EXECUTIVE FUNCTION: tips

EXECUTIVE FUNCTION suggestions:
* ask teachers to check if child wrote assignments in agenda
* post schedules and directions and SAY THEM OUT LOUD
* give step by step directions and HAVE CHILD REPEAT THEM
* use checklist and color-coded supplies
* break projects into smaller pieces with OWN DEADLINES
* use graphic organizers or mind-mapping software
* follow daily schedules with built-in times for breaks
* with your doctor, consider ADHD medication
 
source: http:www.understood.org, adapted from Thomas E Brown PhD
Reading / writing tutor in Columbus OH: Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021 or email aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com

Applying for Accommodations on College Entrance Tests

IDA FACT SHEET  (International Dyslexia Association)

The application process for individuals planning to enter college can be a daunting experience. For individuals with disabilities who are requesting testing accommodations, this can be even more challenging, as it often requires assembling necessary documentation, completing additional paperwork, and anticipating deadlines. This IDA Fact Sheet gives a broad overview of the process in order to assist individuals who are requesting test accommodations on high stakes tests such as the SAT and ACT. It provides guidance about what forms to submit, how to provide sufficient disability documentation, and how to gather supplemental information if needed to support accommodation requests. Keep in mind that each testing agency sets its own requirements for requesting accommodations.

The Application Process

  • Test takers should read the test information on the program’s website. Many tests are administered on computer and incorporate functions such as a built-in calculator, clock, etc. Additionally, most testing agencies provide supplemental information or a handbook for test takers with disabilities.
  • The testing agency website will give specific information about how to apply for accommodations. This should be read carefully to determine which accommodations are necessary (e.g., additional testing time, or breaks, separate room, a reader, etc.).
  • Special Services and/or counseling staff in the student’s high school or district may be able to assist in completing the application and acquiring the required documentation.
  • Early submission of applications is important, as it’s not unusual for testing agencies to request additional scores, updated testing, or clarification, which can cause delays. This is particularly true during peak application periods.
  • Once the agency receives an application for accommodations, it may be two months before the applicant is notified. If additional testing or an appeal is needed, all this must be accomplished and submitted at least 60 days in advance of the test date.
  • Since most testing agencies no longer “flag” scores obtained under non-standard conditions, it is important to request accommodations that are needed.

Documentation

  • Typically, all documentation should be sent in one complete packet. This pertains to supporting documentation (IEP, transcripts, letters re: past accommodations).
  • Testing agencies often require current documentation according to their individual “recency” criteria. For example, many testing agencies request documentation for learning disabilities to be dated within the last three to five years to reflect the test taker’s need for specific accommodations. Test takers should review the documentation guidelines posted on the website.
  • Often, a current, comprehensive evaluation is needed, as an adult version of some tests may be required. For example, most testing agencies will not accept a handwritten prescription-pad note from a doctor. Documentation should be complete, dated, signed, in English, and on official letterhead. Disability documentation should address all of the following:
    • The existence of an impairment that substantially limits a major life activity, as compared to most people in the general population
    • A diagnosis of the disability and the current impact of impairment and how it limits the student’s ability to take the test under standard conditions
    • A rationale for why the requested accommodations are necessary and appropriate. For example, if extra time is requested, the evaluation must say how much extended time should be provided and on what basis.
    • The accommodations that are requested should generally match those provided in the past.
  • Some accommodations may not require prior approval, such as braces or crutches, eyeglasses, insulin pump, etc. Lockers that can be accessed during breaks are typically provided for storage of food, water, and/or medication, if applicable.
  • If sufficient disability documentation is unavailable or outdated, it may take up to nine months in advance to find a qualified professional with a qualified professional with experience and expertise in diagnosing and documenting the disability in question. That evaluator will need relevant historical information, including:
    • Letters documenting a history of accommodations in school, such as IEPs or 504 plans, or proof of accommodations on statewide assessments.
    • A description of tutoring or coaching services provided in the past.
    • A comprehensive evaluation report for diagnosis of the disability and accommodation determination.
  • Additionally, school records from elementary and high school as well as teacher comments will help support a history of a disability. High school transcripts may provide good evidence if they showed the impact of the disability on grades (e.g., dropped classes, withdrawals, incompletes, or failing grades). It is not always the case that accommodations in the past will automatically continue. An ongoing need for accommodations can be described in a personal statement.
  • Many colleges and universities with strong school psychology programs perform evaluations at a reduced fee if a private evaluation is not feasible.

