Friday, June 27, 2008

Show # 91- Write On Handwriting with Amy Ford Hebert- Part II

In today's show, Amy and I discuss what is age appropriate for motor skills, how many kids have problems with right-left orientation, and how small things like a good pencil grip can make all the difference in a kid's writing ability. Strength and coordination and spatial attributes all contribute to good handwriting, making the overall writing process easier.

We are trying out Amy's program at home (This is not a freebie- I paid for it) and John, my younger child, seems to be particularly interested, and it seems to be showing up in his writing. The daily journal page requirement is not overly popular, and I share some of the funnier moments in today's show. But the bottom line if that writing is both a physical and mental task, requiring the coordination of both simultaneously, and it won't improve unless the kids get more practice- so this is the summer of non-stop practice for this skill.

Click here to download Write On Handwriting with Amy Ford Hebert - Part II

Please check out Pocketful of Therapy for resources like Write On Handwriting, Handwriting without tears, raised line paper, pencil grips, slant boards and other writing helpers. I have been ordering from them for years- this is where the occupational therapists I know get many of their supplies, and this is a convenient resource for these materials that can be hard to find in the local stores.

As always, please email us at with any comments and questions. The survey will be closing shortly, so if you haven't filled it out, please do!

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Show #90- Amy Ford Hebert- Write On Handwriting

The LD Podcast Is officially two years old!

We all know how important reading is; equally important is the next step along the literacy pathway- writing. Writing requires that we synthesize our thoughts, and then express them, coherently, in text. For kids with learning disabilities, this can present a unique challenge. Some children have fine motor issues that make the physical act of handwriting difficult, which then acts as a barrier to developing good written expression. And interestingly enough, the answer to these problems isn't always as simple as teaching kids keyboarding or how to use programs like Dragon Naturally Speaking (Although these skills can help struggling writers immensely).

Other children may be overwhelmed with keeping their ideas straight long enough to express them on paper- the open-ended question that asks “Write whatever you want” seems to siphon any idea right out of their head. And for others, problems with organization or impulsivity can keep them from expressing themselves in an orderly, coherent way.

Today's guest, Amy Ford Hebert, has developed a computer program to help coach kids through the formation parts of print and cursive letters, and then take that practice and transfer it to the page. Write On Handwriting is a multi-sensory approach to handwriting geared mostly towards the classroom, but we are trying it at home this summer, along with daily journaling, to help both of my children work on the mechanics of handwriting as well as fluency in producing written expression.

And shockingly enough, the Nation's Reportcard on Writing, published by the Department of Education reports that only 33% of the nation's 8th graders are writing at the profiecient or advanced level- only 2 % at the advanced level. This means two thirds of the students are writing at a level that makes the demands of the classroom a challenge for them, largely because they do not have the skills they need to meet the demands they face. We need to do something to change this.

Handwriting is just one of the many factors that influence a child's written expression and output. Unfortunately, if the written output is poor or illegible, kids often get labeled as careless, sloppy, messy, or "not putting enough effort into their work" which certainly does not encourage them to write more. What may be something as simple as a fine motor problem becomes a moral failing in the eyes of teachers, and then a battle of wills can easily follow, where no one wins and the child certainly loses.

Amy has inspired me to put more resources about writing, handwriting and the writing process on the website- you'll find a new page under the Specific LD Resources menu addressing writing. Next week, we'll finish our interview with Amy Hebert, and I'll give you an update on how our home writing program for the summer is going.

Click here to listen to Amy Ford Hebert, Write On Handwriting

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Show #89- News, Announcements and Money In Science and Education

In this week's show, I have some great information about upcoming trainings open to parents and educators at the Academy in Manayunk, including a RAVE-O training; Wilson reading and the LETRS program by Louisa Moates and taught by Nancy Hennessey , former president of the International Dyslexia Association.

I then discuss two recent news articles, one from Time Magazine regarding a former Bush Administration official talking about the failures of NCLB in an article entitled: No Child Left Behind: Doomed to Fail? by Claudia Willis. The second article is from the New York Times and discusses unreported pharmaceutical industry income by two of the most respected child psychiatrists in the country- Dr. Joseph Beiderman and Dr. Timothy Wilens. This article came as a complete shock to me, and prompted the recent post on the new LD Podcast blog. (Click here to go to the blog directly)

Thanks again for stopping by, and don't forget to fill out the survey!

Click Here to Download Show- News and Announcements; Money and Science in Educationion

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Thursday, June 05, 2008

Shelley Dannenberg, Dyslexia Testing and Information Services Part II