LD Resources

Toby Tomlinson Baker, Ph.D. Presented on Actionable Steps Toward Graduating for College Students with Learning Disabilities/Differences.
Toby Tomlinson Baker, Ph.D.
Delaware Valley Friends School Associate Head of School David Calamaro had a brief conversation with Sarah Ward on Executive Function. Below is a video on what new research and understand is taking place in the area of executive function.
The Center for the Developing Child at Harvard University refers to executive function skills as "the brain's air traffic control system," which helps us thoughtfully create an action plan for school and home. We draw from our past experiences including our mistakes to shape our decisions before taking action. We stop and think with the goal in mind before beginning a project. Knowing how long a task will take, we pace ourselves and allow adequate time to execute the parts of the job. These are critical skills for success in school and in life.
Research shows that executive function skills develop slowly, maturing by the early twenties. Yet, students are expected to manage complex daily schedules that include sports, social activities, and school. Their school work by middle school will include projects that require the ability to plan a project over several weeks, to predict the length of time that each step will take, to communicate with their teachers and other participants about their work, to manage their materials and most importantly, to execute each step efficiently and on time.
The student who is struggling with executive function skills often lose their work because they put it in the wrong place or left it somewhere; they inaccurately predict how long a task will take or get started without purchasing needed supplies. Memory and attention issues are elements of executive function as well; they may not remember the assignment or may not have written it down in their hurry to leave the class.
Addressing executive function issues is a joint effort by the parents and the teachers. Very specific strategies can be successfully taught in both environments to manage time, materials, and tasks completion. For example, Sara Ward who works in this field created a model for students for tasks completion. It is called, "Get Ready, Do It, Done." In this model, the student envisions the completed task before he begins. Using this image, he gets ready because now he knows the materials and resources; he will need to complete the task. When he enters the "Do It" step, he has the materials, he has the picture of what he wants to complete and his mental resources can be focused on the completion of the task. Often with long projects, each stage can be a complete process of "Get Ready, Do It, Done."
Metacognition is being able to look at a task such as a school project with some self- awareness. Did I manage my time, materials, and information well? How could I have done it differently? Looking back, one can assess their use of executive function skills; therefore they are acquiring the tools for consistent growth in this area. Parents and teachers can help the student look back without judging their efforts but with a desire to learn and change.
Learn more about executive function through these useful resources we have collected for you.
  • www.ncld.org : National Center for Learning Disabilities;
  • Executive Function web page.
  • www.ldonline.org : Online resources on learning disabilities
  • www.ldanatl.org: Learning Disabilities Association of America
  • https://www.researchild.org/: Dedicated to helping ALL students to become successful learners by empowering them to learn HOW to learn through effective executive function and learning strategies.
  • http://learningworksforkids.com: Innovative technologies to help improve learning difficulties like ADHD, Autism, and problems with Executive Functions. https://cognitiveconnectionstherapy.com: Features a variety of graphic organizing tools for purchase.
  • http://www.socialthinking.com/: Describes the treatment program that has helped thousands of students with autism, including high-functioning autism and Asperger's Syndrome, ADHD and similar challenges with their social learning.
  • http://www.howtostudy.org/resources.php: How To Study website with resources page by topic and school subject.
Books about Executive Function: DVFS teachers and professionals recommend these books for parents and students to explore the topics of executive function and learning differences.
  • Executive Function in Education: From Theory to Practice, by Dr. Lynn Meltzer
  • Promoting Executive Function in the Classroom, by Dr. Lynn Meltzer
  • Executive Skills in Children and Adolescents: A Practical Guide to Assessment and Intervention, by Peg Dawson and Richard Guare
  • Smart but Scattered: The Revolutionary "Executive Skills" Approach to Helping Kids Reach Their Potential, by Peg Dawson and Richard Guare
  • Coaching Students with Executive Skills Deficits, by Peg Dawson and Richard Guare
  • School Struggles, by Richard Selznick
  • The Shut-Down Learner: Helping Your Academically Discouraged Child, by Richard Selznick
  • Executive Function in the Classroom: Practical Strategies for Improving Performance and Enhancing Skills for All Students, by Christopher Kaufman Late
  • Lost and Unprepared: A Parents' Guide to Helping Children with Executive Functioning, by Joyce Cooper-Kahn and Laurie C. Dietzel
  • The Procrastinator's Handbook: Mastering the Art of Doing It, by Pamela Espeland and Leizabeth Verdick
  • Essentials of Executive Functions Assessment (Essentials of Psychological Assessment), by George McCloskey and Lisa A. Perkins
  • Learning Outside The Lines: Two Ivy League Students with Learning Disabilities and ADHD Give You the Tools for Academic Success and Educational Revolution, by Jonathan Mooney and David Cole
  • On Their Own: Creating an Independent Future for Your Adult Child with Learning Disabilities and ADHD, by Anne Ford with John-Richard Thompson
  • Attention, Memory, and Executive Function, by G. Reid Lyon and Norman A. Krasnegor
What is Dyslexia?
