An update from Understood.org about an important court case for those with dyslexia and other learning disabilities.

Settlement in Dyslexia Discrimination Case Shows the System at Work

ByAndrew M.I. Lee
<https://www.understood.org/en/community-events/blogs/author/andrew-m-i-lee?BlogId=7>
Jun 26, 2015

By law, employers can’t discriminate against workers with disabilities. That includes learning disabilities. This May, two companies in Connecticut got the message—in the form of a lawsuit.

Kevin Lebowitz has worked as a carpenter for 15 years. He has a clean safety record. And he has many safety certifications.

Lebowitz also has dyslexia, which makes it very difficult for him to read printed text.

In 2012, Lebowitz reported for a new construction job, he says. McPhee Electric, Ltd. was the general contractor for the job. Bond Bros., Inc. was the subcontractor. When Lebowitz arrived, he was given a packet of safety information.

A safety officer from McPhee asked Lebowitz to review and sign the packet. Lebowitz told the officer he had dyslexia. He said he would need help reviewing the packet. And he offered to take it home to review.

That’s when a Bond Bros. superintendent told Lebowitz that he couldn’t be hired. Why? He was told he’d be a safety hazard since he couldn’t read the safety packet. (Neither company offered him any reading accommodations.)

Soon after, Lebowitz filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC is the federal agency that enforces laws against workplace discrimination. That includes the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The EEOC looked into Lebowitz’s claim. And it decided he had been discriminated against. So the agency filed a lawsuit against the companies in federal court.

“By all accounts, Mr. Leibowitz is a skilled carpenter,” says Catherine Wan, the EEOC attorney on the case. “Dyslexia had no impact on his ability to work safely. So this was really a misconception about people with disabilities.”

Lebowitz is not alone in his experience. “Complaints of workplace discrimination based on learning disabilities like dyslexia are not uncommon,” adds Justine S. Lisser, an EEOC spokesperson.

According to EEOC records, there were 408 of these complaints in 2014. Lisser points to cases against companies that demoted or fired employees because of their dyslexia.

In Lebowitz’s case, the result was a settlement. This May, the two companies agreed to pay him $120,000 in damages. They also promised to make changes at the companies.

One major change: Providing training about discrimination and reasonable accommodations for new and current employees. The companies also agreed to post related information at worksites. And they’ll change their employee handbooks.

The two companies declined to comment to Understood about the settlement.

“We are pleased that McPhee and Bond worked with us to resolve this lawsuit,” says Wan. “Trainings, notices and other measures—we think these will be effective in raising awareness. Disability discrimination violates the law.”

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The Intangibles

Friday, June 5, 2015

      Last night I received a very special recognition from the Children’s Regional Hospital at Cooper University Medical Center where our program, the Cooper Learning Center is within the Department of Pediatrics.

One thing that was particularly special was that some of the people in attendance were former parents and kids (now grown up) who were there to offer their acknowledgements for what our program and my involvement meant to them. I then thought about the current state of affairs in the field of education.

These days in education and psychology it’s all about the measurable goals, the quantifiable objectives.  The work that you do as a teacher or as a therapist needs to be “evidenced based.”  Your outcomes need to hit a certain percentile of growth to document and justify your work.

I get all of that.  It’s probably good to ground your practice in approaches that are supported by research.  It’s also good  (I think) to measure outcomes.

I can tell you this, though.  The kids in the room last night and the parents who came to offer their own tribute were not there because they hit “outcome measures.”  They were there for something unmeasurable, something intangible.

With all that we know about education and psychology, with all of the research and studies that have done, we can’t get past the intangibles.

It’s still the intangible that impacts kids most.

Think back.  Who is a teacher or mentor that inspired you?  Did they inspire you because you hit your “student growth objectives?”

I doubt it very much.

It’s the intangibles that matter, that make all of the difference in a kid’s life.  I hope in this world of quantifying and measuring we don’t lose sight of that fact.

more on:

http://www.drselz.com/

 

Summer is just around the corner….

 

     The summer schedule begins on Monday, June 9th.  About a third of my students will be new which is always exciting for me.  It’s a great time to work on skills that are lagging behind their peers, without the fatigue created by spending a day in the classroom.  We have a marvelous opportunity to make strong gains. 

