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Posts Tagged ‘young children’

Dyslexia And Dysgraphia: Struggles With Reading And Writing

Friday, September 7th, 2012

Shifi and Shana were neighbors and their mothers had been getting together before they could even roll over. Now that the girls were in second grade, they did their homework together.

“Shifi, your ‘d’ is so funny! It looks like a banana,” Shana giggled.

“It’s not a ‘d,’ Shana, it’s a ‘b.’ And I can’t help it. It just comes out like that!” Shifi responded.

“What do you mean it’s a ‘b?’ It looks like a ‘d’ to me, but Morah says I keep making those mistakes anyway,” Shana said, blushing.

“Yes, but she keeps telling me I need to write neatly. I’m trying, but I can’t do it. Maybe we can trade. I’ll read for you. You write for me!” Shifi said eagerly, handing over her pencil.

While Shifi and Shana could be two girls who are experiencing regular struggles with reading and writing, if these issues continue, it is possible that they each suffer from a different learning disability: dyslexia or dysgraphia.

Dyslexia

The National Institute of Health defines dyslexia as characterized by difficulties with accurate or fluent word recognition, by poor spelling and decoding. 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 in different ways, some common symptoms for a kindergartener through fourth grader are:

* Difficulty reading single words not surrounded by others. * Slow to learn connections 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. Research shows they begin to experience emotional problems during early reading instruction. Over the years, their frustration mounts as classmates surpass them. Often, these children feel they fail to meet others expectations. Teachers and parents see a bright child who is failing to learn to read and assume he’s “not trying hard enough.” This can cause children to feel inadequate.

Children with dyslexia frequently have problems in social relationships. This is because they have difficulty reading social cues or dyslexia affects oral language functioning. Additionally, without proper intervention, these children will fall farther behind their peers.

Dysgraphia

It’s hard for people to understand that children can have a learning disability that affects only writing. Most people assume that if you do not have trouble reading, then writing should be a cinch. Or, parents assume that trouble with writing is a physical impediment rather than a mental one. Dysgraphia, a learning disability that affects writing abilities, debunks these myths.

Dysgraphia can manifest itself as difficulties with spelling, handwriting and trouble putting thoughts on paper. Children who suffer from dysgraphia often have reading skills on par with other children their age. Dysgraphia is not simply a motor problem, but also involves information processing skills (transferring thoughts from the mind through the hand onto the paper). If your child has trouble in any of the areas listed below, additional help may be beneficial:

* Awkward pencil grip and body position * Illegible handwriting * Avoiding writing and drawing tasks * Tiring quickly while writing * Saying words out loud while writing * Unfinished or omitted words in sentences * Difficulty organizing thoughts on paper * Large gap between written ideas and speech

There are different effective strategies.

For young children, here are some suggestions:

* Use paper with raised lines so children can feel the lines on the paper, allowing them to stay on track. * Experiment with different pens and pencils. * Practice writing letters with exaggerated arm movements. This will help improve the motor memory without the pressure of the paper. * Encourage proper grip, posture, and paper positioning. If you aren’t sure how to help your child with this – don’t push it off too long! The later you correct these concerns, the harder it is to unlearn the bad habits.

Making the Multi-Generational Household Work

Sunday, August 12th, 2012

As Rabbi Meyer Waxman discusses elsewhere in this issue, more elderly parents are being forced, by circumstances, to move in with their adult children, as are more young adults who find themselves compelled to move back into their parents’ home. More adults have become part of the sandwich generation, as members of the six million American households today that span three or even four generations.

More than 70 years ago, this living arrangement was not uncommon, and was even considered to be something of an American ideal. Think of the multi-generational household that was depicted so nostalgically in the classic TV series, “The Waltons.” But after World War II, multi-generational living fell out of favor. In 1940, about a quarter of the US population lived in such households, but by 1980, just 12% did. Not coincidentally, this period saw the rapid growth of nuclear-families living in suburban homes, and the creation of huge retirement communities in the Sunbelt states. At the same time, the proportion of newly arrived immigrants, who commonly adopt multi-generational living arrangements during the initial stage of their life in a new country, declined as a share of the total US population.

A necessity instead of a choice

Today, most families adopt multi-generational living arrangements out of necessity rather than choice. When elderly parents can no longer live safely alone, loving family members may be unwilling to entrust their care to nursing homes or assisted living facilities. Young adult children find themselves with no choice but to move back into their parents’ home due to the breakup of a marriage or the loss of a job. Some young adults and their families move in with their parents voluntarily, because they prefer the conveniences that a properly structured multi-generation household can offer, but these are the exceptions rather than the rule.

