Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Be a Leader or the First Follower - Both Require Courage!

Please watch this You Tube Video (3 minutes) first!

It's another take on leadership...

"Being a first follower is an under-appreciated form of leadership. The first follower transforms a lone nut into a leader. If the leader is the flint, the first follower is the spark that makes the fire."

Not everyone is born to be a leader, but all leaders need people to believe in what they are doing and to follow.  The first follower needs courage to step away from the crowd and join in.

"Remember the importance of nurturing your first few followers as equals, making everything clearly about the movement, not you.  Be public. Be easy to follow!"

Support your followers...encourage your followers...they may be the next leaders...that you may, in turn, follow!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Writing Problems associated with ADHD

Writing problems common in kids with ADHD

NEW YORK | Mon Aug 22, 2011 5:14pm EDT

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Kids with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder are more likely to have writing problems such as poor spelling and grammar than their peers, suggests a new study. And the difference may be especially conspicuous in girls with ADHD.

Reading and math problems often raise red flags for teachers and parents, but "written-language disorder is kind of overlooked," said study author Dr. Slavica Katusic, from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

Writing "is a critical skill for academic success, social and behavioral well-being," she added. And if writing problems aren't noticed early on and addressed in kids with ADHD, they can suffer long into adulthood, Katusic told Reuters Health.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, close to 10 percent of kids ages four to 17 in the U.S. have ever been diagnosed with ADHD -- a number that has been on the rise in recent years.

The current study included close to 6,000 kids -- everyone born in Rochester between 1976 and 1982 who was still living there after age 5. Katusic and her colleagues tracked school, tutoring and medical records to see which kids showed signs of ADHD, as well as how well they performed on writing, reading and general intelligence tests through high school.

In total, 379 of the kids fit the criteria for ADHD, which was more common in boys than girls, the study authors report in Pediatrics. Of all kids in the study, just over 800 scored poorly on tests of writing abilities. Most kids who had trouble with writing also had reading difficulties.

Writing problems were much more common in both boys and girls with ADHD. Close to two-thirds of boys with ADHD had trouble with writing, compared to one in six boys without ADHD.

For girls, 57 percent with ADHD had a writing problem, compared to less than 10 percent without ADHD. And girls with ADHD were almost ten times more likely to have a combination of writing and reading disorders compared to girls without the condition.

Memory and planning problems in kids with ADHD may affect the writing process, the authors explain, and ADHD has been linked to learning disorders in the past.

Annette Majnemer, who has studied handwriting in kids with ADHD at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, said that many with the disorder seem to have difficulty with that component of writing.

"It might be partially the fact that they're inattentive and distractable and hyperactive," she told Reuters Health. It's also possible that motor skills and coordination problems are partly to blame, said Majnemer, who was not involved in the new research.

Katusic added that genetics might be behind both ADHD and some writing problems, but that in general, it's very hard to tease out exactly how ADHD is linked to writing and reading disorders.

Treatment for the ADHD, as well as individual education plans that address some of those related difficulties, can help, Katusic said -- especially if they're started when problems first arise.

"When parents notice something or teachers notice something, (kids) have to be treated not only for ADHD, but they have to be tested to see if they have other learning problems," she said.

"Clinicians and the teachers have to emphasize that the testing has to be done for everything, every kind of learning disability," Katusic said. "It has to be identified early and the treatment has to start early."

SOURCE: Pediatrics, online August 22, 2011.

Kasting Connections' Perspective:

This article does bring up a couple of different options of why ADHD students may suffer from writing difficulties than those students who don't have ADHD.  It is important to note that all of the issues the article discuss may be contributing to the student's writing difficulties:
  • associated reading difficulties
  • more common in boys
  • memory and planning difficulties
  • associated learning disorders
  • handwriting difficulties
  • inattentiveness and distractibility
  • hyperactivity
  • motor skills and motor coordination difficulties
  • genetics
In addition, the underlying problems of the above issues need to be checked out, preferably by a cadre of professionals including the typical educational team of social worker, educational psychologist, special education teacher, speech and language pathologist but also an occupational therapist trained in sensory integration that will look into the soft neurological signs that may be impacting the student's ability to perform in the classroom. 

Too much time is spent on 'treating' written language disorders by handwriting intervention and access to word processing on a computer.  I suggest that the following areas should be looked at: 
  • assess when the developmental mile stones were met
  • determine if the primary reflexes been integrated
  • evaluate current levels of auditory and visual processing done by professionals in the field, the school nurse's screening does not qualify. 
  • evaluate working memory capacity and speed
  • assess bi-lateral integration
  • assess sensory processing issues
When a thorough evaluation is completed that takes the WHOLE child into account, then an intervention plan can be determined.  It should be noted that many of these evaluations will be the parents' financial responsibility, but the information is well worth the investment.

Please feel free to ask  further questions in the comment section. 

Planning a Productive Teacher Coaching Session

Kasting Connections' Perspective:

I spend time with teachers in their classrooms and feel the defensiveness, the sense that I'm in their rooms to judge instead of observe.  Teaching is a profession that would benefit from more peer coaching and sharing of  ideas, yet as this article points out, there is tremendous stress to get through the curriculum and have students test well.  Somewhere in that rush for excellence, the students can be lost and teachers' innate abilities are pushed to the side to achieve outcomes that non-educators are setting. 

I appreciated Jennifer Abrams' insight on the coaching model and how to approach a teacher, with respect and dignity, who is working hard to meet demand,s but may be in need of minor improvements.  I will be using the suggested outcome map in my future interactions with teachers.

Thank you, Jennifer!