By Dr Rebecka Spencer SPED Homeschool Consulting Partner Cherish Children Ministries

 

Am I the only one who has thought this with one of my children? So many times I have thought, “Can that kid hear me?” Or, “Why doesn’t he just follow instructions?”

As an educator for over 18 years with experience in all grade levels from early childhood through college levels, you can imagine my dismay when I found myself homeschooling, not one, but two struggling learners. Two of my children have auditory processing disorders and one is hearing impaired. In addition to homeschooling, my latest endeavor is to help moms and educators across the globe get their little dyslexics and struggling learners thriving with easy tools and exercises that can be done at home for free. 

When I would ask my then 4-year-old to put his shoes on, grab his coat, and come to me to help him tie and zip, he would get his coat, ball cap, and no shoes. I wondered if he was even hearing me. Then, I began to wonder if it was an obedience issue that needed to be addressed. After taking classes in dyslexia, brain balance, and spectrum disorders such as ADD, ADHD, Autism, and Auditory Processing, the dots began to connect. It was then that I realized my child had an auditory processing weakness.

 

Checking the boxes – Auditory Processing

I don’t know about you, but when I found a checklist, I had an ah-ha moment. Even though I had taken classes and had a dyslexic child, I did not know about the signs and symptoms to look for in that of an auditory processing weakness.

This is so important in academic, social, and behavior skills. Understanding and decoding language, verbal instructions, and commands as well as social cues are all related to auditory processing. I did not know what to look for or how to stimulate growth in this area, but now I do!

Listening skills and auditory processing are not about the ears’ ability to hear. Rather, they are about the brain’s ability to decode language, make sense of it, and then produce an appropriate response. That’s complex stuff!

 

What does auditory processing have to do with reading?

Well, auditory processing disorder is different from dyslexia, but reading is language-based and so is auditory processing.

Reading is language-based, dyslexia is a language-based learning disability, and auditory processing delays are weaknesses in the ability of the brain to filter and process sounds and words, especially in language. 

This is why many children with dyslexia also have auditory processing issues and auditory processing delays can contribute to dyslexia at a young age. 

You may be wondering what the difference is between hearing and actual auditory processing, so here are some facts. Several kids with dyslexia have had a hearing test because it was thought the child could not hear well. 

Auditory processing is more than just hearing what is being said. Even though kids may have perfect hearing, there could still be an issue with auditory processing. Some research indicates dyslexic children struggle with both written and spoken language (sight and sound).

Many kids have some kind of auditory issue. Sometimes kids have hearing tests that come out normal but they do not seem to react to sound and a normal way. Then we have some kids who are under-sensitive to sound.

Many parents sometimes think their child cannot hear as an infant. Most are unaware that auditory processing is a difference in the right and left hemispheres, like most sensory detection and processing. It does need to be determined if it is a deficit in the right or the left.  

It is simply not enough to say that the child has a hearing or auditory processing issue. The reason this is important is that the issues related to this disorder show up differently, and they need different approaches. 

There is no sensory function that works by itself. Every single one of the senses is dependent on the other sensory functions, which depend on a baseline level of brain activity. Most will assume that if a child does not respond very well to sound that there must be something wrong with the ears, and usually this is not the case. The hearing pathway in the ears can be perfectly normal, and the brain could not respond to the sound because brain activity is weak. Now, if brain activity is not igniting at the right speed it just cannot keep up with the input of sound. 

Auditory processing can inhibit reading. Some kids have even been diagnosed with dyslexia when it is an auditory processing disorder. This information is going to help you either way. You might want to add an audiologist to your child’s team to make sure they hear properly.

Parents and teachers often ask me what should be expected at certain ages just as a baseline of guidance.

Milestones based on age: (It is important to note this is just for a baseline.)

  • 2-4 years old should be able to do 2-3 step commands
  • 5-6 years old should be able to do 3-4 step commands
  • 7 years-adult should be able to do 7 step commands

You can do a few simple tests to see if your child has decreased hearing, but before you do these tests, check to make sure the child does not have an ear infection or fluid in the ears at the time you conduct the test. Be sure to go to your physician to have the ears checked before testing. 

Auditory processing disorder could be to blame for affecting your child’s inability to hear all of the sounds in words and in our language not to mention being able to connect meaning to words.

Sound or auditory discrimination is the ability to distinguish between similar sounds. Weakness in sound or auditory discrimination might be caused by physical hearing issues or by a weakness in sound perception or any combination of these variables. Sound or auditory discrimination difficulties could affect phonological awareness as well as the processing of verbal or auditory information. All of this was news to me even as a doctor of education and being active in the field for over eighteen years. You see, language strength is crucial for children to develop proper auditory processing skills. I like to go over the various milestones with parents to help determine the possible underlying issues such as the unintegrated ATNR (primitive reflex).

So, let’s discuss the difference between actually “hearing” and that of “auditory processing” for just a moment. Typically kids with dyslexia are encouraged to have a hearing test because parents and educators believed there was a hearing issue.

At birth, typical auditory development signals the baby is familiar with parents’ sounds, and become startled at strange sounds, but cannot yet distinguish where sounds are coming from due to the fact the brain has not formed a visual memory to the sound yet. You may have noticed your child preferring the sound of a humidifier or a fan, but do not know where the sound is coming from. However at about 4-6 months, the baby becomes more aware as to where sound is. Children this age know a rattle makes one sound while a big brother or sister makes a different sound. You may notice the child looking at you differently and trying intently to understand what you are saying. 

