Assistive technology for dyslexia and ADHD

Assistive technology for dyslexia and ADHD

LDS is committed to providing exceptional learning support for our students with diagnosed or suspected learning differences, like dyslexia and ADHD. Whether that’s by providing accessible education through internal and external bursary funding or by investing in innovative tools for delivering instruction, we continually search for ways to engage students. In honour of dyslexia and ADHD awareness months (October), this post focuses on AT that may be most applicable for dyslexia and ADHD. 

Assistive technology (AT) is any device, software, or equipment that is used to maintain or improve the functional capabilities of a person with a disability, including a learning difference. Technologies include hardware, or physical technologies that are kept on site at our AT Studio, and software, or technology available via a computer that can potentially be used from home. To learn more about why and how LDS uses AT, head to our AT webpage 

Our AT studio at LDS has a number of assistive technology tools that our students can benefit from, including the following that may be most helpful for learners with ADHD or dyslexia:

Lexilight
Lexilight is a reading-aid desk lamp that can significantly reduce symptoms of dyslexia when reading printed texts. Dyslexia is a common learning difference that affects the brain’s ability to process language. Those affected have normal intelligence but have challenges identifying speech sounds and relating letters and words. Learn more in our blog post about LexiLight. 

Speechify
Speechify is text-to-speech software that provides a more fluid and human-sounding reader than other software. Text-to-speech software can be beneficial for anyone who has difficulty reading documents, emails, or webpages by reading the printed text aloud for them. Speechify will also guide you through the text by highlighting each word the reader speaks so that you can follow along. Speechify comes as both a browser extension and an app. Learn more by checking out our AT reference guide. 

Harkla
Harkla weighted blankets, weighted lap animals, and pressure vests provide calming sensory input to help create a perfect learning environment for LDS students. Harkla products can assist in calming and refocusing students who may struggle with sensory challenges such as ADHD. The use of weighted, calming products is supported by the science of Deep Pressure Therapy, which “helps to decrease nervous system activity” and “encourages a feeling of calm and relaxation.” Learn more in our blog post about Harkla. 

BeeLine Reader
BeeLine Reader is a software that colour adjusts on-screen text in a way that helps to guide your eyes through large blocks of text, making reading easier and faster while reducing screen fatigue. In the simplest terms, BeeLine applies a colour gradient to the text in your web browser so large blocks of text shift back and forth from shades of red to blue. This simple effect helps many readers maintain focus and read more effectively. It also allows you to change the size and appearance of the text on your screen, including applying the OpenDyslexic font to improve letter distinction. BeeLine is an easy-to-use software, requiring only a simple installation into your web browser and a login, then all long-form webpages, like Wikipedia, will be recoloured. earn more in our blog post about BeeLine Reader. 

VerSkin Inclusive Keyboard Protector
VerSkin Inclusive Keyboard Protector is a protector that uses colour-coded keys and bold, sharp contrast print to make the keys of the keyboard easier to recognize. The VerSkin protector aims to convert a standard keyboard into one that is more inclusive to those with vision impairments and those with learning differences like dyslexia. The VerSkin Inclusive Keyboard Protector is only currently available for the Microsoft Surface Laptop SE and Surface Laptop Go.

C-Pen ReaderPen
C-Pen’s ReaderPen allows students to scan printed text, bring it up on a computer screen, and hear it read out loud in English, French, or Spanish to help struggling readers. It’s perfect for learners who enjoy having audio and visual cues. The C-Pen also speaks in a human-like voice for students’ ease of understanding. It also defines challenging words and records voice cues. LDS students can ask their instructors to use the ReaderPen in their next in-person session! Learn more in our blog post about C-Pen ReaderPen. 

Download our RISE-AT Reference Guide to check all technologies provided by LDS 

How can my child access these technologies at LDS?

We offer these technologies as part of our AT Studio, a space dedicated to the collaborative use of leading-edge AT to help our students with learning differences. All LDS students and families have access to this and may contact us to learn more, have a tour, or get software subscriptions for your home. To learn more about how your child can benefit, email our AT Manager at AT@ldsociety.ca 

ADHD signs and support

ADHD signs and support

This post is intended to be an introductory overview of ADHD. Please note it is not a substitute for specific professional advice.

 

What is ADHD? 

ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) is a neurobehavioural disorder characterised by symptoms of inattentiveness, distractibility, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. These symptoms usually occur together; however, one may occur without the others. 

Three primary types of ADHD include the following:

  • ADHD, impulsive/hyperactive type. This is the least common type of ADHD and characterised by impulsive and hyperactive behaviours without inattention and distractibility;

  • ADHD, inattentive and distractible type. This type of ADHD is characterised predominately by inattention and distractibility without hyperactivity. 
  • ADHD, combined type. This is the most common type of ADHD, and is characterised by impulsive and hyperactive behaviours as well as inattention and distractibility;

What does ADHD look like?

Individuals with ADHD of the inattentive and distractible type might find it difficult to concentrate on tasks at school or work and may daydream frequently. They may have some or all the following behavioural tendencies:

  • Make careless mistakes 
  • Are easily distracted
  • Seem not to be listening when spoken to directly 
  • Have difficulty following instructions 
  • Have trouble with organising or planning 
  • Avoids or dislike sustained effort 
  • Frequently forgetful, often losing things

Individuals with ADHD of the impulsive/hyperactive type may have behavioural challenges and might struggle with social interactions. They may have behaviours such as:

  • Fidgeting or squirming in their seat 
  • Difficulty staying in one place or waiting their turn 
  • Excessive running and climbing 
  • Trouble playing quietly
  • Extreme impatience 
  • Very often seem to be “on the go” or “driven by a motor” 
  • Excessive talking or interrupting, blurting out answers 
  • Tend to make rash decisions  

Individuals with the combined type of ADHD have symptoms of inattentive and impulsive ADHD. 

