Full Discussion: Guiding Teens with LD: Navigating the Transition from High School to Adulthood November 8-9, 2007

Full Discussion

Discussion Outline

  1. Laying the Foundation for a Successful Transition
  • What do K-12 teachers need to know about how to prepare students for the real-life, practical challenges of the adult world in terms of
    • Continuing education
    • Entering the workforce
    • Participating in community life?
  • What do adult educators need to know about their students' needs beyond basic skills in order to help them successfully transition into adult life
  • Meeting Students' Legal rights
    • What does the law say about transition during the middle and high school years?
      • How can teachers help students participate in the transition planning process?
    • What laws protect students after a student exits high school?
    • What can adult educators expect students to know if they have been on an IEP in high school? What can adult educators do for those who have not been diagnosed and served under IDEA?

    Questions Leading Up to the Discussion

    Our question is: What tips and resources can we provide an immigrant mother of an elementary child with Asperger's Syndrome? She would like to learn about this type of LD as well as how to more successfully deal with her child.

    What can we do to help immigrant men and women who are undiagnosed but because of their struggles with learning, we think they might have a learning disability. Some of these students attended school only a few years or did not attend at all.

    Pat Cross, Even Start Family Literacy Program

    Oklahoma City

    This is a question for Dr. Roffman and the Learning Disabilities list. I am interested in the assessment procedures being used in adult literacy/adult education programs in regard to the identification of learning and cognitive disabilities in populations who did not receive
    such assessments as children in public school systems. Given the paucity of funds in adult education programs and adult rehabilitation services, it would seem that the best way to get adults involved in such assessment would be through pro bono work done by psychological diagnosticians on a community level. Do you agree with that? Or are you aware of other strategies that programs used to obtain diagnoses and accommodations for adult students with specific learning disabilities?

    Deborah Stedman, Ph.D., Grant Director, Texas Family Literacy Resource Center

    Lecturer, Developmental and Adult Education

    Texas State University

    I would like to add another facet to Deborah's question and ask specifically about tools that can be used to assess/diagnose students who have problems with math (again considering the lack of training and funds for such assessment in most adult education programs). I have had some students who read at a GED level (9.0 or better on the TABE) and just can't grasp math concepts. They waver between a third and fourth grade level in math and can't seem to make any progress. Is there anything that can be done in the classroom? What do you suggest as a means to help these students unlock the mystery of math?

    Gail J. Price, Multimedia Specialist

    National Center for Family Literacy

    I would like to know how an adult might be led to request an evaluation. What might be indicators of LD in adults? Who might refer them to be tested? In making a referral, are we overstepping our bounds as teachers? What kind of liabilities are there for teachers who suggest to an adult that he/she might have a learning disability?

    Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt, ESOL Online Instructor

    Prince William County Public Schools

    Adult Education

    I believe that another important question when deciding whether an adult should be assessed for learning disabilities, is the following.... what would be done with the results of such an evaluation? A formal assessment of ability and achievement can only be justified if the results can be used to inform a program of remediation of identified disabilities.

    Julie H. Ennis M.Ed., Education Consultant

    Fairfax VA

    Great question! I'm tired of hearing that they have "math phobia." We don't call language disabilities "word phobia." And many students just can't "get" math story problems although they read well. Is anyone doing fMRI studies of math processing? Are there brain differences between those with a facility for math and those who struggle?

    Christy Breihan, ABE Instructor

    1. For the student with a learning disability that is planning on continuing their education at a post-secondary institute, what information should the student know about themselves and what would be the best documentation to provide?

    2. What information should be included in a student's summary of performance so that this document would be useful to those who will be providing services in post-secondary settings?

    3. What transition assessments provide the most useful information for the student with a learning disability that is planning on continuing their education in a post-secondary institution?

    4. What are the skills that need to be learned by a student with a learning disability that is transitioning from a "world on entitlement" to a "world of eligibility"?

    Patrick Mulvihill, M.Ed., Consultant

    The Transition Center at the University of Florida

    Is there a common diagnosis for learning disability across the nation?
    Are common tests used as part of this diagnosis?

    Or would diagnosis of learning disability depend on the state or region or district in which a person lives?

    Bill Fagan

    How can we help high school students adjust to life with no IEP? I'm working with a 16-year-old who is 100% calculator dependent. He cannot (will not?) learn math facts because he's always permitted to use a calculator. Between that and his "digital" calculator, he can't add, subtract, multiply or divide even the simplest of numbers. I've tried every way I can think of, and he still stumbles on "What's 10 plus 2?", etc. I really think that the calculator is to blame. He knows he's always allowed to use it and won't imagine a situation where he can't. "Even my phone has a calculator," he says.

    Kathryn Quinn, Home and Hospital Teacher

    Frederick MD

    My state's K-12 education department has decided to implement Responsiveness to Intervention (RTI) at the primary level first, then middle school, and then high school. When we in adult education begin to see students with LD that were served in the RTI model, what kind of transition documents, evidence, plan, testing, etc will they come with?

    What kind of revision of our adult education disability services eligibility rules and processes might be needed? They are written in the discrepancy model context, so they require students to bring evidence of a diagnosis of LD which is typically based on the discrepancy of IQ and achievement testing, a diagnostic interview, and other life data, and in some cases, goes the next step and suggests classroom and testing accommodations.

    Michael Tate

    I was wondering if this 16 year old had any goals? What does he/she want to do with his/her life? If the student wishes to further his education, than he needs some math skills. However, if the student has no goals that include math training, he/she can easily get by with just calculator skills. The thinking skills to arrive at the correct answers in math, even if using the calculator, are most of the battle anyway, I think. Memorization of the times table and addition and subtraction can be learned by rote..... if there is a need to. Knowing when and how to add subtract and multiply and which numbers to use takes the thinking. I have students who can do the math easily, but when it comes to a reading problem, they don't know what to do, with or without the calculator.

    Rae Connors

    NO, we should not be thinking accommodations, but rather how to supply information to a learner on different ways to learn and what works best for him or herself? One previous question was about helping students transitioning into the college/postsecondary arena switch from having accommodations prescribed to asking for them. From work I did with students on IEPs? it seems that if the process of IEPs were followed as closely as it should be, the learner would be an active part of the IEP process very early on, and the transition process, which involves the learner taking more control over the accommodation issues, would begin at age 14--or sooner, if staff is sincere about wanting students to learn to succeed--not just succeed in learning?? Thus by the time a student is ready for a post secondary setting, he or she would already be accustomed to requesting what works for him or her.

    Support staff often like to keep this power to themselves. I remember one client I had in my tutoring program in Boston who was a high school student with severe decoding deficits though he achieved on an extremely high level. The high school support services office kept insisting that this student had to come to their office to do his homework, when he was consistently on the honor roll and of course did not want to be seen with other students more blatantly in need of help than he. This was the only accommodation the support office could figure out and the student was told that if he did not accept it, he would lose his right to accommodations! The only accommodation he needed was more time on tests, since he decoded very slowly and laboriously, but his request was ignored because the staff had decided what they thought he needed.

    Helping persons with learning needs to figure out what works best for THEM and how to ask for it and when is the best transition help there is? Arlyn, do you agree?

    Robin Lovrien Schwarz, M. Sp. Ed:LD

    Independent Consultant in Adult ESOL/Education and Learning Difficulties

    Messages Posted During the Discussion

    Good morning subscribers, I am so pleased to welcome Dr. Arlyn Roffman for her two-day discussion on the LD List. Please feel free to jump into the discussion at any time and comment or ask additional questions. She has the questions that were already pre-submitted.

    So --- let's begin!

    Rochelle Kenyon

    Moderator, NIFL/LINCS Learning Disabilities Discussion List

    Center for Literacy Studies at the University of Tennessee

     

    Hello everyone! I'm so pleased to be with you for the next two days to talk about a topic near and dear to my heart, the transition of youth with LD to adult life. For more than 25 years, I have straddled the line, working with both adolescents and adults with LD and other disabilities. I hope to bridge that age gap for you all.

    A little background about me: I've been in special education for a very long time, since the late 1960's, when the field of LD was just emerging. I taught in a 7th-8th grade resource room for a few years until I had an aha moment when I realized that my students needed social skills training at least as much as they did remedial reading and math. After focusing on the social and emotional needs of youth with LD in my doctoral program, I began teaching at Lesley University (Cambridge, MA), where in 1981 I founded Threshold, a comprehensive non-degree transition program for young adults with severe LD. I left the director¹s position 15 years later to return to a faculty position preparing grad students for careers in education. However, I'm proud to report that Threshold is still thriving and that all these years later my longstanding interest in the gifts and challenges of individuals with LD has survived - I remain fascinated by and committed to the transition needs of youth and adults with disabilities.

