A few of my favorite things…

Every time I hear people say what they’re thankful for I think of Maria and the Sound of Music. For your enrichment, I have included the song here:

So what am I thankful for this Thanksgiving? So many things- my family and being able to spend a week with them after months of being apart. My husband- how wonderful it is to be married to him for nearly 6 months. My education- how much better my life has been because my mom dared to fight for me in a school system that wanted to push me aside.

Speaking of which- my mom has a post for me to put up a week from now detailing her experiences coping with my dyslexia. I read her rough draft tonight and am very excited about it! I’m more thankful than ever that she took the actions she did to take care of my education. She went above and beyond the normal lengths and I have greatly benefited from it.

Thank you moms and readers who read this blog to be informed, to be encouraged and to help their children be successful. I am thankful for you!

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“No more Princess Movies” says Disney, is this the right move?

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Just found an article on Yahoo!News that made me cringe: Disney Will Stop Making Princess Movies Because Boys Think They’re Icky

The message? That Disney will stop making Princess Movies in favor of movies geared toward guys. Part of me is glad that boys may get some quality movies coming their way- because often they get the short end of the stick. But the rest of me is very annoyed. Starting with the reasons behind this announcement:

One reason is because the studio is fearful of alienating young boys, who supposedly won’t see something like last year’s “The Princess and the Frog.” The other reason, frighteningly, is that young girls consider themselves too cool to want to be princesses.

Though the article’s title “Because Boys think They’re icky” the boy perspective is mostly ignored in favor of the difficulties of marketing to today’s girls. For instance:

Media critic Dafna Lemish, who has written about the influence of film and television on children, said in the same article, “By the time they’re 5 or 6, [girls are] not interested in being princesses. They’re interested in being hot, in being cool. Clearly, they see this is what society values.” (That’s right: A girl born in 2005 already is worrying about how “hot” she is. Have fun with that, moms and dads of the world.)

So what do movie-makers do when girls are no longer interested in being princesses? Make childish femme fatales? Go all-out on boy action movies? Is there not some kind of in-between for girls? Some kind of HEALTHY middle ground for girls to emulate? Kick-butt independent girls? Girls who can do adventures and fight dragons and surprise everyone? Girls who don’t have to be sexy and dress mature for their age- who can just be girls and don’t have to be anything else? Girls like

Ellie from Up

Sarah From Liberty’s Kids
Or even…

I honestly had a hard time coming up with strong female characters who rely more on themselves than a random handsome prince to save them. But they exist. And they could have great stories. I completely agreed with the article when it pointed out that

a commitment to quality and a fresh approach is what made Lasseter’s Pixar so fantastic in the first place: It wasn’t just the animation but the storytelling and heart that give their films their special aura. You would have hoped that Lasseter would have remembered those lessons when he moved over to Disney in 2006

Hopefully Lasseter will remember that Pixar motto of “Story is King” and that desire to think outside the box to bring the great story to life. And I sincerely hope that he can do so and bring some admirable female characters to the table.

Melting Rocks and Rave Reviews

’tis I, your lovely dysblogger once more! Here to tell you about allt he fun things that have been keeping me away from you.

1) NaNoWriMo – As promised I’m giving my November Tyrant Project a shout-out. This year’s story is titled “Awesome” Or “Super” – I’m not sure which.

What? What’s that you say? Give us a synopsis of my story? No, I couldn’t possibly… but I will say that it involves Superheroes, Librarians, Evil Villains, sorrow, pride, familial love and maybe some romantic love on the side. 🙂 I’m doing pitifully on my word count, atm, but I apparently will have to remedy that in the next few days because of #2 on my list.

2) I’m in a class called Creative Writing at school. I took said class with the understanding that I would learn a lot, have some fun and improve my writing… and with the terror that someone might actually read said writing and judge it.

Says the blogger. Yes, I know. This is different. Moving on.

So, today was the day I’d been dreading since I first read over the syllabus and that fear was confirmed- yes, people would read my story. And not only would they READ it but there would be a day in class where it was open for general discussion and critique. I know I may not come across that way to you, dear readers, but to those who don’t know me well or who I mostly see in passing I am a very shy, reserved person. I blush easily when talked to or asked a question and I generally keep my head down.

SO having that silence forcibly broken for a major grade was quite a frightening prospect. (Also- I got a C on a recent paper in that class. But that was completely my fault- it was last minute, rushed, and I didn’t even do a second draft. I take full responsibility for that one…but it certainly didn’t help the self-confidence going into today.)

