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Academic Mentoring

Understanding Dysgraphia

  Dysgraphia is a relatively unknown learning difference that doesn’t get as many headlines at ADHD and dyslexia. However, many students, especially those with ADHD and/or dyslexia suffer from dysgraphia and may not even know they have it. It’s important to understand exactly what dysgraphia is and how it affects students in the classroom. The use of term “dysgraphia” is not very common and sometimes confusing. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder (DSM-V), which is the most widely used manual for assigning learning differences, does not contain that specific word. Instead, the DSM-V describes this particular diagnosis as [...]

The Most Important Skill for Academic Success Is…

Many of us are familiar with various learning differences such as dyslexia and dysgraphia and how they can make school very difficult for students. And even more of us are aware of the challenge ADHD presents for students in every-day life, particularly with paying attention and sustaining effort. Despite the amount of attention these diagnoses receive, there is an even more important cognitive process that can impact your child’s life: Executive Function. Let’s take a look at what this process is and how it affects your student’s performance both in and out of school. What is Executive Function? Executive function [...]

Back to School Tips for Parents

Wow, how is it already the end of July?! Summer sure does fly by fast. Hopefully your child has kept busy with some good summer activities that let him enjoy some time off but also keep his mind and body sharp. For those of us living in Texas, the school year seems to start much earlier than other places. Usually by mid-August students are preparing for their first day back. Today I want to talk to you, parents, about what you can do now to help ensure a smooth first day back for your student and set him up for [...]

Why ADHD Diagnoses are Set to Rise

  ADHD Diagnoses Will Continue to Increase I just returned from the Texas Psychological Association’s annual conference, which was held this year in San Antonio. It’s a great event that brings some of the best psychologists from Texas and around the country together to discuss current trends and other hot topics. I attended several sessions ranging from topics on executive function to health care reform. The most interesting talk I listened to was a discussion of key updates the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition, or what most people refer to as the DSM-5. The DSM is [...]

How to Motivate a Reluctant Student

Motivating a Reluctant Student One of the biggest challenges we face is motivating students who are not necessarily motivated to begin with. There are numerous theories on motivation in the educational psychology realm. One of my favorites that I think helps explain the difficulty with motivation is intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation. Understanding these two types of motivation can give good insight into your student’s troubles. Intrinsic Motivation Intrinsic motivation is the motivation that drives us to do things simply because we want to do them or enjoy the process. Taking a walk on a gorgeous Sunday morning, playing basketball with [...]

5 Strategies for Students with ADHD

Strategies to Maximize Study Time Sustaining attention long enough to complete a night’s worth of homework can be difficult and taxing for students with ADHD. It’s not unusual for middle- and high-school students to have multiple hours of homework and studying a night. Students who struggle with holding attention that long will need to adopt some key study skills in order to make it through the night’s work and perform well in school. The following strategies can be used to help maximize attention and focus to complete homework assignments and study for tests. Some strategies will work well for some [...]

Understanding a 504 Plan

504 Plan Basics In the last post I discussed IEP Basics. IEPs are comprehensive plans for students diagnosed with a specific disability. Many parents wonder what the difference is between and IEP and Section 504 Accommodations. The difference can be confusing. This post will hopefully clarify the differences and help you decide which to pursue. What are 504 Accommodations? Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, individuals are protected under federal law from discrimination related to a disability. Unlike an IEP, 504 is not specific to school. However, for the sake of this post, Section 504 pertains to students [...]

Strategies for Any Learning Difficulty

Strategies for Learning Difficulties Learning difficulties come in many forms. Some students struggle with reading and writing while others have difficulty with math concepts and numerical operations. Still other students may suffer from attention issues, auditory processing, and numerous other educational impacting difficulties. Although the following strategies are identified for specific diagnosed learning difficulties, any student can implement them to help overcome struggles they may have. ADHD – I can’t stay focused! Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) can make paying attention in class and sitting for long periods to do homework very difficult. Students diagnosed with ADHD will benefit from breaking [...]

5 Steps for Final Exam Prep

5 Steps to Prepare for Final Exams December has arrived and that means cold weather, winter break and for most students, final exams. Even though exams are still a couple of weeks away, it’s never too early to start planning. The following steps will help you get organized and maximize your efficiency. 1.  Consolidate Papers Hopefully you have gotten into the habit of cleaning out your backpack, throwing away unnecessary papers and filing important ones. If not, now is the time to tackle that mess. Start by putting all you papers into one pile. Then separate them by subject, putting [...]

3 Essential Study Skills

3 Essential Study Skills For students with ADHD, ADD, or other learning disabilities, effective study skills can help them overcome their difficulties without the aid of medication. The following 3 study skills are essential for students to maximize their potential in the classroom. 1.  Note-taking Developing solid note-taking skills helps students learn, retain and recall information presented in class. Students can use these steps to strengthen their note-taking skills: Do not try to write down everything the teacher says. Listen for words or concepts that are unfamiliar and write those down. Listen for long pauses in the teacher’s lecture and [...]

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