Remember the ATNR reflex? Well, between 6-12 months of age, the baby will begin to crawl, and this is very important. The baby will crawl towards a sound and even the call of his or her name, and make connections with sounds and movement. Peek-a-boo is a favorite and it is understood objects have names like mamma and daddy, meow, baba, do-do, and will try to imitate those sounds.

This reflex was active at birth. It connected shoulder movement to neck movement and helped the child descend in the birth canal. The ATNR reflex should be integrated by 6-12 months of age. If it is not, it will affect free crawling. This can become an issue because of its impact on auditory processing. Some kiddos will army crawl, or use one side more than the other if they still have the ATNR reflex present. I advise parents to be sure to ask your pediatrician if this reflex is integrated at your well-baby visit. 

If the ATNR is not integrated, it can interfere with proper development. Why? As the baby crawls, he will move his head back and forth trying to take in sounds from places in the room, and this will assist in auditory development in each ear. The baby will learn to understand sounds, away, above, around, to, from, near, and far. The baby will crawl toward the sound and understand the noise becomes more intense while crawling away from, the sound fades.

Pronouns are learned around the age of two, and kids will begin to combine two-word phrases, such as “mama go” andbaba drink.”

By the time a child is about three years of age, the child will be able to find hidden objects, comprehend simple commands, recognize questions, love songs, and rhymes, and develop comprehension of two-step commands.

By 4-5 years old, 200-400 words will be in the child’s vocabulary bank. Understanding special concepts such as, it’s behind the door, or in the bottom of the drawer or it is on top of the shelf. This is the age where children should be able to understand a three-part command, like, go get your coat, put it on, and come to me and I will zip it for you. If the child can only do one part of the command, you might think the child is not obeying, but these kids really may forget because of the processing delay. These kids have a hard time storing and recalling the steps properly and also might stare off into space. They sometimes get diagnosed with an attention deficit disorder when it is just an auditory processing issue. 

I often wondered why our son would mix up parts of a word, and I thought he needed some speech therapy, but I soon realized he struggled with auditory ordering and sequencing like many children who are misdiagnosed with a speech articulation issue. Children with a weakened sequencing ability will recall and store information out of order, like syllables, and might say (bullfallow instead of buffalo, or aminal instead of animal) and they get their numbers out of order so they might say 36 instead of 63. Steps of instructions might be remembered but done out of sequence. These kids may struggle with speech, reading, and math.

He was not able to integrate auditory input and had difficulty understanding words as a whole. At this point, I knew he had dyslexia, but this was when I realized the WHY. The right side of his brain was not communicating with the left to understand the language. Continuing to struggle to understand the meaning of words when sounded aloud was a daily battle until we started auditory brain exercises. Our son always needed to see an example of what he was supposed to do and never wanted to try anything first because he did not understand the instructions. He would just wait and see what others were doing before giving it a try. These sweet kids are good at catching on quickly.

You may find your child struggles with social situations, has poor spelling, poor grammar, and poor reading skills. Most likely this is due to decoding issues which, again is related to auditory processing delays. Differences in similar sounds are not heard like pig vs. big

Perhaps your child is withdrawn from school or social gatherings because of noises. Most likely this is due to auditory figure-ground discrimination. This is because there is a deficit in the ability to separate sounds. 

Speech articulation may be a struggle for your child, and if this is so the case, the most likely contributor is that of an auditory output or organization deficit. Children will say words out of order and confuse similar sounds where they are often mistaken to have a speech delay when articulation is the skill required for speech, but the organization output could be contributing to the speech issue.

Maybe your child can hear sounds and order just fine but struggles to connect it to meaning. If so, this could be due to an auditory associative deficit. Parents can oftentimes become frustrated with these kids because they were able to repeat instructions verbatim, however, not be able to carry out the task at hand because meaning was not made.

Does your child speak in a monotone voice or have difficulty with rhythm and tones in voices? Chances are the child has an auditory prosodic deficit which prevents kids from being able to hear modulation and tones so they are not able to cipher differences in sound and inflection in speech. These kids will struggle in social situations due to the fact they cannot cipher the differences in sounds of voices and can mistake when someone is teasing or being funny versus being mad or frustrated. It’s important to steer clear of sarcasm with these little ones.

You may be surprised to learn short-term memory can also contribute to our auditory delayed learners. Since short-term memory is used to store and recall information, sounds and words, a weakness in this area can cause the language processing part of the brain and memory not to communicate effectively, which will then contribute to reading struggles and difficulty remembering steps. Remember a word learned today will have to be retaught again tomorrow. 

Emotions run high in our auditory delayed learners. Since sound triggers different emotional responses, hearing different stimuli can be a strong trigger. 

You will want to get an audiologist on your child’s team if you suspect auditory delays. 

These are listening and response exercises to help stimulate growth in these areas we’ve just discussed. Together, with my colleague, we created these beautiful effective cards for our struggling learners. Kids enjoy these games.

The auditory processing cards are meant to be a fun way to help your child stimulate and increase brain processing. These cards and activities will aid the child in:

  • Associative Deficit
  • Prosodic Deficit
  • Sequencing (you may use along with the Brain Balance cards SEQUENCING portion for this activity). When giving more than one clue at a time and asking the child to mark off the images in the same order as they have been called out orally will assist with sequencing.

