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Test Him Before He Fails


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Visual Discrimination: Visual discrimination involves differentiating objects based on their individual characteristics such as color, form, shape, pattern, and size. Another element of visual discrimination is recognizing shapes as distinct from their background. When dealing with reading and math, difficulties with visual discrimination can lead to trouble with charts, graphs, or recognizing letters on the chalkboard. Books that force children to “find the object,” such as “Where’s Waldo?” might be impossible for children with visual processing disorder.

Visual-Motor Integration: Visual-motor integration requires the combination of visual cues to guide movements. Children who have deficits with visual-motor integration are often seen as clumsy or awkward because they have a hard time figuring out where their body is in relation to other objects. They miss their chairs and drop objects on the floor because they miscalculate the distance between the object and the surface they are trying to put it on. This lack of integration can lead to problems with writing and organization. In addition to these academic impacts, a lack of visual-motor integration can cause problems in children’s lives both socially and athletically.

Dyslexia - The National Institute of Health defines dyslexia as characterized by difficulties with accurate or fluent word recognition, and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. Dyslexia is a learning disability that is neurological in origin and often runs in the family. Children with dyslexia experience trouble reading when taught through traditional instruction.

Though the symptoms of dyslexia manifest themselves in different ways depending on the age of the child, some common symptoms for a kindergartener through fourth grader are:

Difficulty reading single words that are not surrounded by other words. Slow to learn the connection between letters and sounds. Confusion around small words such as “at” and “to,” or “does” and “goes.” Consistent reading and spelling errors, including: Letter reversals such as “d” for “b.” Word reversals such as “tip” for “pit.” Inversions such as “m” and “w” and “u” and “n.” Transpositions such as “felt” and “left.” Substitutions such as “house” and “home.”

Children with dyslexia are often well-adjusted and happy preschoolers. However, research shows that they begin to experience emotional problems during early reading instruction. Over the years, their frustration mounts as classmates surpass them in reading skills. Often, these children feel that they fail to meet other people’s expectations. Teachers and parents see a bright child who is failing to learn to read and write and assume that he is simply “not trying hard enough.”

The Bright Side

If children are universally screened, there is no significant danger that they will be classed as “not trying hard enough” or “lazy.” Rather, adjustments can be made to make sure that these children can reach their potential. That’s exactly what RTI is for!

About the Author: An acclaimed educator and education consultant, Mrs. Rifka Schonfeld has served the Jewish community for close to thirty years. She founded and directs the widely acclaimed educational program, SOS, servicing all grade levels in secular as well as Hebrew studies. A kriah and reading specialist, she has given dynamic workshops and has set up reading labs in many schools. In addition, she offers evaluations G.E.D. preparation,, social skills training and shidduch coaching, focusing on building self-esteem and self-awareness. She can be reached at 718-382-5437 or at rifkaschonfeld@verizon.net. Visit her on the web at rifkaschonfeldsos.com.


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