Category Archives: Learning Disabilities

Study Skills Resources for Learning Disabilities

Continuing our interview with Susan Maher of Regents Academy of Austin, we get a look at how she helps students perform well.  She finds their brilliance. She helps them overcome their weakness. She partners with the teachers to give minimal accommodations — and no modifications. Thus, these students, even with diagnoses, keep up with their peers at a prestigious, even perhaps exclusive school.

Mrs. Maher’s students learn how to take notes, write papers, read a textbook, or study for mathematics in just a more detailed way than others. Any parent or educator will want to hear what Susan Maher, Regent Academy of Austin, has to say.

STUDY SKILLS, ACCOMMODATIONS AND NOT MODIFICATIONS

“Accommodation not modification” is Mrs. Maher’s mantra. She means that minor changes in the school, like time or quiet are acceptable because that is like real life. Beyond that, she teaches more detailed study skills to the students so they can overcome their weaknesses. This is unlike public school where modficiations are made to a curriculum already aimed very very low. Thus, the student leaves with neither skill nor knowledge. That would be an unacceptable outcome at this well-thought of private school

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Let me know if you want more information on this. For now, please get my book on “study skills” that I wrote for my community college students, students who often had not been successful but now, as adults wanted to do well in college. I forged these ideas by teaching my child and grandchildren, overcoming their challenges.

How to Win the Game of School  by Sharon Sarles — really study skills for the game of learning as well as the game of making good grades

Learning Disabilities at the Most Prestigious Schools?

Yes, there are students at the most prestigious schools who have learning disabilities. After all, that is what a “learning disability” is: a discrepancy between potential and performance. So, yes, genius are over-represented in the diagnosed learning disabilities. Up until recently, however, exclusive schools might not admit a student who had a learning disability. Now, however, they add staff to help those students overcome their academic weakness. YAY!

I am so thankful to have gotten an interview from Susan Maher at Regents Academy of Austin. She is on staff there, helping the students overcome their issue(s) so they can perform at their potential. She preaches ; “accomodations, not modification.” Accommodations might include test taking in a quiet room or with a little extra time. Then, she gives them help in what I would call “study skills.” In this way, she sets them free to achieve, on their own.

I want you to hear her, in her own voice, so you can be inspired. This busts so many myths. This will help so many students, teachers, families, and I do hope also some private school administrators.

www.RegentsAustin.org

REGENTS ACADEMY OF AUSTIN

Regent is a classical Christian school,  now well established as one of the most prestigious schools in the Austin, Texas metro area. Both exclusive schools and many small private schools feel that they may not be able to help students with “disabilities”. This is normally because they don’t know how. It may be that the school is so far behind that they have confused “learning disabilites” with “mental retardation.” In fact, given the definition of “learning disabilities” only brighter than average students can get that designation. Proper help need not be the sort of monstrous modifications, let alone cheating, that so many educators fear — or is possibly, sadly, done in government schools.

MODIFICATIONS VERSUS ACCOMMODATIONS

Modifications mean a change in the curricular or production requirements. An exclusive school would not want to offer modifications because that cheapens their product and hence reputation. So often, though, this is exactly what a government school will do. For instance, in a 4th grade history test, only 4 questions will be given the student instead of 20. This puts the students ever farther behind.

Accomodations, include making slight changes to the environment in order to permit the student to be successful in the necessary learning. For instance, why not permit the student a quiet room rather than a crowded classroom? Why not permit time and a half for a test? What is being tested is knowledge of the material, not rapidity. The class period is set arbitrarily, not as a function or measure of learning.  In the real world, a person might allot more time to read, or use paper instead of doing math in their head, and so forth. Adults manage the world for their own productivity.  In the world of work, such accommodations are required by law.

What Susan Maher is not saying, but doing, is remediation. She helps her students learn how to take notes or write papers or read a book or study math. They may need a more specific method, but once they learn it, they are capable of competing. I like to push remediation: teach how to use strengths in order to overcome weaknesses. Isn’t this part of the human condition?

This is not cruel blame. This is not drill and and kill. This is not “head in the sand.” Instead, this is bright students enabled to shine.

Holiday Foods for Health and Smarts

Today, I am getting ready for Thanksgiving. Everyone here in the United States, especially if they are the cook for their family or friends is doing the same. So, today, I’m re-running my episode on great, basic, traditional foods that help health for body and brains.

New links:

https://www.consumerreports.org/nutrition-healthy-eating/holiday-foods-that-are-healthier-than-you-think-a7896522665/

20 Brain Foods That Will Boost Your Focus & Productivity

FOODS TO AVOID

Recently, I heard someone who seemed bright and even-handed talk about human parts that were used as food additives. Oh my God! Dear, Lord, save us! After the past 2 years, I tend to believe that this could happen.

While I do not know about that, I do know that most processed food has problems. Artificial dyes created hyper-activity or attention problems in 80% of the population. I know that the most common ingredients in face soap and shampoo creates skin problems for me, and is used in industry for widely different uses. Do you want the same chemical used for stripping off ship’s deck varnish for taking off your makeup?

But organic vegetables have a hard time to find any critics.

TRADITIONAL FOODS / TRADITIONAL FUN

So, I commend to you the basic, traditional Thanksgiving and Christmas foods. Sweet potatoes are some of the most nutritious foods around. Wash, bake, and serve with free range butter. Nothing better! (Do not, do not, use canned potatoes, the poorest around, and then glop up with the worst sugary stuff around!)  Then, make some apple pies, with pie apples and fresh flour and butter. How about some greens with nut gravy? How about some salad with mandarin orange slices? How about some mixed nuts instead of my old favorite: Texas Trash. Notice where the recipe came from? The cereal companies. Read the ingredients there and forget it. Get some lightly salted mixed nuts.

Have fun. And while you are snacking, talk to your family, play games with them, and lay off too much screens. If you do screen, share the big one from far away.  Okay?

The first step in helping learning disabilities is to prevent them! Food has got to be part of the equation.

NEXT WEEK: AND EXCITING SERIES FROM SPECIAL EDUCATOR IN ELITE PRIVATE SCHOOL