     Whether you’ve planned some “academics” for your children or not, below are some ideas for summer activities. In addition, you could consider rewarding your child with an end of the week treat if they read at least 30 minutes for at least five days in the previous week (an old fashioned chore chart works for this).  Some ideas for treats are: a DQ, a new book, a special dessert, and a favorite at our house – have a picnic dinner.

     1.    Find a movie based on a book.  Watch the movie, then read/listen to the book.  Talk about the differences and similarities.

     2.    Go to the library and borrow some books and games.

     3.    Pre-read some of the books that will be part of next year’s reading.  (Get that list from the teacher before school ends.)

     4.    Do a read-out-loud book.

     5.    Make dinner together—read the recipe, measure the ingredients, learn about the chemistry of cooking.

     6.    Play board games and card games. 

     7.    Encourage your child to read to a pet or younger sibling/neighbor.

     8.    On a rainy day, have your children curl up with comic books or magazines. 

     9.    Have your child plan a dream day somewhere. Be creative: they could write about it, make a collage, research with a travel book, or just talk about their ideal day.  Make sure you share your ideas, too.  

    10.  Have a TV/technology free day. 

    11.  Once a week, “drop everything and read” for 15 minutes … everyone in the house has to participate.

    12. CREATE A READING HABIT!!!

DYSLEXIA SYMPTOMS

From Jill M. Ham, Ed.S. Educational Consultant and Dyslexia Expert from Children’s Dyslexia Center of Georgia

Jill list many of the symptoms that might indicate you want to learn more about dyslexia (reading), dysgraphia (writing), and/or dyscalculia (math).

Reading
#1 Issue: CAN read fluently due to memorizing SIGHT WORDS, but cannot decode unfamiliar words, spell correctly, or write complete sentences with punctuation.
• Reading is slow and choppy, not fluent, but reader can re-tell story
• Reading is fast and fluent, but can not recall the information read
• Struggles with attaching the correct sound to the correct letter
• Will say the individual sounds r-a-t but can not tell you the word at the end of sounding it out
• Will say the letter name instead of the sound when trying to sound out a word
• Can not remember the same words on the next page when reading a book that repeats
• Cannot decode unfamiliar words that they have not memorized
• Skips words when reading
• Omits words when reading
• Inserts words that look visually similar, for example instead of reading HOSE it would be HORSE or HOUSE
• Avoids reading and will always check to see how many pages are in the book first
• Eye Sight is Fine, but Vision Therapy May Be Recommended

Writing
• Handwriting is tiny, small, large, and changes size
• Writing takes a very long time to due and very laborious
• Always struggled with writing letters in a fluid motion, many children draw their letters with circles and sticks
• Has a hard time copying notes from the classroom teacher or white board
• Phonetically Spells words (missing vowels or silent letters)
• Struggled or still struggles writing the alphabet without hesitations (hesitations occur when the writer pauses or has to stop and think which letter or how to form the letter)
• Will inverse letters when writing (writing letters from the bottom to top, instead of top down)
• Will reverse letters: d, b, p, q, z and many times write a j for g and a g for j
• Struggled or still struggles with remembering the difference between: b, d, p and sometimes m and w or n and u and we typically see the j and z reversed
• Will capitalize the B and D when writing so they do not reverse the lowercase b and d
• Will write uppercase letters mixed in with lower case letters
• Will write above and below the line without using the correct pencil grip

Working & Long Term Memory
• Executive Functioning Deficits
• Struggles with Working & Long Term Memory
• Hard time breaking task or multiple steps into parts
• Takes a long time to learn new concepts
• Learning vocabulary words and commutative information is extremely challenging
• Learns better with visual (concrete information) and hands on

Math
• Struggles with memorizing addition and subtraction facts
• Struggles with word problems in math
• Struggles with memorizing and recalling multiplication facts
• Struggles with multiple step math problems
• Very creative in arts, music, dance, drama, but has a hard time staying focused
• Does not understand the concept of time and struggles telling time
• Struggles with money and counting money
• Struggles with going backwards and forwards on the number line

Homework & Sensory
• May Exhibit Signs of ADD or ADHD
• Low Self-Esteem and Very Self Conscious
• Fidgets, rocks, moves or tries to avoid when given a reading, spelling or writing task
• Homework and studying takes HOURS and MELT DOWNS occur
• Parent is re-teaching information daily/nightly
• May teach new information and 30 minutes later the child does not remember the information presented

Dogs and Reading

Great opportunity for kids to read, so if we get the rain that’s predicted here is a great indoor activity. Something fun for your Saturday.
Duluth Library Foundation
Studies show that children feel more comfortable reading out loud to dogs than to people. Your child can read to a therapy dog this Saturday at Miller Hill Mall between 11 am and 1 pm!

