Strategies on Homeschooling Kids with Special Needs
Tools and resources mentioned in this convention session (some of these may be affiliate links, which help support this website and our ability to help others. We appreciate your understanding and support):
Teens and ADHD
Teens with ADHD have a very difficult life. This condition is one that you may not even realize that your child has. In many cases, the symptoms are so few that you do not see that it is there. In fact, they know it is, but you do not. ADHD is a learning disability and a behavior disability that causes many more problems than just a temper tantrum when they are five years old. ADHD teens face many problems throughout their childhoods and well into their adult lives. What should be done for teens with ADHD?
Here are some things you, as parents, can do for your teens with ADHD.
Get them tested for the condition. If your child struggles with remaining focused, seems to be smart but fails tests, or struggles with some of the simplest of things but excels in those that are more difficult, he may have this condition. Talk to their doctor about how to get the test and find out.
Medication. Medication is available to help children with ADHD. Before you questions if your child needs it, determine what the benefits of taking it would be. For some children, it can give them self control, self worth and help them to finally feel good about what they are doing. For others, it does not provide a noticeable benefit.
Give them time. Many ADHD teens will do well if they are given enough time to finish tasks and problems. For that reason, it is essential to clue your child’s school in on your child’s problem. They can provide extra help and encouragement for them.
Take the time to understand what it is like to be a teen with ADHD. Unless you have this condition yourself, you need to realize that it is hard. It is not their fault they can not pay attention. It is not their fault that they do not understand what they teacher is saying. And, it is not their fault that these things frustrate them so much so that they explode. Take the time to really understand them.
ADHD teens need extra learning help and they need emotional support. The teen years are already hard to deal with. Teens with ADHD have it just that much harder as it is.
Strategies for Struggling Readers
Struggling readers are simply individuals who have not learned effective reading strategies. Don’t be too concerned if you aren’t familiar with the term, “reading strategies;” most good readers never had to learn them; instead, they just use them naturally. Struggling readers, on the other hand, have no idea how their friends can finish their work before they make it through the first paragraph. Why is it that their friends are reading “Lord of the Rings” and they are still reading “Magic Tree House” books? How do their friends manage to read those really long and unfamiliar words with ease?
Reading strategies can be organized into two distinct groups: decoding strategies and comprehension strategies.
Without getting into a long debate over whether children should learn to read through phonics or whole language, the fact is that some students need to be taught explicitly phonemic awareness. Phonemic awareness is basically being able to pronounce the bits and pieces of words to turn them into words that the student knows or has heard. Even if the word is unfamiliar, students with good phonemic awareness can usually pronounce a reasonable representation of the word. Struggling readers need to be taught the sounds of the language–the phonemes–and to be given plenty of opportunity and coaching in their use.
Some indicators that a student needs explicit instruction in phonemic awareness include: skipping words while reading, “sounding out” words incorrectly, attempting a pronunciation that doesn’t make sense, and avoiding reading.
It is helpful if students are able to recognize and spell a number of simple words. Dolch vocabulary words are great for younger students. For older students, try to get a list of the 1000 most common words in the English language. Phonemic awareness starts with letter sounds. Students learn how to pronounce various combinations of letters, and they learn that letters are not always pronounced the way they should be. Consider a simple example: the word, “the,” is pronounced with a short u sound. Students compare unfamiliar words with words that they know; thus the necessity for a good repertoire of sight words.
A common decoding strategy that is taught to struggling readers is called chunking. If students have developed some proficiency with phonemes, they can begin chunking unfamiliar words. Using their finger, they cover all but a chunk of the unfamiliar word. They pronounce it then move onto the next chunk. Once the student has pronounced all of the chunks, they try to put the chunks together and make it sound like a word they know or have heard. This strategy, again, requires a significant amount of practice and coaching.
One school of thought considers the ability to decode words a precursor to reading comprehension. After all, if you can’t understand the individual words, how can you understand the whole sentence? Often, a struggling reader will cope with their abilities by getting answers from other students, answering the text explicit questions (e.g. “The girl’s red hair blew in the breeze.” What color was the girl’s hair?), or making excuses for not getting their work done–avoidance behaviors.
Good readers regularly re-read, predict, infer, conclude, question, compare, contrast; and the list goes on. Good readers don’t usually realize what they were doing while reading unless someone forces them to reflect on it. Struggling readers do few of the things that good readers do. They generally have only one goal in reading–to get it over with. Understanding what was read is called comprehension. Comprehension strategies are those things that a reader does to understand a text.