    While I am not in the trenches as a teacher in adult ed the way many of you are, I am attuned to many of the issues that arise for the population you serve. In 2000 I wrote a book called, Meeting the Challenge of Learning Disabilities in Adulthood. Based largely on in-depth interviews with adults ranging in age from 20-65, it addressed the experience of having a lifelong LD in terms of mental health concerns; the impact of the disability on relationships with family of origin, friends, romantic partners and one's children; issues in postsecondary learning; challenges that arise in day-to-day life; issues related to employment; and overall quality of life. My new book, Guiding Teens with Learning Disabilities: Navigating the Transition from High School to Adulthood, focuses on youth and how parents and teachers can help them prepare for the various domains of adult life- school, community, and work.

    Over the past week, I have collected questions posed on the listserv. I will select ones I feel qualified to tackle and have time to address during our short two days together. But first an overview of transition.

    Adolescence is a time of transition for every teen. For those with LD who reach age sixteen, the term transition has added meaning; under the Individuals with Education Act (IDEA 2004) it is a legally mandated process wherein the school and family work together during the development of a student's Individual Education Plan (IEP) to prepare for life beyond high school. The transition process focuses on improving the academic and functional achievement of children to facilitate movement from school to post-school activities, which includes post-secondary education, vocational education, employment, adult services, independent living, and community participation. When done well, transition planning addresses many of the concerns parents and teens have about the future beyond grade 12 by actively involving the student and parents. Unfortunately, many secondary schools fall short procedurally, and far too few families understand either the process or their role in it.

    Our first day's focus will be on laying the foundation for a successful transition during a student's high school years. What do K-12 teachers need to know about how to prepare students for the real-life, practical challenges of the adult world in terms of education, work, and community? And what do adult educators need to know about their students' needs beyond
    basic skills in order to help them successfully transition into adult life?

    I look forward to a very stimulating two days with you!

    Arlyn

     

    PREPARING FOR LIFE IN THE COMMUNITY

    There's a lot you as teachers can do to help your students (both teens and adults!) with LD prepare for life in the community.

    According to a variety of studies such as The National Transition Longitudinal Study, young adults with LD participate less in community life and remain reliant upon their parents long after their peers have achieved independence. They tend to be less engaged in work or school, less regularly involved in social activities, and less likely to reside outside their parents' homes; there is clearly a need for youth with LD to focus both in school and in the home on practical preparation for community life.

    Challenges in the community often relate directly to the specific LD characteristics, which have changing implications as the individual grows older and faces new demands in life. For example, difficulty writing a book report in high school may morph into difficulty filling out forms at the doctor's office in early adulthood. Fine-motor coordination problems, which cause handwriting difficulties in school can make it hard to shave, tie a necktie, or apply makeup and result in a disheveled appearance. Reading difficulties are a challenge when it comes to reading directions on everything from medicine labels to cleaning supplies, and may be the cause of vocabulary deficits with potentially dire consequences (e.g. failing to understand the word, 'toxic').

    Whole skill-sets, such as cooking may be affected by LD characteristics. For example, for those who have difficulty reading, working with recipes may be a nightmare. For those with a weakness in math, there can be frustrating errors when it comes to adjusting recipes or budgeting for the planned meal.

    In the book, I suggest a lot of ways parents can work with their teens around community living skills. Many of the suggestions could be used in transition programs as well, particularly those that focus on daily living skills. For example, teachers in such programs or in ABE could focus some of the reading assignments on survival reading road signs, food labels, instructions
    posted at the Laundromat, bus schedules, restaurant menus. They could gear math instruction to calculating tips, figuring out saved dollars at 25% off sales, working on basic budgets. Lessons on how to plan a party would be very practical and motivating, particularly if the students actually planned an actual social event.

    Arlyn Roffman

     

    Hi- I wrote earlier about some of the practical skills students in transition to the community need. I'm wondering what any of you have done in your settings to foster readiness for community living. Are you working on functional literacy? If so, how's it working? Any tools to suggest?

    I'll be posting more responses to your questions later tonight and tomorrow. Feel free to ask new ones as well or to make some comments. Let's have a discussion about moving on into adulthood and what teachers can do both in high school and in ABE to help people with LD transition effectively.

    I will definitely not have all the answers, but it's clear from past postings that there's loads of expertise among the readers of this listserv, so let's be resources to each other!

    Arlyn

     

    I don't seem to be clear on one point - maybe more. As part of the definition of LD (at least the discrepancy definition), LD students possess average or above average intelligence. Then why do they seem to be treated as mentally challenged in terms of providing them with practical, life skills? Isn't the goal to unlock that intelligence and help them cope with academic tasks that non-LD students/learners cope with? It sounds fatalistic when the verdict seems to be that we cannot help them overcome their learning/processing disability and achieve as
    other learners do.

    Bill Fagan

     

    Hi Bill, thanks for writing-

    The notion that individuals with LD have average intelligence or above is dated. I'm not aware of any definitions of LD that that at this point include IQ (other than to say that LD is not caused by MR). At one point several years back, data came out of the Dept of Rehabilitation suggesting that the average IQ of their clientele with LD was 82. The fact is that there's a broad spectrum of intelligence among children and adults with LD, from low average to well into the gifted range.

    Perhaps I've surprised you by raising the issue of community living skills being of concern to adults with LD. When I interviewed adults for Meeting the Challenge of LD in Adulthood, I found that several who had graduate degrees routinely had problems you might only associate with the mentally challenged - despite their high intelligence, they bounced checks, felt overwhelmed in the grocery store, lost their keys on a regular basis, burnt their dinners... several of the community living skills I wrote about in my last posting. These were people in responsible positions. My point is that the effects of LD are felt well beyond the walls of the classroom, and there are skills that can be taught to help them manage the MANY domains of their adult lives.

    We're in agreement that the goal is to unlock intelligence and help them cope, but where we part ways is that the focus is only on academic tasks. What do others out there think?

    Arlyn

     

    Hello Arlyn and others,
    There is apparently some evidence that certain kinds of computer assisted instruction software is very helpful to dyslexic children. See, for example, this recent Children's Hospital study:
    http://tinyurl.com/ytjsxc

    I wonder if you're aware of any research that shows that the use of software can help adult dyslexics improve their reading, and if so which studies might be especially worthwhile to look at?

    All the best,

    David J. Rosen

     

    Hi David-

    So nice to hear from you! Unfortunately, I had absolutely no information for you, but I did some homework and asked my friend and Lesley U. colleague, Dr. Bart Pisha, formerly of CAST, and smart-as-a-whip on assistive technology in general. Fortunately, he came through in a pinch in his own inimitable way, and here's what he had to say about your question.

    Bart's response:

    ON face: The correspondent asks about "adults", and points toward a summary of several studies of "children." As I recall, (could be wrong), the samples in most of these were geared towards selecting children weak in "phonological awareness", probably influenced by a slow rate of processing incoming auditory (and so also phonological) information. Is Paula Telall the seminal researcher?

    As you doubtless know, response latency, or "fluency" or "speed of response" has been thoroughly investigated and is a positive correlate of reading proficiency.

    Prior to puberty, children's brains are wonderfully plastic. When the hormones reorganize, the physical nervous system also undergoes a profound change. It gains efficiency, and it loses resilience. This is one of 6042 well-known reasons why studies of children's learning don't generalize well to adult learning. :-)

    I think that the way to approach this is through a combination of pragmatics and education. What is it that the "clients" want/need? A key question is the balance between providing a prosthesis, a scaffold, and a program of education. In my view, a goal of transition is to swim like a herring, in a school of 100,0000 herring.

    The question cannot be asked nor answered without a clear idea of what outcome is desired. If the goal is for a 45-year old Serbian cabdriver in Bedford Stuyvesant to be able to argue with the other cabbies about the news on the front page of the New York Post, software (the web plus text to speech and perhaps reference sites) can certainly help make it happen.

    If the goal is, in an almost clinical sense, to teach a 45-year-old Serbian cabdriver in Bedford Stuyvesant to fluently read and write English on paper and with a pencil, then maybe some software can help, and it will in any event take a long time.

    As you probably know, I consider myself to be a highly compensated individual with identified learning differences/challenges. Without some form of computer, I'd NEVER have earned my terminal degree.

    Here are some URLs that may help:
    http://www.alphasmart.com/k12/K12_Products/neo_K12.html
    http://www.nuance.com/naturallyspeaking/home
    http://www.cast.org/products/ereader/index.html

    Note: this next URL, and many others, can be read aloud with the Aspire
    Reader, above. http://wikipedia.org

    This is a defensible "teaching" program for basic reading, and I cannot recall if it's suitable for adults. It's certainty systematic, and I like the way that latency is used in the assessment system.
    http://www.lexile.com/EntrancePageFlash.html?1
    Godspeed!

    Dr. Bart Pisha

     

    "The notion that individuals with LD have average intelligence or above is dated." Not in the state of Virginia, it isn't. That's the definition the diagnosticians used when my children were evaluated.

    Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt

    Prince William County Public Schools, Adult Education

     

    Hi Katherine-

    IDEA 2004 describes LD as ... a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, which may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell or do mathematical calculations.