Types of Decision Letters

There are three basic types of decision letters that the testing agency sends:

  1. Approval—This type of letter will list the accommodations that have been approved.
    • Once accommodations have been approved, directions on the approval letter regarding how to schedule the test and other pertinent information.
    • Be aware that extra time may be needed to schedule the test after approval for accommodations. For example, extra time may be needed to secure a reader or scribe.
  2. Request for Additional Information—This type of letter is not a denial of the request. It specifies that the agency needs more information to complete the review.
  3. Denial—If the testing agency finds the documentation insufficient to support the accommodation request, this letter will explain the decision and will include options for requesting further review.
    • Appeal Process: Each testing agency has established a procedure to allow an appeal of its decision. The information on how to appeal a decision is typically stated in the denial letter or on the agency’s website. When the requested information is submitted, the request will be reconsidered.

Preparing for the Test

Whether or not an accommodation request is approved, it is important for the student to become familiar with the upcoming test.

  • Most testing agencies have a wide range of practice materials at no or low cost available to test takers.
  • Areas of particular focus are the test format, the types of questions used, and the test directions for each type of question. This can reduce the amount of time spent familiarizing oneself with instructions on the test day. Alternate-format practice materials can be requested if this is one of the desired accommodations.
  • The sample test questions can be practiced with and without the requested accommodations. The goal is to increase the number of questions correctly completed within the time limit. As you practice, try to increase the number of questions you can complete correctly within the time limit.
  • Test sites differ, so it is a good idea to check out the location in advance.

Resources


The International Dyslexia Association (IDA) thanks Loring Brinkerhoff, Ph.D., Nancy Cushen White, Ed.D., BCET, CALT-QI, and Diana Sauter, Ph.D., for their assistance in the preparation of this fact sheet.


© Copyright The International Dyslexia Association (IDA). For copyright information, please click here.  IDA site: https://dyslexiaida.org 

Reading / writing tutoring in Columbus OH: Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021 or email aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com

Teaching Students about Their Learning Strengths and Weaknesses

by Michelle Garcia Winner, Social Thinking

Over the years, I have observed so many students get upset by the fact they had “autism” or “Asperger syndrome” or “ADHD.” While they could verbalize these terms aloud, they still didn’t seem to understand what their learning challenges actually were.

I have also observed many adults explaining to students that the reason they were having difficulty socializing, studying, and learning was because they had “autism” or “Asperger’s syndrome”, or “ADHD.” I thought this was a really abstract way of explaining to students with limited abstract thinking how best to understand their own learning challenges. I also have observed that many of our smart but socially not-in-step students were using their label as an excuse for not working at learning new ideas; they interpreted the fact that they had a diagnostic label as a reason to not continue to learn.

I have also been inspired by the writings of other professionals who describe learning abilities and challenges within a framework of “multiple intelligences” (see Howard Gardner). Essentially this means that each of us have different types of intelligences and we each have our strengths and weaknesses with regard to our own brain’s design.

Strengths and Weakness Lesson

The lesson I developed is about teaching our students and adults how to understand their social learning challenges in the context of their overall abilities and then how they can use their strengths to learn more strategies related to their weaknesses. I have done this lesson with students as young as eight years old and as old as they come.

The lesson is very simple. To save explaining it all with words, see the chart below.

