Joan Brien

Joan Brien

Thursday, 22 May 2014 09:55

Reading Difficulties Newcastle

Helping your child understand the relationship between mathematical operations can lead to success when doing maths. For example, Multiplication and Division are related as shown in the following examples.

Multiplication gives an answer that is "greater than" the number you start with in the question. E.g., "12 x 6 = 72" and "6 x 12 = 72". Multiplying makes a "bigger number" than either "12" or "6".

The Relationship Between Multiplication and Division

Division gives an answer that is smaller than the number that you started off with in the question. E.g., "72 ÷ 12 = 6" and "72 ÷ 6 = 12". Division makes a "smaller number" than 72.

The above three numbers (6,12 and 72) are related (as shown above), so if your child can see this relationship, it can help them to work out problems that involve these three numbers.

Another way to think of the relationship between multiplication and division is that they are the "reverse of each other".

This and other helpful hints for parents can be found in my book 'Can I Help My Child Learn? A Parent Guide Written in Plain English"

www.canihelpmychildlearn.com 

Thursday, 15 May 2014 09:52

Reading Difficulties Newcastle

There was a Dad who came in with his child yesterday and he said that he (Dad) had ADHD. His child has been diagnosed with Irlen Syndrome, and was selecting his specifically tinted lenses. Dad had a look through the lenses as well. When he did, he said that he felt calm compared to how he felt before he put them on. He took them off again and noted the difference and when he put them back on again, he commented on the calm feeling that he was experiencing. This response is common for adults who come to see us. They often remark that they can't believe that when they look through the lenses, their whole body relaxes, but particularly, their eyes. The AMEN Clinic in California does brain scans of people with many neurological conditions. The scan shown here is of the brain of a person who has been diagnosed with Irlen Syndrome and who normally wears Irlen lenses. In the top scan, the person is doing a concentrating task without their lenses, and you can see that there are many parts of the brain that are active. In the bottom scan, the person is doing the same task, but with their Irlen lenses on and you can see that there are less areas of the brain that are active than those in the top scan. This could explain the "calmness" that is reported by a large number of people when they put their Irlen lenses on.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014 09:49

Reading Difficulties Newcastle

I saw a little person today who reported that the words on the page went up and down like waves. This can make it really difficult to read efficiently. For some people, this "waving" motion can be flat on the page, or it can even be "lifting off the page" in an upwards motion. For some, this causes nausea when looking at the words. Unfortunately, children don't understand that other people don't see the words like this, and can often be in trouble because their parents and teachers don't know what the words look like for them. If you have a situation in your own home or if you know of other situations where parents are getting frustrated with their child's apparent reluctance to read, please check with the child about how the words look for them or ask them is it hard to see the words? If they say yes, ask them why is it hard? With any luck, they may be able to verbalise the problem and this may help the parent to understand.

Monday, 12 May 2014 09:47

Reading Difficulties Newcastle

Comprehension Questions..

Some children have trouble with answering comprehension questions because they either don't understand the question or don't know how to "look for" the answer. Comprehension questions are designed to test whether a child can 1: find factual information in the passage (words are in the passage); 2: find hidden information (the words are not in the text); 3: work out what the writer is trying to say (what is the idea of the passage); 4: predict what might happen (use the information provided to work out what they "think" might happen); 5: give an opinion about what they have read in the passage (there is no right or wrong answer, but they need to justify their answer). Why not pick a small section of a book that your child is reading and make up some of these types of questions, and help them to find the answers... even if you don't feel confident to do this, I am sure you can!

Wednesday, 09 April 2014 09:44

Reading Difficulties Newcastle

I was contacted by a parent today who had been referred to our clinic by an optometrist! Hallelujah! All too often, children are taken to optometrists because they are having problems with reading, and more often than not, end up with prescription lenses because the optometrist is doing what they can to help the child to read better. However, a number of those children still end up being diagnosed with Irlen Syndrome because their reading problems are actually not the result of a vision problem. Another thing that happens occasionally is that a parent will take their child to the optometrist to have their eyes checked before coming to our Clinic to be assessed for Irlen. When they mention to the optometrist that they are coming to be assessed for Irlen Syndrome, they are advised to "wait a few months to see if the problems go away with the optometric lenses". I find this frustrating because these parents have usually told us that their children have words moving or fading and we know that their new "reading glasses" will not stop these symptoms, and it means that the child is going to continue to flounder at school for another "few months" and get further and further behind. If this happens to you or any of your friends, and you have the opportunity to pass on some information, please let them know that an optometrist cannot diagnose dyslexia or Irlen Syndrome and that, even though their child may have a vision problem that is detected by the optometrist, if they also have symptoms of Irlen, then they should proceed with the assessment at an Irlen Clinic, because prescription lenses can be tinted so that both problems are corrected.