    The National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities definition is .... LD is a general term that refers to a heterogeneous group of disorders manifested by significant difficulties in the acquisition and use of listening, speaking, reading, writing, reasoning, or mathematical abilities. These disorders are intrinsic to the individual, presumed to be due to central nervous system dysfunction, and may occur across the life span. Problems in self-regulatory behaviors, social perception, and social interaction may exist with learning disabilities but do not, by themselves, constitute a learning disability. Although learning disabilities may occur concomitantly with other disabilities (e.g., sensory impairment, mental retardation, serious emotional disturbance), or with extrinsic influences (such as cultural differences, insufficient or inappropriate instruction), they are not the result of those conditions or influences.

    What does the state of Virginia say?
    Arlyn

     

    As adults, students must be able to assimilate into the adult population both professionally and socially. In order to do this, students must learn to advocate for themselves as teenagers so that they may speak for themselves as adults.

    Fern

     

    Patrick Mulvihill asked -- For the student with a learning disability that is planning on continuing their education at a post-secondary institute, what information should the student know about themselves and what would be the best documentation to provide?

    Great question! Students with LD heading on to postsecondary learning (as well as those who are not) should first and foremost be self-aware. They should understand their LD and be knowledgeable about their own particular profile of strengths and weaknesses. They should know what accommodations they need in order to manage classroom requirements, and they should be ready and willing to express those needs to others.

    In addition, they should be aware of their basic preferences regarding the kind of college experience they¹re seeking- do they want a large campus or a small one? Urban or rural? Liberal arts? Along with finding a school with adequate LD support in place, it's important that they find the right type of school for their ability and interests.

    Students need to be aware of their level of need for structure and seek a school with the appropriate level of supports. If they¹re independent and assertive, they may do fine in a college with basic disability services, those who need more intensive support may want to choose a school with a comprehensive LD program.

    Students also need to know the study conditions under which they optimally learn if they cannot concentrate in the presence of auditory distractions, then they need to be ready to go to the library to write their papers rather than staying in the dorm (or with their family, if they live at home) where others are watching television.

    In terms of disability documentation, the ideal is a psycho-educational evaluation less than three years old. In addition, the Summary of Performance (SOP), a document written before a student's IDEA eligibility terminates either upon graduation with a regular high school diploma or upon turning 22, should provide useful information. Developed by someone who knows the student and is able to document his or her accomplishments and transition needs, the SOP must report the student¹s academic achievement and functional performance, and it must include recommendations of how to assist the student in meeting his or her post-secondary goals. (It should be noted that states vary in terms of the depth of information required in the SOP.) Although no new evaluation is required for its development, the SOP must be specific, meaningful, and understandable to the student, the student's family, and any agencies, including post-secondary institutions that may provide transition services. A helpful resource regarding the Summary of Performance can be accessed at
    http://vacollegequest.org/charting/performance_forms.html .

    Hope this helps!

    Arlyn

     

    While the notion that persons with learning disabilities have average or above average intelligence but have a processing deficit may be dated, it unfortunately is was the basis for determining eligibility to receive services for students 14 and older. This will be changing as students identified under the RTI system, but until these students age up, we are dealing with students found eligible under the old system. It will be interesting to see how post-secondary institutions will respond to the RTI model of determining eligibility for services rather than the discrepancy model.

    On another note, it has been my experience that many, not all, high school students who have been diagnosed as having a learning disability need to be taught community living skills as well as social/personal skills. Quite frequently, their learning disability does overlap into the community and their social life. This is why a quality transition IEP addresses all of the transition service areas: instruction, employment, community experience, post-school adult living, related services, and if appropriate, daily living skills and functional vocational evaluation. Many people feel that the only area that needs to be discussed for students with learning disabilities is the instruction area, because after all, these are students who have average or above average intelligence. One of the things that I like to emphasize when doing training on Transition IEPs is the importance of addressing post-school adult living. Most folks think that this area is only there to discuss the need for living accommodations (independent living/supported living), however, this is where the skills needed to function as an adult (budgeting, time management, etc.) need to be addressed.

    Patrick Mulvihill, Consultant

    The Transition Center at the University of Florida

     

    Hey Pat:
    I agreed with you wholeheartedly. I have been trying to get this message across to my children teachers at every meeting. They do not want to hear this. Children with disabilities mature faster than normal children.

    Rosalind King

     

    Rosalind,

    They do? How do you define "mature"?

    Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt

    Prince William County Public Schools, Adult Education

     

    I was surprised to see that students with learning disabilities are not of average or above average intelligence is out of date. It is not where I came from. I am glad that it is not dated in other parts of the country also.

    Students with learning disabilities can be taught coping skills that will help to function in society and professionally as well. I work with students on coping skills. This seems to give them confidence to continue with the learning process.

    Dixie Klement

     

    Dixie wrote: I work with students on coping skills. This seems to give them confidence to continue with the learning process.

    Can you tell us more about this? What coping skills do you teach? What age group are you working with? In what type of setting? How do they respond? I'd love to hear more!

    Arlyn

     

    Hi Arlyn--

    Let me clarify, because I think we are talking about two different things. When my daughters got the psychological evaluations, I was told that kids with LD often had average or above average intelligence. That's not in the VA description, however (which I just looked up out of curiosity). So there may be some confusion on my part between the psych descriptions and the academic descriptions. I think this is probably common since many parents must get their children evaluated outside of school (via a psychiatrist) before the school will test them for learning disabilities. At least, this has been my experience in this state.

    Let me also say I'm not an expert in this field. I'm a parent who also works in education, and I am hoping to learn more via these lists (which have been exceedingly helpful). I think parents and educators sometimes know there is something wrong with their children and/or students, but they can't tell you WHAT is wrong. That's where the diagnosing and early intervention become so important--so we are not allowing children to graduate without knowing they have a learning disability that might affect them in the future even if it didn't in the past. Does any of that make sense? : )

    Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt

     

    Just to add a bit more to the digression into average intelligence as a prerequisite for a LD diagnosis, my state's (VT) regulations don't say there has to be a minimum IQ. Among children (up to age 22) the evaluation procedure requires that there be a significant discrepancy of 1.5 standard deviations between one's expected performance based on IQ and one's actual achievement in a variety of basic skills area. The expected performance is an adjusted IQ score taking standard error and deviation to the mean into account. The upshot of this is that a person with a lower than average IQ would not need as large a spread between IQ and achievement to show a significant discrepancy. A person with a higher than average IQ would need a larger spread to show a significant discrepancy.

    Tom Woods

     

    Thanks for sharing your expertise, Arlyn. In my correctional setting, students transition out of school and prison into adult life in the community and it can be quite a shock. It seems like most of the effort in transition goes to preparation for work and career and postsecondary education so I am glad to hear from you about concerns with 'readiness for community living.'

    The majority of our students have disabilities, mostly emotional, but also quite a few learning disabilities and ADHD. Our students seem to have few tools for planning. They have many deep desires and broad goals, but no clue how to achieve them. There are many areas in which I feel they need preparation, but I hesitate to say to them that they need A, B, and C. Rather, I feel it is important for them to come to their own realizations of what they feel they need. It needs to come from them and they need to own it. Otherwise they would sit passively while I spoon feed them and then when they are on their own, they will continue to sit and wait for someone else to lead them around.

    I made up a self-assessment that asks them about where they stand in various aspects of life. For instance, they may tell me they have a place to live but when I ask for their mailing address they can't give one. Hopefully the question will get them thinking about where will they actually be staying. I ask about their immediate needs. What kinds of clothes do they have, how much money do they have, what is the number to call to get the electricity hooked up. Will they have a driver's license, what do they have to do to get it back, how will they transport themselves to the grocery store, to work, to the doctors office. What will be the costs to live on your own? How will you pay for it? What hobbies do you have? How much spare time will you have to engage in hobbies or recreation?

    When students say 'wow. I never thought about that before,' then I know the self-assessment has started a few wheels turning in their heads and it gives us a place to start a discussion.

    I would love to hear what others are doing specifically. I hope to gather more items to put in my self-assessment. In another email, Fern mentioned self-advocacy. What specifically might that look like in community and job settings?

    Tom

     

    Tom, I would like to see some report of the answers you get from your students. Do you have the numbers?

    Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt

     

    "I think parents and educators sometimes know there is something wrong with their children and/or students, but they can't tell you WHAT is wrong."

    This is the crux of the problem for me. I am trained as an elementary school teacher which means I got approximately 3 credit hours of special education training which is required for regular education teachers in CT where I was certified. I seriously doubt this qualifies me to diagnose the adult learners I interact with every day as a reading teacher. I know something is wrong but I don't know what it is. I know something about providing instructional accommodations but I'm doing that to the best of my ability with a limited knowledge base. The other difficulty I've found, at least in Maryland, is that there is a shortage of services for adults with learning disabilities as the main focus appears to be on children. I'm curious to learn how others face this challenge and overcome it.

    Kim Bellerive, Assistant Director

    Adult Literacy and ESOL Program

    Greater Homewood Community Corporation

     

    "I got approximately 3 credit hours of special education training which is required for regular education teachers."