Strength and Weakness Graph

Here are some basic things I do as I develop this type of chart with the student:

  1. Each chart is completely personalized for the person I am developing it with. It is not about recording test scores that purport to show competencies. The chart is about how the student perceives his or her own strengths and weaknesses. For this reason, you create the chart using any areas that are individualized to the student.
  2. To determine the ideas/areas to post on the chart, take time to talk to students and listen to what they enjoy doing and what they feel they do well.
  3. Always start by graphing out their strengths. It is good to show many perceived strengths. Again, strengths are not about listing academic tasks exclusively. If a student says she is really good at playing a specific computer game or Legos then we make that a category and talk about what number to give it on the chart.
  4. It is also important to find some areas where students perceive they are just OK – their skills are not good or bad. They perceive themselves to be similar to the average person in that area of functioning, or a “5” on the scale. With kids, you can use language such as:
    • “First tell me what you think you are really good at compared to other kids you know.” After you and the student have listed three to five areas on the chart then say,
    • “Now tell me something you are just OK at – you’re like most other kids during playing or learning.”
    • “Now tell me some things that your brain doesn’t make easy for you…things you have noticed most other people can learn easier than you.”
    • Who talks a lot in your class?
    • Who doesn’t tend to do their homework?
    • Who is really good in math?
    • Who is super friendly?
    • Who is mean?If students aren’t used to thinking about how they function compared to others, I will shift gears to explore the idea that we all think about what others around us are doing. At this point, I will ask the student to tell me things like:

    By having this discussion, you help them notice that they are aware of others’ strengths and weaknesses. This often helps them put their own abilities in perspective.

  5. If students can’t answer the questions, I go back and suggest ideas similar to my earlier conversation with them. Ultimately I am doing this to help them put their learning challenges in context. Our students with social emotional learning challenges are usually not good at spontaneously describing what they don’t do well; this is not something people usually talk about. Some ideas I ask them to consider include:
    • How do you do with keeping track of your homework assignments and doing the homework?
    • How do you do with writing paragraphs or reports (writing short responses on paper may have been a strength, while writing longer information is often a challenge)
    • How do you do making guesses about what you are reading?
    • How do you do with playing in a group?
    • How do you do with getting into a group?
    • How do you do talking to other kids?
    • Or I may just ask them about their “social skills”

    It’s important not to overwhelm students when discussing things that are harder for them to do. This is uncomfortable for most of us! Choose some main idea to explore based on what concerns exist with a particular student. At this point, students are usually willing to list these as weaknesses compared to the other areas on the chart.

  6. What to do if students rate a weakness as a perceived strength?I routinely make a chart of my brain’s strengths and weaknesses so they experience their teacher/leader admitting to weaknesses. Then, I’ll write the area they mentioned as a strength on the chart and pause there to discuss it more in the context of the others’ strengths. More often than not, students decide it should be listed as a lower number on the scale. However, I have worked with students who are genuinely afraid to list something as a weakness. In those cases I reassure them that everyone has weaknesses, including me. On rare occasions, I have said to a student, “Actually, this is an area that you are not as good at and this is why you are here today.” Then I lower the ranking on that social area on the scale compared to the other areas listed, while explaining that it is expected and OK that people have learning weaknesses.
  7. If you are familiar with the teachings of Social Thinking® you will also be able to explain how socially-based learning weaknesses (organizational skills, written expression, social relationships, reading comprehension, etc.) are all related. Making this connection with our students helps them see how they don’t have all that many weaknesses. Instead, there is a weak root system that leads to different areas of weakness. (For more information on this please read about the ILAUGH Model of Social Thinking in the book Inside Out: What Makes Persons with Social Cognitive Deficits TickThis concept is also the focus of the article, Social Thinking – Social Learning Tree.”)
  8. You will find your students are usually pretty honest about themselves. It is often amazing how they are willing to talk about the fact they have strengths and weaknesses when it’s presented this way. When they have strengths in language and learning facts, we can then explain how these abilities will help them learn more information in the areas where learning is not as easy or natural to them.
  9. Once the chart is completed, I then go on to talk about what it means to have a learning disability: that the student has relative learning weaknesses compared to their strengths or even the “OK” areas of learning. Remarkably, many of our students don’t understand what learning disabilities or differences are, so they react to their weaknesses with anger rather than understanding they can usually use some of their learning strengths to help them in their weaker areas. I have worked through anger about learning differences much more successfully using this scale.
  10. You will find that your students/adults are much more willing to discuss how they learn, what they are good at, and what they are not so astute at learning in this context, compared to simply talking to them about the fact they have ASD, AS, ADHD, etc.
  11. Once you’ve reached this point with students, the next step is to discuss specific things they can work at learning to boost their area of weakness to a higher number on the scale. I also explain that they likely will never get their weak area as high as their strong areas, because their strengths are what their brain is naturally good at learning. But they can improve how they do in their weaker areas as long as they work at learning!

