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LD in the News

March 11, 2014 | Yale News
Levels of Key Brain Chemicals Predict Children’s Reading Ability
In the first study of its kind, researchers looking at the neurochemistry of children ages 6 to 10 found that levels of key brain chemicals were associated with reading ability. Children with higher levels of the metabolites glutamate and choline in their brains tended to have lower test scores for reading and language. When the researchers followed up with the children two years later, the same correlation existed for the initial glutamate levels. These two chemicals are also associated with hyperexcitability in children. Although there are no immediate implications for how we teach kids to read, this study is a step toward understanding the neurochemistry of reading development.

Want to find out more about reading difficulties? Learn about 12 important terms to know if your child struggles with reading issues or dyslexia.

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March 5, 2014 | Office of Representative Jared Huffman
Huffman, Van Hollen, McKinley, Walz, Gibson, Reichert Introduce Bipartisan IDEA Full Funding Act
A bipartisan group in representatives in Congress has introduced the IDEA Full Funding Act. In 1975, Congress passed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to guarantee every child with disabilities the right to educational opportunity. Although the federal government pledged to pay 40 percent of the per pupil expenditure for special education, it never lived up to that promise. Currently, IDEA is funded at only 15.3 percent. The IDEA Full Funding Act would increase spending each year to meet our nation’s commitment to children and schools.

We strongly support the IDEA Full Funding Act and have fought in Washington, D.C., for federal investment in education. Join our list of more than 56,000 parent advocates to help us push for the resources that children, teachers and schools need.

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February 26, 2014 | The Guardian
Steve 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 has been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture. McQueen has been nominated for Best Director.

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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February 18, 2014 | The New York Times
Doctors Train to Spot Signs of ADHD in Children
How much training do pediatricians receive about learning and attention issues, such as ADHD? Not much, according to this New York Times article. Pediatricians may only get a few hours of formal training on ADHD or learning disabilities during their seven years of medical school and residency. There are new efforts around the country to address this lack of training. One example is a series of seminars by the Resource for Advancing Children’s Health to train doctors to diagnose and respond to ADHD. The seminars are supplemented by conference calls between doctors to discuss actual cases, as well as a hotline for expert consultation.

Did you know that NCLD is part of the effort to support doctors as they help children with learning and attention issues? Last year, in partnership with medical experts, we helped create the LD Navigator, a tool for doctors to use with patients.

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February 18, 2014 | Office of Congressman Jared Huffman
Huffman, 138 Members of Congress Ask President Obama to Increase Funding for Special Education
On Tuesday, Congressman Jared Huffman led 138 members of Congress in sending a bipartisan letter to President Obama urging him to increase funding for special education services. Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the federal government promised to pay for 40 percent of the average per student cost for special education in schools. The federal government has never lived up to that promise. The letter asks the President to increase IDEA funding for fiscal year 2015 and to fully fund IDEA over the next ten years.

NCLD executive director James Wendorf applauded the members of Congress who signed the letter, and especially Congressman Huffman for his call to action. During the 2013 budget battle, NCLD took a leading role in mobilizing over 3,000 of our parents to write Congress on this issue. Read how our efforts helped restore education funding for your child's education.

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February 5, 2014 | Wired
What Musicians Can Tell Us About Dyslexia and the Brain
The exact causes of dyslexia are unknown, but one prominent theory is that the condition may be related to the brain’s ability to process sounds. Researchers decided to investigate how this theory might apply to musicians, whose livelihood depends on manipulating and creating sound. The researchers tested musicians with and without dyslexia on measures of auditory perception (the ability to tell sounds apart) as well as memory and reading speed and accuracy. On tests of auditory perception, musicians with dyslexia did just as well as musicians without dyslexia, and better than the general population. However, musicians with dyslexia did much worse on tests of auditory working memory (the ability to keep a sound in mind while using that sound for a task). Moreover, musicians with dyslexia who scored poorly on working memory tended to have the lowest reading accuracy. The results suggest a connection between auditory working memory and dyslexia.

The concept of working memory is important to understanding why children with learning and attention issues may struggle in school. Learn about strategies for helping a child with a weak working memory.

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February 2, 2014 | Hattiesburg American
Students Face Various Obstacles: Diplomas, Jobs Increasingly Elusive
Ever since she was a young girl, Nikki Mclendon wanted to work in medicine. After finishing high school in Mississippi, Nikki enrolled in a medical assistant program at Antonelli College hoping to follow her dream. A few weeks later, she received devastating news from the college. Because Nikki earned an alternate diploma (an “occupational diploma”) rather than a regular diploma from her high school, she was ineligible for college. It’s a scene that repeats over and over across the country, as young adults learn that most colleges and employers don’t recognize their high school certificates or alternate diplomas. Nikki, who has ADHD, enjoyed school and took general education courses, but was offered the alternate diploma by school administrators after she failed a high school exit exam. She is now coming to terms with the fact that she may not be able to attend college with her current diploma.

Do you know how many students with learning and attention issues graduate with a regular diploma in your state? If not, it’s time to look at our report, Diplomas at Risk.

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January 30, 2014 | The Atlantic Journal-Constitution
Seattle DE Red Bryant on Overcoming Dyslexia
Seattle Seahawks defensive end Red Bryant revealed during a pre-Superbowl interview that he was diagnosed with dyslexia in 1st grade. Bryant opened up about his struggles with reading and writing throughout school, and about the inspirational teacher who helped him believe he could make it to college. She told him, “You’re not dumb, you just learn differently.” With support from her and other teachers, he graduated high school and earned a degree from Texas A&M. Watch the full interview.

Do you know any other professional athletes with learning and attention issues? Read an article with some famous names that may surprise you.

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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.