    Clearly, that is not enough! Classroom teachers should be able to identify candidates for child study/services and be able to make accommodations before it takes place. For example, most teachers should know that if a child (or adult!) is acting out, distracted, or incapable of following directions, that child or adult should sit in front of the class or near the teacher. Instructions may have to be repeated and/or explained separately. I know this sounds basic, but I have had the experience of teachers NOT knowing this.

    In college, I had the fortune of tutoring in writing many LD adults, so I started recognizing some patterns. For example, the severely dyslexic students had more than just difficulty spelling. They often could not put sentences together. They misused words.

    Certainly, though, these manifestations could also be seen in ESOL students. Obviously, it was easier to identify a native speaker with some kind of learning challenge. What I discovered, though, is I ended up providing similar tutorial services to and using similar styles with both LD and ESL students. At one point, I had become "the person" admin would send ESL students to. I really believe these references evolved because I had worked with so many LD students (not because I was some teaching genius LOL).

    Unfortunately, when I later worked in higher education administration, I would become frustrated with faculty who didn't understand when I told them they needed to provide "accommodations" and/or extra help to both LD and ESL students. I assumed they had training and experience in these areas, but they did not. My (ridiculous) middle management position didn't allow me to provide much guidance, and the school (a career school) was not in favor of spending extra dollars on student services or teacher training in this area. The results were of course, high failure and drop-out rates. We see the same thing in any educational setting.

    Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt

    Prince William County Public Schools

    Adult Education

     

    "For example, most teachers should know that if a child (or adult!) is acting out, distracted, or incapable of following directions, that child or adult should sit in front of the class or near the teacher. Instructions may have to be repeated and/or explained separately."

    I learned some of these things in the class I took and others through experience. Since there are no certification requirements for adult ed in Maryland, adult educators need to be shown what to look out for and how to help learners who exhibit certain behaviors that might lead to learning disabilities. Without my elementary ed background and scant 3 credit hours and 4 years teaching experience in grades 1-4, I would not have known what to look for or what to do when I saw the signs. Adult educators don't have that kind of training unless they have a background in it or professional development for it. Reportedly 50-80% of adult learners have some form of learning disabilities so I'd say it's pretty important that EVERYONE knows what to look for and how to work with learners with LDs.

    Kim Bellerive, Assistant Director

    Adult Literacy and ESOL Program

    Greater Homewood Community Corporation

     

    Hello again for DAY TWO of our focus on transition!

    As we move through the day, I¹ll be addressing more of your questions and comments from yesterday (there was some lovely, lively discussion last evening!). But I thought I'd lay some groundwork first, having promised to focus on students' legal rights and responsibilities, how teachers can help students participate in the transition planning process, and what adult educators might expect students to know if they have been on an IEP in high school. Later we'll also talk a bit about what adult educators can do to help those who have not been diagnosed and served under IDEA with transition-related skills.

    It's very important that teens in transition and their families understand that IDEA does not apply to higher education. Colleges do not offer special education; they are not required to design special programs for students with disabilities and are not legally mandated to provide individual aides or tutors. Colleges instead provide disability services. Under Section 504
    of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, discrimination based on disability is prohibited. Otherwise qualified students with disabilities (students who have equivalent qualifications to non-disabled applicants) must have equal
    access--through the provision of reasonable accommodations or auxiliary aids--to the full range of educational programs and activities offered to all students on campus.

    Disability laws ensure access, but students must still meet the university's standards for admissions, course content, and graduation; these standards do not have to be altered for students with disabilities. The major thing students need to know is that they are only protected if they self-identify and provide documentation of their disability. For students who choose not to self-identify and struggle academically, there is no retroactive protection - they could well find themselves in major academic danger. All of this is paralleled in the work world. The same laws apply. The ADA protects against discrimination based on disability in all aspects of employment, including recruitment, application, hiring, promotion, transfer, layoff, termination, and leaves. It requires employers with fifteen or more employees to provide qualified individuals with disabilities an equal opportunity to benefit from the full range of employment-related options available to others. People with LD do qualify under the ADA, since their disability substantially limits one or more major life activities, in this case work. Section 504 states that "no qualified individual with a disability in the United States shall be excluded from, denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under" any program or activity that receives Federal financial assistance. Qualified individuals with disabilities must be able to meet the normal and essential eligibility requirements of the position for which they are hired and, with reasonable accommodations, perform the essential functions of the job. Again the clincher is that the person must disclose and provide documentation that accommodations are needed. The systems that have nurtured and protected him or her under IDEA no longer apply, and the people who have been available to meet disability-related needs will no longer be available. It is a harsh reality; youth with LD must understand that when they enter the adult world, they will be left to their own devices to contend with this invisible disability.

    They may well be eligible for adult services, such as vocational rehabilitation but, again, they need to reach out for what they need, and eligibility must be determined by each adult service agency.

    So, to the question posed by Patrick Mulvihill re: the skills needed for transitioning from a world of entitlement to a world of eligibility, I come back to the need for self-advocacy! Students must understand and accept their LD, must be familiar with their rights and responsibilities under Section 504 and the ADA, and must be able to both disclose and ask for what they need in terms of accommodations and modifications.

    In my next post, I'll talk a bit more about how teachers can go about preparing students for this major shift from entitlement. In the meantime, what are you folks doing to help your students in this regard? We'd love to hear what has worked and what hasn't as you've worked with students in this area!

    Best to you all-

    Arlyn Roffman

     

    As I think I stated earlier, Florida has a requirement in state board policy that all students with a disability must have been taught self-determination/self-advocacy skills sometime beginning at age 14 and that this must be documented on the student's Transition IEP. In order to meet this requirement, The Transition Center at the University of Florida and the Florida Bureau of Exceptional Education and Student Services, have been offering statewide training on several self-determination curricula, most recently on a curriculum called Standing Up for Me. This curriculum was developed for students with disabilities and has lessons for students from kindergarten to grade 12.

    One of the biggest issues that comes up at these trainings, is how to reach those students with disabilities that are fully included in the general education program. How do you teach them the self-determination skills that they need and how do you document that this has been done (once again the paperwork requirement)?

    I would like to hear from others on the list as to how they reach those students with disabilities who are fully included, especially those students with learning disabilities who are expected to graduate with a standard diploma and continue their education in some type of post-secondary institution.

    Patrick Mulvihill, Consultant

    The Transition Center at the University of Florida

     

    In my province, because LD is based on the discrepancy model, students who are doing well are supported both in school and in university through such mechanisms as providing more time to complete tests, taking tests orally. While I don't have statistics, it seems that if LD students reach university they do well. The expectation is that they are as intelligent as the next student, they only need an accommodation to help them demonstrate the knowledge they have.

    The bottleneck seems to be in the school system, when strategies, programs, plans, are not available to unlock the potential students have and they fall by the wayside and do not make it to university.

    By the way, in order to avail of accommodations by professors, the student must attend the Counseling Centre where a file is set up. This information is then communicated to the professor. In addition to the time, oral testing factors, professors tend to do other supportive things in their teaching such as speaking slower rather than faster, using oral language and visual aids, clearly stating points if there is a sequence, and in some cases, the LD student may have a notetaker.

    Bill Fagan

     

    Also, LD assessment results can be used to gain the adult learner accommodations for GED testing or External Diploma testing. Also some vocational licensing programs will only offer testing accommodations if there is a documented need for them.

    Kim Bellerive, Assistant Director - Adult Literacy and ESOL Program

    Greater Homewood Community Corporation

     

    Does anyone have these statistics to share?

    Sharon Reynolds, Coordinator

    Central/Southeast ABLE Resource Center

    Ohio University

     

    Bill Fagan wrote - ... While I don't have statistics, it seems that if LD students reach university they do well. The expectation is that they are as intelligent as the next student, they only need an accommodation to help them demonstrate the knowledge they have.

    The bottleneck seems to be in the school system, when strategies, programs, plans, are not available to unlock the potential students have and they fall by the wayside and do not make it to university.

    Bill, I fully agree that school systems aren't doing enough to promote continuation on to postsecondary learning for students with LD. I agree that schools should be doing more to help students learn to problem-solve and strategize, and certainly to be self-aware. But I think our biggest failing is low expectations. Too many students fail to even consider continuing on because no one is telling them that it's a possibility. Some are capable of attending highly competitive colleges; others need to find settings with less rigorous academic demands. But even students who don't look like traditional "college material" have options to continue. According to Dr. Loring Brinckerhoff, who wrote the postsecondary chapter in my book, the majority of students with learning disabilities who enroll in post-secondary education start by spending a year or two at their local community college, where there is generally an open admissions policy, meaning a high school diploma or a GED is all that is necessary for admission. There are many financial and academic advantages of the community college option, but there is a potential psychological benefit as well, since, as a non-residential institution where all students are commuters, students are able to ³try out² the college experience close to home, near family and friends.

    The fact is, in the US (you mention your province, so I'm guessing you're from Canada), only 20% of students with LD enroll in college, and MANY of those (nearly half) never graduate. So, once they do matriculate, we would do well to make sure students with LD have access to more than just classroom accommodations. Coming back to my comments yesterday about community living skills, we should see to it that there's support for their adjustment to the many changes that come with college life. We need to help them adjust to larger classes, to less structured time, to having to balance academics with social demands, to less frequent feedback from instructors, to having to manage their finances independently, to dealing with roommates, and on and on. Time management alone is a HUGE challenge for students on college campuses. So, in high school and in postsecondary settings, we need to help students prepare for the broader demands of the college experience. As I keep saying over and over again here, LD is far more than just about reading and writing!

