Sunday, November 2, 2008

Obama: Natl. Disability Employment Awareness Month

VISITOR: Douglas Rogers<> Mon, Oct 13, 2008 Senator Obama: National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Here's the letter Senator Obama signed and released last week celebrating National Disability Employment Awareness Month. I hope you will circulate this to your contacts.

DYSCALCULIA.ORG:Thanks! Here's the link & the letter's text below:

October 2, 2008
Dear Americans with Disabilities,

It's a pleasure for me to join you in celebrating National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Americans with disabilities are an essential and underutilized part of our workforce. As President, I will work hard to help you achieve full equality – in the workplace, in education, and in all aspects of life.

I don’t have to tell you the dismal statistics – an employment rate 40 points below that of working-age individuals without disabilities and a federal failure to meet the disability employment targets of Executive Order 13173.

This must change – and I know that it can. Because I know that we can change it. One of the most important measures of any society is how well it enables each person to live up to his or her potential. Fairness is important, but providing you with the supports and services so you can succeed goes beyond that – it goes to the heart of our nation’s future. Because in an era of intense global competition, we can’t afford not to put everyone to work.

You shouldn't be locked out of the workplace. Children with disabilities shouldn't be languishing in failing schools that doom them to a life of second class citizenship. Your talents and energies must not go to waste. America faces great challenges right now and we won’t meet them without the help of everyone who can work. It’s that simple. That’s why it is long past time for us to break down the barriers that still exclude people with disabilities in this country and deprive you of true equality of opportunity and independence.

One of the first places we need change is in the workplace, and the federal government should take the lead. That’s why my administration will be a model for other employers in hiring and accommodating employees with disabilities. Before leaving office, President Clinton issued Executive Order No. 13173, which mandated hiring an additional 100,000 federal employees with disabilities within five years. Eight years later, this goal still hasn’t been reached. I will reinstate this executive order early in my term as President and designate a senior White House official to assure that all federal departments and agencies do their part to help meet this goal.

I will also vigorously enforce the Rehabilitation Act, including Section 503 requiring the federal government and employers who are federal contractors to "take affirmative action to employ and advance in employment qualified individuals with disabilities."

In addition, I will launch an aggressive effort to educate employers about tax benefits designed to encourage them to hire employees with disabilities, such as the Disabled Access Tax Credit, the Tax Deduction for Architectural and Transportation Barrier Removal, and the Work Opportunity Tax Credit. They are underused and our employers can’t afford to miss out on these benefits any longer.

These actions will help many adults with disabilities increase their contributions to our society, and I believe we must do even more for the next generation. That’s why I will fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and ensure that it is effectively implemented and enforced.

This is a pivotal election, and it’s our time for change. I hope you’ll get involved, because I can’t do this alone. I need everyone to contact their friends and family to make sure they know about the issues and where the candidates stand. I need everyone who can to make phone calls and knock on doors to get the word out. Together, we can win this election. Together, we can achieve full equality for Americans with disabilities. Together, we can create the changes we seek.

Sincerely, Barak Obama

Dysgraphia: 5th Gr.-High School, Bad Penmanship

VISITOR:Thu, Oct 16, 2008 I am a psychology professor. The reason I am writing to you today is based on my son's need for accommodations and testing. My son has a severe form of dysgraphia. He currently writes at a level of a first to third grader and is in tenth grade. He is failing the writing part of Spanish and has great difficulty in the process of writing itself. His posture, how he holds his pencil/pen and other writing variables appears to be unusual compared to other children and myself. This has always been a problem for him and I noted this before he was five years old. His ability to verbally communicate effectively is not problematic, in fact he has competed as a story teller and been quite successful. His current high school, has a 504 plan in place. however, his writing has not improved, they have failed to accommodate his needs and continue to ignore his writing problems. I have had to push his school to meet his accommodations since fifth grade and finding that they are unconcerned about meeting his needs because he is so "bright." Could you please advise me on what tests are available for him at his intelligence and grade level so he can receive the accommodations he deserves once he is tested appropriately? The school tried to by-pass a number of tests previously and they have used intimidation on him as well as tried to do the same with me. Thank you for your consideration of this matter.