Thursday, 27 March 2014 18:29

Reading Difficulties Newcastle

See-Sawing Distortion

How would you like words to look like this when you are trying to read? In the image, the words are not moving, but in reality, these words would be moving in a see-sawing motion.

A number of children that I see actually experience this distortion. The problem is that they don't know that everyone else does not see what they see, and they cannot understand why these other children can read but they can't.

So if your child is having trouble reading, ask them "how do the words look for you when you are reading?" If they say they look "normal", you need to say "but what is normal for you?" "I can't see what your words look like, because they are your eyes, and I cannot see what your eyes see".

This may or may not result in you finding out that your child is experiencing distortions, but it may elicit a response that indicates that what they see is not what you see.

Monday, 24 March 2014 18:28

Reading Difficulties Newcastle

I saw a little person today who reported that the words on the page went up and down like waves. This can make it really difficult to read efficiently. For some people, this "waving" motion can be flat on the page, or it can even be "lifting off the page" in an upwards motion. For some, this causes nausea when looking at the words. Unfortunately, children don't understand that other people don't see the words like this, and can often be in trouble because their parents and teachers don't know what the words look like for them. If you have a situation in your own home or if you know of other situations where parents are getting frustrated with their child's apparent reluctance to read, please check with the child about how the words look for them or ask them is it hard to see the words? If they say yes, ask them why is it hard? With any luck, they may be able to verbalise the problem and this may help the parent to understand.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014 18:21

Stay relaxed when helping your child read

Helping young children to learn their sounds and simple words.

Learning The Alphabet

"Learning" involves "recognition", "memory" and "recall". Probably the most important part of knowing the letters of the alphabet is being able to recognise the shape of the letter matching the letter name that is being spoken. A very effective way of checking if your child can match letter shape with letter name is to have an alphabet chart displayed and point to individual letters and ask the child to tell you the name of the letter.

Do not expect your preschool or kindergarten child to get them all correct all of the time.

Some children can recite their alphabet, and can recognise the letters correctly when they see them either standing alone or as part of a word, but they do not know the sound of each letter.

Being able to correctly sound out each letter is just as important to learning to read as being able to name the letters correctly.

Learning Words

Once children know the sounds of the letters, they are ready to learn that if we put particular letters together they form words. The simplest words that they will have to learn are "A" or "a" or "I" as they are only one letter long.

It is important to explain to children that even though these are single letters, they can also be words.

When helping a child to learn words, it is important to focus initially on words that can be "sounded out". Demonstrate this with words like "cat", "dog", "is" and "on".

STRATEGY: Point to the letters in the word one at a time, making the sound of the letters as you go. Ask your child to point to the sounds in the words and say them aloud. This means that they are using four of their "senses" each time they do it. They use their vision (they "see" the letter), they use their speech (they "say" the sound) they use their hearing (they "listen" to the sound) and they touch the letters. This helps a child to understand that when certain letters appear together, they make words. 

Sight Words (cannot be "sounded out")

A number of "sight words" look similar to each other and this can create problems for children when they are first learning them. Some words have the same letters in them, but they are arranged differently. This can result in a number of "word reversals" that are quite commonly seen. Probably one of the most common word reversals occurs when a child sees "was" and says "saw" (or vice versa). Other common word reversals include: "of"/"from; "for"/"from" and "on/no".

This is an extract from my book, "Can I Help My Child Learn? A Parent Guide Written in Plain English"

It is available on line from www.bookpal.com.au  or my website www.irlendyslexia.com

 

Friday, 21 February 2014 18:19

Reading Difficulties Newcastle

Did you know that some children with Irlen can spell really well when they are asked to spell orally, but when they are asked to write the same words down, they do not get them correct and are often not even "near the mark". This is because spelling orally does not require us to have a visual memory of the word, whereas to write it down correctly, we have to have a visual memory of what the word looks like. For most of us, when we write words down, we are actually copying from the words in our minds; in other words, we have a visual memory of the word and we are just "copying" those words from our brain to the paper. For people with Irlen, they often do not have a clear visual memory of the word, because when they have been trying to "learn" the words, they may have been blurry, shaking, fading, swirling, merging or disappearing. So, if your child has Irlen, and is a poor speller, this may explain their difficulties. In order to help them, just work on a few words at a time. If they have ten words a week to learn, ask the teacher if they can have a reduced number, maybe five per week, to reduce the amount of "new" information that they are trying to absorb. In my book, I have a number of hints and strategies to help you to help them to learn how to spell. You can find my book on my website www.irlendyslexia.com or the website for my book which is www.canihelpmychildlearn.com 

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