    Arlyn

     

    Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt wrote-

    ... When my daughters got the psychological evaluations, I was told that kids with LD often had average or above average intelligence. That's not in the VA description, however (which I just looked up out of curiosity). So there may be some confusion on my part between the psych descriptions and the academic descriptions. I think this is probably common since many parents must get their children evaluated outside of school (via a psychiatrist) before the school will test them for learning disabilities. At least, this has been my experience in this state.

    Hi again-

    Yes, you're making a LOT of sense. It's not surprising to me that you were told that kids with LD often have average or above average intelligence. The fact is, they often do, but they also often don't. What we have here is a residual hang-on belief by MANY people (both professionals and non-), that LD is tied to average intellectual ability. This debate goes back decades, and I wish it would go away!

    Arlyn

     

    The Bridges to Practice training put on by NIFL stressed that LD students have average to above average intelligence. A student with MR may have a LD, but the distinguishing factor of LD is average IQ.

    B. J. Helton

     

    BJ Helton wrote-

    The Bridges to Practice training put on by NIFL stressed that LD students have average to above average intelligence. A student with MR may have a LD, but the distinguishing factor of LD is average IQ.

    Hi-

    Alas, I knew I'd be opening a can of worms on this issue... I was on the Professional Advisory Board of the original Bridges group, and this was discussed. I haven't seen the materials lately, but I'm sorry if IQ is down as a criterion. Please understand that I am in NO WAY implying that MR and LD are the same thing OR that a person with MR might have LD. But an individual with an IQ in the low-average range (e.g. 75-90), which is above retardation level, can certainly have LD. Too often these folks fall through the cracks. Bridges leaders, what say you on this?

    Arlyn

     

    There have been so many excellent questions and a lot of very valuable information shared-----thank you all so much! As an instructor who works with adults with disabilities at a tech center, I truly believe that well-developed self-advocacy skills very often make the difference between success and failure for students at the post-secondary level. In addition to Pat's information, I would like to share the name and website of a program out of Colorado with everyone: LEAD (Learning and Educating About Disabilities) at www.leadcolorado.org/. ----"We as students have adopted a mission to educate ourselves and others with respect to dealing with the social, academic and emotional aspect of learning disabilities." I am happy to say I have had the opportunity to experience a presentation given by a group of LEAD students at a conference and it is an EXPERIENCE! You see first hand what a tremendous difference a thorough understanding of one's disability combined with good self-advocacy skills can make. When ESE students graduate and enter the adult world, the umbrella of support to which they have become very accustomed, begins to change. They need to have the skills and ability to adjust to those changes. Strong self-advocacy skills, along with a continuing effort to build awareness in post-secondary education facilities, will lead to many more positive outcomes for students with disabilities as they transition into adulthood.
    Diane Long

     

    The real benefits of the belief that people with LD have average to above average intelligence is that teachers are more willing to use metacognitive approaches like strategy instruction and other evidence-based practices rather than remediation.

    Also, it is easier for the teachers to commit to strength-based practices like working with a person with LD as a "learning partner" rather than "deficit-based" relationships and approaches.

    Most of the definitions of LD that I have seen, do contain the "average to above average" term. In my case, being assigned to the bluebird group (less than average intelligence) in primary school, created a stigma that was much more difficult to deal with than my LD. I could compensate for the LD, but "attitude is the biggest barrier for people with disabilities".

    Michael Tate

     

    No statistics, But I'd like to address Will's idea that LD students may do better in the college system than they did in K-12. A lot of colleges/professors still have a fairly elitist view of higher education and feel that if a student requires or requests accommodations, he or she probably shouldn't be there - the person just isn't "college material." Also, some systems are good about providing accommodations for students with visible disabilities but more reluctant to provide them for those who look like "regular" students, even with documentation. They don't consciously discriminate, but they have an inherent bias about what constitutes a disability and what's reasonable for a school to provide.

    Another difficulty potential college students face when entering into college, regardless of age, is simply negotiating the obstacles of being there - scheduling, dealing with financial aid, registration, meal plans and housing arrangements, transportation, buying texts, new people, activities and settings - often without the more familiar structure of the K-12 system which has been their exposure to education in the past. It's overwhelming and confusing enough for more typical college students, but for those who may struggle with memory, prioritizing, time management, spatial orientation, decoding and/or comprehension, it may be more than they can cope with on their own. So, while they may do well once in class, they may not make it that far.

    KC Andrew

    Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges

    Adult Basic Education - Professional Development Services

     

    I second KC's comments about reluctant professors making life hard for students with special needs. ? When I was advocating for students with LD or other needs at a private university, I was appalled at the outright hostility SOME professors expressed about students with challenges--indeed, exactly the words, " "They are not college material,"? were frequently used. ( Like all people apparently WITHOUT challenges are college material???)??? One professor, faced with a student with real dysgraphia, commented that if a student could not handwrite theses, she or he should never graduate from college.

    Then there are those who cooperated but were ignorant of the law, such as the professor who agreed readily to a student having a scribe, but turned to the whole class and asked who would like to take notes for ___X as he couldn't do it himself, or the art history professor who reluctantly agreed to an alternative testing format, but made the student in question turn to the wall , unlike all the others--thereby blowing his privacy protection.....

    On the other hand, many professors either were extremely cooperative or simply had not thought about accommodations-- like the professor in a community college who was asked by a student with GREAT self advocacy skills ( a graduate of Arlyn's Threshold Program, actually!)? if he could write more things on the board since the student couldn't take notes very well. The professor? was more than willing and expressed surprise that he hadn't thought to do it earlier.?? By the way, this student, who was literally TERRIFIED to try real college courses, became the hero of the class, which was mostly populated by ESL students, who couldn't keep up with the professor's oral-only presentations, either!!

    Robin Lovrien Schwarz, M. Sp. Ed:LD

    Independent Consultant in Adult ESOL/ Education and Learning Difficulties

     

    A few points. It is unfortunate when LD or any students encounter "elitist" professors. It is the law here that LD students must be accommodated so there are grounds for appeal if a student feels he/she is not being accommodated.

    One point that should not be ignored is that LD students often have parents who are skilled and dedicated advocates and tend to provide more support for their children in coping with "life skills" than do parents of non-LD students.

    Bill

     

    This has been an interesting discussion so far. However, I may have a slightly different point of view. As an educator who works with ABE, GED, and college students, I encounter an interesting array of students each and every semester. After reading some of the postings, and reflecting on some of the workshops and conferences I have attended, it is often implied, if not explicitly stated, that college professors are either insensitive, or altogether ignorant, to the challenges faced by LD students. Unfortunately, there is a large contingent of students, both with and without LD, who exhibit poor work habits and erratic attendance patterns. While I am sensitive to the needs of my students, especially those identified as LD, learners cannot be absolved from their responsibilities as students. Please do not misconstrue my statements as any sort of aspersion against students with LD. I am simply making the contention that LD students, and college students as a whole, can be lazy, and sometimes lack the dedication and work ethic requisite for postsecondary success. Not all college professors are elitist, and I personally know many who do understand the needs of students with diagnosed and undiagnosed learning disabilities. However, there are no accommodations for missing classes and failing to turn in assignments... the students bear responsibility in their education as well.

    Lance Baxter, Assistant Professor

    Daytona Beach Community College

     

    Lance--interesting that you should bring this up--I can't remember if it was on this list or another that a conversation ensued a while ago about the problem of students who have been essentially coddled in typical GED programs and adult education programs, where attendance is voluntary and absences not really counted against the student. Some were finding that when these students transition to college or other post-secondary settings where attendance is compulsory, they are shocked to find out they have to be there all the time? There was some consensus in the discussion that part of the transition process should include a period of time when attendance is compulsory for participation in some transition? program or other to help these learners face this difficulty??

    If anyone on this discussion was at the recent transition conference in RI, was this topic addressed???

    Robin Lovrien Schwarz, M.Sp.Ed:LD

    Independent Consultant in Adult ESOL/Education and Learning Difficulties

     

    Hi all-

    Our two days are coming to a close, but I promised to address how teachers can help students participate in the transition planning process. Since it all centers on students' vision of their future, before the meeting they should be guided through a series of conversations about post-school outcomes, what they would like their life to look like once they leave high school. These discussions should help them prepare to answer questions that will arise in the meeting, such as in what setting and with whom they would like to live, what they would like to do with their free time, how they envision themselves participating in community life, the kind of job they would like to have, whether they would like to continue their studies, and about other similar long-term aspirations. In Guiding Teens with LD, there is a questionnaire to help students think through their vision in each of these domains. There is a parallel questionnaire for parents.

