Q. I have a few questions that I am hoping someone could help me with 1. Are there any good tests (formal or informal) that could be used as a screening to find out if LD or ADD is likely before formal assessment is done? 2. What type of records are important/useful/legal to keep when working with students with disabilities? 3. Are there any organizations or magazines that are especially useful in working with students with disabilities at the postsecondary level?
A. There are no really definitive tests for LD/ADD/EMR ad nauseum. The comment in another post was look at the whole student. I recommend some kind of reading test, a perceptual test and writing and math. This cant be done at the entry assessment level. You need to have this done when they are referred to you. I use the Test of Written Language and mostly the part for spontaneous writing. However, you can just use a sample writing example for that. I find the WRAT3 test is as good as any for the math. For reading, it depends on the student. If I have a student who has obvious severe reading problems, I use the PIAT otherwise the Nelson Denny is good. I do not use only the scores on any of these tests. The secret is watching how they do the task and what their reaction is to frustration and problem solving. I also have reading samples from Jamestown Timed REaders with 400 words per page and the books go up to 12 grade. I let them read out of the 6th grade level and then have them answer the questions on the back. I see how swift they read, how well they recall what they read. Did they read too fast? Did their eyes fly all over the page. Did they use their finger to hold the place. Were they squinting or cocking their head. These behaviors are indicative of either visual problems or poor study skills. I use the memory tests from the Detroit Test of Learning Abilities -REvised. The auditory-Memory for Sentences, Reversed Letters, memory for design sequences and Memory for Designs. If they have any problems in any of these, I give the whole thing. This test can give a type of IQ and also separates it into components. Do not only look at the scores. The process tells more than the numbers. Then I give the LASSI and Learning Styles Inventory. I am always driven mad by the yen to slap a label on someone. They may have ADD/LD etc but the label does not help beyond giving something to to Feds for $$$ but the real problem is to look at not only the academics but what affective behaviors are plugging the learning process. Emotional people have ADD characteristics. You cant concentrate if you have emotional problems. ADD and LD blend into each other. If you dont pay attention, you develop a deficit in listening and visual memory. The difference is the LD can manage their attention but the ADD drifts no matter how hard they work at it if something lasts too long. Then you adjust the study and use tapes. If you have a visual problem, you wont attend to reading because of the discomfort. You misread the print. Then you have some ADD characteristics. The real problem is whether the student can see physically first and then you work on the rest. I have seen individuals with low IQ's because they have so many things interfering with the learning process that are not necessarily cognitive. For instance, if you havent been stimulated or given the chance to learn, how in the world are you going to know what the words mean or recognize the spoken language. I find the students will respond well once the in-depth diagnosis is made. For those who are so emotionally upset they cant learn, they need to get their lives straightened out through counseling or medication. For those who are truly too slow to profit from the college, they need gentle guidance to find a way to learn without the pressure of time. I send them to the GED center because they do take those students who are looking for a way to learn in aless pressured situation. For the rest, I let them know that they will have to work harder and take fewer courses so they can get success. I use a structured study hall with me and try to create an atmosphere of can-do so they dont burn out. If they take too much too soon, we treat it as a learning experience--life goes on. How hard do you want to work? Problem solving opportunity. Organizations to help are Learning Disabilities Association in Pittsburgh PA phone number 412-341-1515; National Center for Research in Vocational Education 1-800-762-4093; HEATH Resource Center-1800-544-3284; CHADD 305-587-3700; ADDult Support Network-write Mary Jane Johnson, 2620 Ivy Place, Toledo, OH 43613; Attention Deficit Resource Center 1-800 537-3784 which is a center for non-profit clearing house for information. I recommend not only Driven to Distraction but You Mean I'm Not Lazy, Crazy or Stupid by Kate Kelly and Peggy Ramundo who are two professionals with ADD. Their new revised copy has several resources to use for ADD and LD. Finally, I like the Video called "I'm Not Stupid". Landmark College is a college for Dyslexics and they have a lot of knowledge. They are in Vermont but I cant find the address just now.
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