Today: I wake up and check #3 on my list to see what all has been happening in my technological world. I have this post from a classmate on my facebook wall:

Just got through with your story for Creative Writing. I thought you should know, you are AWESOME. You are very talented. I love your story and I can’t wait to talk about it in class tomorrow. Great job! 🙂

I about fell over. Then, in class, I got two more casual, positive comments about my story. Surprise gave way to shock, however, when we then spent the next 15 minutes discussing my story and it was GOOD. Like, lots of positive feedback and laughter and joy and puppies dancing. (seriously- there was talk of dancing puppies.)

Now, I’ll give credit where credit is due- my class is a wonderful, happy, positive place to be, especially for story critique. That was part of the instructor’s design and I think it’s great. But also- it was great because this is seriously something I was dreading and this is the first time my writing has been that exposed and vulnerable for a group like this…and to escape with such a positive experience is mind-boggling.

I’ll make this quick since I’m so very tired and starting to get freaked out about bedbugs (I’m in a hotel room atm and have a very great fear of things crawling on me.)

3) Rockmelt. If you don’t use a lot of social media, don’t use it. If you are like me, however, and fall behind keeping track of facebook and twitter and all of your blogs and favorite websites… Rockmelt is perfect for you. Watch the video- it’s easy to use (much easier than the video shows, in my opinion. The video intimidated me when I watched it.) I was without Rockmelt for an hour earlier- thinking it wasn’t working I used another browser instead. I missed it far more than I thought I would. And then I realized it was user error, not Rockmelt…and now I’m happily using it again. 🙂

Those are your three things for tonight. Have a great Friday!

November, November… we’ve got to talk.

Ok, November. So- historically, we’ve not gotten along very well. I don’t want to go into that (in fact, EVERY time you come knocking I try very hard to be polite and NOT remember our disagreements.) But seriously, monthly stuff AND a wasp sting (at 10pm at night) and SO soon into the month? We’ve got to reconcile. And  very soon, please- I’m expecting a lot of good, new things this month!

Now, that aside. In Dyslexic news: No Ordinary Family. Have you heard of this yet? The first 5 episodes are on Hulu and I’ve really enjoyed them thus far. Cute, Superhero-y and family positive. ( Ordinary family is in a plane crash together and comes out of it with Superpowers.)

ALSO (this would be the dyslexic news part) it is mentioned that the son has a learning disability from episode 1. Now, the first words out of my mouth were, admittedly, “PLEASE tell me they don’t just “cure” his learning disability.” And in my opinion, they don’t. To me, they turn that learning disability around in a good way. He goes from struggling with math to everything being mathematical and visual and outside the box.

See for yourself:

Coming Soon- Nanowrimo post!

(P.S. While I do like the show for the moment, I will put an advisory on it- not for preteens or young teenagers. The parents are (adorably, imo) involved with each other a few times and the kids both use objectionable words here and there. /Advisory)

Moon Pond – Finer Things Friday

Three of my favorite “Finer Things” lined up last night! Want to see?

Isn’t it beautiful? I arrived last night at my Ladies’ Bible Study and saw this across the street so ran over and started snapping photos!

What are finer things in your life today?

Linked to Finer Things Friday @ Amy’s Finer things:

Guest Blogger- Liz Dunoon

I’m extremely pleased to welcome Liz Dunoon, Mother of three, Author and Teacher from Australia! Her first book, Helping Children With Dyslexia, came out in Australia at the end of September – with plans to make it readily available in the states soon. (You can purchase it now, however, through her website! I’ll let her tell you her story and her journey to help her children succeed in school.

Without Further Ado, Liz Dunoon!

For the last three years I have been writing a book titled ‘How To Help Children With Dyslexia’. It has just been published. No I’m not a scientist, or a neuro-psychologist or an educational specialist. I am a past teacher, but more importantly, I am a parent, a parent of three, beautiful, happy children who all struggle with dyslexia. Here is the story of how my book came about.

In 2004 my oldest son started school. I held him back a year until he was six-years-old. This was because I knew as a youngster he had been a slow developer. As a past teacher I understood the value of reading, so as he grew I would read to him every night before bed. A routine we both loved. He was so clever, although he could not identify any of the individual words, he could memorize whole stories perfectly and even used the relevant expression. We would laugh and laugh.

Starting school however was daunting for my son, he found reading writing and spelling virtually impossible and when he bought his readers home from school and flash cards of simple sight words, I noticed he could not read any of them. When I taught him a word on one page of his reader he could not transfer that learning to the next. I was as confused as he was. Why couldn’t he remember words? I always assumed even as a teacher that learning to read was a process of ‘osmosis’, the more times you saw a word, the more likely it was to become stored in your working and long term memory. So why wasn’t this happening for my son? To top it off, he found writing difficult and controlling his pencil almost impossible. He became unsure of himself and I began to worry. I was a trained teacher why couldn’t I help him.