    As I mentioned in one of yesterday¹s posts, students should be explicitly taught about the purpose of the IEP, the goal of the transition planning process, and the importance of their active involvement and self-advocacy. They should know what to expect in terms of the meeting's agenda. Role playing active involvement is often a useful strategy to help them prepare to participate. One of the Discussion List participants asked how to fit in such training for college-track students. For those who need it, I recommend writing in this training as a transition goal and building it into the student's schedule as a workshop during free periods.

    My outline of these two days also included talking about what adult educators might expect students to know if they have been on an IEP in high school. The answer is that since the IEP is highly individualized, there is no one set of goals for students on ed plans; thus, it is impossible to predict what they will know when they come to you. In the best of worlds, one could expect self-advocacy training, study skills, and organizational support to have been built in and that students will arrive in adult ed with an awareness of the kinds of accommodations they need to manage in work and learning environments. I¹m interested in hearing what others of you have to say on this topic! Have students come to you with this knowledge?

    I also promised to talk about what adult educators can do to help those who have NOT been diagnosed and served under IDEA with transition-related skills. My chief suggestion is to focus first on the self-determination and self-advocacy skills discussed at length over the last couple of days. If they don't have the knowledge described in the previous paragraph, help them develop it. And despite the controversy, I still contend that community living skills are essential and worthy of your time in ABE settings. Find out what students are struggling with- can they fill out application forms for work and medical forms at their doctor¹s office? Can they read a bedtime story to their child or grandchild? Do they know how much change to expect when they make a purchase at their grocery store? Can they read the aisle signs at their local pharmacy? Focus instruction on survival skills, which will be highly motivating and practical.

    In the days ahead, I will keep an eye out for more questions and comments and will try to come back to some of the questions there was no time to address. It's been a pleasure!

    Arlyn Roffman, PhD., Professor of Special Education

    Lesley University

     

    "It is the law here that LD students must be accommodated so there are grounds for appeal if a student feels he/she is not being accommodated." Are you referring to the A.D.A.?

    Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt

     

    Re: "...how teachers can help students participate in the transition planning process. Since it all centers on students¹ vision of their future, before the meeting they should be guided through a series of conversations about post-school outcomes, what they would like their life to look like once they leave high school. These discussions should help them prepare to answer questions that will arise in the meeting, such as in what setting and with whom they would like to live, what they would like to do with their free time, how they envision themselves participating in community life, the kind of job they would like to have, whether they would like to continue their studies, and about other similar long-term aspirations."

    Arlyn, how would you help a student who wants to enter the military to transition? Are there specific requirements that LD students need to consider (other than passing the physical)? Does the military even accept LD students? Are there accommodations in the military?

    Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt, Online ESOL Instructor

    Prince William County Public Schools

    Adult Education

     

    Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt asked:

    Arlyn, how would you help a student who wants to enter the military to transition? Are there specific requirements that LD students need to consider (other than passing the physical)? Does the military even accept LD students? Are there accommodations in the military?

    Hi Katherine-

    I don't have a definitive answer about LD in the military, but not long ago I was at a meeting in Washington and there was a representative there from Hanscom Air Force Base in MA. Since it was a meeting about transition and LD, I'm guessing her position is to provide some sort of support once they're in.

    I just did some Googling and came up with the fact that one does not have to have a high school diploma to enlist, but a GED is necessary if there's no diploma. Also, there's a test, called the ASVAB, one has to take. It's a multiple choice test with 200 questions. One has three hours to complete ten short tests.

    The ASVAB tests cover General Science, Arithmetic Reasoning, Word Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension, Numerical Operations, Coding Speed, Auto and Shop Information, Mathematics Knowledge, Mechanical Comprehension and Electronics Information. No one passes or fails the ASVAB. However, to be considered for enlistment in the Army, one has to score at least a 31. Scores are provided on a report called the ASVAB Student Results Sheet, with additional
    information to help understand what they mean.

    Seems to me, with your student you would set a goal to narrow down which branch of the services is of interest, then contact a rep to ask questions about accommodations on the test AND in training for those who DO get in. There are sample questions on the web, so you could have the student try those and see whether it seems too daunting or actually approachable. If the latter is the case, you could help the student prepare for the test.

    Beyond that, I think it would make a lot of sense to set another goal of interviewing a carefully chosen enlistee (perhaps one with an LD) about the realities of life in the services, help your student identify which pieces might be particularly challenging, and - back to my basic bottom-line transition goals again - help him/her learn how to self-disclose and self-advocate for any needed accommodations.

    The structure of the services might be very helpful for some with LD. I'd be interested in hearing from others on the list who have more experience with students who've gone this route (or who've tried and failed).

    Arlyn

     

    Re: figuring out what goals to set with students, Tom Woods wrote: I made up a self-assessment that asks them about where they stand in various aspects of life. For instance, they may tell me they have a place to live but when I ask for their mailing address, they can't give one. Hopefully, the question will get them thinking about where will they actually be staying. I ask about their immediate needs... Will they have a drivers license...how will they transport themselves to the grocery store, to work, to the doctors office... What hobbies do you have? How much spare time will you have to engage in hobbies or recreation?

    When students say, 'wow. I never thought about that before,' then I know the self-assessment has started a few wheels turning in their heads and it gives us a place to start a discussion.

    Tom, this is just the kind of assessment that is needed to lead to meaningful goal setting! I love how you've tuned in to community living skills. You may want to add questions about how it goes for them at the doctor's office- any trouble filling out forms? Or, at the bank- any issues
    making deposits, reading bank statements, or maintaining a budget/living within their means? Getting to places on time? (If this one is a problem, it needs further investigation, as tardiness could be a result of a variety of issues, including problems with executive function, problems reading the bus schedule, attention issues that distract him/her from leaving home in a timely fashion, etc.). A good interview will reap much information that can drive your transition planning.

    Arlyn

     

    Wrapping up by responding to a few stray comments from the last couple of days...

    Kim Bellerive wrote:

    "I got approximately 3 credit hours of special education training which is required for regular education teachers."

    This is clearly the biggest downfall of the inclusion movement, which was created to provide high quality differentiated instruction for ALL students. When pre-service gen ed teachers are so inadequately trained in special education, they head into their careers grossly under-prepared to serve students well. This often has repercussions in terms of classroom management
    as well as academic instruction, and I believe it contributes to the high attrition rate among new teachers who are incredibly frustrated by their lack of preparation for the realities of the inclusive classroom.

    * * * *

    Julie Ennis wrote:

    "I believe that another important question when deciding whether an adult should be assessed for learning disabilities, is the following.... what would be done with the results of such an evaluation? A formal assessment of ability and achievement can only be justified if the results can be used to inform a program of remediation of identified disabilities."

    A formal evaluation provides documentation that allows individuals with disabilities to take advantage of their legal protections and request accommodations under the ADA and 504 at work, in postsecondary learning settings, and on testing, such as on the GED. It can also help an individual understand exactly why he or she has trouble learning and, if it comes with a good report with clear recommendations, can, as you point out, inform instruction. But, instruction can also be informed by less formal assessment.

    On the topic of assessment, Ruth Bourquin wrote to me last week to remind me that in Massachusetts, as a result of the complaint that she filed with the Office for Civil Rights, adults who receive welfare (TAFDC) benefits for themselves and their children and who agree to participate in work-related activities can be screened for LD by their welfare worker and, if screened positively, referred for an in-depth diagnostic assessment paid for by the welfare department (DTA). It doesn't solve the problem for those not on TAFDC in Massachusetts but it might provide a model for people to advocate for with their state education agencies ‹ or their state TANF agencies ‹ to get them to implement similar procedures.

    The Department of Vocational Rehabilitation will also conduct assessments.

    * * * * *

    Michael Tate wrote:

    "The real benefits of the belief that people with LD have average to above average intelligence is that teachers are more willing to use metacognitive approaches like strategy instruction and other evidence-based practices rather than remediation. Also, it is easier for the teachers to commit to strength-based practices like working with a person with LD as a "learning partner" rather than "deficit-based" relationships and approaches."

    Michael, ALL students deserve and benefit from a strength-based approach. Indeed, it's the mandate of IDEA 2004 to approach instruction from his angle. I've seen students with IQs measuring in the high 70s who are great readers but miserable in math; I've seen students with an IQ in the above-average range with the same profile. Both benefit from designing
    instruction that calls upon their strengths and helps them work around their weaknesses.

    * * * * *

    Bill Fagan wrote:

    "It is unfortunate when LD or any students encounter "elitist" professors. It is the law here that LD students must be accommodated so there are grounds for appeal if a student feels he/she is not being accommodated."

    At the postsecondary level, students are only protected and guaranteed accommodations if they disclose their LD and provide documentation of their need for accommodations. They can certainly appeal if the prof doesn't come through after they've taken those steps, but only if they have taken the responsibility to disclose up front, before LD-related academic problems surface.

    Bill also commented:

    "One point that should not be ignored is that LD students often have parents who are skilled and dedicated advocates and tend to provide more support for their children in coping with "life skills" than do parents of non-LD students."

