Article Archive for ‘January, 2013’

Autism, Asperger’s, Disability and related blogs

January 30th, 2013

Abnormal Diversity
Action for Autism
Adventures In Extreme Parenting
Along The Spectrum
Andrea’s Buzzing About
The Art of Being Asperger Woman
Ask An Aspie
The ASMan
Asperger Square 8
Asperger’s Conversations
Aspergers Parallel Planet
Aspie Dad
Aspie Home Education
ASPIES
Aspies For Freedom
Autiemom Speaks Out
Autism All The Time
Autism & Computing
Autism Blog
The Autism Crisis: Science & Ethics of Autism Advocacy
Autism Diva
Autism Natural Variation
Autism Podcast
Autism Squeaks
Autism Street
Autism Vox
Autism Watch
Autism’s Edges
Autismland
AutisMusic
Autistic Adults Picture Project
Autistic Advocacy
Autistic Conjecture of the Day
Autistic Dad
Autistic Health
Autistics.org
Ballastexistenz
Bartholomew Cubbins on Autism
Biodiverse Resistance
Chewing the Fat
Club 166
Commentary on the State of the World
Countering Age of Autism
Deconstructing Neurelitism
Desperately Seeking Ethics & Reason
Detritus
dkmnow
Ed’s Blog
The Family Voyage
Greener Pastures
Grey Matter/White Matter
Hard Won Wisdom
Hazardous Pastimes
Hollywood Spectrum
Homo Autistic
Hyperlexia
Hypnagogic Malcontent
I Speak of Dreams
Ian Johnson’s neurodiversity blog
in regione caecorum rex est luscus
Incorrect Pleasures
Interverbal
iRunman Blog
Jedi Workshop
Jenny McCarthy Body Count
The Joy of Autism
Killer of Sacred Cows
The Kingdom of Laurentius Rex
Left Brain/Right Brain
Life in the New Republic
A Life Less Ordinary
The Life That Chose Me
Mainstream Parenting
Memory Leaves
meow meow meow… blah blah blah
Misadventures from a Different Perspective
The Misbehaviour of Behaviourists (Discussion Board)
Mom Not Otherwise Specified
Mom to Mr. Handsome
More Than a Label
Mother of Shrek
My Act of Combating Neurobigotry
My Son Has Autism
My Son’s Autism
Neurotypicals Are Weird
No Autistics Allowed
Not Mercury
OASIS
Odd One Out
Oddizms
One Dad’s Opinion
Parenting a Complex Special Needs Child
PosAutive
Pre-Rain Man Autism
Processing in Parts
The “R” Word
Radio Calico
Ragged Edge
Random Reminiscing Ramblings
The Rettdevil’s Rants
Room 36
Sam I Am
Shh… Mum Is Thinking
Silver Cuckoo
Slurping Life
Snippets: Short Takes on Autistic Topics
So Much For Mercury
Stop. Think. Autism.
Susan Senator
Sweet Perdition
This Mom
This Mom
This Way of Life
A Touch of Alyricism
Touched by an Alien
Touched By An Alien
Translating Autism: Autism Research
29 Marbles
Unstrange Minds
Victoria’s Corner
We Go To School To Think
What Sorts of People…?
Whirled Peas
Whitterer on Autism
Whose Planet Is It Anyway?
Wikipedia on Neurodiversity
Zoe Notes

For help with autism spectrum conditions, ADHD and dyslexia on the Gold Coast and Tweed regions contact Understanding Minds.

Like us on Facebook for updates on developmental disorders like autism spectrum disorders, Asperger’s, dyslexia and ADHD, and general mental health info.

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A personal experience of dyslexia

January 30th, 2013

A must watch for anyone who has dyslexia or knows a child who has dyslexia.

Piper Otterbein, a senior at Cape Elizabeth High School, tells her classmates and teachers about her lifelong struggle with dyslexia.

She told them, “All I wanted to do was be in normal classes with you” and described the effort it took her to recognise the letters that spelled her name.

Besides being articulate, the most impressive things I observed were her resilience, her positive outlook and a focus on her strengths.

For help with dyslexia on the Gold Coast and Tweed regions contact the Understanding Minds Dyslexia & Reading Difficulties Clinic .

Like us on Facebook for updates on dyslexia related matters, information on other developmental disorders like autism spectrum disorders, Asperger’s and ADHD, and general mental health info.

 

 

 

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Kevin Wheldall on why Australia sucks at reading

January 21st, 2013

Kevin Wheldall is an Emeritus Professor of Macquarie University. He is a Director of the reading intervention MultiLit and has a list of awards as long as my Dad’s arm.

Here is Kevin’s opinion on Why Australia sucks at reading.

Don’t forget Jennifer Buckingham’s op-ed piece on the same topic that I blogged about here.

 

 

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To repeat or not to repeat: That is the question

January 10th, 2013

This article was published in the Learning Difficulties Australia Bulletin, Volume 39, No 4, December 2007.

Towards the end of each school year, teachers and parents can find themselves faced with a vexing question: should my child repeat his/her school grade?  Some may be driven to this question on the basis of social immaturity while others may be driven by failures to achieve the academic standards set for each grade level. Although the prevalence of grade retention in Australia is far lower than in countries such as the USA, anecdotal evidence suggests that its use as an intervention method continues. This brief article will summarise the available evidence to assist teachers and parents in making a difficult decision.

Who is retained?

The characteristics of students who are retained in a grade are wide and varied and there is very little Australian-based literature. However, it is safe to say that those who are retained tend to be:

  •     Male
  •    Experience academic failure or delay
  •    Have poor classroom conduct
  •    Display emotional immaturity
  •    Perceived as being less competent by both parents and teachers.