Once you make the chart you can refer back to it session after session. It is also a helpful tool when explaining to parents/caregivers what our students’ labels really mean in terms of their learning abilities.

A note on language: The language-based explanation, “Your brain doesn’t make this easy for you,” helps many of our students put their challenges in context. Make sure you regularly point out when they are doing things their brains do make easy for them, and not only talk about their areas of weakness or areas that need improving.

Final, final note: The “art” of teaching is critical in this lesson. Stay in step with your students emotionally while you go through this lesson. Spend some significant time talking about what they are good at and pretty good at, rather than rush to their weaknesses and then spend all your time on this area. Remember, our students are often really talented when we are not demanding they participate in socially-based situations. Take time to celebrate the many things they do well to give them the strength to talk about what they don’t do as well.

Source: https://www.socialthinking.com/Articles?name=Teaching+Students+about+Their+Learning+Strengths+and+Weaknesses&utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=article_teachingstudentsabout

[My note: Social Thinking is a terrific resource for families and professionals dealing with children who have socializing challenges.]

for Orton-Gillingham reading, writing and spelling help in Columbus OH: Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021 or email aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com

TIPS: Encourage Kids to Ask For Help

by Michelle Garcia Winner, Social Thinking.com


Discuss why people ask for help and give examples of the types of people who ask for help. Many of our students choose not to request help because they think it means they’re not smart. Many individuals have been told they are smart for years and feel that smart people don’t need help. What they often don’t realize is that the most successful students are the ones who regularly ask for help/clarification when unsure. These individuals will benefit from observing other students asking for help and then watching the teacher’s response. The reality is that most teachers are usually responsive to students who ask for assistance!

Help the individual develop the ability to recognize when he or she needs help. Some individuals are so used to feeling confused with certain types of academic information that they become desensitized. They simply wait for someone (parent, aide, teacher) to swoop in and clarify on a regular basis. Work with the individual to develop a system so s/he can differentiate between when s/he understands the task or the situation versus when s/he feels confused or lost and may need help.

Establish a system for how to ask for help. Most students in a classroom raise their hand while looking in the direction of the teacher to indicate the need for help. If, after ongoing explanations and clear models of how to get help in this manner the student still does not use this strategy, then it’s time to try another approach. For example, start with having the student simply flip a card on her desk to indicate, “I need help.” Some students may benefit from having a visual cue card to hand to the teacher. These strategies can be very helpful to our less verbose or more anxious students. This is often a concrete, although temporary, solution to an abstract problem. Also, student with selective mutism may be willing to stand by the teacher’s desk as a sign they need help. Continue to brainstorm different choices for different students.

Outline what it means to ask for help versus asking for clarification. Some students need to simply check-in with someone to make sure they are doing the right thing (clarification), which is different from the need to acquire information that is unknown (asking for help). We distinguish between these two concepts as many students may just need clarification – but to them it looks like they need help and they don’t want people to think they need help! These students usually feel they know (or think they know) what to do and just need to clarify! Making this distinction often helps reduce their discomfort.

Help the student understand that asking for help doesn’t imply ignorance. Teach that asking for guidance/clarification on parts of assignments is commonplace for even the brightest and best students. Teach him or her to explain which part of the assignment s/he understands versus which part s/he needs further clarification.

Establish an expectation for how many times one should ask for help during class and at home. If the student is sitting in class and not doing the work like the other students (and has the ability to do so), help to pinpoint this as an expected time to ask for help. For our older students who struggle with this, we encourage them to ask for help once or twice a day in school, and once at home. Reward with praise when they are working to ask for help. Of course, there is always the case where students ask for help too often. This is also an issue and we, as educators and parents, need to teach strategies to help the student do a bit more of his or her own problem solving. For these students, we can encourage them to only ask for help a set number of times during any particular class or for a set period of time. Reward them for figuring out what to do on their own!