Processing disorders, like auditory processing disorder, visual processing disorder, and sensory processing disorder are caused by a deficiency in a person’s ability to effectively use the information gathered by the senses. 

If you have a child or a student who you believe has auditory processing issues, you need to consider the issue may not be the result of impaired hearing, impaired vision, attention disorders, intellectual disability, or learning deficit. It is simply this; if the brain cannot properly process the auditory, visual, and sensory information it receives, a child’s ability to learn and thrive in an academic setting is affected, often leading to low self-esteem and social withdrawal. While processing disorders are not featured in the DSM-IV as stand-alone disorders, they are widely recognized as co-morbid issues for children with developmental delays.

So, what does all of this matter? Well, auditory processing disorder could be affecting a child’s ability to hear all of the sounds in words, in our language, and be able to connect meaning to words.

The best part is you can do so many strengthening exercises right in your own home without spending hundreds of dollars on fancy centers and special equipment. It just takes a little know-how, time, and consistency. You can do it! 

After I began to do all of these really fun and as my sons would say, “kinda crazy” exercises, it was like a flip of a switch in that the light turned on. Just the other day, our 10-year-old had three step instructions for a language lesson. He was supposed to draw a line between the subject and predicate, underline the simple subject once and the verb twice. He was thrilled when he said, “Look, Mom, I numbered the steps of what I was supposed to do without you helping me.” Here’s to YOUR Success!

 

Be Blessed,

Dr. Rebecka

Cherish Children Ministries

 

 

 


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Stephanie Buckwalter – SPED Homeschool Partner Art of Special Needs Parenting

Homeschool is a great place to help your special needs child make progress on therapy goals. The key is to understand what drives your child’s need for therapy and the brain’s need for neurological organization.

 

What is therapy?

Therapy is simply training the body to do things that come naturally to neurologically organized people. A neurologically organized brain learns and develops in ways that we call “normal.” When someone needs therapy, it means there is some kind of disconnect between the body and the brain that causes dysfunction. 

 

Many times, a disorder or dysfunction falls along a spectrum. We use terms like mild, moderate, severe, or profound to identify where on the spectrum. Those terms actually refer to neurological organization. A child with mild disabilities is just a little neurologically disorganized. A child with profound disabilities is very neurologically disorganized. When you work on neurological organization, you are working on moving your child along the spectrum toward “normal” function.

 

How does the brain relate to therapy?

There are three main pieces to the puzzle of neurological organization as it relates to therapy. That means there are three potential points of disconnect you may need to address. Think of it in terms of a sensory-motor process:

  1. Sensory input—external (5 senses) and internal (proprioceptive [where you are in space] and vestibular [balance] senses)
  2. Brain processing—storing information, recalling, memory, making connections, sequencing, signals for motor output
  3. Motor output—speech, run, laugh, jump, write, read, perform, play

The therapy your child receives should address one or more of these three parts of the process. The goal of therapy is to help your child become more neurologically organized or physically proficient so they can function in a more “normal” way, a way that makes life easier for them. Take a look at the same graphic in terms of therapy:

To manipulate input, you would vary the frequency, intensity and duration of the activity to influence the brain. With profound disability or if you are just starting to address an area of need, you should start with high frequency, high intensity and short duration. 

Think of a baby learning to crawl. They try over and over to get up on their hands and knees (high frequency). They rock back and forth. They concentrate on their goal—they are not playing with toys or watching mom’s face while learning to crawl (high intensity). But they tire quickly (short duration). As they begin to crawl, the frequency remains high, the intensity lowers and the duration increases until the skill is mastered and performed with ease.

Therapy should work the same way. This is why homeschool is ideal for therapy overall. You can do daily therapy practice to vary the sensory input that your child needs in terms of frequency, intensity and duration. 

Another thing to be aware of related to sensory input is negative sensory input. Some behavior issues can be related to environmental factors such as temperature, sound, feel of clothing, lighting or visual stimuli. You can also look at food reactions or lack of sleep. If your child is reacting during school, start a diary of each incident and look for patterns to determine the source. I have an Incident Report form you can use in my free ebook Crash Course: How to Teach Your Special Needs Child at Home . It also covers more of the neurological information presented here. 

Next, jump ahead to the motor output. This involves the types of therapy that are most familiar: Physical Therapy (PT), Speech Therapy (ST), Occupational Therapy (OT) and Applied Behavior Analysis Therapy (ABA). One reason for the familiarity is because insurance will pay for these types of therapy with little hassle and schools offer them. When you branch out into other therapies, you are usually on your own as far as paying for them.

Training the motor output is important because our children don’t always intuit what they should do physically, socially or emotionally. They can learn many things but have to be taught everything. If your child is receiving therapy, ask for daily homework assignments and vary the frequency, intensity and duration to get the desired output.

Between the input and the output comes the processing. For a variety of reasons, your child’s brain may not be functioning well. It could be from damage, malformation, inflammation, lack of specific nutrients or a variety of other reasons. There are therapies designed to address how the left and right sides of the brain integrate to help it bypass any blocked pathways, whether physical, electrical or chemical. These are things like rhythmic movement therapy, music listening therapy, Brain Gym® or other therapies that work on balancing or integrating brain functions.