Does grade retention improve student outcomes?

Academic achievement

There have been scores of studies conducted since the 1970’s on the issue of grade retention. Many of them, however, suffer from significant methodological and statistical flaws. One should be careful therefore in relying too much upon the data from a single study; particularly if one is not familiar with sound research and statistical methodology. Fortunately a number of reviews and meta-analyses have been conducted which obviate the need for interpretation of individual studies (e.g., Holmes, 1989; Holmes & Matthews, 1984; Jackson, 1975; Jimerson, 2001).

On balance, these reviews have indicated that grade retention either has a negative impact on academic achievement (relative to equivalent promoted peers) or that the effect is null. That is, using retention as an intervention tool has little effect on academic achievement. When positive effects on academic achievement are reported they tend to diminish over time. Indeed, any benefits on achievement are lost when the retained children and their equivalent promoted peers face new material (e.g., Jimerson, Carlson, Rotert, Egeland & Sroufe, 1997).

Mental health

Two studies have reported that older primary school children view grade retention as being in the top three stressful life events: along with losing a parent and going blind (e.g., Anderson, Jimerson & Whipple, 2005). Young children view retention as a punishment and experience sadness, fear and anger when not promoted. In the short-term retained children can face social isolation. For example, there is some evidence showing that peers choose younger same age peers with whom to play rather than the older retained child. In the longer-term retained students tend to experience poorer social adjustment and emotional health, including lower self-esteem and perceived competence, than equivalent promoted peers (e.g. Jimerson et al., 1997).

Student behaviour

The presence of behaviour problems is a predictor of grade retention. Yet the evidence suggests that retention in a grade actually exacerbates the problem (e.g., Jimerson et al., 1997). In male students, grade retention can has long lasting adverse effects on inattentiveness, oppositional behaviour and aggressiveness (Pagani et al., 2001). A similar ‘spike’ in disruptive behaviour is typically seen in female students; however, unlike their male counterparts females display these behaviours for just a short period.

Does timing of retention affect outcomes?

Some authors have argued that age and maturity are significant factors in early school success and that perhaps holding children back will lead to better academic outcomes. Despite the intuitive appeal of holding back a student seen as immature, the evidence does not support the practice. While retention in later grades may be more harmful than when conducted in early grades, the effect is relative and does not mean that early retention is useful or effective.

The alternatives

The most often quoted alternative to grade retention is grade (or social) promotion, where the student is promoted along with his or her grade-peers. While some studies have reported small benefits for promoted students over retained peers, both groups perform more poorly than control students (those without any learning, emotional or behavioural difficulties; Silbergitt, Jimerson, Burns, Appleton & James, 2006). In other words, in the best possible case the promoted student will do slightly better than the retained student. However, both will continue to experience significant difficulties within the areas of function identified as being impaired. Grade promotion on its own then is hardly an alternative to retention.

What is required is grade promotion coupled with intensive intervention methods designed to specifically target the identified weaknesses. Even before this occurs, schools can reduce the possibility of retention through a process of early identification of children ‘at-risk’ (e.g., of reading or learning difficulties). Theoretically-driven and evidence- based early intervention programs (e.g., Direct Instruction programs for word-reading and oral comprehension skills, social skills programs and teacher training in behaviour change) can prevent the failure that leads to the dreaded question of to repeat or not to repeat.

** UPDATE

When I wrote this article in 2007 I suggested that “What is required is grade promotion coupled with intensive intervention methods designed to specifically target the identified weaknesses.”

In fact, there is no evidence for this statement. To settle the question of grade retention forever we would have to conduct a study with four equivalent groups. Group 1 is retained with no additional intervention. Group 2 is retained with the “intensive intervention” I suggested. Group 3 is promoted with no additional intervention. Group 4 is promoted and given “intensive intervention”.

Of course, this study will never pass an ethics committee and therefore will never be conducted. We are therefore stuck with making decisions on less than perfect evidence. On balance, the probabilities still favour grade promotion + intensive intervention.

 

References

 Anderson, G.E., Jimerson, S.R., & Whipple, A.D. (2005). Students’ ratings of stressful experiences at home and school: Loss of apparent and grade retention as superlative stressors. Journal of Applied School Psychology, 21(1), 1-20.

Holmes, C.T. (1989). Grade-level retention effects: A meta-analysis of research studies. In L.A. Shepard & M.L. Smith (Eds.). Flunking grades: Research and policies on retention (pp. 16-33). London: The Falmer Press.

Holmes, C.T. & Matthews, K.M. (1984). The effects of nonpromotion on elementary and junior high school pupils.: A meta-analysis. Reviews of Educational Research, 54, 225-236.

Jimerson, S.R. (2001). Meta-analysis of grade-retention: Implications for practice in the 21st  century. School Psychology Review, 30, 420-438.

Jimerson, S. R. Carlson, E., Rotert, M., Egeland, B., & Sroufe, L.A. (1997). A prospective, longitudinal study of the correlates and consequences of early grade retention. Journal of School Psychology, 35, 3-25.

Pagani, L., Tremblay, R.E., Vitaro, F., Boulerice, B., & McDuff, P. (2001). Effects of grade retention on academic performance and behavioural development. Development and Psychopathology, 13, 297-315.

Silbergitt, B. Jimerson, S.R., Burns, M.K., Appleton, J.J. (2006). Does the timing of Grade retention make a difference? Examining the effects of early versus later retention. School Psychology Review, 35(1).

 

 

 

 

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Dyslexia and coloured glasses

January 07th, 2013

Recent media article on coloured glasses as a treatment for dyslexia. It is a little hard to read as we had difficulty scanning the broadsheet format.

dsylexia week0002 This link will go to another page. Click on the file name a second time and the PDF will download.

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