Most multi-generational households are created on the fly in reaction to an unexpected crisis. In such cases, the head of the multi-generational household must face two fundamental questions. First, what changes must be made immediately to make the living arrangements for everyone as convenient as possible in the short term? Second, are they willing to make the permanent changes in their home and lifestyle that will be necessary to make the new living arrangements practical over a more extended period of time?

More simply put, it is one thing to put up your father-in-law on your living room couch for a few nights, or to ask one of your kids to double up with a sibling while grandma takes over their bedroom for a few weeks. But the natural friction from such extended, close interactions, under makeshift arrangements, will eventually start to wear on everyone.

No single formula for success

There is no set formula for making multi-generational households work, because no two situations are exactly alike. Sometimes the problems may be insurmountable. The head of the household and all of the family members involved need to go in with their eyes open and recognize that if the arrangement is to work, significant adjustments and compromises will be needed on all sides.

The first question to ask is often the most difficult – are the physical living arrangements available suitable to meet the minimum needs of everyone in the household? If not, what alternatives are available? How much time and money will it take to implement them? How will the household function before these solutions are in place?

For example, take the case of an elderly parent who can’t climb stairs, who had been living in an elevator apartment building in Florida, and who now needs to be brought back to New York to be taken care of by their adult child who lives in a walk-up apartment. To make such an arrangement feasible, the adult child may have to ask their parent to sell their Florida apartment in order to provide the down payment for a new home in New York that would be more suitable for the entire extended family. Alternatively, if the adult child owns their own home, they may have the option of refinancing their mortgage to pay for the construction of an extra bedroom or bathroom or other renovations (such as installing a wheelchair lift) needed to make the living arrangements more practical over the long term. Before making a final decision, the adult child should also consider whether the cost of the necessary alterations would ultimately be cheaper than placing their parent in a long term care facility.

Time For Designated Watchers

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012

Within the last few days, with weeks of summer still ahead of us, I have read and seen news reports regarding very young children who tragically drowned in backyard swimming pools, despite being in relatively close proximity to parents and other adults.

In several of these horrific mishaps, the children (there were incidents of siblings who perished as well) had been safely ensconced in their home or visiting relatives, but had managed to somehow slip away from under the grownups’ noses, get themselves outside, where they either jumped or fell into a nearby swimming pool. In some of the instances, the child had unlatched a back or side door of the house, and had climbed over a fence surrounding the pool.

Their family members may have become aware after just a few short minutes that the child was absent, but sadly, a few short minutes is all it takes for a child to drown.

Most of the children were pre-schoolers, three or four or five years old. Old enough to manipulate a door handle or latch and walk out, but not old enough to be aware of the life-threatening danger they had put themselves in.

These children lived in different cities, states/provinces and countries and were racially and socially/economically diverse.

What they have in common, however, are parents and siblings and grandparents who will be wracked with grief and eaten up by guilt for the rest of their lives, tormented by what they know was a preventable loss.

How could it be, they wonder, that in a household with assorted, responsible adults such as grandparents, uncles and aunts, that no one noticed a child was missing? Many were truly stunned that the child had been able to open a locked door or gate, or climb up a fence double their height. Who would have dreamed, they wondered, that locked doors or gates or fences were not enough to stop an adventurous toddler?

The answer is obvious. At a gathering, one will glance at the child and see that he/she is in the room and then continue to shmooze or eat or gravitate into another room to talk to other people. You assume the child will remain in the room “where all the action is” or that he/she wandered off to play, or is currently snuggled on the lap of a beloved family member in another part of the house. This is the case 99% of the time, and therefore a reasonable conclusion with a benign outcome. However, that often correct presumption, when wrong, can have grave consequences.

In a previous column, I stated my opinion that a young child, (even two or three, in fact,) is likely safer when watched by one specific person, than is one or two whom several people surround.

A solo “watcher” knows that he/she cannot take his/her eyes off the child, as there is no backup person to “fill in the gap.”

Also there are few if any distractions that would impede the watcher’s focus. However, when there are a number of people in the room, there is a tendency to let down one’s guard, because there are so many “eyes” in the room. But it is a misguided attitude. People are not focused on the child; they are socializing, catching up on family happenings etc. Maybe they do look around, see the child and continue what they are doing with a false sense of security. In the meantime, the child has darted out.

In the summer, hundreds of heimische families in New York stay in bungalow colonies in the mountains. Many have three or more children under the age of 7. It is easy for a mother to get distracted while in the company of her peers and it is crucial that all the little ones are being watched at every moment. Sometimes, a parent can be too confident, believing that because there are so many other mothers around, someone will notice if a child is in trouble. That is not necessarily the case.

