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LD in the News

January 21, 2014 | Bipartisan Congressional Dyslexia Caucus
Congressional Dyslexia Caucus Introduces Bipartisan House Resolution
Congressman Bill Cassidy, M.D., and Congresswoman Julia Brownley, recently introduced H.R. 456, a resolution urging the U.S. House of Representatives to call on schools and state and local educational agencies to address the implications that dyslexia has on students. NCLD’s executive director James Wendorf released a statement thanking Congress and urging further progress in our schools: “NCLD applauds Congress for passing a resolution that recognizes the value and talent that resides in students with dyslexia and other learning and attention issues. Now, we must all work together to ensure our education system lives up to the promise expressed in this important resolution.”

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January 17, 2014 | Huffington Post
New York Wants to Give Special Education Kids Easier Tests, Advocate Says
Should students with learning and attention issues be held to the same academic standards as their peers? No, according to a new proposal in New York. The proposal would lower standards for certain students with disabilities by having them takes tests up to two grades below level. Advocates like Dianne Piche of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights have criticized the proposal, arguing that similar policies were used in “the Old South” to justify teaching black students at lower levels. Others, however, have given tentative support to the proposal because they don’t believe children with disabilities can succeed on current grade level tests. They point to the detrimental emotional effects from having children take tests with their peers.

NCLD opposes the new proposal because it lowers standards for children with learning and attention issues. Based on our experience with similar rules in the past, we believe this will be used against capable kids who simply need better support to succeed at school. This proposal also fails to address concerns about standardized testing.

Use our action alert to tell New York to reject the proposal. Comments are due by Friday, January 24.

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January 10, 2014 | Office of Congressman Bill Cassidy M.D.
Cassidy Calls for Schools to Help Dyslexic Students
Congressman Bill Cassidy, M.D., co-chair of the House Dyslexia Caucus, has submitted a resolution calling for schools to help students with dyslexia. The resolution acknowledges the impact of dyslexia and urges schools to address its impact on students. Congressman Cassidy also released the following statement: "Dyslexia affects millions of Americans, including many students. We know that many with dyslexia are among our brightest and most successful. If dyslexia is identified in elementary school and the appropriate resources are given to these children, America can produce more teachers, more scientists and more entrepreneurs. This resolution pushes schools and educational agencies to address this challenge and provide evidence-based solutions for dyslexic students."

Resolutions don't require schools to act, but they are a strong statement of intent. We applaud this resolution. It’s very encouraging that Congress is acknowledging that learning and attention issues, such as dyslexia, must lead to evidenced-based interventions. Read the full resolution here. To stay informed about legislative developments on dyslexia and other issues, be sure to sign up for our LDAction newsletter. 

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January 4, 2014 | The Guardian
Steven McQueen: My Hidden Shame
Director Steve McQueen’s film, 12 Years A Slave, tells the story of a free African-American man who is kidnapped and sold into slavery. The film is a brutal look at slavery in pre-Civil War America. In a wide-ranging article in The Guardian, McQueen discusses his background and reveals how school was a traumatic experience for him. One reason was his dyslexia: “I've never said this before, ever. But I was dyslexic. And I've hidden it, because I was so ashamed. I thought it meant I was stupid.” However, instead of stopping him, the trials in his personal life seem to have propelled him to create artistic films with great commercial success. 12 Years A Slave has earned $40 million in US ticket sales and could win an Academy Award.

Here’s an interesting fact—late actor Steve McQueen who starred in films like The Thomas Crown Affair and The Magnificent Seven also had dyslexia. Are you interested in other filmmakers with dyslexia? Watch Quinn Bradley’s interview of Steven Spielberg.

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December 31, 2013 | Education Week
Appeals Court Backs Parents in Special Education Placement
A federal appeals court has ruled that a Colorado public school district must pay for a student with learning disabilities and mental health issues to attend an out-of-state treatment facility. The student, Elizabeth, attended public school and later private school at public expense in Colorado. She received special education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. After Elizabeth’s mental health became a serious issue, her parents sent her for treatment and education at Innercept, a residential facility in Idaho. In response, the school district told Elizabeth’s family it would not reimburse them for tuition at Innercept.

