Posts Tagged ‘Students with disabilities’

The Process that can Predict Babies’ First Words

Friday, March 10th, 2017 by Karishma Bakshani
baby at mealtime

courtesy of pixabay

“Say Mama!” “Say dog!” Sound familiar? Most parents use similar phrases to encourage their babies to talk. What if the words we speak weren’t the only factor in what and when our babies speak? Recent studies have shown that a baby’s first words are largely based on their visual experience. What they see is likely what they will say.

Psychologists at Indiana University studied infants between the ages of 8-10 months, the period before children begin to engage in verbal communication. The babies in the study had to wear cameras on their heads for an average of 4.4 hours. For the study, the researchers chose to observe mealtimes, recording five objects for each frame. Some of these words included, table, shirt, chair, bottle, cup, food, and spoon. The results of the study showed a strong connection between the most frequently appearing objects and first nouns, words that are acquired by half of all 16-month olds. According to this study, a child with slow or delayed visual processing, would also be a late-talker. (Clerkin)

What is visual processing?
When people think of vision, they think in terms of how well a person can see. But vision is much more than that. The brain, not the eyes processes the visual world, including symbols, pictures, and distances. Weakness in the neuronal connections involved in these functions is called visual processing disorder. The areas of the brain required for processing the visual world are not in sync. So, for a baby who is just learning about the world, not being able to process what is seen, affects the brain’s ability to identify objects in the environment. This results in the delay in speech.

Children with delayed speech are often sent for speech therapy. But if the cause of the delay is visual processing, what should be the treatment? How can you tell if the cause is visual processing?

• Are they being exposed to common everyday objects? Or are they simply not picking up visual regularities?

• How long can they focus on an object or activity?

• Does he pay attention to visual tasks?

• Is she easily distracted by too much visual information?

• Does he bump into things?

• Does she frequently rub her eyes?

If your child does any has any of these behaviors, you will want to take him for evaluation. The sooner a processing order is diagnosed the sooner the child can begin the needed the therapies. For any learning difficulty or developmental delay, early intervention is key.

How can you tell if an older child has visual processing disorder? (All of the above apply.) Here are additional symptoms seen in older children:
• Restless or inattentive during visual presentations
• Lacks interest in movies or television
• Has difficulty with tasks that require copying such as taking notes
• Reverses or misreads letters, numbers, and words
• Has difficulty writing within lines or margins
• Can’t remember phone numbers
• Poor reading comprehension when reading silently
• Skips words or entire lines when reading
• Complains of eye strain or frequently rubs eyes
• Fails to notice changes in bulletin board displays, signs, or posted notices

Can Brainjogging help?

Yes! The Brainjogging method focuses on strengthening weak connections in key areas of the brain. Our founder, Shirley Pennebaker, discovered early on that for a student with visual processing issues, there is a difference between what the student sees and what is learned. The simple exercises in the Brainjogging program provide a targeted approach to strengthening the systems in the brain responsible for visual processing.

Learn more about Camp Academia’s targeted approach to overcoming learning difficulties by calling our office, 706-884-4492.

Elizabeth M. Clerkin, Elizabeth Hart, James M. Rehg, Chen Yu, Linda B. Smith. Real-world visual statistics and infants’ first-learned object names. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2016; 372 (1711): 20160055 DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2016.0055

Indiana University. “Babies’ first words can be predicted based on visual attention: Study reveals that visual memory’s role in early language learning may advance treatments for delayed speech, autism.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 December 2016. <>.

Strengthening this Area of the Brain Improves Reading

Monday, March 6th, 2017 by Karishma Bakshani

courtesy of pixabay

What if we knew exactly what part of the brain is used when we learn to read? In August 2016, scientists at MIT were able to do just that! Using MRI scans in children at age 5 and then at age 8, the MIT researchers were able to isolate the area in the occipito-temporal region that is often referred to as the Visual Word Form Area, VWFA. These scientists are now working on using the same brain imaging techniques to be able to predict a child’s functional development. In other words, experts would be able to identify children who are at risk of developing dyslexia or other learning difficulties connected with issues in that area of the brain.

What is the VWFA?

The VWFA, Visual Word Form Area is a novel brain network located in the left occipito –temporal (LOT) region of the brain. This system is responsible for the rapid, automatic, fluent identification of words. In other words, the neural pathways work together as a system to rapidly decode strings of letters into words. Individuals with dyslexia have a disruption in this system explaining why reading becomes a big challenge.