There are other things you can do in the areas of diet, biomedical, energy medicine, naturopathic medicine and holistic solutions. Those are outside the scope of this article but they are an important part of helping your child succeed. Sometimes it is these interventions that help the brain the most. Homeschooling allows you to integrate medical and natural protocols into your school and other therapies in the way that best suits your child’s needs.

 

What does this mean for my child?

For a homeschooled child, you have complete freedom to work with your child at the times and for the duration you deem necessary. You can also apply the idea of frequency, intensity and duration to learning academics or life skills. I’ll give you an example.

One of my children didn’t learn to read until the end of fourth grade. We were on curriculum number five when things finally started to click. But I don’t think it was the curriculum, per se. I had a list of the 2,000 most common words in the English language, ranging from first-grade level to high school vocabulary. I told him if he would read through all the words, he could have a particular item that was of high value to him. (It was not expensive, just highly motivating to him.)

So each day we would sit together and read a word list. They were broken down into 20-word groups. For the early lists, we could do two or three a day. As the words got longer and harder, we would do only one or two lists a day. We did this every day. No matter how poorly he read the words, we sounded them out together. It took about 2 or 3 months to get through the list. He earned his prize and then school was out for summer.

Without even realizing it, I had used the frequency, intensity and duration principles to teach him to read. We did high frequency (we even read on weekends sometimes because he was motivated), high intensity (reading was very hard for him) and short duration (just a few words at a time). We did not review or repeat words as that was not the goal.

By the end of the school year, he was reading at a first- or second-grade level. Like all well-intentioned homeschool moms, I was going to work with him over the summer but that never happened (maybe because I had a newly diagnosed special needs child). Interestingly, by the time school started in the fall, he was reading easily at a second-grade level and by the end of fifth grade that year, he was reading at a fifth-grade level or higher. So after two months of intense “reading therapy” and a break of three months where his brain was processing with no additional input, he learned to read.

I share this to show that sometimes, if we focus more on how we are providing the input than trying to get our child to produce output, we can have amazing results.

For my special needs daughter who has moderate disabilities, the real value has been in working on the brain and neurological organization. She spent time in public school. During that time, I worked with her on brain therapies at home. Through interactions with her teacher, I could easily see what was working and what was not working. 

My focus was strictly neurological organization, not academics, so vast improvements at school were most likely due to increased neurological organization versus academic instruction. I know this is true because her teachers were always amazed at how much she progressed, implying that they didn’t really do anything different with her than the other students to cause such an increase in progress. I also know it works because when I do not keep up with her neurological therapies, she slides into fight or flight mode and doesn’t function very well intellectually or behaviorally.

For my special needs daughter who has moderate disabilities, the real value has been in working on the brain and neurological organization. She spent time in public school. During that time, I worked with her on brain therapies at home. Through interactions with her teacher, I could easily see what was working and what was not working. 

My focus was strictly neurological organization, not academics, so vast improvements at school were most likely due to increased neurological organization versus academic instruction. I know this is true because her teachers were always amazed at how much she progressed, implying that they didn’t really do anything different with her than the other students to cause such an increase in progress. I also know it works because when I do not keep up with her neurological therapies, she slides into fight or flight mode and doesn’t function very well intellectually or behaviorally.

If you’ve ever wondered why therapy is not really working for your child, it may be that they need work on varying input or neurological organization before manipulating the motor output will be effective.

 

What can I do in my homeschool?

Here are some ways to incorporate therapy into your homeschool day and help your child become more neurologically organized:

  • Apply frequency, intensity and duration principles to:
    • Therapy homework
    • Your child’s goals, academics or life skills
    • A particularly difficult subject for your child
  • Add developmental movement to your day
    • Use exercises that are specifically developmental in nature, like those from Brain Gym® or the book Smart Moves
    • Add rhythmic movement therapy to address retained reflexes
    • Take walks – the body is designed to walk and naturally alternates sides, increasing brain integration
    • Do exercises or dance (not necessarily developmentally but better than nothing)
  • Train motor output
    • Learn therapy exercises from your child’s therapists
    • Use hand-over-hand support to teach skills
    • Physically manipulate your child’s body to encourage correct function

 

Never give up on your child, regardless of age. If you can improve neurological organization, you can improve your child’s life. 

 

 

 

 


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by Sarah Collins – SPED Homeschool Partner, Colins Academy Therapy

 

Motor planning is the ability to conceive, plan, and carry out a new motor act. My favorite example is curling your hair with a new curling iron using a mirror. Upon first glance, it is somewhat disorienting. You have to consciously think about which way to move the arm, practice, and then can typically create a beautiful hairstyle. For some, this comes easily, but for others, it takes additional practice and deliberate, conscious planning.

Within the homeschool day, difficulties with motor planning can manifest themselves in many different ways. However, activities to address these skills can be fun and easy to incorporate. Here are my top four ways to incorporate these skills throughout the day.

 

Meal Times

Breakfast is a great time to start independent meal preparation. Place ingredients in easy-to-handle containers, like cereal in a small container with milk poured in a separate cup. This gives independence within a skill level. Cracking eggs using the correct amount of pressure or stirring without sloshing are two other areas we have encouraged independence by placing bowls within a sink or using huge bowls to whisk small amounts. As kids become more proficient, these safeguards are changed then removed.

