled with classes in high school and admits to behavioral troubles.

Panorama documentary on Seroxat

Here is a link to a BBC Panorama documentary on the drug Seroxat (not sure if the name differs in North America). I post this link because the documentary concerns the drug being prescribed to teenagers and it's possible that young people/ children could be prescribed this drug for symptoms of anxiety or depression and so it's useful viewing for parents who may be advised to medicate their children for whatever reason. It's a compelling documentary that raises important questions.

Secret emails reveal that the UK's biggest drug company distorted trial results of an anti-depressant, covering up a link with suicide in teenagers.
Panorama reveals that GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) attempted to show that Seroxat worked for depressed children despite failed clinical trials.

Click on watch now to view the documentary.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Dysgraphia/written output struggles -- we want to hear from you

There's a very interesting comment been posted at an earlier posting on this blog that I encourage you all to read.

Brent, just about to graduate with his master degree, (bravo!) details his background being gifted with dysgraphia.

It's very insightful to hear these stories. There's so few resources on written output struggles and first hand accounts are fascinating and help us gain a better understanding.

At the library yesterday I was looking at Samuel Beckett's theatrical notebooks. They were written in a squared notebook. I looked at three of them, curious to see how long he could maintain such upright, clear writing. In two of them it slanted to the right. While I was looking at them, (they are actually in German) I remembered the terrible cramps in my hands writing essays and exams. It made me wonder if unbeknownst to me at the time I had had my own struggles with physical writing. Obviously they did not impede me to the extent that I see my own child challenged by them, but I am far more fluid on a keyboard.

I often noticed that doctors handwriting can be completely illegible for example. It would be very interesting to hear from people who have been challenged by written output and have had to make choices based on those challenges because I am thinking the implications forty or fifty years ago of such a challenge would have been vastly different from today where accommodations can be made with technology.

A lawyer recently told me he was most certainly penalised for his poor handwriting all the way through university.

If you know anyone with such stories please encourage them email to if they do not wish to comment on the actual blog. I can post them anon. as blog postings if they prefer. I'm very happy for people to consider this compiling of information rather than "sharing" of stories, which understandably not everyone feels comfortable with. Most people reading this blog are looking for strategies, so it's very valuable to hear the strategies people used to cope and what the implications of these challenges have been for them if they care to disclose. If not, that's fine. In short just tell us what got you through.

Someone recently suggested to me that one way to deal with ADD is to accept you might need to have five different careers in your lifetime. I thought that was quite a genius of a concept.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Times article: 10 minute test to help screen for dyslexia

Cartoon pictures of a grey mongrel cat washing herself and a small blue alien are at the heart of a new test to help parents to establish whether their children have dyslexia.
The ten-minute test, developed by speech therapists and psychologists, screens young children for language disorders from the age of 3. By testing simple grammatical and pre-reading skills, parents, teachers or assistants can check whether a child is “school-ready” or may need more help.

For more info on obtaining the test GAPS click here

To read the complete article,,2-2561005,00.html

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Enrichment works!

I realize it's early days, but my child emerged from his first enrichment class at school last week declaring he loved it. Now the curious thing is he may not have been identified as a candidate for that class without the psycho-educational assessment that was done on him that identified his strengths and the things that are tripping him up.

To see the benefit of even that single experience has given him is enlightening. As far as I can tell it's about feeling capable more than anything else. It makes me fearful to think that many of the children who need these opportunities may be unlikely to be chosen based on their performance in the classroom, which as I've seen first hand is not always a good indicator of potential.

I suppose one can only place hope in the wisdom and insight of individual teachers who foster a classroom atmosphere where every child has the chance to succeed, which fortunately for us our present teachers this year do. What a difference this makes. The child goes from loathing school to feeling like they can actually participate and enjoy some success. There are still challenges naturally.

Another important change for the new year has been the implementation (finally) of a writing program through the learning assistance centre. Previously the focus appeared to be entirely on remedial reading assistance. Children with written output challenges are not necessarily weak readers, yet they often end up in learning assistance for reading programs. Whilst these programs do not obviously do any damage and may have some benefits they do absolutely nothing to address or aide the fine motor problems. I will be posting about the progress and difference, if any, this writing program makes.

Two links on dyslexia debate is a website maintained by a teenager over the years charting his experience with dyslexia and the accommodations that helped him. It gives a great insight to his expereince finding strategies that work and his subsequent success at school as a result.

The Daily Telegraph speakers corner have a bunch of comments in response to their article Dyslexia -- an expensive myth?

You'll also find the original article by searching that newspaper site.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Dysgraphia vs Written Output Disorder

I am trying to ascertain what the difference is between dysgraphia and written output disorder.

If you have any insights or thoughts please leave a comment.


