We are delighted to share with you The State of Learning Disabilities: Understanding the 1 in 5. Building on NCLD’s 40-year history as the leading authority on learning disabilities, this report uses recently released data for the 2015–2016 school year and other field-leading research to shine a light on the current challenges and opportunities facing the 1 in 5 children who have learning and attention issues such as dyslexia and ADHD.
As with previous editions of The State of Learning Disabilities, this report provides key insight into the progress that has been made—and the work yet to be done—to raise expectations and improve outcomes for the 1 in 5. The report also highlights the need for targeted policy reforms and additional research into evidence-based solutions that will help create a more inclusive society that recognizes the potential of all individuals.
This report reveals that children with learning and attention issues are as smart as their peers and can achieve at high levels but too often are misunderstood as lazy or unintelligent. Without the right academic or emotional support, they are much more likely than their peers to repeat a grade, get suspended and drop out. Individuals with learning and attention issues also struggle in the workplace and have high rates of involvement with the criminal justice system. But this downward spiral can be prevented.
We thank NCLD’s Professional Advisory Board and the dozens of other national experts for their contributions to this report, and we hope that after reading The State of Learning Disabilities, you will share our sense of urgency and optimism. Identifying struggling students early can make a huge difference, but we also believe it is never too late to help the 1 in 5 thrive in school, in the workplace and in life.
These findings highlight some differences in the challenges that youth with an IEP faced in the decade after IDEA 2004, depending on their disability. Although the characteristics and experiences described capture only a subset of those discussed in this volume, prior research suggests that they could be important indicators of students’ later outcomes (see, for example, Mazzotti et al. ; Zablocki & Krezmien ). Youth in disability groups that are less likely to perform typical daily living tasks; engage with friends and in school activities; or prepare for college, careers, and independent living might be at higher risk for not making the kinds of postsecondary transitions that IDEA 2004 promotes.
What is surprising is the discovery a number of years ago that mentally dexterous people with greater working memory capacity seem to be particularly susceptible to “brain freeze” or choking under pressure.
For a new study in the Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, researchers at the University of Chicago and Michigan State University attempted to find out more about why this happens. Their results suggest that actually it’s only a subgroup of high working memory people who have this problem and it’s because of their high distractibility. These high ability chokers or brain freeze victims are “typically reliant on their higher working memory resources for advanced problem solving” but their poor attentional control renders them easily distracted by anxiety, causing their usual mental deftness to break down when the pressure is on.
Jason Sattizahn and his colleagues recruited 83 participants aged 18-35, including 35 men, from areas near universities. First they tested the participants’ attention control abilities using the well-established Flanker Task: participants had to identify as quickly as possible the direction of central arrows that were either surrounded by congruent flankers (<<<<<) or incongruent flankers (<<><<). It’s a test of attention control because it takes mental concentration to ignore the flankers, especially on incongruent trials.
Next, the researchers tested the participants’ on some tricky mental arithmetic questions, both without any pressure and then under high pressure conditions in which there was a monetary incentive, peer pressure (poor performance would adversely affect another participant) and risk of public shaming (they were told their performance would be shared with professors and others).
Finally, the participants completed two tests of their working memory capacity: they had to solve a sequence of basic mathematical operations or sentence comprehension questions, with each one interspersed with presentation of a single letter on screen. At the end of each run of between three and seven trials, the participants had to try to recall the letters in the correct order.
The results were clear: high stakes pressure adversely affected the math performance of participants with high working memory capacity, but did not affect the performance of participants with lower working memory capacity (replicating a phenomenon first identified in a paper published in 2005**). What’s new here is the additional measure of attentional control. This showed that only high working memory participants with poor attentional control showed evidence of this mental performance choking under pressure.
According to Dr. Weimer, there’s a lot of talk these days about evidence-based instructional practices. Seven studies were examined (and listed at the end). Not all of the studies report the same positive results, but if they are viewed collectively, the use of quizzes seems to yield some impressive benefits.