DYSCALCULIA.ORG: Your son needs an IEP (Individual Education Plan); he will use the 504 protections in college. Please take these steps immediately:
(1) Fill out the LD checklist (

(2) Craft a letter to the school principal requesting that your son be tested for a specific learning disability in writing (penmanship)also known as dysgraphia, in addition to all areas checked on the LD checklist.(3) Immediately start keeping a journal. (See instructions on

(4) The school cannot refuse to test your son. They must test him for dysgraphia AND report the results to you within 30 days of your written request.

(5) You should get a consent to test form to sign and return to school either in the mail or sent home with him.

(6) Testing instruments: This author recommends the following thorough testing instruments:

[The source for obtaining the items appears in brackets.]
Slingerland Screening for the Identification of Language-Learning Strengths and Weaknesses. By Carol Murray. (High School & College Levels). [EPS]

Slingerland Screening Tests for Identifying Children with Specific Language Disability. By Beth H. Slingerland. (Grades 1-6). [EPS]

The Pediatric Assessment Systems. By Melvin Levine. Neurodevelopmental Examinations. (Preschool, PRE-1, Grades 2-4, Grades 4-10). [EPS]

Revised Pre-Reading Screening Procedures to identify first grade academic needs. (Auditory, visual, & kinesthetic ). For students with no introduction to reading. [EPS]

Test of Early Written Language (TEWL-2, ages 3-0 to 10-11). By Hresko, Herron, and Peak. [Pro-Ed]

Test of Written Language (TOWL-3, ages 7-6 to 17-11). By Hammill and Larson. [Pro-Ed]

Test of Written Expression (TOWE, ages 6-6 to 14-11). By McGhee, Bryant, Larsen, and Rivera. [Pro-Ed]

Orton advises professionals diagnosing dysgraphia to perform skill tests on both hands and to get a complete developmental history of handedness and academic performance and details of any special training. If the child is naturally left-handed, begin retraining of the left hand for writing, positioning the top of the paper inclined toward the right.

(7) Keep in touch. I'll help you through the process.

You need to establish the disability formally now so that he will qualify for services beyond high school.

(8) DYSGRAPHIA: DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT (excerpt from my paper at

Dysgraphia is the primary problem referred to occupational therapists in the school setting (Fisher, Murray and Bundy 1991). Although most handwriting instruction is the responsibility of teachers, the therapist's role is to determine underlying postural, motor, sensory-integrative, and perceptual deficits (Stevens and Pratt 1989, 321). The OT also analyzes writing readiness skills, and the sensory-motor, cognitive, psychosocial, and environmental factors that interfere with the development of legible handwriting. The OT provides intervention where appropriate (Schlussel 1998) by devising exercises to develop necessary skills, providing teachers with strategies to improve classroom performance, and by suggesting supporting home activities (AOT 1998).The OT will look for prewriting skills, which must be developed before penmanship instruction can begin (Beery 1982b, 1989; Klien 1990).

The basic six skills are: (1) Small muscle ability to control the intrinsic muscles of the hand. (2) Visuomotor integration- the ability to skillfully move the hand under guidance of the eyes. (3) The ability to hold writing utensils. (4) Ability to form smooth basic strokes, lines, circles, etc. (5) Perceptual discrimination, recognition and awareness of shapes, forms and letters; and the ability to deduce the movements necessary for making forms. Ability to give precise descriptions of what is seen. (6) Orientation to printed language, including visual analysis of letters and words along with the ability to discriminate between right and left (Lamme 1979).

Validated by Weil and Amundson in 1994, Beery (1982b) believes ability to copy the first 9 geometric forms of the Developmental Test of Visual-Motor Integration (VMI) (Beery, 1982a) determines readiness for handwriting. These nine are a vertical line, horizontal line, circle, cross, right oblique line, square, left oblique line, oblique cross (X), and triangle (usually mastered by 5 years 3 months). Unsubstantiated in some studies (Weil and Amundson 1994), Beery (1989) asserts instruction should not begin until mastery of the VMI oblique cross (approx. 4 years 11 months), because it requires drawing of diagonal lines and crossing the midline typical of letter forms.

Klien (1990) lists some different skills necessary for handwriting. (1) The child should have reached the developmental level of constructive play. (2) He must be able to differentiate shapes and sizes. (3) Understand basic abstract concepts. (4) Have good balance to sit independently with arms free. (5) Have shoulder and wrist stability to facilitate distal control of the pencil with a firm but not clamped grasp. (6) Have established dominant writing hand and use nondominant hand to stabilize paper. (7) Have adequate upper body-visual coordination.