 

Outside

Spending lots of time outside not only allows for nature study and other free play, but it encourages children to engage their bodies in a natural environment. They have to take risks to climb a tree, change their footing when going down a hill or when balancing on a rock. As parents and home educators, we often don’t want to let our children fall or fail. However, independently coming up with a movement, completing the movement, and then self-evaluating are all aspects of motor planning that require risk-taking and permission to fail.

 

Obstacle Courses

Obstacle courses are another favorite of mine to encourage motor planning. Sometimes, I give specific ideas for the course while other times I tell them to make it up on their own.

 

Games

Finally, here is a list of fantastic games that incorporate motor planning.

  • 1. Simon Says
  • 2. Robot Turtles
  • 3. Kids Charades
  • 4. Left Right Center
  • 5. Jenga

 

Part of the reason that I love being an occupational therapist consulting with homeschoolers is that it allows me to explain my thinking behind what we do at home with our kids while influencing other families. Even during a global pandemic, it has allowed me to continue to combine both of my passions and keep my brain working!! Please contact Collins Academy Therapy Services for a personal consultation about incorporating these strategies into your homeschool.

 

This was originally published on Sarah’s website as Motor Planning Strategies in the Homeschool.

 

 

 


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By Jan Bedell, PhD, M ND

 

An often overlooked piece of the puzzle for children that may be struggling emotionally, behaviorally, or academically is nutrition. The child’s metabolic system, its internal chemistry, can have a lot to do with the way they feel in general. As you know, an irritable child has trouble in every area of life from social interaction to academic performance and everything in between. If there are allergies to foods, the whole system reacts and causes cascading negative effects. Below are a few recommendations for all kids to feel their best!

 

Filtered Water

How much do you weigh? Now, divide that number by 2. This number is the absolute minimum number of ounces that your body needs each day to be healthy. Your brain cells need this water to function properly, so drink up! If you do not filter the water you drink, then your body becomes the filter.

 

Liquid Multi-Vitamin and Mineral Supplement

Make sure any vitamins and minerals are sugar-free and without dyes. Instead of gummies or chewables, consider liquids because they will absorb faster and more completely than pills. A high-quality mineral supplement must be PH-balanced for the body to assimilate the minerals. Any treatment with supplements is compromised if the diet includes too much refined sugar and saturated fat.

 

Important Foods to Eat Every Day

  • Protein is a great way to start the day and an important part of breakfast. 
  • Consume more fresh fruits and raw vegetables throughout the day. 
  • Low-glycemic sweeteners to explore include stevia, xylitol, Sweet & Slender, sucanat, rice syrup, and barley malt. These sweeteners have a lower glycemic index than refined sugars, maple syrup, molasses, or honey. Fructose and agave have low glycemic values; however, if eaten after a large meal, they take on the higher glycemic value of other foods so only consume these on an empty stomach.

 

Foods to Avoid

  • Sugar and sugar substitutes such as corn syrup, NutraSweet, Splenda, Sweet’N Low are heavily processed and can have a range of side effects. Avoid caffeinated drinks that usually also contain lots of sugar. Consider reducing white flour that turns into sugar and instead serve whole wheat and whole grains. These sugars and starches can cause chemical and mineral imbalances in the body. They can negatively affect the mind, body, and emotions. Read labels of all processed food. Did you know there is more sugar in catsup than jam?
  • Artificial food coloring, food additives and preservatives can cause negative chemical reactions in the body.
  • Cow’s milk that is homogenized and pasteurized creates mucus in the respiratory tract and holds mucus in the intestinal tract. Consider rice dream milk or almond milk without sugar.
  • Hydrogenated oils impair the blood-brain barrier where nutrients are exchanged for waste in brain cells. These oils clog the bloodstream and can cause coronary problems.
  • Wheat and gluten are also foods that can negatively affect a child’s gut. The gut has been called the second brain. Symptoms of gluten-sensitivity are abdominal cramping, diarrhea, poor sleep, rashes, and foggy thinking, to name a few.

 

Dr. Jan has seen nutrition as a significant factor for children with learning struggles but, again, only part of the puzzle. As a NeuroDevelopmentalist for over 25 years, she knows that you have to take into consideration all of the child’s development. The great news is that it is never too late to change the brain and increase the individual’s overall function. For more information about The NeuroDevelopmental Approach to Life, visit www.BrainSprints.com.

 

Check out our comprehensive resource for diet and food issues!

 

REFERENCES

  1. Aihara, Herman. Acid & Alkaline.
  2. Baroody, Theodore, A., Ph.D., N.D. Alkalize Or Die.
  3. Beatty, Paul F. “Attention Deficit or EFA Deficient? Essential Fatty Acids For the Hyperactive Child.” Alive Magazine. Sept. 1996:13.
  4. The Brain Train. 3300 Bee Caves Rd. Suite 650, Austin, Tx 78746. 512-347-0053. Fax 512-347-0053#51
  5. Bridge, Ivy. “Hyperactivity/Attention Deficit Disorder.” The HANDLE Institute. www.handle.org.
  6. www.liquidhealthinc.com; 1-800-995-6607
  7. Podell, Richard N. M.D. The G-Index Diet: Controll Your Glucose Level And Lose Weight Now. New York:Warner Books.
  1. Richard, David. “Questions & Answers About Stevia.” http://www.stevia.com/SteviaArticle.asp?ID=2269
  2. Stevens, Laura. “Lack Of Omega-3 Fatty Acids Linked to Childhood Behavioral Problems.” NFM’s Nutrition Science News. December 1996:4. www.newhope.com/nsn
  3. Stephens, Lynn. “The Awesome Agave.” http://www.shakeoffthesugar.net/article1042.html
  4. Gershon, Michael D, M.D. The Second Brain
  5. Davis, William, M.D. Wheat Belly