    I agree with you that parents of students with LD can make great advocates and teachers of life skills. The tricky part for many parents of youth with LD is the process of letting go, of turning over the reins to their teen or young adult to start to SELF- advocate and ask for the help they need. As the parent of a 20-year-old without disabilities, I'm having a hard enough time with this myself, but especially for those parents who have kids that have needed their constant advocacy over the years, this is a tough step. It's hard too for their children, who may have become so dependent on their parents' advocacy that they've developed "learned helplessness". We need to empower these youth, to help them see they can take charge.

    * * * *

    Lance Baxter wrote:

    "...While I am sensitive to the needs of my students, especially those identified as LD, learners cannot be absolved from their responsibilities as students. Please do not misconstrue my statements as any sort of aspersion against students with LD. I am simply making the contention that LD students, and college students as a whole, can be lazy, and sometimes lack the dedication and work ethic requisite for postsecondary success. Not all college professors are elitist, and I personally know many who do understand the needs of students with diagnosed and undiagnosed learning disabilities. However, there are no accommodations for missing classes and failing to turn in assignments... the students bear responsibility in their education as well."

    I'm with you on this, Lance! As a university professor myself, I know MANY faculty who are highly sensitive and aware and do all they can to accommodate the learning needs of their students. But you are absolutely on target when you say that students have a responsibility too and that faculty have to hold them to the same standards as they have for others. Accommodations are meant to level the playing field so that learners can meet the same standards of performance as others students. There is no need to relax the bottom-line expectations.

    So, I think that's it, folks. I wish you all well as you work on transition-related issues and skills with your students. It's been a pleasure!

    Arlyn

     

    Let me put my oar in here one more time to remind readers of the list that a GREAT MANY accommodations that really help a lot of learners with challenges can be used for the GED WITHOUT? documentation or diagnosis?? This includes use of colored overlays, having a koosh ball or other fidget object, using scratch paper, wearing a hat, and taking the tests one at a time?? GED examiners have a list of these accommodations in their testing manuals and it would be WONDERFUL if every examiner shared that list with every GED program in his or her region who feeds people to the examination site??

    Every program, teacher and student should know about these and try them out well ahead of time to see if they make the critical difference, which, believe it or not, they often do??

    Robin Lovrien Schwarz, M. Sp.Ed;LD

    Independent Consultant in Adult ESOL/Education and Learning Difficulties

     

    Hi:

    I am speaking of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. This may be a Canadian Federal (national) law but I am not sure of that.

    Bill

     

    To Robin:

    Excellent points including the FDR quote.

    Bill

     

    Hello,

    What a wonderful discussion this has been! The discussion took some interesting twists and turns as Dr. Roffman led us through the important aspects of transitioning to adulthood. Thank you to the following members that have posted questions, comments, and generally added to the discussion: Pat Cross, Deborah Stedman, Gail Price, Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt, Julie Ennis, Christy Breihan, Joy Suldo, Richard Gacka, Tom Woods, Patrick Mulvihill, Lucille Cuttler, Will Fagan, Kathryn Quinn, Michael Tate, Jim Schneider, Rae Connors, Jim Spacht, Jean Gassman, Andrea Wilder, Beverly Cranmer, Russell Smith, Susan Jones, Robin Schwarz, David Rosen, Fern Klement, Dixie Klement, Rosalind M., Kim Bellerive, Sharon Reynolds, B. J. Helton, Diane Long, KC Andrew, and Lance Baxter. Thank you especially to Dr. Arlyn Roffman for leading us in this discussion and answering your questions. I respect her expertise in this field and
    greatly appreciate the time she took out of her busy schedule to plan, prepare
    for, and conduct this discussion. For those of you that are interested in learning more about Dr. Roffman's newest book on Transition, go to the National Center for Learning Disabilities
    website at http://www.ncld.org/college-aamp-work/post-high-school-options/transitioning-to-college/guiding-teens-with-learning-disabilities-an-interview-with-dr-arlyn-roffman . There's an interview, excerpts from the book, and ordering information.

    Thanks to all,

    Rochelle Kenyon, Moderator

    NIFL/LINCS Learning Disabilities Discussion List

    Center for Literacy Studies at the University of Tennessee

     

    Just a heads-up to any of you folks who might be interested. On November 13th from 12-1 EST, the National Center for LD is hosting an online discussion (LD TALK) entitled, "Accommodations: More than Just Extended Time". Seems relevant for many of you. Check it out at ncld.org.

    Arlyn Roffman

     

    I have followed the discussions with Arlyn and wish to add a few points of clarification ...

    1) The term average to above average intelligence was only put in the definition (and the law) to help explain that the issues of being LD was not manifestation of a general low intelligence (or as we say in this country MR) ... What is defined as average or above average intelligence goes as low as 70 IQ (not starting at 90 or 100 or so)- which (70+ IQ or so) actually accounts for some 98% of the population --- So we should not be making a big deal over this average and above average --- it just means, or was intended to mean, that people who are showing signs of LD are not showing the signs of LD because they are (to used the ugly term) "retarded". They have "specific" limitations, not a general limitation.

    2) Most people who are LD are not do well in college. Although they are doing better then in the recent past ... The National Data in the 90's showed that almost 90% of those with LD who entered college did not complete in the first 5 years. While bad, it's not as bad as it sounds at first glance because 75% of the general population who enter college do not graduate in the first five years either. (While certain colleges, like Lesley, Beacon etc, may have much better results, this is the composite national data figures)

    Based on more recent stats, it seems that the rate now is about 85% for LD (college drop outs) --- so not quite yet to the general population but getting closer.

    3) You can not compare the success rate of those with LD in high school to those in college and have any meaningful data. Those in high school are compelled to be there by law, and those in college are there by choice. In addition, there is no qualification for high school other then residency, as opposed to having to qualify for college. Plus the services provided for LD in high school are greatly different then in college. (And those in college tend to be from far wealthier households on average then those who do not go to college)

    A more meaningful statistic is the rate of those with LD in high school who transition to college compared to the rate of those without LD who transition to college, and here ... We are very far behind and there is a significant statistical difference ... The LD rate, at least about 7 years ago, seems to be about 4% of those with LD in High school, graduate high school and then go on to a four year college, as compared to 40% of the general high school population that graduates and then goes on to a 4 year college (sixty percent go on either a two or four year college, but I am not sure of the data for LD going to two year colleges.

    So the bottom line is that 95% or so of kids with LD, in the K-12 system either, do not graduate (drop out), age out, get some kind of "special diploma" or in fact do get a regular high school degree, and when they do exit school, in one way or another, do not go on to college.

    Yet, I would guess that close to 95% of the information on transition for kids with LD is about how to get ready for college and what to do in college ... This truism seems to be a great disconnect from reality. Yes, we all want to see our kids go to college, but wishing don't make it so ... We need to have far greater resources for those with LD who are not going to college and prepare them for the world outside of school ...

    If someone has newer data on LD going to college, I'd like to know.

    And based on this understanding that most kids with LD do not go to college (and in fact most kids with LD are not identified in school as having LD, lastly I have one more point to make ...

    4) Transition means transition --- to somewhere .... And where ever it is - it's not high school ... None of the concepts of IEP's or any other aspect of special education, no lessening of standards, no "make it easier, etc) are any longer valid - wherever they are going ... The only thing out there for persons with LD is .... (with the rare exceptions of those so disabled that they actually qualify for SSI, or those few who actually get support from Voc Rehabilitation, ... Is the protections against discrimination based on disability under the ADA or Section 504 ... And mostly, the sole benefit within these laws that is the right to accommodations.

    Therefore ... Regardless of if you think that making the person with LD try harder (as if we don't try hard already, if not harder then others) is the right answer, or only giving the accommodations in high school as a last effort (which sound very cruel to me) --- when it comes to transition, when it comes to being outside of the K-12 system ... That's it ... Accommodations is it ... And unless the person with LD can be trained to both understand that basic fact, and are trained to ask for the accommodation when needed, and trained to understand that it is their right under the law, to have these accommodations .... We can simply forget the whole idea of transition for everyone with LD, but especially the 95% of those with LD not headed to college .... (And sending the message that accommodations is something that should be used only after all else had failed ... Is not preparing the person with the right message)

    We got one big card in our favor, outside of high school, ... Lets use it ... Or else ,,, all of us with LD are just some other people who seem odd and are not qualified for most jobs ... (because without the use of accommodations, we won't be able to do many jobs we could do with accommodation ... This statement is one based in the basic understanding of what is a disability)

    SO .... Again ... To me the statements on this list, in this discussion on transition, and other LD points ... too often seem to be like the old cliché of a "group of blind people describing an elephant" --- everyone seems to be "looking" at this issue from only what is right in front of their nose, and only from their immediate perspective (as a teacher in K-12, or someone involved in college, or a parent,) and think they have the whole picture, so natural it seems like the disability is so different to everyone ...from that narrow perspective it is.

    So I please ask everyone to step back and look at the whole issue of LD and understand the issue from the point of view of the person with LD as they face it being a kid, a teen, and an adult, with all the complexities of each of these life stages and not just a student or a worker, etc), while also being impacted by the neurological impairment we call LD. Trying to have a broader view may help the user of this list to have better understanding of the issues at hand.