But the devil is in the details, as in the specific combination of factors and conditions that produced the results. When I looked closely at this subset, I was amazed at the array of details that could potentially affect whether quizzes improve learning.
10 Things You Should Know about ABLE Accounts
1. What is an ABLE account?
ABLE Accounts, which are tax-advantaged savings accounts for individuals with disabilities and their families, will be created as a result of the passage of the Stephen Beck Jr., Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2014 or better known as the ABLE Act.
The beneficiary of the account is the account owner, and income earned by the accounts will not be taxed. Contributions to the account made by any person (the account beneficiary, family and friends) will be made using post-taxed dollars and will not be tax deductible, although some states may allow for state income tax deductions for contribution made to an ABLE account.
2. Why the need for ABLE accounts?
Millions of individuals with disabilities and their families depend on a wide variety of public benefits for income, health care and food and housing assistance. Eligibility for these public benefits (SSI, SNAP, Medicaid) require meeting a means or resource test that limits eligibility to individuals to report more than $2,000 in cash savings, retirement funds and other items of significant value. To remain eligible for these public benefits, an individual must remain poor. For the first time in public policy, the ABLE Act recognizes the extra and significant costs of living with a disability. These include costs, related to raising a child with significant disabilities or a working age adult with disabilities, for accessible housing and transportation, personal assistance services, assistive technology and health care not covered by insurance, Medicaid or Medicare. For the first time, eligible individuals and their families will be allowed to establish ABLE savings accounts that will not affect their eligibility for SSI, Medicaid and other public benefits. The legislation explains further that an ABLE account will, with private savings, “secure funding for disability-related expenses on behalf of designated beneficiaries with disabilities that will supplement, but not supplant, benefits provided through private insurance, Medicaid, SSI, the beneficiary’s employment and other sources.”
3. Am I eligible for an ABLE account?
The ABLE Act limits eligibility to individuals with significant disabilities with an age of onset of disability before turning 26 years of age. If you meet this age criteria and are also receiving benefits already under SSI and/or SSDI, you are automatically eligible to establish an ABLE account. If you are not a recipient of SSI and/or SSDI, but still meet the age of onset disability requirement, you could still be eligible to open an ABLE account if you meet Social Security’s definition and criteria regarding significant functional limitations and receive a letter of certification from a licensed physician. You need not be under the age of 26 to be eligible for an ABLE account. You could be over the age of 26, but must have had an age of onset before the individual’s 26 birthday.
Good games can provide immersive experiences for students. Like novels, films, plays, and other media, games can be high-quality materials a teacher uses to enable students to access the curriculum. Classrooms with high-functioning game-based learning are not ones in which the teacher hands a game to students to play. Nor do the teachers "gamify" their rooms, turning them into a game. Instead, effective game-based classrooms involve each of these components. Students are provided with learning experiences driven by play.
The following are three approaches to bringing game-based learning to your classroom. They’re not distinct from one another - so try mixing two or all three.
1. Games as Shared Experience
In 2015, Benjamin Stokes compared the experience of playing games to taking a class on a field trip. With a field trip, you first let students know what to expect and then give them freedom to explore an out-of-school location. Back in the classroom, you facilitate connections to the curriculum. Games, like field trips, provide meaning for students. You can put students in Minecraft and have them build structures. When night comes and creepers attack, only the students who stayed in fortified structures survive. After play, discuss the difficulties of setting up a colony in a hostile environment, like Jamestown. Students understand the dangers of settling new worlds because they have experienced them.
As smartphones and tablets blur lines between work, home and social lives, parents are grappling to balance it all, a new small study suggests. Parents' use of mobile technology around young children may be causing internal tension, conflicts and negative interactions with their kids, suggests the qualitative study in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics. It's a challenge both parents and health care providers should tune in to.
"Parents are constantly feeling like they are in more than one place at once while parenting. They're still 'at work.' They're keeping up socially. All while trying to cook dinner and attend to their kids," says lead author Jenny Radesky, M.D., a child behavior expert and pediatrician at University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital who conducted the study with colleagues from Boston Medical Center.