Provide more praise when the student asks for help than when he completes his work! Always give the student positive feedback when he is showing improvement in one of the areas mentioned above. This is far more important than giving praising to him for doing something that you know he can easily do well. The research is strong in telling us that the best praise is where we tell students exactly what they did well (e.g., “I love it that you figured out your own problem and solved it” or “I like that you knew you needed help and you asked me! Perfect”) rather than global praise (e.g., “Nice job in math.”).

Know your students’ strategies -both constructive and problematic! Teachers and parents should be assessing the strategies a student uses to ask for help as well as avoidance techniques! We should also observe how often the individual uses these positive or negative strategies when doing homework, when working in class, etc. Sometimes students don’t ask for help in a traditional manner but instead appear to have behavior problems (highly distracting to themselves and others) when unsure what to do. You may notice that this same student does not use these behaviors when highly engaged in a task that she understands.

Social Thinking groups can help, but the work can’t all be done in a specialized setting. Students need to take ownership for applying this information beyond one specific room. As your students acquire a better understanding of how to ask for help and why, teachers, clinicians, and parents need to help the student figure out how to apply these strategies in other settings and situations. Work with the student to develop strategies that encourage him or her to remember to use what they are learning in their classroom, at home, in the community and then provide opportunities to practice.

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Source: Social Thinking.com — a terrific resource for teaching self-understanding and social relationships. Specifically  https://www.socialthinking.com/Articles?name=Thoughts+on+Encouraging+Students+to+Ask+for+Help&utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=article_thoughtsonencouraging

for reading, spelling and writing help in Columbus OH: Adrienne Edwards, Orton-Gillingham Dyslexia Tutor, 614-579-6021; or email aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com

8 Things You Might Not Know About Vowels

by Arika Okrent

A, E, I, O, U and sometimes Y is not all you need to know about vowels. There’s more to these workhorse members of our linguistics inventory than you might think.

 

  1. ENGLISH HAS MORE VOWELS THAN THERE ARE LETTERS FOR THEM.

A, E, I, O, U and sometimes Y are the letters we define as vowels, but vowels can also be defined as speech sounds. While we have six letters we define as vowels, there are, in English, many more vowel sounds than that. For example consider the word pairs cat and car, or cook and kook. The vowel sounds are different from each other in each pair, but they are represented by the same letters. Depending on the dialect, and including diphthongs, which are combinations of two vowel sounds, English has from nine to 16 vowel sounds.

  1. THE MOST COMMON VOWEL IS SCHWA.

The most common vowel sound in English doesn’t even have its own letter in the alphabet. It does have a symbol, though, and it looks like this: ǝ. It’s the “uh” sound in an unstressed syllable and it shows up everywhere, from th[ǝ], to p[ǝ]tato, to antic[ǝ]p[ǝ]tory. You can discover nine fun facts about it here.

  1. YOUR SPANISH SOUNDS AMERICAN BECAUSE OF DIPHTHONGS.

In addition to pure vowel sounds, there are diphthongs, where the sound moves from one target to another. American English is full of them. The vowel in the American pronunciation of no is a diphthong that moves from o to u (if you say it in slow motion, your lips move from a pure o position to a pure u position). The vowel in the Spanish pronunciation is not a diphthong. It stays at o, and that what makes it sound different from the English version.

  1. SOME SOUNDS CAN BE EITHER VOWELS OR CONSONANTS.

The u sound (pronounced “oo”) is a vowel. It allows an unrestricted airflow through the vocal apparatus. Consonants, in contrast, are created with a blockage of air flow, or point of constriction. A u sound can sometimes serve as that point of constriction, and it that case the u is considered a w. In the word blue, the u is the most open part of the syllable, and a vowel. In want it is the constriction before the main vowel, and thus a consonant. Similarly, an i (or “ee”) can also be a y, which helps explain why is Y a sometimes vowel.

  1. MOST LANGUAGES HAVE AT LEAST THREE VOWELS.

Most languages have at least i, a, and u, or something close to them, though it may be the case that the extinct language Ubykh had only two vowels. It is hard to say what the highest number of vowels for a language is because there are features like vowel length, nasalization, tone, and voicing quality (creaky, breathy) that may or may not be considered marks of categorical difference from other sounds, but in general, 15 seems to be a pretty high number of distinct single vowels for a language. The International Phonetic Alphabet has symbols for 34 different vowels. You can listen to the different sounds they represent here.