Struggling Students

Struggling Students: What a Parent Should Consider

 

Tuesday – April 28, 2015

 

6:30 pm – 8:30 pm

 

Denfeld High School

 

Duluth, MN

 

Why has this year been so hard for my child at school? This class will include an overview of some warning signs of dyslexia (difficulty reading) and dysgraphia (difficulty writing), current research, assessment, ideas on how to help, and some of the advantages of this type of thinking.  Class is offered through Duluth Community Education.  Registration fee is $15.00. To register contact Janis Kramer 218.336.8760 x2 or instructor Deb Dwyer @ dwyers@boreal.org or 218-340-7393

“The 8 Skills Students Must have for the Future”

Michael Sledd writes “The 8 Skills Students Must have for the Future”  on Edudemic.com.  The original article is from Pearson’s 2014, “The Learning Curve”.  These are the strengths of many of the children I work with. As they work so hard on some foundational skills it’s important to remind them that their area of strengths are valued.  —

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Dysgraphia

Many of the learners I work with struggle more with writing than they do with reading.  Although dyslexia and dysgraphia often coexist, children with motor and spatial dysgraphia, more than dyslexic dysgraphia, need Occupational Therapy. In addition to Orton-Gillingham tutoring, which provides solid instruction in language, Occupational Therapy helps with motor planning and an overall understanding of space in general.   A combination approach results in the strongest outcomes for struggling students.

From Dr. RIchard Selznick Blog: “School Struggles, Learning Disablities and Other Kid Stuff” from March 6, 2015.

When children struggle with written expression, “OT,” or Occupational Therapy appears to be the go to recommendation that is often given.

Writing has been shown to be the single most complex skill domain of the academic process.   The following quote from “Developmental  Variations & Learning Disorders” says it well:

“The transmission of thoughts onto paper calls for a delicate and highly complex process of neurodevelopmental integration.   Writing necessitates synchronizing all of the developmental functions (described in part I).  Writing is a final common pathway of these functions, a confluence of processes demanding attention, spatial and sequential production, mnemonic facility, language ability and motor skill.”

Motor skills (the skills targeted in OT) are the tip of the iceberg.   It’s a good first step.  What’s the next step?  Most of the time, I am not hearing the next step.  I only hear about the child getting, “OT.”

Beyond OT, a child needs much more remediation to address their deficits in writing (which are becoming more and more pervasive with the kids I am seeing).

For some time I have been beating a drum (although I understand no one is really listening), that a child struggling with writing needs to work first at the sentence level and master the skill of writing a good sentence before moving on to more complex operations.

Analogous to reading remediation, a child needs to work at very simplistic levels initially, derive a sense of mastery and then move forward to higher levels of complexity.

Most of the kids that I assess have little ability to understand what goes into writing a sentence or a paragraph, so to have them writing lengthy essays is way beyond them. It’s somewhat like asking someone to lift 25lb weights when they can barely lift 10lbs.

Takeaway Point:

Once your child has a had a good dose of “OT” to address his or her writing, ask, “Now what?  What’s next?”

What’s next needs to be the heavy lifting of writing remediation.

2014 M1READ, Reading Credit 2014

 

 

If you’re working on taxes and you’ve paid a tutor to help your child learn to read, you might be eligible for the MN Reading Credit. This credit is currently available only for the 2014 tax year.   The following is directly from the Department of Revenue form:

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Who is Eligible?

 

You may be able to receive a refundable credit for non-reimbursed expenses you paid to assist your qualifying child with meeting state-required academic standards.  To be eligible for this credit, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Your child has been evaluated for an Individualized Education Program(IEP) and does not qualify;
  • Your qualifying child does not meet standards for reading competency;
  • You paid a qualifying instructor to tutor your child in order to meet state academic standards in certain areas of study; and
  • The expenses you paid to the instructor meet the criteria identified below.

 

The following is a link to the form,

 

http://www.revenue.state.mn.us/Forms_and_Instructions/m1read_14.pdf