A trip into the classroom 3 months later proved frustrating and even more worrying. The teacher at his school had no knowledge of his struggle. I felt completely alone and I remember sitting in my car after this meeting, crying in despair. In response I ramped up my efforts at home to teach my son, but this just resulted in teary anxiousness, which led to defiance and lots of him shouting of, “I just can’t do it”. What was going wrong? I just didn’t understand it.

Eventually we changed schools to a much better one that had a great learning support department and offered lots of extra help. The learning difficulties eased but they did not go away. Completing homework was a nightmare for my son and for me too and his schoolwork was getting harder as each year progressed. He had become anxious and stressed and I didn’t like the path this was taking.
Not one to sit around and wait for things to improve, I felt it was time to take things into my own hands. I got on the internet and used the phone and rang as many so called dyslexia experts as I could find. I found very quickly that many were linked to remedial programs that were very expensive and I immediately disregarded them. Then by chance I found a woman who provided the answers to my prayers. Thankfully she was nearby and we drove for two hours to reach her. She assessed my son and gave me the answers I was seeking. Finally I knew how to help him.

So began my journey as this wonderful woman was ‘switched on’ and she knew what was and was not available to help children with dyslexia. Only with a diagnosis of dyslexia, did my son receive support and guaranteed assistance throughout his schooling. But how come the teachers did not tell me this. I discovered later as I continued my research that nearly all teachers including me are not educated or trained in teaching and assisting children with dyslexia and there is much confusion and misinformation.

Acquiring a diagnostic report of dyslexia from a trained professional can cost up to $1200 and most parents do not know they need one, as very few people know exactly what dyslexia is. Children with dyslexia continue to fall through the cracks as psychologists continue to treat depression, anxiety disorders, delinquency and substance abuse, whilst often leaving the root cause of dyslexia undisclosed.
Now you can see why somebody needed to do something to help children with dyslexia. My second son also has dyslexia and my daughter too, but all of my children exhibit different symptoms. My husband struggled at school as well, but worked hard and went on and did very well. I guess the one common denominator shared by all is an ongoing difficulty to read and spell, slow processing speeds and ongoing mental fatigue.

I wrote my book to address all these issues. I am not an expert, more of a reporter. Really I am just a parent who was once a teacher, trying to make a difference and help others. Every chapter heading in my book comes from parents and addresses a fear worry or concern that had been raised and needs to be addressed. In fact over 120 families read my book to make sure I got it right before it went to print. It is funny when people pick up my book and say, ‘But this book answers all the questions I have ever wanted to know the answers too’.

‘Amazing!’ I say, but it not magic. It was parents who gave these to me in the first place.

I have used many world leading dyslexia experts to help me write this book and include all the latest research on colored lenses, brain science, genetics and why dyslexia even exists. These incredible people gave me access to their research and then proof read my work to make sure I got it right. Then I also used more experts to offer strategies to support children with dyslexia, to rebuild their confidence and get them reading and learning confidently again.

This is just the beginning of my journey. I am determined to change the way the world perceives and deals with dyslexia and will not rest until I have achieved this aim. This book is a great place for parents and teachers to start when they are on a journey to help a child who may have dyslexia. I have also created a website full of free resources to offer even more support. Until Governments step up and put appropriate support systems in place to help our children with dyslexia, parents must support one other.
From one family affected by dyslexia to another, I wish you and your family every success.
Liz Dunoon
www.helpingchildrenwithdyslexia.com

This blog post is linked with Works for Me Wednesday
”works

Things I took home from TNIDA – Diagnosis

On Thursday I went to the Tennessee chapter of the International Dyslexia Association‘s annual forum in Murphressboro, TN. They held a round-table discussion with 7 women, two of which held doctorates and all of which had backgrounds either in education or in Dyslexia testing and assistance.

Here’s a few things I learned about Diagnosis that I didn’t know (0r was reminded of)

1. Any possible case of dyslexia should be diagnosed!

Apparently, the State of Tennessee has a Dyslexia Testing Center in Murphressboro that offers it’s services free of charge (with a $25 processing fee) to residents! Who knew? Also- MTSU has an entire Dyslexia research thing (technical, I know) that is making all kinds of strides in that area. Dr. Aimee Holt, a professor at MTSU who has Dyslexia AND her doctorate, spoke to us very eloquently about getting your student diagnosed and the benefits that can come from that.