  1. SOME LANGUAGES REQUIRE VOWEL HARMONY.

In English, we can add an ending like –ness or –y onto any word and the form of the ending doesn’t change. I can say “the property of vowelness” or “his speech is very diphthongy.” In languages like Hungarian, the vowels of the ending must harmonize with the vowels in the word it attaches to. For example, the multiplicative ending, for forming words like twice, thrice, etc. is –szor when it attaches to a word with a back vowel (hatszor, “six times”), -szer when it attaches to a word with a front vowel (egyszer, “once”) and –ször when it attaches to a word with a front rounded vowel (ötször, “five times”). Other languages with vowel harmony are Turkish and Finnish.

  1. TODAY’S ENGLISH IS THE RESULT OF MASSIVE CHANGE CALLED “THE GREAT VOWEL SHIFT.”

Many words we have today were pronounced very differently before the 14th century. Boot sounded more like boat, house sounded like hoos, and five sounded like feev. English underwent a major change in the 14th and 15th centuries. Words with long vowels shifted into new pronunciations. The changes happened in stages, over a few hundred years, but when they were complete, the language sounded very different, and spelling was a bit of a mess, since many spellings had been established during early phases of pronunciation. The change may have been initiated by the volume of French words that entered English shortly before the shift, or by the movement of populations with different dialects during the Black Plague.

  1. YOU DON’T NEED ALL THE VOWELS TO WRITE A NOVEL.

In 1969, George Perec, a member of the French experimental literature group known as Oulipo published La Disparition, a 300-page novel written only with words that did not contain the letter e. It was published in English as A Void, also without using the letter e. The Spanish translation, El Secuestro, used no a. Works created with this kind of restriction are called lipograms, explained here in an e-less lipogram.

Source: http://mentalfloss.com/article/88290/8-things-you-might-not-know-about-vowels

Orton-Gillingham Tutoring in Columbus OH: Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021, or email aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com

Engaging Girls in STEM: Gift Guide for Girls

from the Laurel Center for Research on Girls

With the holidays approaching, it’s the perfect time to think about gifts that engage and encourage girls in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Research shows that girls feel more excited about pursuing STEM topics when adults highlight the place of collaboration, tinkering, role models, and meaningful objectives in STEM fields. We’ve compiled some suggestions of STEM gifts that incorporate these principles. Remember, it’s never too early to introduce girls to STEM toys and activities!

Collaboration

Research shows that girls prefer and persevere more in collaborative STEM work. Teachers promote collaborative STEM work by pairing girls with varied or complementary skill sets, using small groups (no more than 3-4 girls) and mixing up groups and pairings often. To promote collaboration in free play, consider toys that lend themselves easily to playing together with a friend or two.

LCRG recommends: Roominate, Robot Turtles, Quirkle

Tinkering

Girls are less likely than boys to tinker with building materials, mechanical objects and computers. By tinkering less, girls miss out on opportunities to practice important skills such as spatial awareness, mechanical reasoning and critical thinking. Tinkering toys abound for girls of all ages.

LCRG recommends: LEGO, Rubik’s Cube, MagnaTiles, littleBits

Role Models

A dearth of female STEM role models may limit girls’ engagement in STEM activities. When girls lack exposure to female STEM role models, it reinforces negative stereotypes that some girls hold about STEM fields. New research shows that having girls write and reflect about their own female STEM role models increases their “sense of fit” in STEM. Consider some of the resources below to increase girls’ connection to female STEM role models.