How will this information help my child and me?

Dyslexia can be frustrating for both parents and children. Fortunately, as we have seen, researchers have been able to narrow in on the disrupted neural pathways that cause dyslexia. This information combined with the brain’s ability to change and heal itself (plasticity) gives hope to individuals and their families. The fact that dyslexia has a cognitive basis, means that to overcome the problem, you need a focused, cognitive-based solution.

Brainjogging can help!

Brainjogging is a cognitive-based, multi-sensory program designed to strengthen weak connections in the brain. The key issue with dyslexia, or any other reading challenge, is a disconnect between what an individual sees and what the brain processes. When Brainjoggers, see, say, and spell words during each exercise, they are combining proven methods for enhancing reading, with research-backed techniques for improving cognition and processing.

To learn how Brainjogging can help your child, call  Camp Academia at 706-884-4492.


Shaywitz, S., Mody, M., and Shaywitz, B., “Neural Mechanisms in Dyslexia”, Current Directions in Psychological Science. 2006



Homework Help for Kids with Learning Disabilities

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017 by Karishma Bakshani

A child with a learning difficulty can struggle with homework after a long day of school.  This can be frustrating for both children and parents.   To help your child – and you – avoid the headaches of getting through homework, it is best to create a plan that keeps them focused, and takes away the stress of homework.

Be Consistent

Provide your child with a set time and place to do homework.  This creates a sense of control and predictability for children and for parents as well.    While every family has their own preferences and afternoon schedules, you might consider giving your child enough time for a quick snack and then have him sit down to do his homework before he gets distracted with other activities.  This method avoids all the excuses and complaints that happen later in the day as children get tired.  You and your child will also have more free time without the added stress of unfinished assignments.  Also, be sure that your child’s designated homework area has all needed supplies (sharpened-pencils, paper, calculator, water bottle, etc.) to avoid excuses for interrupting homework.

Approach the Most Difficult Assignments First

Children with learning disabilities tend to have short attention spans, particularly when it comes to challenging assignments. Have your child begin their most difficult assignments first since they will have more energy and focus to complete the task at hand.  This will also encourage them to complete their other assignments, and to not avoid future work in that difficult subject.

Plan Shifts

If you see that your child is losing focus on one particular assignment, allow them to shift over to another and then come back to the original assignment. You can also set a timer every 15 to 20 minutes so that your child can look forward to breaks to recollect their thoughts. Be sure to time breaks as well.  A long break can make completing homework even harder!!

Create a Homework Checklist

Checklists are a great way to keep your child organized and to help him remember each assignment.  They can also be a great motivator as your child checks off each completed assignment.  A child’s teacher should also be involved in the checklist and can help to let parents know what tasks are required each day.  Some parents find a weekly email to the teacher helpful in knowing what is expected of the class each week.

Reward Hard Work

Set weekly homework goals that can easily be measure with a chart or other method.  Having a simple reward system is a great external motivator and can be anything from being able to choose a weekend activity to even an ice cream cone!  Avoid, extravagant rewards.  Sometimes scheduling special “mommy-time” can be the best prize ever!

Be Encouraging

Parents feel obligated to correct every mistake on their child’s homework.  Consider this approach:  Have your child complete an assignment.  Look it over.  Praise what she did correct.  And THEN, point out areas that she might have to redo. Or, offer to explain concepts that your child obviously did not understand.  Praising before criticizing will make your child more willing to work towards the right answers.

Get Help from Brainjogging

Doing Brainjogging before starting homework can cut homework time in half.  Many parents have seen that when students do Brainjogging, and then begin their assignments, they have greater focus and are able to complete their work more efficiently.  In addition, adding vocabulary and key concepts to word lists in the Brainjogging program helps students remember and process new information quicker.  The goal is to work SMARTER not HARDER!

Transitioning to Middle School Made Easy

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017 by Karishma Bakshani

If you have a child with Dyslexia, ADHD, or even Autism, you are probably used to helping your child each step of the way.  However, as children get into middle school, they are faced with different pressures both social and academic.  How do we help our kids transition to middle school and teach them to be independent at the same time?