Did you know? 

People with ADHD can hyperfocus on things that they are very interested in. 

Hyperfocus (intense concentration) is also the reason children with ADHD often get upset when asked to stop doing something they are engaged in, like a favourite activity at school or playing a video game. They have what experts call an inability to “attention switch,” which can cause conflicts with adults.  

How can we help? 

At LDS, we support learners with diagnosed or suspected ADHD, from children through to adults. With our inclusive, comprehensive, and specialized one-to-one instruction programs, we support learners in developing their academic and executive function skills in each session, boosting student’s attention and learning. Most students with ADHD have deficits in their executive functions such as working memory and attention, though not all children with executive function issues have ADHD.

For more information about our programs, access our programs page on the website.  

PEERS Registration Now Open!

PEERS Registration Now Open!

Registration is now open for our 2021 PEERS group!  


What is PEERS? 

The Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills (PEERS®) is world-renowned for providing evidence-based social skills treatment to preschoolers, adolescents, and young adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, depression, and other socio-emotional problems. 

Please see our PEERS Program page for more details: https://ldsociety.ca/peers/ 


Who can benefit from PEERS? 

This program is suitable for teens between the ages of 13 – 15 who are motivated to improve their social skills and learn how to make and keep friends. Please note that we may expand the age group for this PEERS session based on interest, so if your child falls slightly outside of the age requirements but may still benefit from PEERS, we encourage you to apply!  


When will PEERS be offered? 

Parent and Teen sessions will run simultaneously on Tuesday evenings from 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. The program is 16 weeks long and will be held from January – April 2021.  


Where do the PEERS sessions take place?

Our Learning Centre in East Vancouver (3292 East Broadway). If required for public health and safety reasons, we may offer PEERS online.

How do I register for PEERS? 

Apply via our online application form.

Interested families should register as soon as possible as spaces will be on a first come first serve basis; we recommend applying before December 10, 2020. 

Families will be contacted in December to confirm placement within the program. Please note that this application does not guarantee admission into the program. 

 

Info Night on November 10th: Discover our New Program to Help Kids Make and Keep Friends

Info Night on November 10th: Discover our New Program to Help Kids Make and Keep Friends

LDS is pleased to announce that we are expanding our programming to address the need for social skills intervention!  
 
The Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills (PEERS®) is world-renowned for providing evidence-based social skills treatment to preschoolers, adolescents, and young adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, depression, and other socio-emotional problems. 

The Learning Disabilities Society will run a 16-week program that focuses on helping teens build confidence in making and keeping friends. 

Please join us online, via Zoom, on Tuesday, November 10th from 6 pm  7 pm to learn more about PEERS and get early access to our application form. If you are interested in attending this event, please register your interest.

 
 

PEERS Registration Now Open!

World’s only evidence-based social skills program for teens to launch at LDS this winter

The Learning Disabilities Society (LDS) is always seeking ways to improve our services for kids with learning differences and their families. That is why we are so excited to announce that:

LDS is now certified to offer PEERS®—the only evidence-based teen social skills program in the world

Developed by Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson at the University of California—Los Angeles (UCLA), the Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills (PEERS®) has been shown to be effective for adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, depression, and socio-emotional issues. (1)

PEERS® is a social skills intervention for motivated teens ages 13-18 and their guardians. After an intake, teens and their parents or caregivers will attend 14 weekly group sessions. Each session will last about an hour and a half. While guardians attend group sessions where they are coached in supporting their teens, youths work with each other in separate, simultaneous sessions to learn and practice important social skills like:

  • entering and exiting a conversation
  • using humour appropriately
  • handling disagreements with friends
  • managing teasing or rejection
  • friendly sportsmanship
  • how to be a good host during get-togethers and other skills (2)

A high degree of commitment from the whole family is important for program success. Studies have shown that “parents can have significant effects upon their child’s friendships, both in terms of direct instruction and supervision, as well as supporting their child’s development of an appropriate peer network.” (3)

Because of the difference that parental involvement makes in youth outcomes, parent participation is required. Participants must attend all sessions, as they cannot be skipped or rescheduled. Additionally, the same parent(s) or guardian(s) should attend each session with their teen. The results are worth the time and effort of participation.

Research studies indicate that PEERS® improves teen social skills and mental health symptoms, as well as family stress levels. (4)

If you are interested in participating in PEERS® with your child, please see our program page for more detailed information and to fill out an application form.

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(1) “The Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills (PEERS®)” Program Fact Sheet, The Jane and Terry Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA, David Geffen School of Medicine.
(2) “Social Skills Group For Adolescents” Teen Clinic Flyer, UCLA PEERS® Clinic.
(3) Elizabeth A. Laugeson, Fred Frankel, Catherine Mogil, Ashley R. Dillion, “Parent-Assisted Social Skills Training to Improve Friendships in Teens with Autism Spectrum Disorders,” Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 39 (2009): 597.
(4) Christine T. Moody, Elizabeth A. Laugeson, “Social Skills Training in Autism Spectrum Disorder Across the Lifespan, Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America 29 (2020): 363; Laura L. Corona, Cortney Janicki, Anna Milgramm, Kristin V. Christodulu, “Brief Report: Reductions in Parenting Stress in the Context of PEERS—A Social Skills Intervention for Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders (31 Aug 2019), https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-019-04201-y .

 

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