There is one main indicator that a student needs explicit instruction in comprehension strategies–they are good decoders, but they can’t answer higher level questions about the text. Higher level questions are ones that involve more than just extracting words from the text. For example, a higher level question related to the last paragraph is, “What goals do good readers have in reading?” A reasonable answer would involve contrasting the goal that struggling readers have in reading, using the information about what good readers regularly do, and using prior knowledge or experience.
There are many comprehension strategies that can be taught to struggling readers. Telling a struggling reader to just read it again won’t cut it. They need direct support, explicit instruction, a lot of practice and coaching and many opportunities to experience success. Searching the Internet for reading strategies should garner a description of at least a dozen different tried and true strategies. Following is a brief description of just a few of them.
Re-Reading – Not to be confused with “just read it again,” re-reading is a deliberate attempt to find information. With the question in mind, students attempt to find relevant sections of the text to re-read. Once they zero in on a relevant section, they usually read a few sentences or paragraphs before and a few sentences or paragraphs after. Sometimes, it is necessary to re-read the entire text to get the desired information.
Predicting – Using titles, pictures, or key words, students attempt to predict the content of a text. When the student reads the text, they make comparisons to what they predicted and what they read.
Re-Stating – This strategy encourages students to look at main ideas. They re-state what they read in a shorter version. Sometimes this strategy involves restricting how long the summary can be. For example, can you re-state the description of predicting in only two words?
The best support for struggling readers is individual and intensive. In my opinion, struggling readers make the most progress when they are given one-on-one support outside of the regular classroom. Individual support allows them to receive frequent and timely feedback on their efforts. Outside of the classroom means that the support is extra-curricular and does not interfere with their regular work. If you are a parent or a teacher of a struggling reader, find out what support is available at your school. Use the terms phonemic awareness and reading comprehension strategies to communicate what your child needs. If your school can’t offer the support, look for commercial services. Even though it might cost money, the benefits will be outstanding; spend the money.
Making your home handicap accessible
It is important for a person with a disability (whether temporary or permanent) to continue their homeschooling and chores with ease and comfort. If you are planning to make your home accessible, then you may want to check the simple yet helpful guidelines below:
They should be wide enough to allow walker and wheelchair access (this is usually 36", but measure the wheelchair first). If the doorway is positioned in a typical hallway and needs turning a wheelchair, then you will need a wider door and floor space.
Bathtub and shower grab bars should be installed in order to provide support. You can also place a tub transfer seat that allows persons to sit in the tub and take a bath or shower. In this way, the person does not necessarily have to lower himself to the tub floor. Often, installing a zero-threshold shower with a shower chair is a lot easier and safer than a tub.
The height can be customized and adapted from one individual to another. It can be replaced with raised seats or other special units. Installing toilet grab bars can be very useful in providing individuals safety transfer from and to a wheelchair. Many times, especially for a tall wheelchair user, getting a taller toilet is incredibly beneficial.
Sinks and faucets
Vanity cabinets may be removed from below the sink. Pedestal style sinks can provide more space to maneuver. You can also replace faucets with single lever controls. But consider using an anti-scald temperature control to prevent water temperature from going beyond its limit.
When there is a change in level of travel path inside or outside the home, a ramp should be provided. This allows the person to reach the home without the need to use the stairs. Make sure his or her bedroom is on the main level or figure out some way that bedroom can be accessed by him or her.
Also, ensure that wheelchair paths throughout the home are cleared of obstacles and furniture is positioned in such a way to not be a hindrance.
The guidelines mentioned will not only provide our handicap friends with convenience but most importantly it can help them become more productive and efficient individuals despite their health conditions.
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MY SON, SAM: Valleys and Victories in Autism
ACCEPTING PRE-ORDERS NOW. In this powerful, heartfelt book, author Terrie Bentley McKee spills her heart onto the page in describing the valleys -- and victories -- in parenting a child, then a teen, then an adult, who has autism, bipolar disorder, and intellectual disability. She describes his signs and symptoms at 17 days old, and how she had to fight to get him evaluated at six years of age, though she knew in her mama's heart something was "off." The book describes his public school experience, and his brief homeschooling journey the last semester of his senior year of high school. Born in 1994, Sam is now an adult, but they're still experiencing the valleys and victories of autism. In the book, Terrie gives tips and ideas on how parents can cope with the daily struggles of having a child/teen/adult on the spectrum while simultaneously fighting for them. AVAILABLE FOR SALES/SHIPPING IN NOVEMBER 2023.