1.  Confirm or create a support system

  • If your child already has an IEP, the first step would be to have a meeting the Spring BEFORE she starts middle school to discuss any additional supports your child might need as they start middle school.
  • Be sure to know what supports your child already has, what works, and what doesn’t work.
  • Have some samples of your child’s work to show their strengths and weaknesses.  You can even keep track of how much assistance your child needs during homework.  This is a good indication of how much she is retaining from her classes.
  • Communicate with your child’s teacher and work together for what is best for your child.
  • Be sure to tell your child what supports will be available to ease any anxiety she might feel about going to a new school.

2.  Organize

  • Children with learning difficulties often have trouble keeping track of their schedule and homework.  If your child’s school does not provide a planner or agenda, go out and buy one appropriate for your child.  If he has messing handwriting, you might consider buy a planner with big spaces to write assignments and due dates.
  • Also, create a system for organizing school work. Assign a color for each subject. For example, science’s blue notebook will have a blue folder to keep handouts and assignments.
  • Put together a daily checklist for before going to school and before coming home.  The checklist will help your child see clearly what he needs to take to school and what he needs to complete work at home.
  • Implement a homework and extra curricular routine to keep your child on track.
  • Praise your child when he is organized and completes tasks.  He will feel encouraged to continue using the methods you have both implemented.

3.  Encourage Independence

  • Teach your child to advocate for herself.  If she is supposed to sit in the front row but has been seated in the back, she needs to be able to communicate her needs to the teacher.
  • Let your child know that you are here to help, but do not do your child’s homework.  Let her come to you for questions.
  • Listen to what your child has to say without judgement. Children are often faced with a variety of new social and academic situations.  Nagging or judging will close the lines of communication.  Listen and give advice calmly.  Let your child know that know matter what the situation, they can always come to you.  If she is able to solve a problem on her own, give praise!  The more our children can take care of themselves, the more success they will see in school and in life!







Mowat-Wilson Syndrome GOOD news!!!!

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016 by admin

A new student who is 5 years old is making progress since starting Brainjogging!!! After only two weeks!!!  The parent says that they’ve definitely seen advancement!  As they were going through the letter flash exercises with him, he was very engaged and focused.  He repeated clearly the letters “f” “b” “I” and “a”!  He continues to say “up” and “out”, and his teacher stated he said “all done”!  He is watching their mouths more and you can see him trying to form his mouth correctly for certain sounds. His babbling has started sounding more like language, too!  One of the biggest surprises to his family, has been his engagement in his toys and environment, and not asking us for the television.  This is amazing progress considering Mowat-Wilson Syndrome is a genetic disorder that impairs cognitive development. Most children with Mowat-Wilson are non-verbal, however, our little superstar is making big strides with Brainjogging!!

Take a Look at a Book!

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013 by admin

The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”    Dr. Seuss

When traveling around this summer, make sure that your children have a stack of books – hard copies or audio CDs – within reach! We all know reading is important, but reading over the summer is even more vital to your child’s success in the coming academic year! The University of Tennessee History Center provides us with some recommendations to get your children jump-started on their explorations, adventures, and imaginations:

New Readers:
“Dodsworth in Tokyo” by Tim Egan
“In Andal’s House” by Gloria Whelan
“Let’s Go, Hugo!” by Angela Domingues
“A Long Way Away” by Frank Viva

Elementary Readers:
“Racing the Moon’ by Alan Armstrong
“I’m Not a Plastic Bag: A Graphic Novel” by Rachel Hope Allison

Middle Schoolers:
“Chomp” by Carl Hiaasen
“Fenway Fever” by John H. Ritter
“Summer at Forsaken Lake” by Michael D. Beil
“The Plant Hunters: True Stories of Their Daring Adventures to the Far Corners of the Earth” by Anita Silvey

Young Adults:
“Endangered” by Eliot Schrefer
“Meant to Be” by Lauren Morrill
“Wanderlove” by Kirsten Hubbard

When choosing books, teach your children how to use the 5-Finger Rule to determine if a book is just right for them:
1. Open to any page
2. Start reading that page
3. Hold up ONE finger for every word that you don’t know or have trouble pronouncing
4. 0-1 fingers, book is TOO EASY; 2-3 fingers, the book is at the INTEREST level; 4 fingers, the book is at the CHALLENGE level (you can read it, but it should make sense); 5 fingers, the book is at the FRUSTRATION level and is not a good choice for now.
5. Ready to READ!

And remember, you can add vocabulary words from the more challenging books right into your Brainjogging word lists and they will not be frustrating for long! Happy Reading!