 

 

 

 

 


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SPED Homeschool Team

Every month, we ask our SPED Homeschool team to provide insight into their own personal journey with homeschooling. This month we asked a few of our team members about what they do for homeschooling when a family member is ill. Here are ways our team homeschools when…

 

When a child has a chronic illness

“Homeschooling through an illness looks differently depending on who is sick. If my daughter with chronic medical issues is ill, everyone else will continue with their day’s work. My daughter will be given time to rest and medical interventions, if necessary. If I need to be more hands-on with her, we might have a movie day and watch documentaries that pertain to our learning. I always have backup plans just in case this happens. My other two children have learned to adapt to their sister’s needs. I allow my other kiddos sick days as they come up as well. We homeschool year-round to make up for periods of sickness. If I am ill, I teach from my recliner and we make things work as well as we can. What I have learned is to give myself lots of grace and remember that I am not chained to a timeline.” – Dawn Spence 

 

When a parent has a chronic illness

“Over our years of homeschooling, we have dealt with short-term illnesses like colds, the flu, and other small health hiccups that disrupted our schedule for maybe a day or two. In those days, my kids would often lament that homeschooling was not fair because, even though they were sick, they still had to do schoolwork. I have to admit, it wasn’t always easy to keep them learning when we weren’t feeling our best, but these times taught my children that we do our best with what we have been given.

“But then sometimes prolonged illnesses affected our learning, like the lengthy battles  both my boys had in overcoming childhood depression. Many days our school lessons were not focused on our core subjects because mental healing was more important than learning to read, write, or do math. And, those days I pushed the curriculum over working on mental health, I quickly realized my son wasn’t grasping the lessons or engaging with the content. He was just physically in the room with his mind in a different place. 

“Now, entering my last year of homeschooling my youngest, I am the one battling an illness – cancer. My life has been upended with weekly doctor appointments, surgeries, and more, all while I do my best to help her keep a regular schedule. Needless to say, in planning out this year, I have taken on teaching in areas where I feel my presence will have the greatest impact. And, for the rest of her curriculum, I have prayerfully outsourced her teaching to tutors or self—paced online programs. I just can’t do everything and have the time and energy I need to devote to my healing.

“Life has seasons of health and illness and those seasons affect how we homeschool. Health issues that families face should never be used as excuses to forgo the calling to homeschool. It may just look different in each of those seasons.” – Peggy Ployhar

 

When there are multiple appointments

“Concerning homeschooling through illness, we just don’t. We are rarely sick, so when we are, we skip those days of school and don’t make them up. That is what happens in public schools. We frequently do have “bad days” where attention just isn’t there because of autism, or my son is having a poor vision day. I build in a make-up week half-way through the school year and another at the end of the school year in the same way some schools have snow days. When we have doctor appointments, I may do half-days depending on if it is just any easy check-up or a long, tough one. The long ones count as a bad day and we do not have school. We have also counted therapy as part of the curriculum because that is what would have happened if he had been in school getting services at school. We just did academics half-day on those days. Speech therapy and occupational therapy counted as language arts as he worked on wh- questions, pronoun usage, and prepositions in speech and handwriting in OT. We just did the math and either history or science on those days.” –  Lara Lee

 

When there is a pandemic

“Just ten days after it felt like the world shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, my husband was unexpectedly hospitalized. By then, my kids were already feeling the changes in the world around them. We were having to distance from family and friends, and our many activities suddenly closed. School and learning were the only consistent things. During this time, we kept our schedule of morning nature walks and schoolwork at the table each morning. We cooked our meals together at home. We relied on neighbors and friends to bring us some toilet paper and a few groceries. I knew that my kids needed the routine even more because everything else in life at that time was chaotic.” – Melissa Schumacher

 

Check out these other SPED Homeschool Team blogs for more inspiration:

Homeschooling Organization Tips that Work

Best Homeschooling Advice for Special Education Homeschool Moms

Avoiding Burnout as a Homeschool Mom

Our Favorite Internet Resources for Homeschooling Special Ed

First Year Homeschooling Lessons

50+ Ideas for Homeschool Extracurriculars

Looking for alternative homeschooling activities when sickness has “rained out” your homeschool schedule for the day? Try one of these low-key learning activities.

 

 

 

 

 


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Renee Sullins, SPED Homeschool Consulting Partner

In working with teenagers for many years, I have learned that if there is ONE thing that teenagers understand well, it’s PROCRASTINATION. Not to say that adults are not guilty of the same, but teenagers are quite adept at it.

There are three types of procrastinators I would unscientifically categorize as the blatant procrastinator, the passive procrastinator, and the convicted procrastinator.

 

The Blatant Procrastinator purposefully ignores an assignment or task and is aware of the consequences. They are not concerned that something is due the next day or that there is even a deadline involved. It may be important to someone else, but not to them. They simply let the deadline pass and move on, much to the displeasure of their parents who may not even know.