"It's much harder to toggle between mom or dad brain and other aspects of life because the boundaries have all blurred together. We wanted to understand how this was affecting parents emotionally. We found that parents are struggling to balance family time and the desire to be present at home with technology-based expectations like responding to work and other demands."
The study involved in-depth interviews with 35 caregivers, which included moms, dads and grandmothers.
Participants consistently expressed an internal struggle between multitasking mobile technology use, work and children, information overload and emotional tensions around disrupting family routines, such as meal time. As one mom in a focus group described it, "the whole world is in your lap."
Source: Social Media
Whether you're living with ADHD or just have trouble focusing from time to time, today's world is full of concentration killers. Psychologist Lucy Jo Palladino, PhD offers a few tips to manage distractions, starting with social media. It's easy to connect with friends -- and disconnect from work -- many times an hour. Every status update zaps your train of thought, forcing you to backtrack when you resume work.
Social Media Suggestion
Avoid logging in to social media sites while you're working. If you feel compelled to check in every now and then, do it during breaks, when the steady stream of posts won't interrupt your concentration. If you can't resist logging in more frequently, take your laptop someplace where you won't have Internet access for a few hours.
Source: Email Overload
There's something about an email -- it shoots into your inbox and itches to be answered immediately. Although many emails are work-related, they still count as distractions from your current project. You won't make much progress if you constantly stop what you're doing to reply to every message.
Email Overload Suggestion
Instead of checking email continuously, set aside specific times for that purpose. During the rest of the day, you can actually shut down your email program. This allows you to carve out blocks of time when you can work uninterrupted.
Source: Your Cell Phone
Perhaps even more disruptive than the ping of an email is the ringtone on your cell phone. It's a sound few of us can ignore. But taking a call not only costs you the time you spend talking -- it can also cut off your momentum on the task at hand.
Cell Phone Suggestion
Put caller ID to good use. If you suspect the call is not urgent, let it go to voicemail. If you're working on a particularly intense project, consider silencing your phone so you're not tempted to answer. Choose specific times to check voicemail. Listening to all your messages at once can be less disruptive than taking every call as it comes in.
Caffeine no longer improves alertness or mental performance after a few nights of sleep restriction!
"The data from this study suggests that the same effective daily dose of caffeine is not sufficient to prevent performance decline over multiple days of restricted sleep," Dr. Doty said in an American Academy of Sleep Medicine news release.
The study included 48 healthy volunteers whose sleep was limited to five hours a night for five nights. The participants took either 200 milligrams of caffeine or an inactive placebo twice a day. (An average cup of coffee has 95 milligrams.) In addition, the volunteers were given mental skills tests every hour while awake.
For the first few days, those who took caffeine had better test results than those who took the placebo. But that was not the case over the last few days of sleep restriction, the researchers found.
"We were particularly surprised that the performance advantage conferred by two daily 200-milligram doses of caffeine was lost after three nights of sleep restriction," Dr. Doty said.
Adults should sleep seven to eight hours each night, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The findings, published online in the journal Sleep.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) has released official consensus recommendations for the amount of sleep needed to promote optimal health in children and teenagers to avoid the health risks of insufficient sleep.
The recommendations in the consensus statement are as follows:
The recommendations follow a 10-month project conducted by a Pediatric Consensus Panel of 13 of the nation's foremost sleep experts, and are endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Sleep Research Society and the American Association of Sleep Technologists. The expert panel reviewed 864 published scientific articles addressing the relationship between sleep duration and health in children, evaluated the evidence using a formal grading system, and arrived at the final recommendations after multiple rounds of voting.
The Pediatric Consensus Panel found that sleeping the number of recommended hours on a regular basis is associated with overall better health outcomes including: improved attention, behavior, learning, memory, emotional regulation, quality of life, and mental and physical health.
The panel found that sleeping fewer than the recommended hours is associated with attention, behavior and learning problems. Insufficient sleep also increases the risk of accidents, injuries, hypertension, obesity, diabetes and depression. The panel also found that insufficient sleep in teenagers is associated with increased risk of self-harm, suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts.
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