The Mislabeled Child

Here is a link to an interview with Drs' Brock and Fernette Eide the authors of an interesting looking book called The Mislabeled Child.

They have a website and blog which has specific reference material to dysgraphia in their library section which some readers may find helpful.

The blog has articles posted daily addressing all manner of pertinent topics relating to learning differences with a strong neurological emphasis.

Instead of hysterical activity like putting weapons in space, governments should consider investing serious dollars in studying the brain because as I heard Henry Marsh a pioneering neurosurgeon remark recently in a radio three essay as part of the freethinking festival "there's much we still don't know." (that's not a verbatim quote, but it was the gist of his sentiment).

Saturday, January 13, 2007

The Observer: Feature article on dyslexia

Article in today's UK Observer about dyslexia:

In a small room at the physiology department of the University of Oxford a man is being tested for dyslexia. This is an elaborate, detailed and standardised process, and the tests get harder as the session unfolds.,,1987978,00.html

The article is well worth reading. The journalist Simon Garfield travelled to several conferences and gatherings. The article also details some of the history of the recognition of the existence of dyslexia.

Three resources listed at the end of the article:

The Dyslexia Research Trust:
Dyslexia Action:
British Dyslexia Association:

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Activity: Drawing a piece of knitting

Another fine motor activity that we made up the other day. I suggested to my son we draw a piece of knitting together. Sounds dull, but not necessarily so. I wanted an activity that required drawing lots of tiny lines for my own brain as much as his.

We both choose two different coloured gel pens. He drew a rectangle to indicate a scarf. I asked him to decide a pattern and nominate who should do how many lines. Then we took turns replicating his pattern with very simple straight lines to indicate a stitch.

Half way down the rectangle he requested we choose different pens and he redesigned the colour sequence. By the last few rows of the piece of knitting depicted his lines had become very neat and careful.

Becuase this was an inclusive activity and we took turns and he decided how things should look he remained engaged and ultimately very satisfied with the end result.

Sharing the burden works very well with children who have output issues because they fatigue quickly, but will remain engaged if they know a pause is due to them.

This activity also helps reinforce the notion of patterns and be able to recognize them.

I think the next pattern exercise we'll try may involve drawing guitar chords because he's interested in music. It could almost be like composition and then afterwards we could try to play the chords and see how they sound in reality.

Even though there's little evidence to suggest that repeatedly practising fine motor will necessarily fix or wildly improve written output trouble, I think it helps the child to feel like they can concentrate for a sustained period of time on something that involves precise fine motor work. It's all about the process for us right now and feeling capable rather than dejected and so the actual fine motor activity needs to be incidental to something else that's happening. In the above example he was overseeing what went on the page and directing operations.

It's interesting because previously I had much less success trying to get him to draw hockey shirts with numbers on the back. So you can imagine my surprise to see the replication of a piece of knitting proved more successful. Maybe because it was more abstract.

Advocates for Children of New York resource

This website has some very interesting reports and studies including this one which provides a critical examination of New York's gifted programs and an analysis of segregation in the programs. Nationally, experts estimate black and Latino students are underrepresented in gifted programs by fifty to seventy percent.

There are also examples of current litigation and legal challenges being undertaken on behalf of various children and/or excluded groups in education generally.

Parents and/or interested readers will find much to read generally on this website whether or not they live in New York especially under their policy reports section.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

More great "working memory" links.

Here's a link to an excellent document with some suggestions to help working memory problems in the classroom.

Whether you are a teacher or a parent you'll find more articles of interest here:

How encouraging to find this great work and research being undertaken on children and working memory problems.

Working Memory Problems? Good resource

Here's an excellent link on working memory problems with definitions and information.

BBC: Extra help for struggling pupils

UK News story

Ministers want all pupils to have what the better off pay for
Children who fall behind in maths or English could be offered one-to-one tuition to help get them back on track.
Struggling pupils in the later years of primary and early years of secondary school will get extra help outside school hours from qualified teachers.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

UK:Britain 'wasting talent of its brightest kids'

(Dec 31st 2006)
Tens of thousands of bright children in the poorest parts of England and Wales are being let down by schools that fail to nurture their talent, a leading government adviser has warned Tony Blair.
Sir Cyril Taylor, chairman of the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust, said those who opposed spending more time and money on gifted and talented children held an 'anti-elitist ideology' that would hold back the economy.,,1980605,00.html

It's interesting that in none of these articles is there any mention of the fact that gifted children can also have learning disabilities ....

UK: Future of schooling report gets cautious welcome

Teachers have given a guarded welcome to a report on the government's vision for schooling by 2020, warning ministers against the development of an "overly bureaucratic processes".
The report, written by Christine Gilbert before her recent appointment as head of Ofsted, suggests pupils should be able to choose what they study, ask each other for help in answering questions, mark their own work and grade their teachers' performance.,,1982852,00.html