Blatant procrastinators would rather do something they want to do and don’t see it as procrastination. This may be the teen who has a messy room, refuses to use a calendar or planner, and has a list of excuses for everything. Why bother to clean your room when it will just get messy again? Planners are too restrictive! These teenagers are also the ones who spend countless hours gaming or on social media.

 

The Passive Procrastinator waits until the last minute to finish so it does not seem to be a big problem. They are aware of deadlines and may even track things in a planner, app, or notes on their cell phone. They have good intentions of following through, but they just cannot accomplish tasks on-time consistently. They know where they want to be, but struggle to manage their time.

Passives may believe they have finished, but in reality, it is only partially done and they don’t notice until it is too late. These teens are usually the ones with ADHD and who are aware of their learning differences, but they are not using the necessary tools to focus and manage their time. Passive procrastinators know the consequences of not getting something done on time. They are often the most amenable to trying new strategies to help prevent procrastination, though.

 

If we can determine what is getting in the way of their success and help them get unstuck, then they are more motivated to cultivate new habits for their success.

 

The Convicted Procrastinator has a heightened awareness that they are procrastinating but, instead of working toward their goal, they quickly become overwhelmed and spiral into thoughts of self-criticism, defeat, and guilt. They are so hard on themselves that they self-sabotage and end up not getting anything done. Or, they are so overwhelmed about their lack of activity, there is often a resultant headache, stomach ache, or even a migraine. When this happens, they feel even worse, and it becomes a vicious cycle.

 

I would also like to mention a fourth type of procrastinator that I know well as I witnessed this type in my teen. They are a kindred spirit to the Passive but to a more extreme level. It is the Avoidant Procrastinator. This is the teen who thinks that if they don’t think about it at all, it will go away. I had one of those in my house. It does not go away. It only gets worse and can cause great anxiety and stress.  Please be aware of the signs that your teen may suffer from more than just being a procrastinator.

 

So what should a parent do? Each procrastinator has his or her own set of rules, coping skills, excuses, and struggles. The first thing I do when I work with young people is to let them know that I come from a place of curiosity, not a place of judgment. We dive deep to determine what they want for themselves, how they want to be seen and heard, what is important to them, and their “why”. If we can determine what is getting in the way of their success and help them get unstuck, then they are more motivated to cultivate new habits for their success. This takes time, patience, and intentional listening.

The teen years are transitional years of becoming more independent yet still needing the approval and counsel of parents. When you have a procrastinator in your home, instead of asking nagging questions or given them endless reminders, seek out resources to get them the support they need that works uniquely for them. This may take some trial and error, but in the end, they will find their way, and will feel empowered and in control of their lives now, and hope for the future.

 

 

 

 

 


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SPED Homeschool Team

We can turn every activity we do with our children into a learning experience. Thankfully, homeschooling allows families to turn active learning into homeschool extra-curricular subjects. The possibilities are endless, but below you will find 50+ ideas for homeschool extra-curricular subjects based on what we, the SPED Homeschool team, have taught in our own home schools.

 

Peggy Ployhar

Scuba diving

Sewing and Dressmaking

Aerial Silks

Taekwondo

Structural Engineering

Photography

Computer Skills (including IT skills, building a computer, keyboarding, and software implementation)

Welding

Band/Instrument Lessons

Film and Cinema studies

Podcasting

Digital Art 

Starting a Personal Business

Dance

Knitting

Speech & Debate

 

Cammie Arn

Horseback Riding and Equine Care

Gardening

Landscaping

Taekwondo

Theater: acting, set design, mural painting, costuming, stage managing, lights and sound

Fine Arts/Spoken Words: poetry, producing a children’s literature book, sermons, vocal solos, short story reading 

Piano

Handbell Choir

Speech & Debate

Computer Programming

Food Preservation and Storage

Menu planning 

Food Preparation

Money Management

Horticulture

Animal care

Music Theory

Art History 

Sewing

Knitting

Ballroom Dancing

 

Lara Lee

How to draw YouTube videos

Kid’s Engineering YouTube videos

Cooking

Gardening

Neighborhood walk, bike ride, or scooter

TinkerCrate

Cardboard models of appliances

Coloring books

Busy books (downloadable pages from TeacherPayTeachers, then laminate and add velcro to the back of the pieces)

Puzzles

Board games

Self-made experience books using photos and construction paper

Photobooks/Social stories (Such as documenting night time routine or a trip to visit family)

Daily rotating busy boxes (filled with toys and activities to do on only that day of the week)

 

Nakisha Blain

Nature journals

Feeding squirrels

Online summer camps

Art projects

Hiking

Home economics

Go-karting

Building/Construction

Volunteering

Helping parents with a family business

 

As you can see, we basically turned anything our kids or family are doing into school. That is the beauty of homeschooling.

 

 

 

 

 


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SPED Homeschool Team

 

Dawn Spence

My first year of homeschooling, I allowed myself a lot of grace and just had fun. We used unit studies to grow and learn together. Learning both about the subjects we were studying and how homeschooling worked best for each of us. We were all on a new learning curve and needed to have patience with each other. I based success in the daily victories; on how well we were adapting. Now seven years into our homeschool journey, that first year is still my favorite. We all have many fond memories as we launched out on this fresh adventure and laid the groundwork for our version of school in our home.