Handwriting assessment instruments and therapy programs can be obtained from the Pro-Ed Company of Austin, Texas. Contact them on the Internet at: or at (800) 897-3202.

Another excellent source is the Educators Publishing Service of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Contact EPS on the Internet at: or at (800) 225-5750.

12.Determine the easiest and most natural slant by writing samples and exercises where the patient draws a series of short slanted lines and loops on ruled paper in each direction (forward, vertical, and backhand). For maximum success, follow the student's strong directional slant preference in subsequent training (Orton 1937, 179, 181-183).A profitable method of handwriting instruction is to teach the child the kinesthetic pattern or feel of a letter rather than guiding the child to copy its visual form. The pattern is demonstrated at a distance, and the paper upon which it is reproduced is shielded from easy view.

Once the motor pattern is established exercises are done blindfolded or with eyes closed. Eventually, the hand automatically produces the letter's kinesthetic patterns without visual control. Cramped hand position and pencil squeezing disappears (Orton 1937, 183-184).Sequential forms demand consideration. Even when letters can be formed accurately and quickly in isolation, great difficulty is seen in assembling or sequencing these letters to form words and sentences whether using cursive or manuscript. Copying is easier than taking dictation and propositional writing is hardest of all.

Orton recommends exercises that progress through this sequence of easiest to most difficult (Orton 1937, 184-185). A few children show little improvement with retraining exercises in handwriting. In these cases, it is recommended that the typewriter be employed. During retraining, children should be exempt from all school writing demands so that the effects of the careful practice period are not arrested by the need to write under pressure (Orton 1937, 184-185). In six 2nd, 6th, and 4th grade classrooms studied by McHale and Cermak (1992), 30-60% of classroom activities required fine motor skills, 85% of which were pencil and paper tasks.

13."All young children should have daily lessons. . . . One or two lessons a week are futile and often dangerous. They do not afford opportunity for developing habits" and may plunge the child into deeper discouragement. "Daily lessons are just as indispensable . . . as training in phonics and kinesthetic writing." Lessons should be at least two years in duration to insure substantial and lasting success (Gillingham and Stillman 1964, 22-23).

Can't Pass Algebra II to Graduate High School! Help!

VISITOR: They may not let my kid graduate because Michigan says they need Algebra II. He has Kidergarten processing and memory levels (only in math) and has 4th grade computation level. They pushed him through Geometry and Algebra I with lots of help but he nearly flunked them. He takes AP and Honors classes in all other subjects and gets A's and B's but his GPA is devistated by math E's and D's. He's had to repeat the math classes so the D's and E's get factored into the GPA over and over. This is not fair for him!!! This is his area of legitimate disability. How can they penalize him for it by letting his disability ruin his GPA? Could they fail a student in a wheel chair in Phys Ed class just because he couldn't do everything normally required of non-disabled kids? If Phys Ed were required every semester, could they wreck his GPA by giving him an E in Phys Ed every semester even though he got excellent grades in everything else?

Why has the school system allowed him to get to his Senior year without being able to make change or add time? They said there was never any time for remedial work to repair his basic skill gaps using different methods like hands-on math. What happened to No Child Left Behind? Now he does not qualify for college scholarships because his GPA is 2.7. What should we do now? He is failing Algebra II already and needs it to graduate! This is torture for him.

Here is a PowerPoint Prentation on the Michigan Law requiring Algebra II for graduation and the way to accommodate using a Personal Curriculum. It is a Michgan Department of Education presentation. See it here:
Here is a Briefing from the Mich Dept of Education on the awarding of academic credits in special circumstances:
Here is a document from Mich Dept Ed regarding the 4 Math Credits Required for HS Graduation and what to do about Algebra II. The law was passed on Sept. 18, 2008:

Since the student's placement in Algebra II is inappropriate given his math capabilities, and given that he is failing in spite of intensive support services (before school tutoring, push-in and pull-out help), we propose the following:
(1) Finish this semester of Algebra II (1B or 1A) to earn .5 Algebra II credit.
(2) Grade Algebra II on a CREDIT/NO CREDIT basis so as not to devastate his GPA and further disqualify him for scholarship opportunities.
(3) In Semester 2, count Personal Finance as a .5 credit of math, in order to make progress on basic functional math goals.
(4) Personal Finance will be taken on a CREDIT/NO CREDIT basis because it involves math and should not be figured into his GPA.
(5) Reset all math grades earned on his high school transcript to CREDIT/NO CREDIT grades so the GPA will be recalculated to fairly reflect his performance in all areas except his area of disability. This alone will greatly improve his prospects for scholarships, which he will be able to apply for immediately. Because his current GPA is devastated by a severe math disability, it disqualifies him from most scholarship opportunities; the result is a form of indirect discrimination.
(6) Student will graduate with 3 credits of math as required for the class of 2009, which will be constituted as follows: Personal Finance, .5; Algebra II-Sem 1, .5; Algebra I-Sem 1, .5; Algebra I-Sem 2, .5; Geometry-Sem 1, .5; Geometry-Sem 2, .5; Total math credits: 3.
(7) Credits taken for Math Seminars and Algebra 1 will be counted as elective credits. Algebra I- Gr.9-Sem 1, (D), .5; Math Seminar Gr.11-Sem 1, .25; Math Seminar Gr.11-Sem 2, .25; Elective math credits: 1.
The Individual Education Planning Committee/Team should carefully review the facts presented above and work to create a Personal Curriculum/Individual Education Plan that results in a high school diploma by June 2009, and which meets academic and transition needs and goals.

12-yr-old Given Single Digit Addition in School

VISITOR:Thanks for your help. I was induced on my due date. I had preeclampsia was in hosp for five days had diabetes she had meconium. She had too tight grasp she could not suckle. Poor sucking reflex, she could only drink once ounce at a time. She walked on all fours till 17 months. She could walk if held by pinky but her brain would not let her comprehend. Dr said it was not a problem. Her speech at four was a vocab of twenty words. She was diagnosed with speech delay at 3.5. They have thought she was PPD but school has said no. Our pediatric nuero said she is scatterred and she has strong visual strength. Last test was a few months ago. The genetic Dr feels she has some Williams SyndromeTendency, even though she does not have the physical stature. She has a good voice but the words are hard to get in sequence. Her brain will chop words, yet she has the tune down pat. She is very good with the computer she logs on by herself, knows her password with numbers. She can search online, add to favorites, find her songs on you tube. She loves music and shows and has an excellent spatial direction. She knows her way around towns, yet she is always late because she cannot judge time and space, yet she will plan her time to watch TV shows and special movies and yet not get the idea of ten mins to bus. Given sums she will give the wrong product, she will get it correct when prompted or given time. She could say two plus two is twenty since twenty and two are the same starting sound. She often peseverates on the same thing and will ask you over and over. Since she does not get it, she becomes over anxious when afraid and has afear of animals. She is tactile defensive and does not like messy foods. They have been giving her single digit addition and subtraction in resouce room math for the past 2 years! What should her IEP goals be? They say she is not capable of doing more and will not challenge her. They are wrong! She is capable of doing more math and has done it at home. She is tired of the "baby math" she gets at school. She is 12 years old. What should I do?

(1) Computer delivered math curriculum that is diagnostic and prescriptive and multimedia, and highly visual with the target of getting her to perform as closely as possible to grade level in mathematics.
(2) Fast4Word program for auditory processing progress and remediation.
(3) Weekly progress reporting (an easy feature of the software that charts content covered and achievement over any interval of time).

2 sites to see:
(1) singapore math

Dyscalculia PPT by Anna Wilson in New Zeland 2008

SPELD NZ Annual Conference, Christchurch, New Zealand, 20/7/2008 . Why do numbers make no sense to some people?Download a pdf copy (Attn: this file is big, 4.7MB!)

Need Help With Dyslexia

I have had a lot of problems with writing and reading all of my life. I would like to over come this as much as possible. Could you send me some information on how, I might get some help with this.

Visit the interactive phonics games on the right side of this page:

Also see: Online Phonics Games

I suspect you have dyslexia. You need Orton-Gillingham phonics lessons.

District Can't Test for Dyscalculia?

I think my daughter has Dyscalculia. The district doesn't have a testing procedure yet. Can you recommend any DVD tutorials I can purchase to help her with Algebra II?

The district needs only assess her for a specific learning disability in mathematics. Ask them to give her a standardized achievement test like the Kaufman Test of Educational Achievement-II (KTEA-II) and to use the error analysis tools. Is she a senior in high school? Is algebra required for graduation? What state and district are you in? The district cannot refuse to evaluate your daughter. Put your request in writing.