Does your child struggle with reading? They're not alone. Fifteen to twenty percent of the population (nearly 1 in 5) has a language-based learning disability such as dyslexia. Dyslexia is the most common cause of reading, writing and spelling difficulties. Dyslexia affects males and females from across all ethnic and social classes.
Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability that affects the way the brain processes information. Signs that someone may be dyslexic include:
  • Difficulty reading common words
  • Difficulty learning new words
  • Difficulty with spelling and handwriting
  • Difficulty with planning, organization and time management.
Dyslexia is NOT connected to intelligence. People with dyslexia usually have average to above-average intelligence, and can show exceptional ability in spatial relations, creativity, and intuition. Formal testing is the only way to confirm a diagnosis of dyslexia.
Beyond the processing issues, dyslexia can strongly affect a person's self-esteem. Even bright students with dyslexia often feel academically inferior compared to their classmates. They experience a great deal of school anxiety, and often do not believe they will be capable of successfully going on to college.
Research shows that the best way to educate students with dyslexia is with a curriculum that is "explicit, direct, cumulative, intensive, and focused on the structure of language."(International Dyslexia Association) It must be multisensory in nature - involving the simultaneous use of visual, auditory, and kinesthetic-tactile pathways to help students learn and retain skills and information. The best programs combine remediation (proven methods to directly address and work through the student's areas of difficulty) and accommodation (using tools and strategies to help students work around their challenges). Results are best when this curricular approach is delivered and reinforced across all content areas in which the student is engaged. Finding the right educational environment for your dyslexic student can mean the difference between just surviving and thriving in school - and in life.
If your child is dyslexic, here are some critical questions to ask about their instruction:
  • Does your child's school use a research-based, multisensory reading remediation program to instruct your child?
  • Is your child's teacher certified in the multisensory reading remediation program in which your child will be instructed?
  • Are your child's teachers consistently providing the accommodations he or she needs to learn and be assessed properly? (extra time, audio books, etc.)
  • Do your child's teachers work with them to develop a clear understanding of their learning disability and the skills and self-confidence to advocate for themselves in college and beyond?
  • Does your child's school have a consistently successful track record of college placement for students with language-based learning disabilities?
    • Pennsylvania Branch of the International Dyslexia Association www.pbida.org)
    • International Dyslexia Association (http://dyslexiaida.org/)
    • International Multisensory Structured Language Education Council (www.imslec.org)
    • Learning Disabilities Association of America (http://www.ldanatl.org/)
    • LD Online (www.ldonline.org)
    • National Center for Learning Disabilities (www.ncld.org)
    • Pennsylvania Branch of IDA (http://www.pbida.org/)
    • UNDERSTOOD (https://www.understood.org)
DyslexiaHelp at the University of Michigan
DVFS teachers and professionals recommend these books for parents and students to explore the topic of dyslexia and learning differences.
Books about Dyslexia:
  • The Dyslexic Advantage: Unlocking the Hidden Potential of the Dyslexic Brain, by Brock L. Eide M.D. M.A.
  • The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan: A Blueprint for Renewing Your Child's Confidence and love of Learning, by Ben Foss
  • Learning Outside The Lines: Two Ivy League Students with Learning Disabilities and ADHD Give You the Tools for Academic Success and Educational Revolution, by Jonathan Mooney and David Cole
  • Overcoming Dyslexia, by Sally Shaywitz, M.D.
  • Parenting a Struggling Reader, by Susan L. Hall and Louisa C. Moats, EdD
  • Straight Talk About Reading, by Susan L. Hall and Louisa C. Moats, EdD
  • Basic Facts About Dyslexia and Other Reading Problems, by Louisa Cook Moats and Karen E. Dakin
  • Dyslexia: Theory and Practice of Instruction, by Joanna Kellogg Uhry and Diana Brewster Clark
  • From ABC to ADHD , by Eric Tridas, M.D.
  • On Their Own: Creating an Independent Future for Your Adult Child with Learning Disabilities and ADHD , by Anne Ford with John-Richard Thompson
  • I Wonder What It Feels Like To Be Dyslexic, by Sam Barclay. http://www.reedeeng.com/
Books for students:
  • Hank Zipzer: The World's Greatest Underachiever, a series by Henry Winkler & Lin Oliver
  • Trapped, A Novel, by Judy Spurr Author, by Helen Lester
  • Tacky the Penguin, by Helen Lester, illustrated by Lynn M.Musinger
  • My Name Is Brain, by Jeanne Betancourt
  • It's Called Dyslexia, by Jennifer Moore-Mallinos, illustrated by Nuria Roca
  • What is Dyslexia?: A Book Explaining Dyslexia for Kids and Adults to Use Together, by Alan M. Hultquist, illustrated by Lydia Corrow
  • Thank You Mr. Falker, by Patricia Polacco
  • My Dyslexia, by Philip Schultz
  • The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan: A Blueprint for Renewing Your Child's Confidence and Love of Learning, by Ben Foss

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