 

Cammie Arn

My first year of homeschooling was while the army had stationed us in Germany. I was so nervous. I had no clue what I was doing. The concept of reading to my children and having it count as school was more of a foreign concept to me than many of the customs I had adapted to while living in a foreign country. I had much to learn.

Here are some of the biggest lessons I learned that first year, now over 20 years ago. Homeschooling looks nothing like public school. I didn’t need to know everything to teach my children. Instead, I learned alongside them. I discovered that when you are up all night with a baby; it is okay to count a bedtime story to my five-year-old as that day’s reading. We didn’t follow a syllabus, we just learned when we could. It seemed to work well.

Over the years I have learned many more lessons that have also reduced my homeschooling anxiety. One is that it is okay to skip lessons if your children have already mastered the concept.

 

Peggy Ployhar

Homeschooling was something I said I would never do after I attended my first homeschooling conference when my oldest child was still a toddler. A friend from church invited me to this small gathering in 1999, hoping I would catch the vision. Instead, I decided I did not fit that mold and pursued private education for our children. Fast forward to 2003. My oldest child was halfway through his kindergarten year and the principal of his school suggested my husband and I independently pursue testing for this child who was struggling so much in school that a regular part of his day now involved at least one trip to her office. It was after this testing we added an unfamiliar word to our family vocabulary, Autism, which eventually convinced us of the best educational choice for our son, homeschooling. 

Looking back at that pinnacle moment in our lives, now 18 years in the past, I am grateful I could move beyond my idea of who I needed to be or look like to teach my son. My narrow vision of homeschooling in 1999 almost kept our family from the most amazing journey in which I have had the privilege to learn and grow alongside my children and develop deep and lasting relationships with them that probably would not have been possible if I had sent them off to school.

 

Is this possibly your first year homeschooling? We hope our stories have encouraged and inspired you.  Want to hear more stories from our community? Join one of our Support Tribes or hop onto our weekly Special Needs Moms’ Night Out, every Tuesday evening from 9pm to 10pm CST.

 

 

 

 

 


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SPED Homeschool Community Member Nick H.

 

Last year I became a homeschooling father to a 7-year-old boy with Cerebral Palsy.  My son’s mom had already started the home school process with him, but as circumstances dictated I took over from there.

At first, I assumed homeschooling would hold a kid back from the sped up progress that traditional school settings achieve.  I could not see how a few hours of school work at home compared to 8-hour traditional school days could equate to greater learning outcomes.  This year has taught me that equating time to learning was wrong.

Being a father who homeschools has given me an alternative view on homeschooling and the advantages it provides my son like one-on-one teaching, reduced distractions, and individualized accommodations. 

 

…I have learned how much easier I can accommodate for the needs of my son at home versus the process an equivalent accommodation would require in a traditional school.

 

Homeschooling has given me a new appreciation for education.  As a parent of a child that has Cerebral Palsy, I have learned how much easier I can accommodate for the needs of my son at home versus the process an equivalent accommodation would require in a traditional school.

Teaching as a homeschooling parent isn’t easy, but it is rewarding. The way my son interacts with his mom and I during his schooling is amazing. He seems so much more focused and confident in doing his schoolwork. Watching him grow and learn has been the biggest highlight on my new homeschooling dad journey.

 

 

 

 

 


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Peggy Ployhar

Most high school students have no idea what career or even possible career fields would interest them, so don’t get frustrated if you have asked your teen for some suggestions and all you have received in response is, “I don’t know.”

Below I have shared my top 3 career assessment tools that can help steer your student in the right direction for career exploration as useful guidance for you in helping them in this exploration process.

 

#1 – My Next Move Interest Assessment

My Next Move is an online questionnaire that profiles a student’s interests and aligns them with possible future career choices. To access this free career interest assessment for your student, visit the My Next Move website at https://www.mynextmove.org/explore/ip

 

#2 – Holland Code Career Test

The Holland Code Career Test is a free online career assessment that “uses the scientific Holland Code model to show you which jobs will suit your interests, talents, and aptitude.” The test takes about 10 minutes. Basic test results from this assessment are free, or you can choose to receive a full report for just $19. To access the test, visit this link on the Truity website  https://www.truity.com/test/holland-code-career-test

 

#3 – Career One Stop Assessments

Career One Stop is a website sponsored by the U.S.Department of Labor that offers a few different tests parents could use to help with assessing their student’s interests, skills, and work values. Here are the assessments you can find on the Career One Stop site.  https://www.careeronestop.org/. Below are three resources Career One Stop provides.

Career Interest Assessment – This test is a 30 question assessment that takes about 5 minutes to complete and provides a broad overview of your student’s basic interests.  https://www.careeronestop.org/toolkit/careers/interest-assessment.aspx 

Skills Matcher Questionnaire – This test rates a student’s abilities across 40 workplace skills. https://www.careeronestop.org/toolkit/Skills/skills-matcher-questions.aspx

Work Values Survey – Use the cards provided in this section to identify what you student values in a working environment and then follow the links provided to find careers that match these values. https://www.careeronestop.org/ExploreCareers/Assessments/work-values.aspx

 

Interested in learning more about homeschooling your special education learner through high school? Check out our High School Checklist for more information on how to homeschool special education high school.

 

 

 

 

 


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