LCRG recommends: Rosie Revere, Engineer, Women in Science Rule!, Black Stars: African American Women Scientists and Inventors, Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions, LCRG’s Famous Women of STEM Playing Cards

Meaningful Objectives

Girls value STEM work that holds clear and purposeful ties to everyday life. Female college students report a stronger desire than male college students to use their technical skills to help others. Toymakers have recently started incorporating this idea into STEM toys; here are some to consider:

LCRG recommends: GoldieBlox, K’NEX Investigating Solar Energy Set, StemBox

Additional Resources

For more fantastic gifts for girls, check out these sites:
A Mighty Girl
Fat Brain Toys
Mindware
HearthSong
Lakeshore

LCRG is found at https://www.laurelschool.org/page.cfm?p=625&LockSSL=true

Orton-Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH: Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021; or email aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com 

The ILAUGH Model: Social Thinking

 by Michelle Garcia Winner

 The ILAUGH Model of Social Thinking is a core (and critical) framework created and developed by Michelle Garcia Winner to help professionals and parents understand and think about the struggles faced by those with social learning challenges. The Framework is based on an extensive literature base of both seminal and current research and represents the foundation of all Social Thinking concepts.  ILAUGH is an acronym for the research-based concepts that contribute to challenges in those with social learning issues across academic, community, vocational, and social contexts.  The sections of the ILAUGH are not only grounded in the literature, but also represent a rich clinical base. Although the ILAUGH Model is divided into six key areas, there is commonly an overlap between and within each of the sections.

I = Initiation of Communication

(Kranz & McClannahan, 1993; Rao, Beidel, & Murray, 2008; Whalen, Schreibman, & Ingersoll 2006)

Initiation of communication is the ability to use one’s language skills (verbal and nonverbal) to start (or initiate) something that is not routine.  This can be in the form of difficulty asking for help, seeking clarification, executing a new task, and entering and exiting a peer group.  An individual’s ability to talk about his or her own topics of interest can be in sharp contrast to how that person communicates when in need of support or clarification. Yet, these two skills – asking for help and understanding how to join a group for functional or personal interaction – are paramount for future success in the workplace, academic endeavors and relationships.

L= Listening With Eyes and Brain

(Jones & Carr, 2004; Klin, Jones, Schultz, & Volkmar, 2003; Kunce & Mesibov, 1998; MacDonald et al., 2006; Marshall & Fox, 2006; Mundy & Crowson, 1997; Saulnier & Klin, 2007

From a social perspective, listening is more than just receiving auditory information. It routinely requires the integration of visual information with auditory information within the context in order to understand the full meaning of the message being conveyed, or at least make an educated guess about what is being said when the message cannot be interpreted literally. This is also referred to as “active listening” or whole body listening (Truesdale, 1990). Classrooms depend heavily on having all students attend nonverbally to the expectations in the classroom.

Many individuals with ASD, as well as others with social learning challenges, have technical visual processing strengths, but may struggle to comprehend information presented via the dual challenges of social visual information (reading nonverbal cues) and auditory processing.

A = Abstract and Inferential Language/Communication

(Adams, Green, Gilchrist, & Cox, 2002; Happe’, 1995; Kerbel & Grunwell, 1998; Minshew, Goldstein, Muenz & Payton, 1992; Norbury & Bishop, 2002; Rapin & Dunn, 2003; Simmons-Mackie & Damico, 2003)

Most of the language we use is not intended for literal interpretation. Our communication is peppered with idioms, metaphors, sarcasm and inferences. Societies around the world bestow awards to writers, and even comedians, who are the most creative with language. Each generation of teenagers and young adults leave a trail of new slang for consumption – most of which is abstract.

Abstract language has also crept into the digital, mass and social media markets. Our commercials, web banners, print flyers and video clips are full of abstract information that require all of us to interpret and infer the meaning. Do people really mean what they say in advertising? How do we know a good deal from a sham? It’s incredibly complicated and yet most of us can easily understand the underlying meaning.  And, it is a mistake to assume that individuals with strengths in factual knowledge, but underlying social thinking challenges, understand the non-literal use of language so prevalent in our society. In fact, many don’t!

Active interpretation of the motives and intentions of others emerges in the first year of life and expands in complexity thereafter. Children learn that mom’s tone of voice speaks volumes and that attention to only her words can miss much of her message. As children grow developmentally, they understand that message interpretation depends heavily on one’s ability to “make a smart guess” based on past experiences, what they know (or don’t know) about the current person and situation, and the communication clues available. Language users assume their communicative partners are trying to figure out their messages. By third grade, neurotypical students understand that we are to infer meaning rather than expect it to be coded literally.