    Thanks

    Glenn Young

     

    Glenn wrote:

    What is defined as average or above average intelligence goes as low as 70 IQ (not starting at 90 or 100 or so)

    I agree with much of what Glenn had to say, but can't let the above go without commenting. On the Wechsler scales, "average" IQ is 90-110. Various levels of mental retardation begin below about 70. A person whose score falls in between is considered to have "low average" intelligence.

    Arlyn Roffman, PhD

    Lesley University

     

    Yes Arlyn ... 70+ is considered "low average" but for the purpose of LD definition .... For the original intent of why the language was put in ... Low average is counted in the term "average or above average intelligence" for LD assessment ... And people with 70+ IQ can and do fit very well into the diagnostics for LD ... And when we used the appropriate "regression scales" (mandated in most states school systems) to wipe out some of the race, gender and class issues that are inherent in the Wechsler scales ..., we far better capture this 70-90 IQ LD population (which turns out to be predominately female and predominately poor, and people of color. - Not that poor females of color or less "intelligent" its that the test is clearly biased against people who are poor, poor and female, and poor and female and of color (Using the regression scales allows for required differential in scores to be decreased and the lower IQ factors work for persons who are not "white middle class boys in the suburbs" (or penthouses)

    So ... We need to make this issue far more clear ... You don't have to have a general IQ of 90 plus for being classified as LD ... Just 70 plus ... And sometimes not even that ...

    And that when we do use the discrepancy formulas, we need to use them with regression scales ... (as is done in most states K-12 systems but do not seem to transfer to private practice people dealing with Adults much) to eliminate the inherent bias, SO ... Let us stop talking of LD as the model developed for the middle class families in the 1960's so their kids would not be called Minimum Brain Damaged (MBD), and the model that was designed to meet the needs of that group of people (wealthier families with "weird sons" not doing well in school) And let us join the modern age, in which the more appropriate model of LD is seen from the perspective of neurological impacts that is actually more likely to occur with poorer persons (based on environmental risk factors increase by issues of poverty) ... With lower "IQ" scores, based on lower income issues etc) and finally get this "average or above average nonsense out of our conversation.

    All it was meant to say was that these people with LD are not MR ... So OK ... They are not MR ... They don't have to geniuses to be LD ... Nor super smart ... Nor even just smart ... LD impacts all along the "bell curve of intelligence" and that at a certain point, the intent of the term ... Was we stop calling it LD and start calling it MR ... OK?

    Glenn Young

     

    Robin, what is the old saying? ... No man is an Island ... ok no one with LD is not impacted by a great many other things ,,, and I agree with you (greatly) that full evaluations of all potential barriers to learning need to be considered and addressed (hearing, vision, domestic violence, use of drugs, impact of the use of drugs, homelessness (I can go on for a very long time ...) but all of this need for evaluation and addressing other factors does not undermine the idea that many of the people with this list of issues, and so many other issues, may also have LD .... So the answer is of course to try and address all potential issues, and not stop because you found one issue (whether its dyslexia or hunger) And of course someone who is very hungry will not likely focus on an Orton Gillingham lesson ...etc.

    However, even if all what you say about other impacts are true and the need to address these impacts are true ... it does not support you statement that it is unlikely that 50-80% of adults in adult education programs have LD ... There is no correlation between your two statements ... people can have unaddressed vision problems and LD as well ... etc Its not likely one or the other, but both ...

    And, considering the limited pool of people who are eligible in this country for adult Ed ...(which is not much like the profile of the general pool of the population) and what the education (and health, and poverty, etc) backgrounds of these people are (when compared to the general population), and how they greatly fit the profile of those who are most likely to have a neurological impairment that we call LD ... the opposite of your statement is true ... it is far more likely that persons in adult ED, (even the ESL persons in adult ed) are, due to profiles of the people, more likely then those who are not in adult Ed (the general population) to have LD ...

    You also present another statement that is also not true ... you say that LD is a legal term ... It is not so ... it is a term to refer to neurologically based disorders that manifest itself in certain way ... As stated in DSM IV and elsewhere ... The fact that the term is described, and defied in law, and is therefore required to be addressed in the law(s), does not make it a "legal term" per say. That's like saying that since the law defines what is racism, or driving drunk, or what is murder, that racism, driving drunk or murder are only legal terms ... no, like LD, the issue or the act is defined in law, so actions concerning them can be taken (anti-discrimination laws, drunk driving arrests, and capital punishment to name a few) ... and with LD ,,, special education requirements or accommodations in other areas ... etc. To be protected in law you need to be defined in law ... so yes its a legal term, but it not a creation of the law, its the law responding to the issue.

    And LD is not just some manipulation of the legal concepts ... it is real, and with the use of technology (MRI, etc) we can see far better how the brain actually is "not functioning" ... and is impaired ...etc.

    So ... I am not denying that there are many issues that may impact reading, that are not LD or dyslexia, but you can not state, based on real data and real technology, that it is unlikely that most of the persons in ABE don't have LD ...

    But what we can more likely say ..., and I support you in saying, is that we must keep in mind the old term --- Co morbidity ... many things going on at the same time ...and success of the adult learner is based on addressing as many of the co morbid issues as we can.

    So ... please (as I started with a cliché, I'll end with one too ... Robin ... don't throw the baby out with the bath water ....) Your point on addressing other needs is great, but your claim on LD is not really supported (even with Laura's limited data).

    As I've stated for years ... what we really need is solid random selection studies which use relevant diagnostic procedures ... to finally get some real reliable facts one way or the other ...

    So ... how can we get that done?

    Glenn Young

     

    As a K-12 special educator, I agree with Glenn 100%. When I facilitate transition plans for high school students, I insist that the students participate. Unfortunately, many of them are afraid to conduct their own meetings, wanting the adults to do everything. (Probably because others have been orchestrating their lives for so long they believe they "can't" or will "do it wrong".) I have had some luck with futures planning, especially if I work with the students before I bring in the other participants. What are your experiences with futures planning with students with learning disabilities?

    Jeanette Schandelmeier

    Lake Pend Oreille School District, Ponderay, ID

     

    There are no accommodations in the military but the structure of the military has been a real asset for some LD and AD/HD students I have known They do have to pass the ASVAB test with certain scores. I have some power points from a project I was involved in for the State of Illinois on the transition from high school. I would be glad to share if you would like them.

    Evelyn Brown, Academic Development Specialist

    Parkland College

     

    Hi Evelyn,

    Would it be possible for you to post your PowerPoint slides somewhere that subscribers could view them? Thanks for offering.

    Rochelle Kenyon

    Moderator, NIFL/LINCS Learning Disabilities Discussion List

    Center for Literacy Studies at the University of Tennessee

     

    Re. the transition materials, Sandy Martin has hers at the site below. The TOTAL Project was a really good step towards self-directed IEP.

    Until I get more organized, you can refer people to the Vermilion County website - Sandy Martin has posted her TOTAL materials @ http://www.vermiliontpc.com Tell them to click on "Gallery," then "Self-Directed IEP/TOTAL."

    Evelyn Brown, Academic Development Specialist

    Parkland College

     

    Hi Evelyn,

    Thanks for sharing the Vermilion County Transition Planning Committee website with us. It is a wonderful resource on transition!

    Rochelle Kenyon

    Moderator, NIFL/LINCS Learning Disabilities Discussion List

    Center for Literacy Studies at the University of Tennessee

     

    Another useful accommodation for those with writing difficulties (in addition to the Alphasmart and computer) is to use Dragon Naturally Speaking. This is a software program that uses speech recognition to write spoken words directly into a Word document. After a brief training phase, the individual with dyslexia/dysgraphia can speak into a microphone attached to a computer and his/her words appear almost on the computer screen. It is really remarkable how helpful this can be. Another software program for younger students is Co:Writer which uses word prediction to assist in producing the correct word on a computer, by anticipating a word as the writer begins to type. It can be used with a Word program to make written work less effortful.

    Reading for the Blind and Dyslexic http://www.rfbd.org is an organization that will send books on CD for anybody with a formally identified learning disability that results in difficulties with reading texts that have to be studied in school or college. An excellent resource.

    Julie Ennis M.Ed (ED/LD), Education Consultant

    Fairfax VA

     

    This is very helpful! When LD is diagnosed under a lump title, it's even harder for lay people/teachers to figure out what the real problems might be.

    Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt, Online ESOL Instructor

    Prince William County Public Schools

    Adult Education

     

    IQ is over-rated anyway. Sorry. To me, it's a number, not some predictor of potential.
    A little morning philosophy....

    Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt

     

    Here are a few resources that may be helpful...
    http://www.dbpeds.org/articles/detail.cfm?TextID=%20758
    http://www.amsara.amedd.army.mil/reports/2000/ATTENTIONDEFICIT.htm
    https://ask.usarec.army.mil/forums/message.jspa?messageID=44829

    Best regards,

    Steve Noble, Director of Accessibility Policy

    Design Science, Inc.
    http://www.dessci.com/accessibility




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