Elizabeth’s parents asked for a due process hearing and won. The school district filed a lawsuit. The case reached the federal appeals court and Elizabeth’s parents won again. The court said that the school had to reimburse the family for the cost of Elizabeth’s placement. Importantly, the court said that Elizabeth needed mental health services so she could benefit from instruction. The appeals court also said that private school placements can be out-of-state.

Want to know more about private school options? Get an overview of your rights from our Parent Guide to IDEA.

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December 23, 2013 | Washington Post
Have a Kid Who’s Out of Control? A New Therapy Offers Parental Empowerment
Nearly every young child tests boundaries. Some estimate the typical preschooler will disobey parents around 25 to 50 percent of the time. But when a child’s behavior starts to strain relationships with family, teachers and other children, parents often seek help. According to therapists, Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) is a promising treatment for out-of-control preschoolers. Rather than having a child work with a therapist, PCIT focuses on coaching parents to work with their children. In a typical example, a parent has a wireless earpiece while she plays with her child; a therapist observes, giving the parent real-time coaching on how to encourage good behavior. Clinical trials show lasting improvements with PCIT.

If your child’s behavior creates issues in your family, the first step is to observe and record what’s happening. Download our free Antecedent Behavior Consequence chart to help pinpoint the source of problem behavior.

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December 18, 2013 | Quartz
Sesame Street Is Using Cookie Monster to Teach Kids to Become Executives
Executive function has been called the CEO of the human brain. Children with strong executive function skills are able to make better decisions and control their behavior. Some studies show that children who can regulate their behavior by delaying gratification are more likely to succeed in school and life. Enter Sesame Street and Cookie Monster. As part of Sesame Street’s curriculum on executive function, Cookie Monster shows kids how he resists the lure of cookies using various mental strategies. People are responding. One video with Cookie Monster has reached almost two million views. Experts on executive function are also taking note. This Quartz article quotes our resident expert Sheldon Horowitz on importance of helping kids develop self-regulation, planning and decision-making skills.

Want to learn more about how to help your child make better decisions and control behavior? Download our free Executive Function 101 E-Book and Infographic.

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December 15, 2013 | New York Times
The Selling of Attention Deficit Disorder
Are ADHD medications overprescribed? This New York Times article reports that the number of ADHD diagnoses and prescriptions have soared over the last two decades. Today, 15 percent of high school-age children have a diagnosis of ADHD. The article connects this rise with a concerted marketing effort by drug companies to promote ADHD medication to doctors and patients. Using examples of brochures, quizzes, ads and celebrity endorsements, the article describes a marketing effort that sometimes skirted the boundaries of medical ethics and government regulation.

The question of whether ADHD is overdiagnosed is controversial. Many argue that the rise in diagnosis and medication reflects increased awareness. As the New York Times article acknowledges, ADHD medication has helped millions of children and adults lead more productive lives. We believe that public education about ADHD is not only beneficial, but also necessary to raise awareness and reduce stigma. At the same time, some drug advertising to parents has the potential to be misleading. For helpful guidance, parents should read about how ADHD is properly disagnosed.

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December 10, 2013 | USA Today
Learning-Disabled Students Pursue Degrees at Beacon
Students with learning disabilities (LD) often face a difficult path to college. Some “mainstream” universities like Curry College or the University of Arizona are known for their LD resources. But only a handful of colleges such as Beacon College are exclusively for students with LD. Beacon is a four-year university with 190 students in Leesburg, Florida. This article describes the experiences of students at Beacon. Our executive director James Wendorf is quoted extensively in the article about the challenges that students with LD face when colleges don’t have proper accommodations.

Is your child interested in a two or four-year degree program after high school? The Anne Ford and Allegra Ford Thomas Scholarships offer up to $10,000 in financial assistance. The deadline for applying is December 31, 2013.

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December 5, 2013 | Nature
Dyslexia Linked to Brain Communication Breakdown
According to a study published in Science, dyslexia may be caused by weaker connections between the auditory and speech areas of the brain. This is important because of an ongoing debate about the causes of dyslexia. People with dyslexia often have trouble connecting spoken sound to written symbols. One theory says that the representations of sounds are disrupted in the brain. Another says that sound representations are intact in the brain, but that people with dyslexia can’t connect or use those representations. Using brain scans, this study found that people with dyslexia had distinct brain signals for different sounds, but had reduced connective tissues between auditory and speech areas.

This research could have important implications for audio training therapy, which sometimes uses special devices like audio filters or amplifiers.