Individuals who struggle to interpret the abstract/inferential meaning of language also routinely struggle with academic tasks such as reading comprehension of literature (e.g., interpreting a character’s thoughts, actions and motives based on the context of the story) and written expression.

U = Understanding Perspective

(Baron-Cohen, 1995; Baron-Cohen, 2000; Baron-Cohen & Jolliffe, 1997; Flavell, 2004; Frith, & Frith, 2010; Hale & Tager-Flusberg, 2005; Kaland, Callesen, Moller-Nielsen, Mortensen, & Smith, 2007; Spek, Scholte, & Van Berckelaer-Omnes, 2010)

The ability to interpret others’ perspectives or beliefs, thoughts and feelings across contexts is critical to social learning. It is central to group participation in the social, academic or vocational world. Individuals with social learning challenges are often highly aware of their own perspective, but may struggle to see another’s point of view.   

To understand the differing perspectives of others requires that one’s Theory of Mind (perspective taking) work quickly and efficiently. Most neurotypically developing students acquire a solid foundation in ToM between the ages of 4 to 6 years old. Perspective taking is not one thing, it represents many things happening all at once meaning it is a synergistic and dynamic process. A definition of perspective taking can include the ability to consider your own and others:

  • Thoughts
  • Emotions
  • Physically coded intentions
  • Language based intentions
  • Prior knowledge and experiences
  • Belief systems
  • Personality
  • While considering all of this with regards to the specific situation being considered.

The ability to take perspective is key to participation in any type of group (social or academic). It is also a critical component when interpreting information that requires understanding of other’s minds, such as reading comprehension, history, social studies, etc. However, like all other concepts explored in the ILAUGH model, one’s ability to take perspective is not a black or white matter.

G = Gestalt Processing/Getting the Big Picture

(Fullerton, Stratton, Coyne & Gray, 1996; Happe’ & Frith, 2006; Hume, Loftin, & Lantz, 2009; Pelicano, 2010; Plaisted, 2001; Shah & Frith, 1993; van Lang, Bouma, Sytema, Kraijer, & Minderaa 2006)

Conceptual processing is a key component to successful social and academic functioning. It is critical to be able to be a part of and follow the group plan or share an imagination.  Due to the fact that information is conveyed through concepts and not just facts, it is important that one is able to tie individual pieces of information into the greater concept. For example, when engaged in a conversation, the participants should be able to intuitively determine the underlying concept(s) being discussed, as well as identify the specific details that are shared. Similarly, when reading, one has to follow the overall meaning rather than just collect a series of seemingly unrelated facts. As with many elements of social cognition, this ability relies heavily on strong executive function skills. As a result, difficulty with organizational strategies often stems from problems with conceptual processing. Weaknesses in the development of this skill can greatly impact one’s ability to formulate written expression, summarize reading passages, and manage one’s homework load, as well as derive the intended meaning from a social conversation.

H = Humor and Human Relatedness

Gutstein, 2001; Greenspan, & Wieder, 2003; Losh & Capps, 2006; Loukusa et al., 2007; Ozonoff, & Miller, 1996; Prizant, Wetherby, Rubin, & Laurent, 2003; Prizant, Wetherby, Rubin, Laurent & Rydell, 2006; Williams & Happe’, 2010)

Human relatedness is at the heart of social interaction. Most of us desire some form of social interaction and our students, clients and family members are no exception. The struggle is having the ability to relate to other’s minds, emotions and needs. Establishing the concept of human relatedness is essential before advancing in any lessons.  Most of the clients with whom we work with have a very good sense of humor, but they often feel anxious because they miss many of the subtle cues that help them to understand how to use their humor successfully with others. It is important for educators/parents to work compassionately with humor to help minimize the anxiety the individual may experience. It is also not uncommon for many to struggle with using humor inappropriately and direct lessons targeting this concept are necessary.

Source Social Thinking: https://www.socialthinking.com/Articles?name=Understanding+Core+Social+Thinking+Challenges+The+ILAUGH+Model&utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=article_understandingcoresocial

Orton-Gillingham tutoring (reading and writing skills) in Columbus OH: Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021 or email aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com