Dr. Holt told us about growing up with a cousin of hers. They were good friends growing up and she knew he was very smart- as smart as she was, certainly. But their mothers had different techniques with each of them. Her mom took her to get tested and then fought for interventions in her school. (She didn’t specify what her Aunt did, for the record.) Now she has her Doctorate and is doing active research, as well as teaching psychology. Her cousin dropped out of High School, never went to college and  is working in a factory and has just risen to the rank of Manager. Is there anything wrong with working in a factory? Of course not! However, he was limited on his options from an early age because he never received the assistance he required.

Their Diagnosis? Always test a potential Dyslexic. The difference could be huge!

2. The Earlier the Diagnosis, The Better the outcome

Judy Oliff, an educator of several decades, told us about two 5th Grade boys who had only just been diagnosed with Dyslexia. (Up until this point they’d been placed in Special Ed classes.) She told us about the amazing progress they had made in just a few months. While this was good news – I sobered very quickly when she reminded us that yes, the interventions they were using were working great. But the boys were making such slow progress that even by the end of the year they would be at an early elementary level of reading and would still be moved up to sixth grade, out of her ability to help them. (She is currently helping them on the side, in addition to her work.) They may eventually- with dedicated teacher- reach a level of reading fluency that they can use in the world, but it’ll be hard for them as they move into Middle School, then High School. By High School one needs to be making grades good enough for scholarships and college applications- they will have a slim chance of that.

She also told us about a 3rd grade girl who had just been diagnosed. She, too, was at a lower reading level than her peers. But since they caught it in 3rd grade they could make minor adjustments and modifications to her work and with some extra tutoring she would reach and stay within the accepted ability range for her age group.

3. An Official Diagnosis Makes a Difference Later in Educations

Dr. Holt also pointed out that a student who has an official Diagnosis is far more likely to receive Accommodations or Modifications in Middle and High School as well as College. These Accommodations make a HUGE difference to the success or failure of a student. (Ask me- This I know.)

Hope these were helpful- look for more posts on TNIDA coming soon!

Sarah

Up Next: Guest Post from Liz Dunoon: Mother, Teacher and Author from Australia!

dunna-nuna-nuna… Batgirl!

Another incentive to stand up for what you are passionate about. This poor bat was getting poked and prodded by students today. I stopped and made a fool of myself and was late for a class and did everything in my power to keep him from getting messed with. Because I stopped and contacted a faculty member with a friend, this bat has a happy ending. (My friend went to get the faculty member while I went to class.)

I was just sent this:

“Dr.Butterfield came over with a jar and caught it and then took it over to the big field in front of BK and made it fly, it flew to the big tree first and latched on and then was coaxed off and took off and flew all the way towards the front of BK and it looks like got in a tree over there, the bat should be left in peace now. ”

Makes my Day
************

In other news: I’ll be gone starting tomorrow on a trip that takes me, first, by a Dyslexia forum in Murphressboro, TN. I’m pretty excited and will hopefully be posting my findings later this weekend or Tuesday.

Creative You – Works for Me Wednesday

works for me wednesday at we are that family

I found, back in my dorm days- that everyone has their own unique, diverse and downright strange methods for dealing with stress. My roommate blows bubbles for about 30 minutes when stressed. Many others ran out for 11pm McDonald’s runs (yes, sometimes yours truly, I’ll confess! $1 Drinks were definitely a bargain!) My preferred method was coloring. Yes, You heard me.

Coloring. Works surprisingly well, too! I’d forgotten all about this method when, cleaning my house, I stumbled across the Princess coloring book and crayons I’d bought myself. I’ve gotten back into the habit of late – keeping my colors and coloring book nearby to work out any stress and/ or allow myself to mull over a project or test coming up.

Want to see some of my latest projects?

Of course you do!

First time I did my favorite hair color- golden-red 🙂

Purple Girl (tonight)

I love this one- She’s just majestic!

Golden-Red Hair again

Aaand Again. (Are you seeing a theme?)
This one’s my favorite to date- I did it just a few minutes before posting this and was the inspiration for this post, in fact!

So, Coloring! That’s what works for me- Coloring during my favorite TV shows (Doctor Who, anyone?) It makes me feel creative, productive and gives the word-parts of my brain a chance to take a break! The color and image side takes over and everything gets a bit of a break. I usually only do one or two at a time- I did three tonight, which is a lot for me, but I was on a role!

What frivilous (keyword here: frivolous!) thing do you or yours do when stressed or you need to just unwind from the day?