Nor can one blindly accept that “Hashem yishmor.” We are exhorted to take care of ourselves, and it goes without saying that we have to be extra machmir when trusted with the well-being of those who can’t take care of themselves – either because of extreme youth, age or physical or mental disability.

Thousands Protesting Against Draft

Monday, July 16th, 2012

Thousands of Ultra-Orthodox adults and young children are protesting against the universal draft in Kikar Shabbat in Jerusalem.

The adults have handcuffed all the children together as part of their protest.

United Torah Judaism and Shas have renounced  the demonstration and passed the message to Prime Minister Netanyahu.

City of Toulouse on “Lockdown” as Police Search for Gunmen

Monday, March 19th, 2012

France 24 news service reports that the city of Toulouse is on “lockdown” as a group of 50-60 police officers hunt down a suspected drive-by motorcyclist who gunned down at least 4 people outside the Otzar HaTorah Jewish school.    Several people – including young children – are fighting for their lives.  The daughter of the school’s principal was killed in the attack.

Father of the Year – Man in Samaria Saves Children from Fire

Sunday, January 29th, 2012

Neriya, Samaria – Ariel Tal, a father of three young children, awoke on January 12, 2012, to find his home – a temporary structure – on fire. “G-d wanted me to awake. I found the little one under the blanket and was successful in getting her out.”

The house in its entirety was consumed by the fire. “The house and its content – they are all trivialities. All material is of no significance. The family is safe, thank G-d, and if it takes us some time to recover, that’s just fine. It was a miracle. I work in the morning and there is no reason for me to awake during the night, but it seems G-d wanted me to wake up that night. I walked to the living room and saw the flames consuming the couches.”

Tal shouted to his wife Gili to awake, and she grabbed their month old son and escaped. They managed to get out unharmed. “I proceeded to the girls’ room,” Tal continued, “the younger one was wearing white pajamas, so I saw her immediately. I then looked for the older one and found her under the blanket. Her hands had already caught fire. I extinguished the flames and got her out. Meantime, Gili went to get help.”

One of the neighbors called to the scene was Naomi Aharonowitz, a trained nurse, who, together with another nurse, provided initial medical care to Ariel and the girls.

After the turmoil subsided, she and other community members immediately began to care for the family’s needs. “The neighbors distributed the various responsibilities among themselves,” she explained. “Someone has taken upon herself to collect funds. My husband is trying to obtain another structure for them from the local municipality and is dealing with the clearing of the destroyed one. I have taken upon myself to collect house appliances. We will try to restore their lives to what it was before the fire.”

Tal is now recuperating from the burns he sustained on 15% of his body, including his face and shoulders. The girls’ condition is progressing nicely as well. It is still unclear what started the blaze, but the point of initiation seems to be the living room.

Tal concludes stating: “We are constantly thinking what would have happened if we would have discovered the fire a second later. G-d forbid, our baby would have inhaled a bit more smoke – he wouldn’t be with us anymore. One can say it was a miracle”.

It’s My Opinion: “Big Spending”

Monday, November 14th, 2011

This week’s Art Basel Miami Beach is billed as the largest contemporary art fair in the hemisphere. Until recently, the prognosis for a successful event had been bleak. The worldwide financial crisis had all but devastated the arts.  Now, Art Basel, and the art world in general, has reason to celebrate.  It seems that prices are up and big spending has returned.

In early November, Sotheby’s auction house sold a work created by pop artist Andy Warhol.  The print shows stacks of dollars.  “200 One Dollar Bills” sold for $43.8 million.  The art industry was back in business.

Memorabilia of the late singing star Michael Jackson also went on the auction block. A white glove that Jackson wore to perform his famous moonwalk was recently sold. Although the $420,000 transaction brought in a pittance in comparison to the Warhol sale, it was a sizeable amount for one unmatched glove.

A few days ago, a study came out that many households around the Unite States do not have adequate food.  The report indicated that the need was greatest in homes that had young children.  The reality of this fact is heartbreaking.

We seem to be in an economic best of times and worst of times.  It is easy to criticize what seems to be excessive spending when others are going hungry.  In reality, just the opposite is true.  Big spending is just what our economy needs.

Art Basel is anticipated to bring 40,000 tourists and exhibitors to South Florida.  They will need taxis, lodging and food. The highest form of charity is to give our fellow man a job, to provide the ability to earn a parnasah and no longer be dependent on the kindness of others.

This week’s visitors will eat in restaurants, stay in hotels and attend shows.  They will buy souvenirs, shop boutiques and put money into the local economy.  They will help participate in a real bailout of the South Florida economy.

Jews are admonished not to rely on miracles, however it seems that the local economy has been given a real miraculous boost.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/community/south-florida/its-my-opinion-big-spending/2011/11/14/

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