Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Preparing For the Challenges This Year Might Bring

The birthdays are over and the summer is coming to a close. It is almost time for the co-op registration day, which I always head up, as director. And after that, we begin our school year. I just met with our co-op chemistry teacher and I am intimidated by high school chemistry/physics/math. WOW> I just love her dedication to teaching with us, though. She is smart in her area. So glad to have her on board. otherwise we might have major issues this year. Well, that is likely anyway.
After talking to her, and finding she also has a smart kid with an LD (see earlier post on NLD), we shared ideas. It really reinforced my belief that we all have areas where we are strong and areas where we are weak, and none of us is better than the other because of these. I am a good cook, and excel at hands-on, visual projects. She is great at seeing and understanding mathematical things. We are polar opposites.Our kids are different, but have some of the same challenges. This discussion prompted me to do some more research on how best to meet the needs of the NLD learner, while teaching and working with my other kids....like the right brainer taking chem and algebra--OY!
Here is an excerpt from an article on helping NLD kids:
The typical school campus offers a complex, constantly changing and often unpredictable milieu. Students are required to cope with multiple stimuli, varying behavioral expectations, and complex social interactions, as well as the academic tasks presented to them on any given day. They are expected to know how to behave appropriately in a myriad of situations. Such exacting conditions can pose a challenge for any student, but for the child with nonverbal learning disorders (NLD) these demands can prove to be totally overwhelming and may appear insurmountable at times.
 The child's individualized educational program should not merely focus on academic growth, but should also stress compensatory strategies which will assist her future academic progress by enlarging her repertoire of coping mechanisms. 
 This child's behaviors are usually prompted by his desire to survive in a setting which is confusing, disorienting and frightening to him, given his neurological deficits. 
 The student with NLD has difficulty with internal and external organization, visual- spatial orientation, directional concepts and coordination. Rehearsing getting from place to place, with significant markers pointed out verbally.Prepare him ahead of time for all changes in routine and transitions, such as: field trips, assemblies, substitute teachers and modified days. Use a written and numbered schedule to help prepare him for changes. Panic sets in when this child feels "ambushed" or does not know what to expect. 
 Generalization is the transfer and application of previous learning to new situations and contexts. We are constantly making spontaneous connections, realizing that a particular concept applies to a wide range of topics and/or recognizing that a particular strategy might apply to a number of situations. The student with NLD is stymied when confronted with a situation which she has not previously encountered, even if the new situation is only slightly different from one for which she has previously developed a successful strategy. This child is often unable to understand what is expected of her because she is unable to apply rules and principles learned at other times and in other situations to a situation she currently faces. Present learning is not connected to other previous learning. Cause-and-effect relationships are lost. It becomes necessary to discuss individual situations in depth with this student, as they arise.
 Confusion over what needs to be done can be at the heart of a student's failure to complete class assignments or follow class directions. Most students remember a series of instructions by visualizing themselves performing each step in the series. They don't try to remember each word (verbatim) in a long string of directives. However, because the student with NLD is unable to pass this information to the right hemisphere and visualize the sequence, he attempts to memorize every word as it is said to him.
 The student with NLD tends to make very literal translations of speech and text. Her images are concrete and her ability to make sense of abstract connotations and inferences is poor. She will, in all instances, use and interpret speech literally. This child lacks the capacity to decipher colloquialisms or metaphorical expressions. She will not know when she is being teased or duped. Avoid making nebulous directives, such as "You need to mind!" or asking vague questions such as, "Are you ready?"
  • Starting with concrete concepts and images and slowly moving to abstract concepts and images, at a pace set by the student;
  • Understanding that metaphors, emotional nuances, multiple levels of meanings, and relationship issues as presented in novels will not be understood unless explained;
  • Teaching the student to say "I'm not sure what you mean" or "That doesn't make sense to me" to give her a specific vocabulary to help her decipher your intent. 
 Imagine having to "think" every time you do anything, even routine chores you perform everyday like eating, dressing, and sitting at a desk. You can then start to appreciate why this child is so easily overwhelmed by any variance of routine, by new and unfamiliar situations (or information), and by extraneous environmental stimuli. 
The student with NLD is missing at least 65% of the intent of others communications. Slow processing speed and severe organizational deficits make it necessary to lessen the homework/class work load for this child.  The whole ordeal of attending school full-time, on a daily basis, often proves to be too much for the student with NLD, especially as she enters the upper grades. The student with NLD must receive academic support as soon as difficulties in any particular area are noted. Because this child is quickly overwhelmed, she is likely to react much more severely to failure than her peers will.Even a highly intelligent student with NLD, who has an incredible memory for rote information, will experience trouble with comprehension and organizational skills. He may be capable of memorizing extensive statistical information, while at the same time he forgets the due-date for an assignment or to bring a pencil to class. Decision making and problem-solving skills are other areas of deficiency.

  • Never assuming this child understands something just because he can parrot back what you have just said;
  • Never assuming this child understands what he has read, just because he is a "proficient" reader
These are very interesting and I post them for my benefit and reference. Maybe they will help someone else out there. Now, i have to get back to the final preps for the school year. Have a
 great day!

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